|Zachary Taylor, 12th president|
This left the United States in a positon it had never been before. If things stayed as President-elect Taylor wanted, there would have been a single day when there was no president.
In today's line of succession, the vice-president is next in line, followed by the speaker of the house and then the president pro tempore of the Senate. The Constitution of the United States says that the vice-president is also the president of the Senate and presides over the Senate sessions. The president pro tempore is elected to preside over the Senate when the vice-president is absent.
|David Rice Atchison, 12th president?|
In 1849, the president pro tempore was third in line of succession, and in that role was Senator David Atchison, a Democrat from Kansas City, Missouri. Senator Atchison was elected to the Senate in 1843 and was elected president pro tempore 13 different times, including on March 2, 1849.
With no president or vice-president from noon on March 4, 1849 until noon on March 5, 1849, Atchison technically became acting president. Opponents of the president for a day theory say that, technically, Atchison's Senate term also expired on March 4 at noon, and he never took the oath of office.
On an interesting side note, when Franklin Pierce, 13th President of the United States, suffered through his vice-president, William King, passing away after six weeks in office, Atchison, technically, became acting vice-president. Pierce wouldn't officially appoint another vice-president until his second inauguration, on March 4, 1857, when he selected John C. Breckinridge.
David Rice Atchison, 1807-1886, President of United States One Day.