Today is the seventh time that Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday. As in the past, the president will be sworn in a small ceremony in the White House and the public inauguration, inaugural address, and parade will be held tomorrow.
There was one exception, Sunday March 4, 1849, when president-elect Zachary Taylor refused to take the oath on a Sunday. The vice president-elect, Millard Fillmore, also declined to take his oath. Since James K. Polk’s term of office as president and George M. Dallas’s term as vice president certainly ended at noon that day, who was president?
There has long been a claim that it was David Rice Atchison, Senator from Missouri, a Democrat, who was president pro tempore of the Senate, and thus, under the succession law then in place, next in line. Atchison’s tombstone describes him as having been “President of the United States for one day,” and the Atchison County Historical Museum in Atchison, Kansas, which was named for him, contains what it describes, more or less tongue-in-cheek, as the country’s smallest presidential library.