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David Rice Atchison Memorial

Tour Stop

David Rice Atchison Memorial at Clinton County Courthouse

Directions: The David Rice Atchison Memorial [ Waypoint = N39 33.971 W94 26.831 ] is located at the Clinton County Courthouse, 211 North Main Street, in Plattsburg, Missouri 64477

Approaching from the east (Interstate 35):

  • Take exit 40 for Missouri State Highway 116 and head west.
  • After about 10.1 miles, turn right (north) onto Main Street in Plattsburg.
  • The courthouse is about 0.2 miles ahead on the right.

Approaching from the west (US Highway 169):

  • Take Missouri State Highway 116 and head east.
  • After about 6.4 miles, turn left (north) onto Main Street in Plattsburg.
  • The courthouse is about 0.2 miles ahead on the right.

Description: The plaque on the David Rice Atchison Memorial has the following text:

David Rice Atchison
1807 – 1886
President of the United States
One Day
Lawyer, Statesman and Jurist
U. S. Senate 1843 – 1855
Erected by State of Missouri Memorial Commission
Senator B. T. Gordon, Chairman
Representative Hugh M. Marsh
Joseph E. Black, Member

Missouri Senator David Rice Atchison

Having been born in Kentucky, David Rice Atchison moved to Missouri when he was a young lawyer. He originally settled in Clay County, but moved west into Platte County after working successfully in 1837 to have the Platte Purchase become part of the state of Missouri. He eventually settled in Plattsburg, Missouri 64477.

David Rice Atchison was a Missouri politician who became a leader of pro-slavery supporters during Bleeding Kansas. While representing Missouri in the House of Representatives, Atchison worked to have the Platte Purchase annexed by the State of Missouri. While representing Missouri in the Senate, Atchison worked closely with Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas to pass the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Many feel that Atchison gave the idea of repealing the Missouri Compromise to Douglas. The pro-slavery town of Atchison, Kansas was named for him. During the Sack of Lawrence, Atchison stirred up the crowd with the following speech:

“Gentlemen, Officers & Soldiers! - (Yells) This is the most glorious day of my life! This is the day I am a border ruffian! (Yells.) .... Now Boys, let your work be well done! (Cheers.) Faint not as you approach the city of Lawrence, but remembering your mission act with true Southern heroism, & at the word, Spring like your bloodhounds at home upon that d--d accursed abolition hole; break through every thing that may oppose your never flinching courage! - (Yells.) Yes, ruffians, draw your revolvers & bowie knives, & cool them in the heart's blood of all those d--d dogs, that dare defend that d--d breathing hole of hell. (Yells.) Tear down their boasted Free State Hotel, and if those Hellish lying free-soilers have left no port holes in it, with your unerring cannon make some, Yes, riddle it till it shall fall to the ground. Throw into the Kanzas their printing presses, & let's see if any more free speeches will be issued from them!”

Clinton Count Historical Marker [ Waypoint = N39 33.971 W94 26.831 ] has the following text:

Clinton County Historical Marker in Plattsburg, Missouri

“Once forming part of Missouri's western boundary, Clinton County was organized in 1833 and named for N. Y. Governor Dewitt Clinton. It lost its boundary status in 1837 when the Indian Platte Purchase territory extended the State border to the Missouri.”

“Plattsburg, the county seat, founded 1833, is on the site selected by Commissioners David R. Atchison, Howard Everett, and John Long. First called Concord, then Springfield, it was named for Plattsburg, Clinton County, N.Y., 1835. A U. S. Land Office was located there1843-59, to handle sales in Platte Purchase. James H. Birch (later Mo. Supreme Court Judge) was first register of Public Land. An early school, Plattsburg (Methodist) College, opened there in 1857 and closed in 1897 under the private ownership of J. W. Ellis.”

“Cameron, the county's second town, was laid out, 1855. The Hannibal and St. Joseph (Burlington) reached there, 1859. There was Cameron Institute (Mo. Wesleyan College), 1883 – 1928. Near Cameron is Wallace State Park, named for local family, founded 1932. Lathrop, famed horse and mule market in Boer War and World War I, dates from 1867.”

Entrance to the Clinton County Courthouse in Plattsburg, Missouri

“One of Missouri's leading cattle counties, Clinton is also a grain, dairy, and poultry producer. In territory ceded by Iowa, Sac, and Fox tribes in 1824, the county was settled in the late 1820s. Southerners, New Englanders, Missourians, pioneered the area.”

“In the war years of 1861-65, guerrilla raiders halted growth. The 1870s brought the Chicago, Rock Is. & Pac. and Santa Fe railroads. The Quincy, Omaha, & K.C. Came 1897. New towns were laid out along the routes. Plattsburg, Cameron, and Lathrop developed as important shipping points.”

“In Plattsburg is State's statue of David Rice Atchison (1807 – 1886), U. S. Sen., 1843-55; proslavery leader in the Mo-Kan border trouble. He is buried in Plattsburg and his home is in Gower. It is claimed he was 'President for a day' since he was pres. pro tem. of the Senate when Zachary Taylor's inauguration was put off from Sun., Mar. 4, 1849, to Mon. In Plattsburg is birthplace of O. O. McIntyre (1884 – 1938), newspaper writer, and home of novelist, J. Breckenridge Ellis (1870 – 1956). Musician Don Gillis was born in Cameron and there lived artist, G. E. Burr.”

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