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  Polk, James K.
CANDIDATE DETAILS
AffiliationDemocratic  
  1849-01-01  
 
NameJames K. Polk
Address
Polk Place, Tennessee , United States
EmailNone
WebsiteNone
Born November 02, 1795
DiedJune 15, 1849 (53 years)
ContributorJake
Last ModifedNJLBT
Feb 17, 2021 05:12pm
Tags Scottish - Freemason - Methodist - Presbyterian -
InfoHe was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795. Studious and industrious, Polk was graduated with honors in 1818 from the University of North Carolina. As a young lawyer he entered politics, served in the Tennessee legislature, and became a friend of Andrew Jackson.

In the House of Representatives, Polk was a chief lieutenant of Jackson in his Bank war. He served as Speaker between 1835 and 1839, leaving to become Governor of Tennessee.

Until circumstances raised Polk’s ambitions, he was a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for Vice President in 1844. Both Martin Van Buren, who had been expected to win the Democratic nomination for President, and Henry Clay, who was to be the Whig nominee, tried to take the expansionist issue out of the campaign by declaring themselves opposed to the annexation of Texas. Polk, however, publicly asserted that Texas should be “re-annexed” and all of Oregon “re-occupied.”

The aged Jackson, correctly sensing that the people favored expansion, urged the choice of a candidate committed to the Nation’s “Manifest Destiny.” This view prevailed at the Democratic Convention, where Polk was nominated on the ninth ballot.

“Who is James K. Polk?” Whigs jeered. Democrats replied Polk was the candidate who stood for expansion. He linked the Texas issue, popular in the South, with the Oregon question, attractive to the North. Polk also favored acquiring California.

Even before he could take office, Congress passed a joint resolution offering annexation to Texas. In so doing they bequeathed Polk the possibility of war with Mexico, which soon severed diplomatic relations.

In his stand on Oregon, the President seemed to be risking war with Great Britain also. The 1844 Democratic platform claimed the entire Oregon area, from the California boundary northward to a latitude of 54’40’, the southern boundary of Russian Alaska. Extremists proclaimed “Fifty-four forty or fight,” but Polk, aware of diplomatic realities, knew that no course short of war was likely to get all of Oregon. Happily, neither he nor the British wanted a war.

He offered to settle by extending the Canadian boundary, along the 49th parallel, from the Rockies to the Pacific. When the British minister declined, Polk reasserted the American claim to the entire area. Finally, the British settled for the 49th parallel, except for the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The treaty was signed in 1846.

Acquisition of California proved far more difficult. Polk sent an envoy to offer Mexico up to $20,000,000, plus settlement of damage claims owed to Americans, in return for California and the New Mexico country. Since no Mexican leader could cede half his country and still stay in power, Polk’s envoy was not received. To bring pressure, Polk sent Gen. Zachary Taylor to the disputed area on the Rio Grande.

To Mexican troops this was aggression, and they attacked Taylor’s forces.

Congress declared war and, despite much Northern opposition, supported the military operations. American forces won repeated victories and occupied Mexico City. Finally, in 1848, Mexico ceded New Mexico and California in return for $15,000,000 and American assumption of the damage claims.

President Polk added a vast area to the United States, but its acquisition precipitated a bitter quarrel between the North and the South over expansion of slavery.

Polk, leaving office with his health undermined from hard work, died in June 1849.

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JOB APPROVAL POLLS
DateFirmApproveDisapproveDon't Know
06/13/2007-06/24/2007 Rasmussen Reports 27.00% ( 0.0) 21.00% ( 0.0) 52.00% ( 0.0)

BOOKS
Title Purchase Contributor

EVENTS
Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

NEWS
Date Category Headline Article Contributor

DISCUSSION
Importance? 10.00000 Average

FAMILY
Wife Sarah Childress Polk Jan 01, 1824-Jun 15, 1849
Father Samuel Polk 1772-1827
Brother Marshall Tate Polk 1805-1831
Nephew Marshall Tate Polk 1831-1884
Brother William H. Polk 1815-1862

INFORMATION LINKS
James Knox Polk - State of the Union Address (1845)  Discuss
James Knox Polk - State of the Union Address (1846)  Discuss
James Knox Polk - State of the Union Address (1847)  Discuss
James Knox Polk - State of the Union Address (1848)  Discuss
President James Polk Inaugural Address March 4, 1845  Discuss
RACES
  12/04/1844 US President Won 61.82% (+23.64%)
  11/11/1844 AL US President Won 58.99% (+17.98%)
  11/05/1844 SC US President Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  11/05/1844 US President National Vote Won 49.54% (+1.46%)
  11/04/1844 NC US President Lost 47.61% (-4.78%)
  11/04/1844 MI US President Won 49.92% (+6.39%)
  11/04/1844 IL US President Won 53.97% (+11.94%)
  11/02/1844 IN US President Won 50.07% (+1.65%)
  11/02/1844 NH US President Won 55.22% (+18.90%)
  11/02/1844 NJ US President Lost 49.37% (-1.08%)
  11/02/1844 KY US President Lost 45.91% (-8.18%)
  11/02/1844 NY US President Won 48.90% (+1.05%)
  11/02/1844 LA US President Won 51.30% (+2.60%)
  11/02/1844 RI US President Lost 39.91% (-20.13%)
  11/02/1844 ME US President Won 53.83% (+13.35%)
  11/02/1844 TN US President Lost 49.95% (-0.10%)
  11/02/1844 MD US President Lost 47.61% (-4.77%)
  11/02/1844 VT US President Lost 37.00% (-17.90%)
  11/02/1844 DE US President Lost 48.75% (-2.46%)
  11/02/1844 MA US President Lost 40.17% (-10.62%)
  11/02/1844 VA US President Won 53.05% (+6.09%)
  11/02/1844 GA US President Won 51.19% (+2.37%)
  11/02/1844 MS US President Won 57.43% (+14.86%)
  11/02/1844 MO US President Won 56.98% (+13.96%)
  11/01/1844 PA US President Won 50.45% (+1.84%)
  11/01/1844 OH US President Lost 47.74% (-1.94%)
  11/00/1844 AR US President Won 63.01% (+26.02%)
  11/00/1844 CT US President Lost 46.18% (-4.63%)
  05/30/1844 US President - D Convention Won 43.75% (+19.74%)
  08/03/1843 TN - Governor Lost 47.62% (-4.77%)
  08/05/1841 TN - Governor Lost 48.44% (-3.12%)
  11/03/1840 US Vice President Lost 0.34% (-79.25%)
  08/01/1839 TN - Governor Won 51.27% (+2.54%)
  09/04/1837 US House Speaker Won 51.79% (+5.80%)
  08/03/1837 TN - District 09 Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  12/07/1835 US House Speaker Won 58.67% (+21.33%)
  08/06/1835 TN - District 09 Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  06/02/1834 US House Speaker Lost 20.74% (-9.57%)
  12/02/1833 US House Speaker Lost 0.43% (-61.30%)
  08/02/1833 TN - District 09 Won 68.52% (+46.71%)
  08/05/1831 TN - District 06 Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  08/07/1829 TN - District 06 Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  08/03/1827 TN - District 06 Won 56.56% (+13.12%)
  08/05/1825 TN - District 06 Won 35.32% (+8.85%)
ENDORSEMENTS