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President James Polk From Tennessee, the Second One, the second president from that state, that is. (Andrew Jackson was the first.) Polk became the last of the “Jacksonians” to sit in the White House. He’s also called the last strong President until Abraham Lincoln. Here’s the link to the overall Presidents post. He claimed to be the first president to fulfill all of his campaign promises. (I’m trying to keep my presidential posts smaller now. It proved to be too easy to write a lot about the Founding Fathers!)
Polk attended the University of North Carolina. After college, he practiced law and entered politics. In the House of Representatives (starting in 1825), he became a primary supporter of President Jackson. In fact, he served as Speaker from 1835 to 1839. He resigned from the House to become governor of Tennessee from 1839 to 1841.
According to history, Polk thought the House of Representatives became a good fit for him. Upon marrying Sarah, she urged him to set higher goals. In fact, she helped him with speeches, gave him advice on policy matters, and played an active role in his campaigns. And James Polk From Tennessee became more ambitious!
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Presidential elections – James Polk From Tennessee
Initially, he became the leading candidate for vice president in 1844. Both Martin Van Buren, the Democrat, and Henry Clay, the Whig, opposed the annexation of Texas. When Polk strongly asserted that Texas should be part of the US, he became a leading candidate for President. At the Democratic convention, supported by the aging Jackson, James Polk From Tennessee became the nominee. And became President! Here’s a link to more information.
The picture above summarizes events and accomplishments during his time in office. Obviously, some were outside his control, but he did accomplish much in a single four-year term. While his actions triggered a war with Mexico, it did end with the annexation and purchase of much of the current US Southwest. The new territory went from Texas to the Pacific and north to the Oregon Territory. The US agreed to pay Mexico $15 million and assume damage claims.
He and the British stood up against each other before settling on the 49th parallel as the border between the US and Canada. Florida also became a state in 1845. Polk and Congress created the Independent Treasury Act and the Smithsonian Institution. Iowa and Wisconsin also became states during Polk’s term. In addition, Polk created the Interior Department and established Oregon as an official Territory. So there you have it: James Polk From Tennessee.
Polk returns home
Rather than return to his home shown here, he bought a house in Nashville. Unfortunately, worn down by his presidency, he died three months after returning. That house no longer exists, so this place is his museum. He and his wife are both buried at the Tennessee capital in Nashville. (The site shown above in Columbia, TN, lies only about 30 miles south of Nashville. I don’t know why I forgot to take a picture of the house itself. Believe me, the outside of the house is nothing special!)
Overall, historians agree that some of his actions contributed to the Civil War. They also agree that James Polk From Tennessee overall was an above average, achieving President. And praises for meeting his established goals!
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Classic Rock Recollection
“Polk Salad Annie” by Tony Joe White
Down in Louisiana, where the alligators grow so mean
Lived a girl, that I swear to the world
Made the alligators look tame
Polk Salad Annie, gators got your granny
Written by: Tony Joe White
(I know it doesn’t really fit, but it is called “Polk”!)