Scramblin' thru... the U.S. Presidents
"Napoleon of the Stump"
"Mr. Manifest Destiny"
"One 'n' Done"
Election of 1844
A Presidential Life in Review
James K. Polk served as the 11th U.S. President from 1845 to 1849. During his tenure, America's territory grew by more than one-third and extended across the continent for the first time. Before his Presidency, Polk served in the Tennessee legislature and the U.S. Congress; in 1839 he became Governor of Tennessee. A Democrat who was unknown outside of political circles, Polk won the Election of 1844 as the dark horse candidate. As President, he reduced tariffs, reformed the National Banking System, and settled a boundary dispute with Britain that secured the Oregon Territory for the U.S. Polk also led the nation into the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), in which the U.S. acquired California and much of the present-day Southwest. Polk kept his campaign promise to be a one-term President and did not seek reelection. Soon after leaving the White House, however, he died at age 53. Source: The History Channel
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James K. Polk Fun Facts
A week before he died, Polk (who had been Presbyterian) was baptized a Methodist.
Gas lights were installed in the White House while Polk was a resident.
Polk survived a gallstone operation at age 17... without anethesia or antiseptics. Those medical practices were not used at the time.
The first annual White House Thanksgiving dinner was hosted by Polk's wife, Sarah.
Polk's wife, Sarah, was a devout Presbyterian. She banned dancing, card-playing, and alcoholic beverages in the White House.
News of Polk's nomination was widely disseminated using the telegraph, the first time that this had been done.
When he took office on March 4, 1845, Polk became the youngest President to be elected at 49 years of age. (Franklin Pierce, age 48, became the "youngest" in 1853. Ulysses Grant, age 46, replaced Pierce as the youngest elected President in 1869. Following the assassination of William McKinley in 1901, Teddy Roosevelt took office at 42, but, this was because he was Vice President. The youngest elected President is JFK, who was sworn into office on January 20, 1961 at age 43.) However, Polk had the shortest retirement of any President. He lived for just three months after leaving office, dying in 1849 from cholera contracted while on a Presidential "Farewell Tour" of the South. His wife, Sarah, lived 40 years after he died. Both are now buried in a tomb in Nashville, Tennessee.
Polk loved horses and learned to ride before he could walk.
One of Polk's campaign promises was that he promised not to run for a second term. He kept that promise and did not run in the Election of 1848 (which was won by Zachary Taylor). This made him the first President to voluntarily retire after one term.
Polk's mother, Jane, was descended directly from a brother of John Knox, the leader of the Scottish Reformation and founder of the Presbyterian Church.
Polk backed the immediate annexation of Texas, which had broken away from Mexico in 1836 to become its own country. As anticipated, a border dispute between Texas and Mexico resulted in the Mexican-American War (1836-1848). The war was a resounding success for the U.S., and with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo came all of the modern U.S. Southwest, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming
Polk brokered a deal with Britain for the Oregon Territory, which, at that time, included all the Pacific Northwest, from California to the southern part of modern Alaska. The deal effectively divided the territory between the two countries, helping to create the modern day states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and giving territory in Canada to Britain.