James Polk was a politician who served as the 11th President of the United States during the pre-civil war era with George Dallas as his Vice President. he also served as a Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Governor of Tennessee. Andrew Jackson, a previous president, was Polk's mentor, where he supported the democratic party and a Jacksonian democracy. Polk accomplished many things during his presidency, for example: the annexation of Texas, attaining the Oregon territory, and the victory of the U.S. in the Mexican American war.
This is an image of James K. Polk’s original house in Columbia Tennessee before his presidency. Polk was born on November 2, 1795 in North Carolina by his parents Samuel Polk and Jane Knox. At around the age of 11 Polk and his family moved from North Carolina to Nashville Tennessee, following family, and became successful farmers. After receiving very little education Polk attended a school of Presbyterian academics. He them moved on to attending the University of North Carolina where he graduated first in his class and developed hard working habits which would reflect in his presidency. After he returned to Nashville where he studied law under Felix Grundy a renowned law attorney. He continued to become a successful lawyer who had many cases due to the Panic of 1819, which helped his political career.
This is an image of James K. Polk from Life on Stone by Chs. Frenderich in 1845 after his election in 1844. James Knox Polk was the 11th president of the United States, elected in 1844 and served until 1848. Polk was not part of the democratic or republican parties, but instead was involved in the dark horse party. Although he was a member of a third party during the election, he was selected as the democratic nominee after former president Martin Van Buren lost his parties nomination bid. Polk was the United States first nominee from the dark horse party. Even though Polk was not well known to the public, pointed out by U.S. Senator Henry Clay in the general election with the slogan “who is James K. Polk?”, he still managed to win the popular vote with 49.5%. Polk won this election by supporting the annexation of Texas, which was favored by many voters.
This was a democratic election ticket for the 1844 presidential campaign, this was issued sometime in May when Polk received a democratic nomination. This lists, not only Polk's name and his vice president Dallas, but the eight electors with Polk. This is decorated with an American flag topped with a glowing liberty cap. Polk and many other candidates introduced expansion and slavery as an important political problem. People in the south wanted annexation of Texas in order to expand slavery. Most of these senators were angry because Van Buren did not back the annexation of Texas to help stop slavery. Polk and Dallas supported the annexation and settling the Oregon boundary dispute. Polk won the 1844 election against Henry Clay and James Birney and went on to pursue the Oregon territory and Northern Mexico.
This is a political cartoon created by James Baillie titled “Polk and Co. Going up the Salt River” published in 1844. The author predicts a democratic defeat, that Polk would not win the presidential election. The boat carried Martin Van Buren, Thomas Benton, George Dallas, and Polk himself being pulled by the ballot box towards defeat. Van Buren is pictured with the body of a fox and Polk is shown as a bird. Polk is represented as a bird because if anything were to go wrong he would be able to make it to safety. Polk is shown to be ready to fly away as they approach danger, meaning he was ready to leave the party when things went downhill. Pictured on the bow of the boat is John Tyler, the tenth president of the United States. On the steam boat there is a cabbage mounted to represent the Whigs plan to retire Martin Van Buren back to his home in Kinderhook to raise cabbages.
This is a political cartoon titled “The Fight Between the Kentucky Coon and the Tennessee Alligator”, it was published in 1844 by the created by James S. Baillie. This cartoon is set in a wooded area and satirizes the prominent people involved in the 1844 presidential election. This cartoon shows Henry Clay, also known the “Kentucky coon”, conquering Polk, known as the “Tennessee alligator”. The forest is filled with several other animals with the heads of other politicians belonging to the democratic and Whig parties. One of the rats shown in the cartoon appears to be Martin Van Buren mentioning something about Lindenwold, which was the name of the home he retired to after he lost the democratic nomination to Polk. John Tyler appears in this cartoon as a rattlesnake, Tyler acceded president William Harrison and was considered a traitor to the Whig party. Daniel Webster is shown as a bear threatening Polk and in front of him is Thomas Benton as a boar. At the top of a cartoon flies an eagle as a patriotic symbol.
This is a political cartoon created by Edward Williams Clay published in 1846. In this cartoon Clay criticized Polk’s public support for 54.40 parallels the northern boundary for the Oregon territory. This promotes questioning on Polk’s course of action on the issue and depicts Andrew Jackson as the reason for Polk’s harsh and totalitarian handling of the problem. The devil standing at the end of Polk’s bed wearing a mask of Andrew Jackson is commanding sleeping Polk to support the 54.40 parallel. This is essentially labeling Polk as Jackson's bitch, doing whatever Jackson would do and following in his footsteps. Also in the room are three cabinet members where one carrying a tariff document that brings up the new tariff Polk created. Behind him another man stands holding a portfolio titled Packenham Correspondence which references a letter to a British ambassador where the 49th parallel was proposed as a compromise. The third man questions Polk’s actions regarding the boundary. Polk risked going to war with Britain but American attained the Oregon territory and everything ended in success.
This political cartoon titled “Battle of Cerro Gordo” was published in 1847 and the creator is unknown. This cartoon was an attempt to attack Polk's methods during the Mexican American war, where he undermined general Winfield Scott's military tactics and reputation. Shortly after the victory at Cerro Gordo Polk sent a state department officer by the name of Nicholas Trist to negotiate peace with Mexico. This cartoon shows Scott trying to hand a Mexican commander Santa Anna as he rides away on a horse. Polk is standing behind the men down the hill spraying a water hose at Scott while two boys work the pump. In the background the American troops go to battle with the Mexican forces. The general makes a comment in the dialogue about another general. One of Polk’s favorite general Gideon Pillow, who was considered to be incompetent at the time. Many people disagreed with Polk’s actions during the Mexican American war because he took many risks citizens did not think were worth it, but in the end Polk came through and settled the dispute.
This is a map of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming in 1848. Toward the end of his presidency Polk sent a message to congress with this map to communicate his plan for the land the United States got from the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that put an end to the Mexican-American War. The map shows the line that established the Missouri Compromise in 1820 that outlawed slavery above the latitude, which Polk wanted to extend to the pacific ocean to cover this newly attained land. The table on the left describes the territories and their boundaries including the mileage the fell north and south of the Missouri Compromise. The table on the right shows the total mileage of free states and slave states, free states occupying 454,350 square miles and slave states dominating 610,798 square miles. This led to the compromise of 1850 which settled the dispute over slavery in the new land by using a series of bills.
This is a statue created by Charles Keck to honor three presidents: James K. Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson who were all born in North Carolina it resides outside the state capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. Before Polk was President he was a governor of Tennessee elected in 1839 to 1841. While campaigning Polk focused on national issues while his competitor Newton Cannon focused on state issues. Polk traveled Tennessee to give speeches in order to make himself more well known. Polk’s tactics worked and he was elected as Tennessee governor, however the position of governor had limited power. Polk attempted many great things in office, like regulating state banks, starting state international improvements, and improving education, but none were ever approved by legislation. Even though Polk had little power he used this position to propel his career, hoping to be Martin Van Buren's Vice President in the 1840 presidential election. Although Polk didn’t get the chance to be Van Buren’s Vice President because of Richard Johnson’s popularity, Polk remained involved in politics and ran for president in 1844.
This is a picture of James K. Polk's tomb located in Nashville Tennessee. This photograph was taken during the war of the west, which was fought between American settlers and Native Americans. General John B. Hood lead his army to Nashville where they fought, this picture was most likely taken during battle. After serving one term as president as part of his campaign promise, Polk retired to his home in Nashville Tennessee called Polk's place. Because the job of president is very stressful Polk was left in poor health, in June of 1848 Polk died of cholera. Although he was initially buried in a cemetery in Nashville because of the disease he acquired before death, he was moved to the tomb at Polk’s place less than a year after. His wife was also buried there after her death 42 years later, but in 1893 they were moved to the Tennessee State Capitol where they still lay today.
Polk was a very accomplished president and lived up to his reputation even after death. Polk was considered a great president by many because he accomplished all of the goals he set and lived up to his word. Polk was considered one of the most accomplished presidents prior to the civil war because of his victory in the Mexican American war, the annexation of Texas, and the U.S. acquiring of the Oregon territory.