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 James Polk  Born: November 2, 1795, Pineville, NC
Died: June 15, 1849, Nashville, TN
Succeeded by: Zachary Taylor
Presidential term: March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
Party: Democratic Party

James Polk (1795-1849) 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 relatively unknown outside of political circles, Polk won the 1844 presidential election as the dark horse candidate. As president, he reduced tariffs, reformed the national banking system and settled a boundary dispute with the British that secured the Oregon Territory for the United States. Polk also led the nation into the Mexican-American War (1846-48), in which the United States 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, he died at age 53.

JAMES POLK’S EARLY YEARS
James Knox Polk was born on November 2, 1795, in a log cabin in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. As a boy, Polk, the eldest of 10 children, moved with his family to Columbia, Tennessee, where his father became a prosperous land surveyor, planter, and businessman. The younger Polk was often sick as a child, and as a teen, he survived a major operation for urinary stones. The surgery was done before the advent of modern antiseptic and anesthesia; Polk was reportedly given some brandy as a sedative. A top student, Polk graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1818 and studied law under a leading Nashville attorney. He was admitted to the bar in 1820 and opened a law practice in Columbia. He entered politics in 1823 when he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives.

JAMES POLK AS PRESIDENT
At age 49, James Polk was younger than any previous president when he entered the White House. A workaholic, America’s new chief executive set an ambitious agenda with four major goals: cut tariffs, reestablish an independent U.S. Treasury, secure the Oregon Territory and acquire the territories of California and New Mexico from Mexico. Polk eventually achieved all his goals. He was a champion of manifest destiny–the belief that the United States was fated to expand across the North American continent–and by the end of his four years in office, the nation extended, for the first time, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

In 1845, the United States completed its annexation of Texas, which became the 28th state on December 29. This move led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations with Mexico (from which Texas had revolted in 1836). After the United States had sent troops to a disputed border region around the Rio Grande River, the Mexican-American War (1846-48) broke out. The United States won the two-year battle, and as a result, Mexico relinquished its claims to Texas. It also recognized the Rio Grande as America’s southern border and, in exchange for $15 million, ceded the land that makes up all or parts of present-day California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. (Despite the U.S. victory, the war proved controversial and re ignited the slavery extension debate that would ultimately result in the American Civil War in the 1860s.)

With the Oregon Treaty of 1846, Polk managed another significant land acquisition–this time without going to war–when his administration diplomatically settled a border dispute with the British and gained full control of the present-day states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, as well as parts of Montana and Wyoming.

Polk left the White House in March 1849 and returned to his home, Polk Place, in Nashville. The stress of the presidency had left him in poor health, and he died that summer, on June 15, at age 53. He was buried at Polk Place. In 1893, his remains, along with those of his wife, who outlived him by more than 40 years, were moved to the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville.Born: November 2, 1795, Pineville, NC
Died: June 15, 1849, Nashville, TN
Succeeded by: Zachary Taylor
Presidential term: March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
Party: Democratic Party

James Polk (1795-1849) 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 relatively unknown outside of political circles, Polk won the 1844 presidential election as the dark horse candidate. As president, he reduced tariffs, reformed the national banking system and settled a boundary dispute with the British that secured the Oregon Territory for the United States. Polk also led the nation into the Mexican-American War (1846-48), in which the United States 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, he died at age 53.

JAMES POLK’S EARLY YEARS
James Knox Polk was born on November 2, 1795, in a log cabin in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. As a boy, Polk, the eldest of 10 children, moved with his family to Columbia, Tennessee, where his father became a prosperous land surveyor, planter, and businessman. The younger Polk was often sick as a child, and as a teen, he survived a major operation for urinary stones. The surgery was done before the advent of modern antiseptic and anesthesia; Polk was reportedly given some brandy as a sedative. A top student, Polk graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1818 and studied law under a leading Nashville attorney. He was admitted to the bar in 1820 and opened a law practice in Columbia. He entered politics in 1823 when he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives.

JAMES POLK AS PRESIDENT
At age 49, James Polk was younger than any previous president when he entered the White House. A workaholic, America’s new chief executive set an ambitious agenda with four major goals: cut tariffs, reestablish an independent U.S. Treasury, secure the Oregon Territory and acquire the territories of California and New Mexico from Mexico. Polk eventually achieved all his goals. He was a champion of manifest destiny–the belief that the United States was fated to expand across the North American continent–and by the end of his four years in office, the nation extended, for the first time, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

In 1845, the United States completed its annexation of Texas, which became the 28th state on December 29. This move led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations with Mexico (from which Texas had revolted in 1836). After the United States had sent troops to a disputed border region around the Rio Grande River, the Mexican-American War (1846-48) broke out. The United States won the two-year battle, and as a result, Mexico relinquished its claims to Texas. It also recognized the Rio Grande as America’s southern border and, in exchange for $15 million, ceded the land that makes up all or parts of present-day California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. (Despite the U.S. victory, the war proved controversial and re ignited the slavery extension debate that would ultimately result in the American Civil War in the 1860s.)

With the Oregon Treaty of 1846, Polk managed another significant land acquisition–this time without going to war–when his administration diplomatically settled a border dispute with the British and gained full control of the present-day states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, as well as parts of Montana and Wyoming.

Polk left the White House in March 1849 and returned to his home, Polk Place, in Nashville. The stress of the presidency had left him in poor health, and he died that summer, on June 15, at age 53. He was buried at Polk Place. In 1893, his remains, along with those of his wife, who outlived him by more than 40 years, were moved to the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville.