Monday, May 09, 2005

James K. Polk: The Last of the Jacksonians

Future President James K. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795. By future President I mean that he became President after his birth, not that he will be President in OUR future. Although, that would be pretty cool. They could bring him back to life like in that movie "The Re-animator". I can see the headlines now:

Re-animated and Re-elected!


"He Polked Her!" A re-animated Polk Beats Hillary Clinton


Bill Clinton Admits: "I Had an Affair with Martha Washington's Re-animated Head"

Yes, it would be an interesting age.

Anyway, Polk was lawyer by trade, served in the Tennessee legislature, and was a friend of Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson was the first "common man" to become President and those that followed his political values were called Jacksonians. The other two famous Jacksonians were President Martin Van Buren and Tito.

Polk was the last of the Jacksonians to occupy the White House.

In the House of Representatives, Polk served as Speaker between 1835 and 1839. He left the house to become Governor of Tennessee. Before the election of 1844 Polk was a leading Vice Presidential candidate. However, his ideas about expansion thrust him forward making him the Democratic nominee. Polk was very interested in expanding the country by taking Texas from Mexico and Oregon from the British.

Polk won the election of 1844, beating Whig candidate Henry Clay. This was one of the first big Presidential upsets. Polk was relatively unknown before his nomination, so much so that the Whig slogan was "Who is James K. Polk?” .

As President, Polk was instrumental in the annexation of Texas and Oregon. He then set his sights on California. Polk offered Mexico 20 million dollars for the Golden State. Mexico refused and eventually Congress declared war on Mexico. In 1848 Mexico gave California AND New Mexico to the U.S. for just 15 million dollars.

Polk left office having been profoundly successful in just one term. He died just a few moths later at the age of 53.


The musical group "They Might Be Giants" wrote a song about him.

Polk was the first President to have his photograph taken.

Polk's wife did not allow card playing, dancing, or drinking in the White House.

His middle name was Knox.


Always wore his underwear on the outside of his pants.

Was the first President to say "Wait, take the picture again! My eyes were closed."

Once worked as a dancing instructor until a student said "Look its Polk doing the Polka." After that he cried and left the industry.

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