James K. Polk

POTUS: Presidents of the United States

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Portrait, James Knox PolkJames Knox Polk 11th President of the United States (March 4, 1845 to March 3, 1849) Nickname: “Young Hickory” Born: November 2, 1795, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Died: June 15, 1849, in Nashville, Tennessee

Father: Samuel Polk Mother: Jane Knox Polk Married: Sarah Childress Polk (1803-1891), on January 1, 1824 Children: None Religion: Presbyterian Education: Graduated from the University of North Carolina (1818) Occupation: Lawyer Political Party: Democrat Other Government Positions:

  • Member of Tennessee House of Representatives, 1823-25
  • Member of U.S. House of Representatives, 1825-39
  • Speaker of the House, 1835-39
  • Governor of Tennessee, 1839-41

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Presidential Election Results:
YearPopular VotesElectoral Votes
1844James K. Polk1,338,464170
Henry Clay1,300,097105

Vice President: George M. Dallas (1845-1849) Cabinet:

Secretary of State
tiny U.S. flagJames Buchanan (1845-1849)
Secretary of the Treasury
Robert J. Walker (1845-1849)
Secretary of War
William L. Marcy (1845-1849)
Attorney General
John Y. Mason (1845-46)
Nathan Clifford (1846-48)
Isaac Toucey (1848-49)
Postmaster General
Cave Johnson (1845-1849)
Secretary of the Navy
George Bancroft (1845-46)
John Y. Mason (1846-49)

Supreme Court Appointments:

Associate Justice
Levi Woodbury (1845-51)
Robert Cooper Grier (1846-70)

Notable Events:

Internet Biographies:

James K. Polk — from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
James K. Polk — from American Presidents: Life Portraits — C-SPAN
Biographical information, trivia, key events, video, and other reference materials. Website created to accompany C-SPAN’s 20th Anniversary Television Series, American Presidents: Life Portraits.
James Polk — from U.S. Presidents
From the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in addition to information on the Presidents themselves, they have first lady and cabinet member biographies, listings of presidential staff and advisers, and timelines detailing significant events in the lives of each administration.

Historical Documents:

Inaugural Address (1845)

Other Internet Resources:

People in THE WEST
The documentary THE WEST by Ken Burns and Stephen Ives discusses Polk’s role in expanding the U.S. borders westward.

Points of Interest:

  • A week before he died, Polk was baptized a Methodist.
  • Gaslights were installed in the White House while Polk was a resident.
  • Polk survived a gallstone operation at age 17 without anesthesia or antiseptics. Those medical practices were not used at the time.
  • The first annual White House Thanksgiving dinner was hosted by Sarah Polk.
  • Sarah Polk 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 this had been done.

Previous President: tiny U.S. flagJohn Tyler | Next President: tiny U.S. flagZachary Taylor

©1996-2008. Robert S. Summers. All rights reserved.

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