James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse by Sam W. Haynes
Haynes’ biography of James K. Polk is a little bit different from the traditional biographical book with enumeration of important dates from life of historical figure. Instead the author takes different approach: while recounting development of Polk’s career, he looks at the Polk’s presidency through the lens of expansionism. Though he frames the 11th President as a strong adherent of aggressive territorial expansionism, Haynes also emphasises that Polk’s decisions cannot be separated from the political and social climate of his time. The author renders Polk from one side as the initiator of expansionists political moves, and from the other, as a product of contemporary social beliefs,…show more content… Polk and corresponding political course of his administration. But the author does not assert that it was solely Polk’s desires. Rather Polk is portrayed as an initiative follower of Thomas Jefferson’s and Andrew Jackson’s ideas about American expansion. The belief in potency of a new undeveloped land became the characteristic of that time. “By 1840s, territorial expansion was viewed by many to be a measure of that [America’s] greatness”. It was the time when Manifest Destiny concept, an idea in special role and destiny of the United States, was highly popular. The concept that consequently justified the expansionism and nationalism.
Therefore, Polk’s expansionist impulse, though strong and quite successful, was a product of dominant thoughts that were circulating among Americans. That is way Haynes refers to Polk as being “an agent of Manifest Destiny, not its creator”. However, the author demonstrates how well Polk was following the path acknowledged in Manifest: the annexation of Texas, Oregon, California, war with Mexico are perfectly aligned with the idea of the United States being a continental…show more content… Thus in second chapter Haynes describes the matter of on-going pro-bank and contra-bank debates and collision of the interests of supporting groups that were involved in B.U.S. case. In seventh chapter, the author gives detailed account on annexation of Oregon and Texas. He explains the basis of the disagreement between England and America about Oregon territory. Haynes thoroughly analyzes the status of Texas at that time, and the claims that Mexico and the United States had over it. Further he discusses possible consequences for every country involved into conflict, if England decided to