James Knox Polk Olivia Keenan

“No President who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.”

Early Childhood

Born on November 2, 1795. He served his term from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849. His father was Samuel Polk and his mother was Jane Polk. James was the eldest of ten siblings, five brothers and four sisters. Although he was often sick as a child and survived a major operation for urinary stones as a teenager, he still received an education. James K. Polk was homeschooled before attending the University of North Carolina to study law.

Presidential Candidacy

Mr. Polk passed the North Carolina bar in 1820 and began his own practice shortly after in Colombia. When he decided to run for President, he chose the Democratic Party. However, during his candidacy he became know as the first "black horse" representative, meaning he was an unexpected winner. When James Polk got into office he had four goals: cut tariffs, reestablish an independent U.S. Treasury, secure the Oregon Territory and acquire the territories of California and New Mexico from Mexico. All of which he eventually fulfilled.

Life In Office

In 1845, the United States completed its annexation of Texas, which became the 28th state on December 29. Which led to a breakdown of diplomatic relations with Mexico. Thus leading the U.S to war in the Mexican-American War, which lasted for two years from 1846-1848. The United States won the war and, as a result, Mexico relinquished its hold on Texas. Polk also negotiated with Mexico for the land that makes up all or part of present-day California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in exchange for $15 million. With the Oregon Treaty of 1846, his administration gained full control of the present-day states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, as well as parts of Montana and Wyoming. So, by the end of his four years, United States extended—for the first time—from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. James Polk also created an independant U.S Treasury. He also established the U.S. Naval Academy, Smithsonian Institution and Department of Interior. He died on June 15, 1849 in Nashville, TN; age 53.


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