US Presidents
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U.S. Presidents
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George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William H. Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William H. Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon
Gerald R. Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama


Key Dates

1818 James Polk graduated from University of North Carolina.

1820 James began to practice law.

1828 Polk was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1835 James Polk was named Speaker of the House of Representatives.

1839 Polk became governor of Tennessee.

1844 James K. Polk was elected President.

1846 Polk declared war on Mexico.

1846 U.S. and Britain settled the boundary between Canada and the Oregon Territory.

1847 General Winfield Scott’s troops captured Mexico City. Mexico was defeated.

1848 Gold was discovered in California. U.S. acquired California in a treaty with Mexico.

1848 President James K. Polk declined to run for a second term.

1848 Zachary Taylor, hero in the Mexican War became President.

1849 Polk died at their Tennessee home.



James K. Polk
1845 - 1849
Eleventh President

James K. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on November 2, 1795. He was the first President born in North Carolina.

James attended the University of North Carolina.

When he was 17 he had urinary stones. He needed surgery. Dr. McDowell performed the operation. The legs were secured with straps. He was cut open without any pain killer except whisky.

Polk was 5' 8" tall.

He was a colonel in the Tennessee militia.

He was a workaholic who worked long, long hours.

Polk owned slaves.

James Knox Polk met Sarah Childress in 1821. He proposed to her in 1823.

James won seven straight terms in the House and became Speaker of the House.

President Polk was one of only three Presidents that didn't have any children.



He was called "Young Hickory" because Andrew Jackson, "Ole Hickory,"was his mentor and both were from Tennessee.

James Polk was the first president to have his inauguration reported by telegraph. Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, tapped out his address.

He was the first and only President who had been Speaker of the House before he became president.

Polk's Vice President was George M. Dallas (1845-1849).

He was the first president to have "Hail to the Chief" played when he entered a room fort a formal occasion. Some believe his wife Sarah started this tradition because Polk was short. People would know he was there even if they couldn't see him in the crowd.

James K. Polk was the most successful president in American history. During the 1844 campaign, he made 5 promises: to acquire California from Mexico, to settle the Oregon dispute, to lower the tariff, to establish a sub-treasury, and to retire from the office after 4 years. When he left office, his campaign promises had all been fulfilled.

Mexico broke off relations with the United States right after Polk was elected.

He was the first "dark horse" (long shot) presidential nominee in U.S. history.

President Polk was the first president in office to have his photo taken (1849). He was not the first president to have his picture taken.


President James K. Polk, ca. 1840's
National Archives and Records Administration

During his term a national election day was set. The federal election for President was set as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

James Buchanan served as his Secretary of State.

The first annual White House Thanksgiving dinner was hosted by his wife Sarah.

The first gaslight was turned on in the White House during Polk's administration, December 29, 1848.

During his administration, Polk's postmaster General introduced postage stamps in the United States.

The United States Naval Academy was established during his term in office.

Polk supported the acquisition of Texas into the United States. It was a major part of his campaign.

President Polk banned hard liquor and dancing in the White House.

James Polk fulfilled all his campaign promises. During his administration Polk acquired California from Mexico, settled the Oregon dispute, lowered tariffs, established a sub-treasury, and retired from office after one term.

Texas became a state (1845) during the Polk administration. Iowa also joined union while he was President

James Polk was the first President to voluntarily serve one term.

Polk had ruined his health from overwork while in office. He died of exhaustion only 3 months after his term ended.

Polk signed the bill that created the Smithsonian Museum.

Postage stamps were introduce while he was president.

James K. Polk died in Nashville Tennessee on June 15, 1849. He was 53 years and 225 days old. He is buried in the State Capitol Ground, Nashville, Tenn.

Some historians believed he worked so hard as president and that it killed him. He died shortly after he left office.

Quotes:

"We have a country as well as a party to obey."

'No President who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure."

“I prefer to supervise the whole operations of the Government myself rather than entrust the public business to subordinates, and this makes my duties very great.”

 

 

Topics


NEW Facts about the Inaugurations

Nicknames for the Presidents

First Ladies

Presidents who died in office

Assassinations and Assassination Attempts

Vice Presidents who became Presidents

Presidential Salaries

Oldest living Presidents

Presidents' Military Service

Preidential Timeline of Key Dates

Books about U.S. President

Pets of the Presidents

Chronlogical (by Year) Order
Of the Presidents.

 



Sources:

The Presidents of the United States. 22 September 2004: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/

Davis, Gibbs and Ilus. David A. Johnson. Wackiest White House Pets. New York: Scholastic Press, October 2004

James, Barber and Amy Pastan. Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies. New York: DK Publishing, 2002

Kane, Joseph Natan. Facts about the Presidents from Washington to Johnson. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1964.

McCullough, Noah, The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia. Random House, USA, 2006

Pine, Joslyn, Presidential Wit and Wisdom: Memorable Quotes from George Washington to Barack Obama . Dover Publications, Mineola, New York, 2009

Huffington Post web site.

Lang, Stephen, The Complete Book of Presidential Trivia, Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, 2011

O'Reilly, Bill, and Dugard, Martin, Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2011

St. George, Judith In the Line of Fire: Presidents' Lives at Stake , Scholastic Inc. New York, 2001

In addition to these books, I have also read and have used information from those listed on my Books About President page.

 

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This page was last updated on Saturday, March 9, 2013

For comments or corrections email jim@anewadventure.org.