James K. Polk

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James K. Polk (Young Hickory)


James Knox Polk was born on November 2, 1795 in Mecklenburg County,Carolina. He began his political career as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1823-1825. In 1825 he became a member of the Unites States House of Representatives. His political career was furthered in 1835 when he was elected the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives. He later became the Governor of Tennessee before ending up becoming the 11th President of the United States. Polk was the underdog going into his presidential election but he managed to come out on top beating his competitor Henry Clay by 65 electoral votes.


For his whole life Polk had owned slaves so he was certainly not opposed to the idea. Abolitionists criticized Polk for his beliefs and claimed that he supported the War with Mexico and the Annexing of Texas in order to spread slavery. Although, a diary belonging to Polk was discovered later on and Polk had written that he did not believe in expanding slavery into the lands recovered through the Mexican War. Regardless of this, when the Wilmot Proviso was introduced to Polk he refused to endorse it.


Polk is looked at as being the President who made the United States a coast-to-coast nation. Among many other achievements he expanded the size of the United States by about a third. He is also thought of as being the strongest president between Jackson and Lincoln. He increased the amount of executive power the president had specifically pertaining to war powers and the President's role as the Commander and Chief. People liked Polk because everything that he said he would accomplish during his presidency he did, unlike most other politicians.