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US Presidents!

 
Welcome to the US Presidents Family Tree Databases...
If there is a Howard Connection that we have discovered, it will be so noted...
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Portraits of Presidents and First Ladies

  Photo of James Polk

11. JAMES KNOX POLK 1845-1849

Often referred to as the first "dark horse" President, James K. Polk was the last of the Jacksonians to sit in the White House, and the last strong President until the Civil War.

He was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795. Studious and industrious, Polk was graduated with honors in 1818 from the University of North Carolina. As a young lawyer he entered politics, served in the Tennessee legislature, and became a friend of Andrew Jackson.

In the House of Representatives, Polk was a chief lieutenant of Jackson in his Bank war. He served as Speaker between 1835 and 1839, leaving to become Governor of Tennessee.

Until circumstances raised Polk's ambitions, he was a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for Vice President in 1844. Both Martin Van Buren, who had been expected to win the Democratic nomination for President, and Henry Clay, who was to be the Whig nominee, tried to take the expansionist issue out of the campaign by declaring themselves opposed to the annexation of Texas. Polk, however, publicly asserted that Texas should be "re-annexed" and all of Oregon "re-occupied."

The aged Jackson, correctly sensing that the people favored expansion, urged the choice of a candidate committed to the Nation's "Manifest Destiny." This view prevailed at the Democratic Convention, where Polk was nominated on the ninth ballot.

"Who is James K. Polk?" Whigs jeered. Democrats replied Polk was the candidate who stood for expansion. He linked the Texas issue, popular in the South, with the Oregon question, attractive to the North. Polk also favored acquiring California.

Even before he could take office, Congress passed a joint resolution offering annexation to Texas. In so doing they bequeathed Polk the possibility of war with Mexico, which soon severed diplomatic relations.

In his stand on Oregon, the President seemed to be risking war with Great Britain also. The 1844 Democratic platform claimed the entire Oregon area, from the California boundary northward to a latitude of 54'40', the southern boundary of Russian Alaska. Extremists proclaimed "Fifty-four forty or fight," but Polk, aware of diplomatic realities, knew that no course short of war was likely to get all of Oregon. Happily, neither he nor the British wanted a war.

He offered to settle by extending the Canadian boundary, along the 49th parallel, from the Rockies to the Pacific. When the British minister declined, Polk reasserted the American claim to the entire area. Finally, the British settled for the 49th parallel, except for the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The treaty was signed in 1846.

Acquisition of California proved far more difficult. Polk sent an envoy to offer Mexico up to $20,000,000, plus settlement of damage claims owed to Americans, in return for California and the New Mexico country. Since no Mexican leader could cede half his country and still stay in power, Polk's envoy was not received. To bring pressure, Polk sent Gen. Zachary Taylor to the disputed area on the Rio Grande.

To Mexican troops this was aggression, and they attacked Taylor's forces.

Congress declared war and, despite much Northern opposition, supported the military operations. American forces won repeated victories and occupied Mexico City. Finally, in 1848, Mexico ceded New Mexico and California in return for $15,000,000 and American assumption of the damage claims.

President Polk added a vast area to the United States, but its acquisition precipitated a bitter quarrel between the North and the South over expansion of slavery.

Polk, leaving office with his health undermined from hard work, died in June 1849.

NOTES:
"......THE EXPANSIONIST"

"President Polk added a vast area to the United States....."

"extended the Canadian boundary, along the 49th parallel, except for the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The treaty was signed in 1846.

"American forces won repeated victories and occupied Mexico City. Finally, in 1848, Mexico ceded New Mexico and California in return for $15,000,000 and American assumption of the damage claims"

James Polk ancestral home web
White House web biography
Biography here: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Knox_Polk

..."last of the Jacksonians to sit in the White House, and the last strong President until the Civil War"

Ranked as the 10th greatest President (out of 39) by a Federalist Society poll in 2000 designed to remedy the flaws in this type of survey. The Wall Street Journal summarized this survey in a June 10, 2004 article in their Opinion Journal. "Three presidents made the cut as "great": George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. They are the top three finishers in most surveys of scholars." "Eight presidents were judged "near great," including Mr. Reagan, who finished eighth. Among them only James K. Polk (10th) served just one term." "Among recent presidents, only Mr. Reagan ranked as "near great." JFK (18th) and LBJ (17th) were "above average," George H.W. Bush (21st) and Bill Clinton (24th) "average," and Richard Nixon (33rd), Gerald Ford (28th) "

The following from: http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/jkpolk.html

11th President of the United States from 1845 - 1849
Nickname: "Young Hickory"

Father: Samuel Polk
Mother: Jane Knox Polk
Married: Sarah Childress (1803-1891), on January 1, 1824
Children: None

Religion: Presbyterian
Education: Graduated from the University of North Carolina (1818)
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Democratic
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

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 anethesia 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 his had been done.

Links to Relatives:
John and Susan Howell
Third Cousin 7 Times Removed of Elizabeth Jane & Jack Howell. Common ancestor is William B. Polk
http://www.jhowell.com/tng/getperson.php?personID=I750&tree=1

US PRESIDENTS
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry 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 Garfield
Chester Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
William J. Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama

 

 

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