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James K. Polk

The 11th President. His Record of Success Speaks for Itself.

James Knox Polk was the right President of the United States for the time. As 11th President, he came to that high office as a young and aggressive 49-year-old with much experience. It was a time when the nation was expanding westward and needed a shrewd and resolute leader. He resolved the Oregon boundary dispute with Britain, annexed Texas and California, and parts of the Southwest. During Polkís term, the continental boundaries of the U.S. became a recognizable reality. James K. Polk was born November 2, 1795, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. On both sides of his family he was of Scottish and Ulster-Scottish descent. Poor health interfered with his education, but he was graduated from the University of North Carolina with high honors and a masterís degree. He studied law and served in the Tennessee legislature and as a Tennessee congressman. He was speaker of the house for four years. Later he was governor of Tennessee. His aggressive, positive stands on national issues brought him into the limelight, and he was nominated by the Democratic party convention for President and elected in 1845. As president he moved quickly to settle boundary disputes, stimulate trade, establish a Department of the Interior, establish the U.S. Naval Academy, authorize the Smithsonian Institution, and proclaim the validity of the Monroe Doctrine. His diaries indicate that his fragile health suffered from the burdens of office and particularly the patronage system which brought hordes of job seekers to his attention. At the end of his term March 4, 1849, he retired to his home in Nashville where he died three months later on June 15, 1849.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546