James K. Polk

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James Knox Polk was the 11th president of the United States and the last to own slaves. During his presidency, territorial expansion of Texas and the Southwest was accomplished through the Mexican-American War and the Oregon Territory Northern Boundary was established between the United States and Canada. The Department of Interior, the Naval Academy and the Smithsonian were also established during his time as president. As he promised, he served only one term as president and died of cholera three months after leaving office. Polk was a shrewd business man, he established a plantation with slaves in North Mississippi while in office. Polk was born on November 2, 1795 in Pineville, North Carolina. He was the son of Jane and Samuel Polk. He was named after his mother’s father, James Knox. When he was eleven, his family moved to the Duck River area in Middle Tennessee. In his youth, James Polk had health issues and at the age of seventeen, he had surgery to remove urinary stones. The surgery was performed with brandy, the only anesthetic at that time. The surgery was successful, but it is believed that it left him sterile because he never fathered children. On New Year’s Day in 1824, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, he married Sarah Childress. Andrew Jackson encouraged the growth of their romance while they were dating. Sarah had an active role in James’s career as she helped him write speeches, and offered him advice on policy matters. At the age of twenty-nine, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. While serving seven terms, he was selected as Speaker of the House. He then returned to Tennessee to run and be elected as Governor. In the presidential election of 1844, Polk was a favorite for the ... ... middle of paper ... ...lk’s time as President took a toll on his health. When he left office, he had lost weight and his physical appearance had changed dramatically. He contracted cholera while visiting New Orleans. Three months after leaving office, he died, making him the youngest former President to die at the age of 53. He was buried at Polk Place in Nashville, Tennessee. Eventually he and his wife were moved to the Tennessee state Capitol. Works Cited “America’s Story from America’s Library. U. S. Naval Academy was Formed”. Library Congress. Web. 3, May 2014. www.americaslibrary.gov “James Polk Biography. Facts, Birthday, Life Story”. Web. 4, May 2014. www.bioraphy.com “Slavemaster President: The Double Career of James Polk”. Web. 2, May 2014. https://books.google.com “Smithsonian Seriously Amazing. Our History”. Smithsonian Institute. Web. 3, May 2014. www.si.edu.

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