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Goodbye, Young Hickory
Every state in the country has a county named Polk. It’s after the 11th president, who died on this day back in 1849. Check out the man known as Young Hickory and how he leads the expansion of the US.
James Knox Polk, the eleventh president of the United States, died on this day, June 15, 1849. He was 53.
Wait. Wha??? 53? That’s like eight years from now.
He was born in North Carolina to farmers whose ancestors landed on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, then moved to Pennsylvania. Then finally moved to North Carolina, most likely because of the BBQ.
Polk was the oldest child of ten. Despite his unfortunate birth position, Polk overcame and eventually graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I bet his youngest sibling went to a small school, like Xavier, and is hilarious.
It was at UNC that Polk began his flirtation with politics. He joined debating clubs and once gave the most outstanding oration critique on how horrible Alexander Hamilton was.
Now you know why I like this guy.
After graduating, Polk moved to Nashville, Tennessee, like everyone seems to be doing nowadays. He ran for the Tennessee House of Representatives and defeated the incumbent. One strategic move I can get behind was where the Polk campaign passed out booze to voters at the polls.
I really like this guy.
Polk married Sarah Childress, from a prominent Tennessee family, who had ties with the seventh president of the United States. After the 1824 election, which saw Jackson lose because of the vote in the House of Representatives, Polk hitched his wagon to Jackson, ran for the 6th district, presumably got everyone drunk, and won.
Young Hickory was a staunch supporter of Old Hickory's policies when the latter won the White House four years later. After a stint as the House Ways and Means Committee chair, Polk became Speaker of the House by 1836. Jacksonian Democracy was in full effect.
By 1839, Polk returned to Tennessee and was elected governor. However, two years later, he lost reelection. I guess he ran out of alcohol at this point. Polk was a teetotaler, by the way.
In 1844, both the Democratic and Whig Parties held their presidential nominating convention in Baltimore, which is weird. There are in fact, other cities in America in 1844. I looked it up.
The sitting president, John Tyler, had upset leaders in his Whig Party and wasn't nominated. So instead, they went with Henry Clay out of Kentucky. You can go ahead and chuckle here; it's okay.
I’ll Take Wild Ways to Win for $500, Alex
Polk took the Democratic nomination on the seventh ballot, and in the fall, captured the White House despite losing his home and birth state to Clay. So now you can laugh out loud at Clay. Hamilton’s legacy, y'all.
The Polk administration had four objectives – create an independent treasury. Reduce tariffs. Go get Oregon, and take California. He vigorously pursued and successfully accomplished his goals.
The War with Mexico was provoked by Polk to meet his expansion referendum. The United States is the United States because of his delivery of Manifest Destiny. However, Polk supported slavery as an economic driver for successful expansion because you can’t make money unless you own people. Whatever.
In 1848, Polk kept his campaign promise to serve only one term and what a term it was. He added over a million square miles of land. His Supreme Court nominees would decide Dread Scott, and he placed eight federal judges on various lower courts.
A year later, at 53, Polk most likely caught cholera and died at his home in Nashville.
Have I mentioned he was 53? Do you know who else is 53? Joey from Friends. Julia Roberts is 53. Crazy.
Polk rates high in the DPPR. Polk strengthened the presidency when it was necessary to secure the lands that would make the United States the powerful country it would become from sea to shining sea.
You can’t have a song that goes: From sea to shining, middle of Kansas farmland.
Will he appear near the top again? What do you know about Polk? When do you turn 53? If you've been 53, what was the best part of being 53? I bet not being dead is near the top.
At a party you can ask someone, do you know how old James Polk was when he died? Because I do, okay.
This is why I blog. To help you at random parties.