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James K. Polk Biography and Facts For Kids

James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented the state of Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as Speaker of the House and Governor of Tennessee. Polk had vice presidential ambitions, but Andrew Jackson, convinced that Martin Van Buren had committed political suicide by announcing his opposition to the annexation of Texas, urged Polk to consider the presidency. Polk was the “dark horse” (dark horse in U.S. politics, a person unexpectedly chosen by a major party as a candidate for public office, especially for the presidency) candidate for president in 1844, defeating Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party by promising to annex Texas. Polk announced that his administration would achieve “four great measures” : reduction of the tariff; reestablishment of the independent treasury; settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute; and the acquisition of California. Few presidents have worked harder, and few have equaled Polk’s record of attaining specific, stated aims. He labored so strenuously in fact that his health gave way, and he died a few months after leaving office.

Fun Facts and Trivia about James K. Polk

When was James K. Polk born: November 2, 1795
Where was James K. Polk born: Pineville, NC
What college did James K. Polk go to: University of NC
What was James K. Polk’s job before he became president: Lawyer
Who was James K. Polk married to: Sarah Childress Polk
What number president was James K. Polk: 11th
What political party did James K. Polk belong to: Democrat
Who was James K. Polk’s vice president: George M. Dallas
When was James K. Polk president: 1845-1849
How many terms did James K. Polk serve: 1
When did James K. Polk die: June 15, 1849
Where is former president James K. Polk buried: Nashville, TN

James K. Polk Quotes

  • “No President who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.”
  • “The passion for office among members of Congress is very great, if not absolutely disreputable, and greatly embarrasses the operations of the Government. They create offices by their own votes and then seek to fill them themselves.”
  • “I cannot, whilst President of the United States, descend to enter into a newspaper controversy.”
  • “Although… the Chief Magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet in his official action he should not be the President of a party only, but of the whole people of the United States.”

Timeline of the Life of James K. Polk

1795 Born near Pineville, N.C.
1806 Moved to Tennessee.
1824 Married Sarah Childress.
1825 Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
1835 Elected Speaker of the House.
1839 Elected Governor of Tennessee.
1844 Elected President of the Untied States.
1845 Inaugurated as the 11th President of the Untied States.
1845 Texas became a state.
1846 Iowa became a state.
1846-1848 The Mexican War ended in a U.S. victory and annexation of land from Mexico.
1847 First U.S. postage stamps pictured George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.
1848 Wisconsin became a state.
1848 Gold was discovered in California.
1849 James K. Polk Died in Nashville, Tenn.