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James K.Polk: A Presidential Unit

James Knox Polk was the 11th US President, was born 2 Nov 1795 in Near Pineville, Mecklenberg County, North Carolina. He was the eldest of 10 children. Polk died 15 June 1849, only a few months after leaving office.

Political Party: Democrat
Years Served: 4 March 1845 – 3 March 1849
Vice President(s): George Dallas
Name of his parents: Samuel Polk and Jane Knox
Wife’s name: Sarah Childress
Yearly Salary as President: $25,000.00
Physical Stature: 5 feet, 8 inches
State of Birth: North Carolina


“James Polk was the eldest of ten children. He was sickly and therefore spared doing his share of farm chores. Although he had little formal education, he was studious and after graduating from the University of North Carolina he studied law. Politics proved more exciting than practicing law, and soon Polk was involved in state and then national politics. He was nominated at the Democratic Presidential Convention on the ninth ballot. He was the first ‘Dark Horse’ candidate to run and then win the presidency. During his tenure America had its largest growth. He guided the nation through the Mexican War and settled the Oregon boundary. He was able to complete the program he outlined during the campaign – something few presidents are able to do. He kept his campaign promise and did not seek a second term.”

On Line Lesson Plans:

James Polk from TeacherVision
James Polk from DiscoverySchool.com
Presidential Thinkquest


Coloring Pages, Crafts, and Fun Activities:

Presidential Finger Puppets
Annie’s Page
John Tyler from Enchanted Learning


On Line Resources:

Biography of James Polk
James Polk’s Home
James Knox Polk’s Index
Who Was James K. Polk?
American Presidents’ Life Portraits
The American Presidency from Grollier
White House Historical Society
The History Buff -- US Presidents
Roll Call of the Presidents


Trivia Questions:

1. What other political offices did Polk hold? [Answer: 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]

Of Note:

First “dark horse” candidate for president – a person who was not well known before running for office.

First president whose mother lived longer than he.

Baptized a week before his death.

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.

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