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President James K. Polk

Polk was born in North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Governor of Tennessee. Polk was the dark horse candidate for president in 1844, defeating Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party by promising to annex the Republic of Texas.
Under President Polk vast areas were added to the United States. During his 1845–49 presidency, Polk led the nation to a victory in the Mexican–American War, seizing nearly the whole of what is now the American Southwest. He threatened war with the United Kingdom over the issue of Oregon Country ownership, eventually reaching a settlement in which the British were made to sell the portion that became the Oregon Territory.
He built a treasury system that lasted until 1913, oversaw the opening of the U.S. Naval Academy and of the Smithsonian Institution, the groundbreaking for the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first United States postage stamp.
True to his campaign pledge to serve only one term as President, Polk left office and returned to Tennessee in March 1849. He died of cholera three months later.
"One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights."
James K. Polk, Union Course, L.I., Friday, Oct. 15, 1847 / lith and pub. by N. Currier.
110 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2

Called to account

Once more the House of Representatives investigation of Treasury practices under the Van Buren administration in connection with the Swartwout embezzlement scandal. (See above nos. 1839-6 through -9.) The print... more

The two bridges

As in "Texas Coming In" (no. 1844-28), a bridge over Salt River is the central motif, making the difference between the Whigs' successful crossing to the "Presidential Chair" and the disastrous route taken by t... more

Polk & Co. Going up Salt River

The artist foresees a Democratic defeat in the 1844 presidential election. Party figures Martin Van Buren, Thomas Hart Benton, vice-presidential candidate George M. Dallas, Andrew Jackson, and presidential nomi... more

Political cock fighters

A figurative portrayal of the 1844 presidential contest as a cock-fight, in which Whig candidate Henry Clay prevails. Clay and Democratic opponent Polk battle in a pit or ring as several prominent political fi... more

James Knox Polk. Elected President of the U. States. 1844 / Haas Lith. Washington City.

Print shows James K. Polk, half-length portrait, standing, facing front, with arms folded across chest; sketch of the "Map of the State of Tennessee" to the right.

Virtuous Harry, or set a thief to catch a thief!

A satire on the Whig party's anti-annexation platform. The question of whether or not to annex Texas was a large issue separating candidates in the 1844 campaign. Annexation's serious implications for the futur... more

Treeing coons

One of the few satires sympathetic to the Democrats to appear during the 1844 presidential contest. Democratic presidential nominee James Polk is portrayed as a buckskinned hunter who has treed "coons" Henry Cl... more

A peep at the future

A Whig fantasy on the supposed outcome of the 1844 election. Here Henry Clay and Theodore Frelinghuysen occupy the White House. They watch from a window as John Tyler plays a hand organ and leads a group of mi... more

For President: James K. Polk, of Tennessee. For Vice President: George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania

A Democratic election ticket for the 1844 presidential campaign, issued sometime between May 29, when Polk received the Democratic nomination, and the November canvass. The ticket names the party's eight electo... more

Footrace, Pennsylvania Avenue. Stakes $25,000

The race for a $25,000 prize (the president's salary) is a metaphor for the 1844 campaign. The favored contender here is Henry Clay. The other runners are James K. Polk and John Tyler, while commentaries are of... more

Texas coming in

A pro-Democrat cartoon forecasting the collapse of Whig opposition to the annexation of Texas. James K. Polk, the expansionist candidate, stands at right near a bridge spanning "Salt River." He holds an America... more

Inauguration of President Polk - The Oath

View of crowd with umbrellas, in front of platform on east portico of U.S. Capitol, where Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administers the oath of office to James K. Polk.

James K. Polk - eleventh president of the United States / lith. & pub. by N. Currier, 2 Spruce St., N.Y.

James K. Polk, half-length portrait, seated, facing slightly left, with the U.S. Capitol seen through window in the background.

Distinguished military operations with a hasty bowl of soup

The satire apparently perceives President Polk's reinstatement of Winfield Scott over Zachary Taylor as commander of U.S. forces in the Mexican War in November 1846 as an attempt to squelch the extreme personal... more

Funeral obsequies of free-trade

A gloomy view of the effects of the Polk administration's Tariff of 1846. The artist echoes Whig condemnation of the measure as adverse to American trade. A funeral cortege, composed of administration supporter... more

Battle of Churrubusco

A slightly modified version of "Battle of Cerro Gordo" (no. 1847-2), in all likelihood produced by the same lithographer. The scene is quite similar, except for the inclusion of the later battle (the Battle of ... more

Political game of brag. Shew of hands

The artist resorts to the familiar metaphor of a card game for the presidential stakes in his rendition of the 1848 contest. The major contenders play a game of "brag" (an early form of poker). Around the tabl... more

The fox hunt

Again Van Buren's flirtation with radical interests is portrayed as his downfall. As in "The Modern Colossus" (no. 1848-56) antislavery activist Abby Folsom (here "Abby Fulsome") is prominently featured. Here s... more

The Democratic funeral of 1848

Foreseeing political death for the Democrats in the election, the artist imagines a funeral of the party's standard-bearers with a procession of the faithful. Democratic senators (left to right) Sam Houston of ... more

Political guillotine

A cryptic satire critical of Lewis Cass and incumbent President James K. Polk. The work probably appeared prior to the Whig national convention (June 9-10), since reference is made to a Clay-Fillmore ticket. (T... more

Loco Foco hunters treeing a candidate

A satire on the Democrats' or "Loco Focos'" 1852 pursuit of Franklin Pierce for the presidential nomination. At the foot of the White Mountains in the "Dismal Swamp," an immense, swampy region of North Carolina... more

Sarah Childress Polk, wife of President J.K. Polk / photo of portrait by George Dury.

Photograph showing Mrs. James K. Polk, head-and-shoulder portrait, facing slightly right.

A democratic indignation meeting / after a sketch by our special artist in Elysium ; Keppler.

Print shows the ghost of Thomas Jefferson speaking to a gathering of the ghosts of John Tyler, Lewis Cass, James K. Polk, Stephen A. Douglas, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Jackson, William L. Marcy, Samuel J. Tilden,... more

Close in view of the sail and dry deck shelter (DDS) of the nuclear-powered special operations submarine USS JAMES K. POLK (SSN-645) tied up at a pier

The original finding aid described this photograph as: Base: Port Everglades State: Florida (FL) Country: United States Of America (USA) Scene Camera Operator: OS2 John Bouvia Release Status: Released to P... more

Pilgrims' progress

Democratic party war-horse Andrew Jackson appears frequently in the satires of the 1844 election campaign. Here, wearing a long frock coat and tall hat, he leads a donkey carrying Democratic candidates Polk and... more

[Nashville, Tenn. Tomb of President James K. Polk]

Photograph of the War in the West. These photographs are of Hood before Nashville. Continuing his policy of the offensive at any cost, Gen. John B. Hood brought his reduced army before the defenses of Nashvill... more

[Nashville, Tenn. Tomb of President James K. Polk]

Photograph of the War in the West. These photographs are of Hood before Nashville. Continuing his policy of the offensive at any cost, Gen. John B. Hood brought his reduced army before the defenses of Nashvill... more

[Nashville, Tenn. Tomb of President James K. Polk]

Photograph of the War in the West. These photographs are of Hood before Nashville. Continuing his policy of the offensive at any cost, Gen. John B. Hood brought his reduced army before the defenses of Nashvill... more

James K. Polk--President elect of the United States / lith. & pub. by N. Currier.

James K. Polk, full-length portrait, standing, facing slightly right, his right hand extending to his side, and left hand on drape on table.

James K. Polk--President elect of the United States / lith. & pub. by N. Currier.

James K. Polk, full-length portrait, standing, facing slightly right, his right hand extending to his side, and left hand on drape on table.

Polk in his extremity

Henry Clay's easy ascent to the presidency here is in contrast to the serious difficulties experienced by his Democratic opponent James K. Polk. Clay has reached the top of a large pole and has the "Civic Crow... more