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James Knox Polk

(1795–1849) US Democratic statesman, 11th President of the USA (1845–49). His term of office resulted in major territorial additions to the USA: Texas was admitted to the Union ...

Polk, James Knox

Polk, James Knox   Reference library

Wayne Cutler

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
715 words

...Polk, James Knox ( 1795–1849 ), eleventh president of the United States. A Jacksonian Democrat and devotee of Thomas Jefferson 's agrarian political ideology, Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and reared in Maury County, Tennessee. Graduating with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1818 , he first practiced law and in 1823 won election to the Tennessee legislature. He married Sarah Childress in 1824 . Elected to Congress in 1825 , he opposed President John Quincy Adams 's domestic program of economic development and...

James Gillespie Birney

James Gillespie Birney  

(b. 4 February 1792; d. 25 November 1857), abolitionist and two-time presidential candidate for the Liberty Party.James Gillespie Birney was born in Danville, Kentucky, to a slaveholding family. He ...
Liberty Party

Liberty Party  

The Liberty party was organized in Warsaw, New York, in 1839 by abolitionists convinced that they must take their decade-long antislavery propaganda campaign into the polling booth to accomplish ...
Oregon treaty

Oregon treaty  

1846.The disputed eastern boundary between Canada and the USA was settled by the Ashburton treaty of 1842. The vast area between the Rockies and the Pacific known as the Oregon Territory was covered ...
Expansionism

Expansionism  

Expansionism—the desire of nations and empires to annex lands, peoples, or resources belonging to others—is a peculiar characteristic of a world order where boundaries are subject to the ambitions of ...
Whig Party

Whig Party  

A US political party of the second quarter of the 19th century. The Whig Party was formed in the mid‐1830s by those who opposed what was perceived as the executive tyranny of President Andrew ...
Democratic Party

Democratic Party  

One of the two main political parties in the United States, the other being the Republican party, which follows a broadly liberal program, tending to support social reform and minority rights.[...]
Polk, James K

Polk, James K (b. 2 November 1795)   Reference library

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
613 words

..., James K ( b. 2 November 1795 ; d. 15 June 1849 ), eleventh president of the United States. James Knox Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. His father, Samuel Polk, was a prosperous farmer who owned thousands of acres of land and about fifty slaves in Tennessee. His mother, Jane Knox Polk, was a devout Presbyterian who instilled Calvinist virtues of hard work and self-discipline in her son. The eldest of ten children, Polk was a sickly child. At the age of seventeen he underwent a very dangerous and painful operation in order to have...

Buchanan, James

Buchanan, James   Reference library

Joel H. Silbey

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
359 words

...Buchanan, James ( 1791–1868 ), fifteenth president of the United States. Born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of a storekeeper and farmer, Buchanan was a successful lawyer who soon turned to politics. Originally a Federalist, he became a Jacksonian Democrat, serving successively as a state legislator, congressman, minister to Russia ( 1832–1834 ), U.S. Senator ( 1834–1845 ), secretary of state under James Knox Polk ( 1845–1849 ), and ambassador to Great Britain ( 1853–1856 ). Like other antebellum Democrats, Buchanan distrusted federal power,...

Liberty Party.

Liberty Party.   Reference library

Joel H. Silbey

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
323 words

...1 percent of the national vote in the 1840 presidential election, and just over 2 percent in 1844 . Some historians suggest that its New York State vote in the latter year denied the state to the Whig candidate, Henry Clay , and insured the election of the slaveholder James Knox Polk , but this involves the unlikely assumption that in the Liberty party's absence, its voters would have cast their ballots for Clay. It is more useful to see the Liberty party as an early manifestation a gathering movement that would culminate in the crusades of the Free...

Oregon Trail.

Oregon Trail.   Reference library

David E. Conrad

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
339 words

...often assisted the migrants as well.) By 1844 , with more than five thousand Americans in the Willamette valley, the “Oregon question” dominated U.S. politics. In that year's presidential election, voters in effect risked war with Great Britain by selecting the Democrat James Knox Polk on a platform committed to acquiring Oregon and the slogan “Fifty-four forty or Fight.” The slogan referred to a willingness to fight Great Britain to secure all of the jointly administered Oregon territory. Fifty-four degrees and forty minutes of north latitude was the...

Monroe Doctrine

Monroe Doctrine   Reference library

Howard Jones

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
544 words

...and boasted that he had already secured a noninterventionist pledge from France. As American power grew, however, American presidents increasingly asserted the doctrine to justify U.S. commercial and territorial expansion. In the 1840s, President James Knox Polk articulated what later became known as the Polk Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine in opposing British claims in the Pacific Northwest. The following decade, Americans for the first time referred to the doctrine by name in arguing against British claims in Central America. During the Civil War ,...

Mexican War

Mexican War   Reference library

Robert E. May

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
1,228 words

...the conflict as an outgrowth of U.S. expansionism (expressed in the popular slogan “ Manifest Destiny ,” coined in 1845 ). According to this view, President James Knox Polk was so bent upon acquiring California ports and other Mexican territory, in part to preempt rumored British designs on California, that he provoked war as a pretext for conquest. Other scholars, however, contend that Polk sought a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues and conducted his prewar diplomacy with Mexico in good faith. In an immediate sense, warfare erupted because of...

Bancroft, George

Bancroft, George   Reference library

Lilian Handlin

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
458 words

...was the collectorship of the Boston Customhouse, a growing national reputation, and ties to successive Democratic administrations in Washington. Bancroft's role at the national Democratic convention in 1849 led to his appointment as secretary of the navy in President James Knox Polk 's cabinet. Bancroft played a pivotal role in the Mexican War , firmly espoused Manifest Destiny , and was instrumental in establishing the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After a term as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain ( 1846–1849 ), Bancroft settled in New York...

Taylor, Zachary

Taylor, Zachary   Reference library

Elbert B. Smith

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
400 words

...honored Indian treaties; prevented white settlement of Indian lands; and during the Seminole wars in Florida, refused to return to their owners escaped slaves living with the Seminoles. Although opposed to Texas annexation, Taylor in January 1846 was ordered by President James Knox Polk to advance to the Rio Grande River. A Mexican attack on a unit of his army in April led to the Mexican War . Winning battles against numerical odds, he became a national hero, nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready.” As the Whig party 's presidential candidate in 1848 , he...

Tyler, John

Tyler, John   Reference library

Eric D. Daniels

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
424 words

...and the brewing conflict over slavery , Tyler saw it as an opportunity to defend both the South and states' rights. He negotiated an annexation treaty and waited for southern Jacksonians to assist in its ratification. The Democrats heeded the call in 1844 by nominating James Knox Polk , an ardent annexationist. Bypassing the ratification process that would have required a two-thirds majority for Tyler's treaty, Congress simply admitted Texas by resolution in February 1845 , just days before Tyler left office. In 1860 , Tyler served on a futile peace...

Democratic Party.

Democratic Party.   Reference library

Jean Harvey Baker and Paul S. Boyer

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
1,659 words

...nearly 80 percent of white males were voting in national elections, with the Democrats the majority party controlling Congress and many state legislatures. From 1840 to 1860 , the Democrats displayed considerable resiliency. While they elected presidents James Knox Polk , Franklin Pierce , and James Buchanan in this period, they faced a bitter sectional crisis. Recruiting urban German and Irish immigrants into their ranks, they achieved a nationwide constituency, only to see it shattered in the 1850s by congressional divisions over slavery in the...

Democratic Party

Democratic Party   Reference library

Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
3,829 words

...Democrat who hoped to gain a spot on an important Senate committee was forced to support the party's proslavery agenda. The most successful Democratic presidents—Jackson ( 1829–1837 ) and James Knox Polk ( 1845–1849 )—were also slaveholding southerners. The northern Democratic presidents—Martin Van Buren ( 1837–1841 ), Franklin Pierce ( 1853–1857 ), and James Buchanan ( 1857–1861 )—were classic “doughfaces,” northern men with southern principles. With Democrats controlling the presidency for twenty-four of the thirty years leading up to the Civil...

Expansionism.

Expansionism.   Reference library

Norman A. Graebner

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
2,542 words

... December 1845 , its boundary with an embittered Mexico still undefined. Following Texas's annexation, the James Knox Polk administration pursued Texas's border claims to the Rio Grande. Early in 1846 Polk sent General Zachary Taylor 's army into the disputed region between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande to underscore those claims. In May , the predictable clash of arms led to the U.S. declaration of war against Mexico. From the outset, Polk and Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft were determined to secure Mexico's California territory as...

Federal Government, Executive Branch

Federal Government, Executive Branch   Reference library

David K. Nicholas, Henry F. Graff, Robert David Johnson, Steven L. Rearden, Paul S. Boyer, Jesse Stiller, Richard C. Sawyer, David L. Herzberg, and Daniel J. Tichenor

The Oxford Companion to United States History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
10,273 words

...cabinet-level departments are the largest units of the contemporary executive branch. Department of the Interior (1849). Although a “home affairs” or “interior” department was proposed in the earliest days of the republic, Congress resisted until the administration of James Knox Polk . Polk's treasury secretary, Robert J. Walker , strongly supported an interior department, arguing that managing the public lands of an expanding nation was overly burdensome for his department. Walker was especially daunted by U.S. acquisitions of vast new territories...

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