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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 (1795–1849)   Reference library

John H. Schroeder and Dani Holtz

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013

..., James Knox ( 1795–1849 ), eleventh president of the United States ( 1845–1849 ). Born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on 2 November 1795 , Polk moved to Tennessee with his family in 1806 and graduated from the University of North Carolina. Admitted to the bar in 1820 , Polk became an active Jacksonian Democrat, serving in Congress from 1825 to 1839 , as Speaker of the House from 1835 to 1839 , and as governor of Tennessee from 1839 to 1841 . During the 1844 presidential contest, the first election centered around foreign policy, Polk...

Buchanan, James

Buchanan, James (1791–1868)   Reference library

Joel H. Silbey

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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Subject Reference
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2013

...James ( 1791–1868 ), fifteenth president of the United States, from 1857 to 1861 . Born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of a storekeeper and farmer, James 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...

Monroe Doctrine

Monroe Doctrine   Reference library

Howard Jones

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

...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 (1846–1848)   Reference library

Robert E. May

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

...instability and anti-American sentiment in Mexico may have contributed to hostilities, American expansionism, expressed in the popular slogan “Manifest Destiny,” coined in 1845 , provided the precipitating conditions for the Mexican War. In 1844 , Americans elected James Knox Polk , who followed his vocal commitment to territorial expansion in his campaign (his slogan “54-40 or fight!” threatened Great Britain over the disputed Oregon territory) with a promise in his inaugural address to annex the Republic of Texas. Calling annexation a decision...

Antebellum Era, U.S. Military and Diplomatic Affairs during the

Antebellum Era, U.S. Military and Diplomatic Affairs during the   Reference library

John Belohlavek

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

... also Adams, John Quincy ; Adams–Onís Treaty ; Alamo, Battle of the ; Black Hawk ; Buchanan, James ; Cherokee Cases ; Civil War (1861–1865) , subentry on Causes ; Clay, Henry ; Clayton–Bulwer Treaty ; Expansionism ; Gadsden Purchase ; Ghent, Treaty of ; Jackson, Andrew ; Manifest Destiny ; Mexican War (1846–1848) ; Monroe, James ; Monroe Doctrine ; Native American Wars ; Ostend Manifesto ; Perry, Matthew ; Pierce, Franklin ; Polk, James Knox ; Scott, Winfield ; Taylor, Zachary ; Territories, Legal and Foreign Policy and Status of ; ...

Scott, Winfield

Scott, Winfield (1786–1866)   Reference library

John M. Hart

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

...he opposed, he retired in November 1861 ; he died at West Point in 1866 . [ See also American Service Academies ; Army, U.S. ; Bull Run, Battle of ; Civil War (1861–1865) ; Davis, Jefferson ; Jackson, Andrew ; Mexican War (1846–1848) ; Native American Wars ; Polk, James Knox ; Taylor, Zachary ; and War of 1812 .] Bibliography Eisenhower, John S. D. Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott . New York: Free Press, 1997. Johnson, Timothy D. Winfield Scott: The Quest for Military Glory . Lawrence: University Press of...

Clay, Henry

Clay, Henry (1777–1852)   Reference library

Matthew J. Karp

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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Current Version:
2013

...than in territorial expansion, especially expansion that might lead to an unnecessary war with Mexico. The stance cost him critical support in the South; ultimately, the Democrat and eager annexationist James Knox Polk won the election by just a little more than 1 percent of the popular vote. Clay's fears came to fruition in 1846 when Polk led United States into war with Mexico. A staunch critic of the conflict, Clay spent the final years of his political life working to achieve a sectional détente in the ferocious debate over the fate of slavery in...

State, U.S. Department of

State, U.S. Department of   Reference library

Robert David Johnson and Timothy J. Lynch

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

...; Nixon, Richard M. ; Polk, James Knox ; Powell, Colin ; Rice, Condoleezza ; Roosevelt, Theodore ; Root, Elihu ; Rusk, Dean ; Seward, William ; Stimson, Henry ; State, U.S. Secretaries of ; War of 1812 ; and Wilson, Woodrow .] Bibliography Bemis, Samuel Flagg , and Robert H. Ferrell , eds. American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy . 13 vols. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1963. Glain, Stephen . State vs. Defense: The Battle to Define America's Empire . New York: Crown Publishers, 2011. Halperin, Morton H. , and Priscilla A....

Early Republic, U.S. Military and Diplomatic Affairs during the

Early Republic, U.S. Military and Diplomatic Affairs during the   Reference library

Leonard J. Sadosky

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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...Destiny allowed the Democrat James Knox Polk to defeat the Whig Henry Clay for the presidency in 1844 . Polk campaigned on an aggressive expansionist platform, calling for aggressive diplomacy that would allow for the American annexation of the Oregon Country (the modern Pacific Northwest, including British Columbia) and the immediate annexation of the independent Republic of Texas, which had won its independence from Mexico in 1836 . Mexico had not recognized the independence of its former frontier province, and Polk's aggressive rhetoric put the...

Expansionism

Expansionism   Reference library

Norman A. Graebner and Christopher McKnight Nichols

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

...in 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 well, from...

Constitution, Basis for Diplomacy and War in the

Constitution, Basis for Diplomacy and War in the   Reference library

Louis Fisher

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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... Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were repeatedly authorized by Congress. The War of 1812 against England was declared by Congress. The power of the president as commander in chief is at its low point when there is no standing army and the president must come to Congress to request troops and ships. But when a standing army exists, ready to move at the president's command, the balance of power can shift decisively. The capacity of the president to put the nation at war is illustrated by the actions of President James Knox Polk in 1846 , when he...

Democratic Party

Democratic Party   Reference library

Mark Atwood Lawrence

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

... Carter, Jimmy ; Cleveland, Grover ; Clinton, Bill ; Collective Security ; Containment ; Expansionism ; Ideology as a Factor in U.S. Foreign Relations ; Jackson, Andrew ; Jefferson, Thomas ; Johnson, Lyndon B. ; Kennedy, John F. ; Madison, James ; Neoconservatism ; Obama, Barack ; Polk, James Knox ; Republican Party ; Roosevelt, Franklin Delano ; Trade and Tariffs and U.S. Diplomacy and War ; and Wilson, Woodrow .] Bibliography Johnson, Robert David . Congress and the Cold War . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. McDougall, Walter...

Commander in Chief, President as

Commander in Chief, President as   Reference library

Charles A. Stevenson

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

...for “warlike operations” against the local governments. James Madison , in America's first declared war, the War of 1812 , has been viewed as weak and ineffective. Even after naval encounters proved more decisive, he sought victory by invading Canada. He also had trouble finding competent commanders. James Monroe gave ambiguous orders to Andrew Jackson that led to the seizure of Florida from Spain in 1818 . He later disavowed the orders but kept the territory. James Knox Polk was a hands-on commander in the war with Mexico in 1846–1848 . He...

Congress and Foreign Policy and Military Affairs

Congress and Foreign Policy and Military Affairs   Reference library

Charles A. Stevenson

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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...of the black government of Haiti, fearing slave revolts. James Knox Polk , a onetime Speaker of the House who knew how to manipulate his colleagues, practiced deft brinkmanship to expand U.S. territory. To force Britain to make a deal, he arranged for Congress to abrogate the treaty allowing joint occupation of Oregon. He then sent troops to the border between Texas and Mexico and gave secret orders to the navy to take control of California in case of war. When Mexican soldiers fired on a U.S. patrol, Polk sent a message to Congress asking for a declaration of...

Trade and Tariffs and U.S. Diplomacy and War

Trade and Tariffs and U.S. Diplomacy and War   Reference library

Alfred E. Eckes

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History

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2013

...and help improve bilateral relations with Britain. In 1845 after crop failures the British government repealed the Corn Laws, which had excluded U.S. wheat. This step toward free trade improved prospects for U.S. agricultural exports, and it aided the administration of James Knox Polk ( 1845–1849 ) to gain political support for lowering U.S. tariffs. The Walker Tariff of 1846 , named for Secretary of the Treasury Robert Walker , an enthusiastic free trader, lowered average duties from about 29 percent to 23 percent, opening the way for a surge of...

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