By: Maria Villegas


James Knox Polk was born on November 2, 1795 in a farmhouse located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. His father was Samuel Polk and his mother Jane Polk, he had one sibling who's name was William Hawkins Polk. The family followed James's grandfather to frontier Tennessee, a difficult journey of nearly five hundred miles by wagon, to carve farms and plantations out of the wilderness. James's father, Samuel Polk, prospered in Tennessee, owning thousands of acres of land and more than fifty slaves at his death in 1827. His success in farming enabled him to dabble in local politics, and he actively supported fellow Tennessean Andrew Jackson's presidential campaign in 1824. Tennessee was place where he studied. Polk was graduated with honors in 1818 from the University of North Carolina. As a young lawyer he entered politics, served in the Tennessee legislature, and became a friend of Andrew Jackson. Polk was a chief lieutenant of Andrew Jackson in his Bank war. He served as Speaker between 1835 and 1839, and left to become Governor of Tennessee.

Important Information

James K. Polk grew with an ambitious mind and entered to run for president. In 1844 Polk was also a leading nominee for Democratic president, although Martin Van Buren, who had been expected to win the Democratic nomination for President, and Henry Clay, who was to be the Whig nominee, tried to take the expansionist issue out of the campaign by declaring themselves opposed to the annexation of Texas. Polk, however, publicly asserted that Texas should be "re-annexed" and all of Oregon "re-occupied."

People favored expansion, so urged the choice of a candidate committed to the Nation's "Manifest Destiny." This view prevailed at the Democratic Convention, where Polk was nominated on the ninth ballot. Polk was the candidate who stood for expansion.