Jessica: James Polk

A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, The Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent, by Robert Merry

Polk kind of crept out of the woodwork to be elected the 11th President of the United States. He never really campaigned for the job, it just kind of fell into his lap. President Polk wanted to be a chip off the old Andrew Jackson block but lacked the fire and charisma that was Andrew Jackson.

What I learned from this book:
1) Polk and his wife never had children because of a major operation when he was young, Polk was either sterile or impotent.

2) Polk was the type of guy that lived by the creed “If you want something done, you have to do it yourself”. He had a lot of trouble handing over the reigns.

3) Future president James Buchanan was personally chosen by Polk to be his Sec. of State. The two did not see eye to eye at all.

4) Polk promised to be a one term only president.

5) Polk had 4 main objections to accomplish during his presidency:
a. Re-establish the Independent Treasury System (check)
b. Reduce Tariffs (check)
c. Acquire the Oregon territory (check)
d. Acquire California/Texas/New Mexico/Arizona from Mexico (check).
Polk even started a war for the last objective. And lets just say that the war did not make him a popular guy.

I wish the book would have covered a bit more of Polk’s personal life. I would have been very interested to learn more about his relationship with his wife. It seemed like because they had no family of their own that Polk would work late hours and not be home much. I would have liked to know how that might have affected his relationship with his wife. I was dissapointed that we didn’t get more of Polk as a man instead of just a politician.

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