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James K. Polk

 Related Terms

• Mexican War
Oregon Territory
Zachary Taylor
Andrew Jackson
Martin van Buren


Definition: 11th president. He was president during the Mexican-American War and also brought the Oregon Territory into the Union. He began his political career in the Tennessee state legislature and then moved up to the House of Representatives, also representing Tennessee. He served as Secretary of State under Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren, then returned to Tennessee to become governor. He had always been a supporter of fellow Democrat Andrew Jackson, and this support came back to help him when Jackson supported Polk for president in 1844. Polk favored the annexation of Texas and Oregon and won the presidency partly because he came to be known as "the expansionist candidate." The struggle over the Oregon Territory had the potential to turn nasty, but Polk managed to get a treaty (The Treaty of 1846) that avoided war. (The phrase "54-40 or fight" came out of the struggle over Oregon. It referred to the northern boundary of the Oregon Territory, which was at 54'40' north latitude.) Polk also benefited from strong support at home for the war against Mexico.

Related Resources:
James K. Polk
Find out more about the 11th president.

The Mexican War
See drawings of him, read facts and figures about his victories, etc.

Elsewhere on the Web:
White House Biography
Learn all about the life of this famous American!

Polk and the Settlement of the West
A GREAT overview of the West and its settlement.

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