James Polk

James Knox Polk (1795 - 1849)

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President James Knox Polk
Born in Pineville, Mecklenburg, North Carolina, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1 Jan 1824 in Nr. Murfreesboro, Rutherford Co., Tennessee, USAmap
Died in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 10 Apr 2020 | Created 18 Mar 2011
This page has been accessed 13,402 times.
The Presidential Seal.
James Polk was the President of the United States.
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Preceded by
10th President
John Tyler

Preceded by
12th Speaker

John Bell

Preceded by
8th Governor

Newton Cannon
James K. Polk
11th President
of the United States
Presidential Seal

13th Speaker of the
US House of Representatives
Speaker of the House

9th Governor of
Succeeded by
12th President
Zachary Taylor

Succeeded by
14th Speaker

Robert M. T. Hunter

Succeeded by
10th Governor

James C. Jones



James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849) was the 11th President of the United States (1845–1849). Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.[1] He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives (1835–1839) and Governor of Tennessee (1839–1841). Polk was the surprise (dark horse) candidate for president in 1844, defeating Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party by promising to annex Texas. Polk was a leader of Jacksonian Democracy during the Second Party System.[1]

James Knox Polk was the eldest child of ten to be born to Samuel Polk and Jane Knox on November 2nd, 1793. He was born on a 250-acre farm in Pineville, North Carolina moving to Tennessee at age 11. He had 5 brothers and 4 sisters. [2]

  1. Jane Maria Polk Walker,(Jan. 14, 1798-Oct. 11, 1876)
  2. Lydia Eliza Polk Caldwell Richmond(1800-1864),
  3. Naomi Tate Polk Harris(July 2, 1809- Aug. 6, 1836)
  4. Ophelia Clarissa Polk Hayes (Sep. 6, 1812- Apr. 18, 1856)
  1. Franklin Ezekiel Polk (1802- Jan. 21, 1831)
  2. Marshall Tate Polk(Jan 15, 1805- Apr. 5, 1831)
  3. John Lee Polk(May 23, 1807- Sep. 28, 1831)
  4. William Hawkins Polk (May 24, 1815- Dec. 16, 1862)
  5. Samuel Washington Polk (Oct. 17, 1817- Feb. 24, 1839)

Upon graduation, he studied law in Nashville and then established a law practice in Columbia, Tennessee.

Polk courted Sarah Childress, and they married on January 1, 1824 in Murfreesboro.[17] Polk was then 28, and Sarah was 20 years old. They had no children.

His major achievements were: the establishment of the northern border of the United States at the 49th Parallel; and the acquisition of California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming which established the coast-to-coast expansion of the United States.

He retired at the end of his term in March 1849 and died just three months later on June 15th 1849, James Knox Polk died at his home, Polk Place, Nashville, Davidson Co., Tennessee.

Freemasons: "James K. Polk -November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849 March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849 Initiated on June 5, 1820 in Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tennessee."

Initially entombed at his home, his remains were moved to the Tennessee state capitol in 1893.

Sarah Polk Jetton Fall was the adopted daughter of 11th Pres. James Knox and Sarah (Childress) Polk. Her husband was George William Fall, b. Jan 1835, Kentucky - d. Tennessee. [3]

James K. Polk was the youngest president to be elected (as of 1844) and he still remains the youngest president to die excluding those who have been assassinated. He is considered to be the best one-term president.


  • 1795 Nov 02: James Knox Polk born.
  • 1813: Begins his formal education at the age of 18.
  • 1816 - 1818: Entered the University of North Carolina and graduated with honors.
  • 1823 - 1825: A member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
  • 1824 Jan 01 Married Sarah Childress.
  • 1825 - 1839: A member of the U.S. House of Representatives including serving as its speaker from 1835-39.
  • 1839 - 1841 Governor of Tennessee.
  • 1845 Mar 04 - 1849 Mar 04 President of the USA.
  • 1846 - 1848 Much of Polk's time in office was taken up with the Mexican War which began in 1846 over the disputed border between the two countries. In February 1848, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed ending the war. By this treaty, the border was fixed at the Rio Grande and the USA had gained California and Nevada amongst other present day territories.
  • 1849 Jun 15 James Knox Polk died of cholera at home at the age of 53.
  • 1893 His remains moved from his tomb at his home, Polk Place, to the Tennessee state capitol.

James K. Polk's Inauguration

Elected with a public mandate for the admission of Texas into the Federal Union, James K. Polk underscored this mandate in his inaugural speech and became the eleventh president of the United States on March 4, 1845. With Polk's encouragement and support, Congress approved a joint-resolution to offer Texas statehood on February 28, 1845. The following July, the Texas legislature accepted. On December 29, 1845, Polk signed the Texas Admissions Act, making Texas the twenty-eighth state to enter the Union. After a stormy term in office, including a successful war against Mexico to acquire Texas, Polk declined to run for re-election.[4]


  • Presbyterian - but a week before he died, he was baptized a Methodist.
  • James Polk and his siblings were raised in the strict Presbyterian traditions of their Scotch-Irish family.


Tennessee State Capitol Building and Grounds
Place: Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee [5]


  • Eleven U.S. states have named counties in President Polk's honor. They are: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.


  1. Wikipedia: James K. Polk
  2. Answers on the web: Who Were James Polk's Siblings?
  3. Sarah Childress Polk: A Biography of the Remarkable First Lady By John R. Bumgarner
  4. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/inaugural-exhibit.html
  5. Find a Grave Memorial # 823, James Polk

Photo: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/dag/item/2004664042/

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Comments: 6

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May we add that he too was a Freemason?

Category: Freemasonry "James K. Polk November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849 March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849 Initiated on June 5, 1820 in Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tennessee."

posted by Carole Taylor
In the Religion section, it should read "Scotch-Irish Family" vice "Scottish Irish". The Scots did not think of there roots in Irland.
posted by [Living Moore]
Polk-874 and Polk-56 appear to represent the same person because: same dates and family
posted by Robin Lee
Polk-445 and Polk-56 appear to represent the same person because: same
posted by Todd Altic
Polk-445 and Polk-56 are not ready to be merged because: more research needs to be done. There are many differences in the data and information.
posted by M. (Stewart) H.
Hello Mary,

I've spent most of the day reading about President James K. Polk and modifying his profile. I hope you approve of the changes. The weight of evidence would suggest that there are 2 main areas of discrepancy on his profile. 1. He had no children yet 5 are attributed to him and Sarah Childress. 2. He had 5 brothers and 4 sisters. Again there are 4 too many siblings on his profile.

As the profile manager, would you like to address these issues with the appropriate people, please?

Thanks, Kevin

posted by Kevin Sands

James is 16 degrees from Donald Howard, 11 degrees from Julia Howe and 14 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.