James Polk
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James Knox Polk (1795 - 1849)

President James Knox Polk
Born in Pineville, Mecklenburg, North Carolina, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1 Jan 1824 in Murfreesboro, Rutherford, Tennessee, United Statesmap
Died at age 53 in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 18 Mar 2011
This page has been accessed 33,214 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



Notables Project
James Polk is Notable.

James Knox Polk (02 November 1795 – 15 June 1849) was the 11th President of the United States (1845–1849). Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. Polk, a Democrat, 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) Polk on 02 November 1793. He was born on a 250-acre farm in Pineville, North Carolina moving to Tennessee at age 11. He had 4 sisters and 5 brothers. [2]

  1. Jane Maria (Polk) Walker, (14 January 1798 - 11 October 1876)
  2. Lydia Eliza (Polk) Caldwell Richmond, (1800 - 1864)
  3. Naomi Tate (Polk) Harris, (02 July 1809 - 06 August 1836)
  4. Ophelia Clarissa (Polk) Hayes, (06 September 1812 - 18 April 1856)
  1. Franklin Ezekiel Polk, (1802 - 21 January 1831)
  2. Marshall Tate Polk, (15 January 1805 - 05 April 1831)
  3. John Lee Polk, (23 May 1807 - 28 September 1831)
  4. William Hawkins Polk, (24 May 1815 - 16 December 1862)
  5. Samuel Washington Polk, (17 October 1817 - 24 February 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 01 January 1824 in Murfreesboro. 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 of cholera just three months later on 15 June 1849. He died at his home, Polk Place, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee.

Freemasons: "James K. Polk - 02 November 1795 – 15 June 1849, 04 March 1845 – 04 March 1849. Initiated on 05 June 1820 in Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tennessee."

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

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.


  • 02 November 1795: 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.
  • 01 January 1824: Married Sarah Childress. [3]
  • 1825 - 1839: A member of the U.S. House of Representatives including serving as its speaker from 1835 - 1839.
  • 1830: Census record shows him and Sarah living in Maury County, Tennessee. No children, 6 slaves.[4]
  • 1839 - 1841: Governor of Tennessee.
  • 1840: Census records show his residence as Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, with wife Sarah. No children, 5 slaves.[5]
  • 04 March 1845 - 04 March 1849: President of the United States.
  • 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 United States had gained California and Nevada amongst other present day territories.
  • 15 June 1849: 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 04 March 1845. With Polk's encouragement and support, Congress approved a joint-resolution to offer Texas statehood on 28 February 1845. The following July, the Texas legislature accepted. On 29 December 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.[6]


  • 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 [7]


  • 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. "Tennessee State Marriage Index, 1780-2002," , FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VNX6-DMH : 4 December 2014), James K Polk and Susan Childress, 01 Jan 1824; from "Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002," database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : 2008); citing p. 126, Rutherford, Tennessee, United States, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee.
  4. "United States Census, 1830", database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHG2-K6J : Thu Oct 05 08:53:40 UTC 2023), Entry for James K Polk, 1830.
  5. "United States Census, 1840", database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHTK-35T : Wed Oct 04 20:46:33 UTC 2023), Entry for James K Polk, 1840.
  6. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/inaugural-exhibit.html
  7. Find a Grave Memorial # 823, James Polk

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

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Comments: 10

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Just a headsup that I plan to create a "Slaves of . . ." page for John Knox Polk and then make reference to it in his profile, per wikitree guidelines. I'm assuming none has been done because there is no reference here--however, if there is one, let me know. I'm doing this (very slowly, over years) for everyone who held 10 or more enslaved persons in Yalobusha County, Mississippi. JKP was an absentee landowner there. I'm not in a hurry. I'll wait a couple of months or more for any response. Not sure if this is considered a minor or major change.
posted by Amy Garber
As a member of the US Black Heritage Project, I have added categories using the standards of the US Black Heritage Exchange Program. This helps us connect enslaved ancestors to their descendants. See the Heritage Exchange Portal for more information.
posted by Gina (Pocock) Jarvi
It should read Scots-Irish. Lula Tuttle Sinnott
posted by Lula (Tuttle) Sinnott
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 [Living Stewart]
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

Rejected matches › James Randall PolkJames Stanton Polk

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