COLUMBIA AND JAMES K. POLK
It is amazing to me that the two men who acquired more territory for the United States than anyone else in American history claimed Tennessee as their home. Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk. President Polk was a protege of Andrew Jackson. He was called Old Hickory and Polk was called Young Hickory. He was one of the most effective presidents in history. Polk achieved a great deal in only four years. He ran for president on a four point platform. All of which he achieved. Polk lowered tariffs, reestablished an independent U.S. treasury, secured the Oregon territory which fixed the northern boundary of the U.S, and secured California and the southwest from Mexico. Although Polk worked hard to avoid sectional differences this acquisition of territory was the primary reason for the Civil War. The South wanted to expand slavery into the new territories and the North wanted to prevent it. This was the issue that would eventually result in war. On Sunday May 20, 2018 I visited Polk's ancestral home in Columbia Tennessee. Polk would live here as a young man from 1818 until his marriage to Murfreesboro native Sarah Childress in 1824. Besides the White House it is the only surviving home ever occupied by James K. Polk. Most of the furniture in the home came from Polk's Nashville home called Polk Place near the present Legislative Plaza. The Capital Hotel now occupies the spot.
|Polk Place in Nashville|
|The interior of Polk Place|
|The Capital hotel now sits where Polk place stood|
President Polk left office on March 4, 1849 and retired to the home he bought in Nashville in 1847 called Polk Place. Nashville was in the throes of a cholera epidemic that had started in January. This was part of a worldwide pandemic that had begun in South Asia and lasted from 1842 until 1862. It was spread to the United States by world travelers. The epidemic lasted through 1850. In 1849 alone there were 311 deaths in Nashville. A large number in a city of only 10,000 people. One of those deaths was President James K. Polk who died of cholera on June 15, 1849. A little over three months after leaving office. Polk might have been the hardest working president ever. He was known to work 17 hours every day including Sundays. Polk especially liked Sundays because he could work without interruption from the many visitors during the week. This pace might have contributed to his contraction of the disease. Polk's corpse was placed in a mass grave at City cemetery with other cholera victims which was the protocol during an epidemic. A year later he was placed in a tomb at Polk Place. Polk's wife Sarah died in 1891 and was buried by his side. On September 19, 1893 their bodies were disinterred and moved to the east side of the Tennessee State capital. Recently the Tennessee State Senate voted to move the Polk's remains to his boyhood home in Columbia. Final approval for the move will have to come from the Tennessee Historical Commission. If this is approved it will be the 4th time Polk's body has been moved.
|Because Polk died of cholera his clothes were burned. This might be the only clothing belonging to Polk in existence|
|Two paintings of Polk painted two and a half years apart. Showing how much he aged.|