May Author Talks at State Library & Archives Examines Political Rivalries and Presidential History

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – On Friday, May 24, the Tennessee State Library & Archives will host a free presentation as part of its “Author Talks” series. The event will take place at noon and will feature Dr. Mark Cheathem.

“Tennessee’s and America’s history is woven intricately with the legacies of its remarkable leaders,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “We’re excited to learn more about the threads that bound two former presidents together and the developments that drove them apart, shaping our nation's course during this fascinating chapter in our narrative.”

Cheathem is a professor of history and project director of the Papers of Martin Van Buren at Cumberland University. He will be examining the political partnership between Presidents James K. Polk and Martin Van Buren, and their profound influences on our nation.

Both men built a mutually beneficial political alliance in the 1830s and early 1840s. However, the 1844 presidential election year irreparably harmed their relationship and threatened to divide the political party to which they had dedicated their lives.

“As custodians of Tennessee's literary treasures and historical legacies, we honor our past by understanding it, together,” said Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Jamie Ritter. “Join us as we delve deep into the political partnership between James K. Polk and Martin Van Buren during Dr. Cheathem’s insightful presentation.”

Cheathem has written or edited nine books, including the recently published Who Is James K. Polk? The Presidential Election of 1844, which was a finalist for the 2023 Tennessee History Book Award.

The event will take place at the Library & Archives located at 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way N. on Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, across from the Tennessee State Museum. The facility's garage is on Junior Gilliam Way. Seating for this event is limited, so reservations are required. You can make a reservation by visiting the event page at

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