James K. Polk Collection

Lithograph of James K. Polk, eleventh president of the United States

James Knox Polk (1795-1849) served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives (1835-1839), Governor of Tennessee (1839-1841), and the 11th President of the United States (1845-1849). A Democrat and protégé of Andrew Jackson, he won the 1844 presidential election despite being a “dark horse.” As president, he reduced tariffs, restored the national banking system, and led the United States through the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Under Polk’s leadership, territory of the United States grew by more than one-third and Polk was credited with fulfilling America’s “manifest destiny” by the expanding the nation west across North America to the Pacific Ocean. This digital collection highlights the people and events which shaped this Tennessean, known as the most effective president prior to the Civil War. Containing correspondence, political cartoons, photographs, and other items, the collection is ongoing and will be expanded as more items are digitized.