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In President Monroe promulgated his doctrine , which put Russia on notice that the United States did not accept Russian attempts at monopoly. The United States had proposed to extend the border along the same parallel to the Pacific Ocean, but Great Britain insisted that the northern border be drawn west to the Columbia River and then follow that river to the ocean. Neither side then budged, but they did agree to postpone the decision for 10 years.

There the matter remained until the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of partially delineated the northeastern U. Calhoun of South Carolina, worked out a compromise.

James K. Polk

The Senate ratified the treaty by a vote of on June 18, A later controversy over the precise boundaries in the Juan de Fuca Strait was resolved by international arbitration in favor of the United States. A Democrat who was relatively unknown outside of political circles, Polk won the presidential election as the dark horse candidate. As president, he reduced tariffs, reformed the national banking system and settled a boundary dispute with the British that secured the Oregon Territory for the United States. Polk also led the nation into the Mexican-American War , in which the United States acquired California and much of the present-day Southwest.

Polk kept his campaign promise to be a one-term president and did not seek reelection. Soon after leaving the White House, he died at age As a boy, Polk, the eldest of 10 children, moved with his family to Columbia, Tennessee , where his father became a prosperous land surveyor, planter and businessman.


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The younger Polk was often sick as a child, and as a teen he survived a major operation for urinary stones. The surgery was done before the advent of modern antiseptics and anesthesia; Polk was reportedly given some brandy as a sedative.

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A top student, Polk graduated from the University of North Carolina in and studied law under a leading Nashville attorney. He was admitted to the bar in and opened a law practice in Columbia. He entered politics in , when he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. In , Polk married Sarah Childress , a well-educated Tennessean and devout Presbyterian from a wealthy family.

As first lady, she was a charming and popular hostess, although she banned hard liquor from the White House and eschewed dancing, the theater and horse races.

In , Tennessee voters elected James Polk to the U. House of Representatives, where he would serve seven terms and act as speaker of the House from to Polk left Congress in to become governor of Tennessee. He ran for reelection in and lost; another run for the governorship in also ended in defeat.

James K. Polk - Wikipedia

George Dallas , a U. In the general election, Polk ran against U. He narrowly won the presidency with At age 49, James Polk was younger than any previous president when he entered the White House.


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Polk eventually achieved all his goals. He was a champion of manifest destiny—the belief that the United States was fated to expand across the North American continent—and by the end of his four years in office, the nation extended, for the first time, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Presidency of James K. Polk

In , the United States completed its annexation of Texas, which became the 28th state on December This move led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations with Mexico from which Texas had revolted in The United States won the two-year battle, and as a result, Mexico relinquished its claims to Texas. With the Oregon Treaty of , Polk managed another significant land acquisition—this time without going to war—when his administration diplomatically settled a border dispute with the British and gained full control of the present-day states of Washington , Oregon and Idaho , as well as parts of Montana and Wyoming.

On the domestic front, Polk reduced tariffs in an effort to stimulate trade and created an independent U. Federal funds had previously been deposited in private or state banks.


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  7. Also during this time, the U. Naval Academy, Smithsonian Institution and Department of Interior were each established, and in addition to Texas, two more states— Iowa and Wisconsin —joined the Union. James Polk kept his campaign promise to serve just one term and did not seek reelection in He was succeeded by Zachary Taylor , a military leader who earned acclaim during the Mexican-American War and ran for the presidency on the Whig ticket. The stress of the presidency had left him in poor health, and he died that summer, on June 15, at age