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James K. Polk facts for kids

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James K. Polk
11th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
Vice President George Dallas
Preceded by John Tyler
Succeeded by Zachary Taylor
9th Governor of Tennessee
In office
October 14, 1839 – October 15, 1841
Preceded by Newton Cannon
Succeeded by James Jones
17th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 7, 1835 – March 4, 1839
President Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
Preceded by John Bell
Succeeded by Robert Hunter
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1833 – March 4, 1839
Preceded by William Fitzgerald
Succeeded by Harvey Watterson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1833
Preceded by John Cocke
Succeeded by Balie Peyton
Personal details
James Knox Polk

(1795-11-02)November 2, 1795
Pineville, North Carolina, U.S.
Died June 15, 1849(1849-06-15) (aged 53)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Resting place Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, Tennessee
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sarah Childress
Alma mater University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Profession Lawyer
Signature Cursive signature in ink

James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849) was the eleventh President of the United States. His term was from March 4, 1845 to March 3, 1849. He died 103 days after leaving office and has the shortest retirement of any president.

Early Life

Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He went to the University of North Carolina.


Polk was sworn in on March 4, 1845. He is the first president elected under the age of 50.

Polk is respected by historians because he made four promises during his presidential campaign and accomplished all of them.

He signed legislation which made the Smithsonian Institution.

He promised to lower tariffs (taxes on foreign trades) and he did that.

He promised to make the U.S. government its own bank so it did not have to put its money in other banks. He did that.

He intimidated England into allowing the United States to have the Oregon Territory (the north-western United States) just like he promised.

He promised he would make Texas part of the United States. He declared war on Mexico and led the country through the Mexican-American War.

During his presidency, the U.S. gained a lot of land.

He is the only President to have been Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

He promised to serve only a single term. He did not run for re-election as President and did not serve a second term.

Later life

On January 1, 1824, Sarah Childress Polk, aged 20, married James Polk, aged 28, at the plantation home of the bride's parents near Murfreesboro. They had no children, but raised a nephew as if it were their own child.


Polk died on June 15, 1849 in Nashville, Tennessee. He died from cholera. Polk was only in retirement for three months. Polk was buried at Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee.

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