Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Why James K. Polk Mattered BIG TIME
Why James K. Polk Mattered BIG TIME: As perhaps one of the most overlooked and/or underrated Presidents in American history, Polk presided over the admission of two vitally important states into the Union: Florida and Texas. Elected in 1844, he served when the idea of "Manifest Destiny" (white America's God-given right to conquer the West) hit a fever pitch. With members of Congress such as David Wilmot (Pro-Free Soil) and John C. Calhoun (Pro-Slavery) choosing sides over how westward expansion should proceed, Polk remarkably managed to maintain a pragmatic, down-the-middle approach. He (intentionally) provoked a war with Mexico in 1846 by stationing/quartering troops along the Rio Grande, which permitted Texas to consolidate its newly acquired statehood. And when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, Polk had expanded U.S. territory by two-fifths (from Texas to what would eventually become California). Indeed, it would be another half-century before much of this territory achieved statehood, but Polk clearly left his mark.