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Mr. President

James K. Polk
Eleventh President, 1845–1849

“While the people of other countries are struggling to establish free institutions, under which man may govern himself, we are in the actual enjoyment of them—a rich inheritance from our fathers.”

Done Deals:
James K. Polk lived up to his description of himself as "the hardest working man in this country." Americans elected him in the spirit of Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States had a natural right to expand its boundaries westward to the Pacific. An effective leader, he accomplished his 4-point plan to settle the Canada-Oregon boundary dispute with England, reestablish an independent treasury, lower tariffs on foreign goods, and gain California (through war with Mexico). After accomplishing all his goals in his first term, Polk decided not to run again for president. In early 1849, he left office in poor health, most likely brought on by working too hard. He died several months later.

Portrait by E.B. and E.C. Kellogg , circa 1846-47 . NPG.89.220 , Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery .

Fast Facts
Party: Democrat
Date of Birth: Monday, November 2, 1795
Date of Death: Friday, June 15, 1849
Vice President: George M. Dallas
First Lady: Sarah Childress Polk

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