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Picture of James Knox Polk
[Library of Congress]


11th President (1845-1849)

Biographical Data
Religious Views
References, Links, & Further Reading

Education: University of North Carolina

Occupation: lawyer

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Organizational Affiliation(s): Mason

Religious Affiliation: Presbyterian, Methodist?

Summary of Religious Views:

Polk's father and grandfather were deists, which prevented James from being baptized as a child (the minister refused to baptize James unless his father reaffirmed his faith, which he would not do), and eventually led to the Polk family's move from North Carolina to Tennessee. Polk's mother, on the other hand, was a strong Presbyterian, and her influence seems to have had a more lasting effect on Polk. Polk was a regular church-goer throughout his life, most often attending Presbyterian services (his wife's faith), but he did not formally join any church until, on his deathbed, he joined the Methodist church .

Views on Religion & Politics:


"It [the US Government] is a common protector of each and all the States; of every man who lives upon our soil, whether of native or foreign birth; of every religious sect, in their worship of the Almighty according to the dictates of their own conscience; of every shade of opinion, and the most free inquiry; of every art, trade, and occupation consistent with the laws of the States." -- Inaugural Address, 4 March 1845

"One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the Constitution as a shield against such oppression." -- Inaugural Address, 4 March 1845

References, Links, & Further Reading: Books, Articles, Links


Works by James K. Polk

ed. by Milo M. Quaife, The Diary of James K Polk During His Presidency 1845 to 1849 Now First Printed from the Original Manuscript in the Collections of the Chicago, 1845 to 1849, 4 vols., McClurg, 1910; Vol. I Vol. II Vol. III Vol. IV
ed. by Allan Nevins, Polk: The Diary of a President, Longmans, Green, 1952
ed. by Herbert Weaver, Paul H. Bergeron, and Wayne Cutler, Correspondence of James K. Polk, 13 vols. to date, Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1969-


Walter R. Borneman, Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America, Random House, 2008
Paul H. Bergeron, The Presidency of James K. Polk (American Presidency Series), Univ. Press of Kansas, 1987
Tom Chaffin, Met His Every Goal? James K. Polk and the Legends of Manifest Destiny, Univ. Tennessee Press, 2014
William Dusinberre, Slavemaster President: The Double Career of James Polk, Oxford Univ. Press, 2003
ed. by Sam W. Haynes & Oscar Handlin, James Polk and The Expansionist Impulse (Library of American Biography Series), Longman, 2001
Thomas M. Leonard, James K. Polk: A Clear and Unquestionable Destiny (Biographies in American Foreign Policy), SR Books, 2000
Eugene I. McCormac, James K. Polk: A Political Biography, Univ. of California Press, 1922; reprint, James K. Polk: A Political Biography
Charles A. McCoy, Polk and the Presidency, Univ. of Texas Press, 1960
Robert W. Merry, A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent, Simon & Schuster, 2010
John H. Schroeder, Mr. Polk's War: American Opposition and Dissent, 1846-1848, Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1973
Charles Sellers, James K. Polk, 2 vols., Princeton Univ. Press, 1957-1966
John Seigenthaler, James K. Polk (The American Presidents), rev.ed., Macmillan, 2004


William Dusinberre, "President Polk and the Politics of Slavery," American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2002, pp. 1-16
John S. D. Eisenhower, "The Election of James K. Polk, 1844," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 2, 1994, pp. 74-87
Norman A. Graebner, "James K. Polk: A Study in Federal Patronage," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 38, 1951/52, pp. 613-632


Works by James Knox Polk

Document Library (TeachingAmericanHistory.org)
James Polk: Historic Speeches (Presidential Rhetoric)
James K. Polk: Selected Works (Humanities Web)
Inaugural Address of James Knox Polk (The Avalon Project -- Yale Law School)
Inaugural Address (AMDOCS)

Biographical Sites

James Knox Polk [alternate site] (POTUS)
James K. Polk (White House)
POLK, James Knox, 1795-1849 (Biographical Directory of the US Congress)
James Knox Polk (USA Presidents)
James Knox Polk (American President)
Life Portrait of James K. Polk (C-SPAN)
James K. Polk (North Carolina Encyclopedia)
James K. Polk: Biography (The James K. Polk Ancestral Home)
Who Is James K Polk? The Enigma of Our Eleventh President, by Robert W. Johannsen (Hayes Museum )
James Knox Polk (The West -- PBS)
James Polk (Medical History of the Presidents of the United States)
The James K. Polk Ancestral Home
President James K. Polk State Historic Site

Religious Views

James Knox Polk, from The Religious Beliefs Of Our Presidents, by Franklin Steiner (Internet Infidels)

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