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THE POLK ADMINISTRATION.

CHAPTER I.

Early History of James K. Polk.—His Election to Congress.—Chosen Go

vernor of Tennessee.--Influences which produced his nomination for the Presidency in 1844.—Presidential contest of 1844.—Elevated to the Presidency.-Selection of his Cabinet.

JAMES Knox POLK, the eleventh President of the United States, was born in Mecklenburgh county, North Carolina, on the 2d of November, 1795. He was the eldest of ten children. His ancestors emigrated from Ireland during the first part of the eighteenth century, and settled in the State of Maryland. A portion of the family removed, first to Pennsylvania, and about the year 1750 they located in North Carolina. In 1806, Major Samuel Polk, the father of James K. Polk, emigrated to Tennessee and settled upon Duck River. It was here that young Polk endured the hardships of a border life until his constitution, which was then quite delicate, came near giving way under the toil and fatigue to which he was exposed. Yielding to the persuasions of his son, Major Polk enabled him

to enter the college at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1815, where he graduated in three years, with the highest honors. He was distinguished at college for laborious application to his studies, and by a strict conformity to the regulations of the institution. He was always present at recitations, and invariably attended morning and evening prayers in the Chapel.

When he completed his collegiate education, he entered the office of the celebrated Felix Grundy to prepare himself for the practice of the law. He commenced the arduous duties of his profession in 1820, in the county of Maury, and at once assumed a high position at the bar.

In 1821 he was Clerk to the Legislature of Tennessee. His political career commenced in 1823, when he was elected a member of the Legislature of Tennessee. In 1825 he was elevated to a seat in Congress. He was re-elected every succeeding two years until 1839. In 1835 he was Speaker of the House of Representatives, to which position he was re-elected in 1837. In 1839, he was chosen Governor of Tennessee, and in 1844 President of the United States. The rapidity with which he was elevated, step by step, to the highest position on earth, is indeed remarkable, and proves conclusively that his success was not the result of circumstances alone.

No one who knew Mr. Polk ever considered him a brilliant genius. His mind possessed solidity rather than imagination. His perception was intuitive, and his memory retentive to an extraordinary

error.

degree, while his judgment rarely led him into

His manners were remarkably affable, and always made an impression upon those who knew him. Among his intimate friends, he indulged his wit and humor with perfect freedom, and they always found him a pleasant and instructive companion.

The career of Mr. Polk was as remarkable for its brilliancy as for the substantial fruits which it produced. The prominent trait of his character was extraordinary energy. In college, at the bar, in his political canvasses, and in the discharge of his executive duties, he was alike distinguished for his untiring industry and indomitable will. This frequently induced him to devote his attention too much to minute details, and had the effect of impairing his constitution. It was in his canvasses that he exhibited all the resources of his mind. Disaster only had the effect of arousing his powers, and stimulated him to win victory where others were subdued by defeat. Three times he canvassed the State of Tennessee as a candidate for Governor. In 1839 he was elected over Newton Cannon, and in 1841 and 1843 he was defeated by James C. Jones. No one who has not experienced the fatigues of such a struggle, can appreciate its labors. Undismayed by the task before him, Col. Polk always commenced the contest buoyant with hope. He invariably succeeded in inspiring his friends with his own enthusiasm; no obstacle could deter him from an energetic discharge of his duty. Subsisting upon the plainest food, and perfectly

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