James K. Polk and the Civil War

On a recent trip to Franklin, Tennessee, we visited the James K. Polk House in Columbia, Tennessee.  Polk, who was President from 1845-1849, actually only lived there for a few years, but it is the only remaining Polk residence which also has family artifacts.

Polk’s determination to go to war with Mexico was in many ways one of the key determinants of the Civil War.  The new lands the U.S. won, plus Texas, were the inevitable subject of political debate as to the expansion of slavery.   The Compromise of 1850 stemmed the tide toward secession for a while, but the election of Lincoln heading a party which opposed the expansion of slavery in the new territories led to the war.

Pictured are the house, placards in front of the house, and the monument on the Capital grounds in Raleigh, North Carolina depicting the three presidents born in that state, Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson.  Note that on Polk’s part of the statue it states, “He Enlarged Our National Boundaries.”


Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of seven more Civil War books -- with more to come!!

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