James K. Polk Presidential Dollar
James K. Polk, 11th President, was born in 1795 in North Carolina. When he was a young boy, his family moved to the wilderness of Tennessee to establish a plantation there. Trained as a lawyer, he served 6 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, including 4 years as Speaker of the House. After leaving the House, he served as Tennessee governor. Despite his many years of national service, he was relatively unknown when he was nominated by the Democratic Party to run for President. He was the first dark horse candidate to be nominated by a major political party and won the presidency by a slim margin over Henry Clay. Polk was a strong proponent of Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States had the right to expand throughout the entire continent. He oversaw the growth of the country by more than 1 million square miles during his time in office, including the annexation of present-day Oregon and Washington from Great Britain. Through war with Mexico and the subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, California and New Mexico were added, and a Texas border on the Rio Grande was established. A hard worker who rarely delegated even minor tasks, he hardly took a day of vacation while President. Having pledged to serve just 1 term, he left office exhausted from the strains of the presidency. He died in Nashville, Tenn., in 1849, just 3 and a half months after leaving office.