SUMMARY: This offering is a a letter by Polk to an Indiana supporter as a potential nominee for the Democratic Party. An important Jmes K. Polk letter. Price: $ 4,500.00
JAMES K. POLK. James Knox Polk (1795 1849) was the eleventh President of the United States (18451849). A Democrat, Polk served as Speaker of the House (18351839) and Governor of Tennessee (18391841) prior to becoming president.
A firm supporter of Andrew Jackson, Polk was the last strong pre-Civil War president. Polk is noted for his foreign policy successes. He threatened war with Britain then backed away and split the ownership of the Northwest with Britain. He is even more famous for leading the successful MexicanAmerican War. . A dark horse candidate in 1844, he was the first president to retire after a single term without seeking re-election. As a Democrat committed to geographic expansion (or Manifest Destiny), he overrode Whig objections and was responsible for the second-largest expansion of the nation's territory. Polk secured the Oregon Territory (including Washington, Oregon and Idaho), amounting to about 285,000 square miles (738,000 km²), then purchased 525,000 square miles (1,360,000 km²) through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the MexicanAmerican War.The expansion re-opened a furious debate over allowing slavery in the new territories. The controversy was inadequately arbitrated by the Compromise of 1850, and only found its ultimate resolution on the battlefields of the U.S. Civil War. . He oversaw the opening of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Smithsonian, the ground breaking for the Washington Monument. He was the first President of the United States to be photographed frequently while in office. Scholars have ranked him 8th to 12th on the list of greatest presidents for his ability to set an agenda and achieve all of it.
This offering is an Autograph Letter Signed, 2 p., Columbia, Tennessee, July 31, 1844, to Law. The letter is marked (Private) and reads, in full: I was gratified to receive your letter of the 12th instant and thank you for the information which you give me of the prospects of the Democracy of Indiana, in the pending political contest. If the unsought and unexpected position in which I had been placed by my political friends, shall have a tendency to promote the success of our cause, I shall be most happy to have been the instrument in their hands of effecting so great a good. It is a source of sincere gratification to me to learn from yourself, as well as from others, in various parts of the country that there is perfect union and harmony of action in the Democratic Party. In this state, our whole Democracy are roused to the most energetic action, and have the greatest confidence that they will carry the state. Our friend the Hon. A. V. Brown happened to be at my house when I received your letter, to whom I showed it as requested to do by you. He desired me, when I answered, to present his respects to you and to say to you that he would be pleased to hear from you. Thanking you for your kind letter, I shall be pleased to hear from you again when your leisure may permit. The integral address leaf in Polks hand is still present.
Early in the spring of 1844, there appeared to be little doubt that former President Martin Van Buren would be the Democratic nominee and that Henry Clay would get the Whig nomination. Just then the question of the annexation of Texas arose and had a profound impact on the eventual choice of the nominee.. On April 27, both Clay and Van Buren released letters to the press stating their views on Texas, which would be a slave state; they were opposed to "immediate annexation." Both emphasized the dangers to the Union that would result from the sharp sectional division over the slavery issue and both predicted that annexation would lead to an war with Mexico. Clay had no rivals for the Whig nomination and was chosen by acclamation at the party's convention early in May. When the Democratic National Convention met on May 27, Polk supported Van Buren and hoped to be his running mate. However, several southern delegations withdrew their support from Van Buren, citing his stand against annexation. It was apparent that although he could command a majority of the convention votes, he could not secure the necessary two-thirds. With a deadlock threatening, the convention managers sought a candidate who supported Van Buren and was acceptable to his forces, but who had previously declared himself in favor of annexation. At the urging of Andrew Jackson, the convention found its man in Polk, who became the first "dark horse" ever to be nominated by a major party for president. Polk talks about his unexpected and unsought status as a nominee in the letter.News of this unlikely event was transmitted by telegraph over the line between Baltimore and Washington, another first.
John Law, an Indiana attorney, was a Democrat, a Polk supporter, and judge of the seventh judicial circuit. In 1855, President Pierce would appoint him judge of the court of land claims. Law also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1861 to 1865. Aaron Venable Brown, Polks law partner, was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1844. The following year he took office as Governor of Tennessee. He finished his career as President Buchanans Postmaster General.
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