Polk The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America

ISBN-10: 0812976746

ISBN-13: 9780812976748

Edition: N/A

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InPolk, Walter R. Borneman gives us the first complete and authoritative biography of a president often overshadowed in image but seldom outdone in accomplishment. James K. Polk occupied the White House for only four years, from 1845 to 1849, but he is rightly recognized as the last strong pre-Civil War president. His pledge to serve a single term, which many thought would immediately consign him to lame-duck status, enabled Polk to rise above electoral politics and to outflank his adversaries. Thus Polk plotted and attained a formidable agenda: He fought for and won tariff reductions, reestablished an independent Treasury, and most notably, brought Texas into the Union, bluffed Great Britain out of the lion's share of Oregon, and wrested California and much of the Southwest from Mexico. On reflection, these successes seem even more impressive, given the contentious political environment of the time. In tracing Polk's life and careerhis early childhood in a prominent frontier family, his meteoric rise in public office and storied turn in the House of Representatives, the dramatic plunge of his career fortunes early in the post-Jacksonian period, and his political rebirth prior to the 1844 campaign seasonBorneman dispels conventional views of Polk as a dark horse or an accidental president. Instead, we see Polk as he wasa decisive, if not partisan, statesman whose near doubling of America's boundaries and expansive broadening of executive powers redefined the country at large, as well as the nature of its highest office. Along with Polk, this is also the story of Andrew Jackson, Polk's longtime political patron; Henry Clay, Polk's ambitious rival; ex-president Martin Van Buren, who lusted to return to the White House; Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, who shared Polk's commitment to territorial expansion but came to quarrel with him over the means; Polk's fellow Tennessee politicos Davy Crockett and Sam Houston; and a principled young Whig from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln, who goaded Polk about misleading the nation into war with Mexico. Proving the eternal truth of the adage "The more things change, the more they stay the same," especially in terms of presidential politics, Borneman also provides engrossing blow-by-blow tales of punishing campaigns, audacious third-party spoilers, and the often comical lengths political fixers will go to reach a highly fickle electorate. In this unprecedented, long-overdue warts-and-all biography, we are reminded anew of the true meaning of presidential accomplishment and resolve.
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Book details

List price: $18.00
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 4/14/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 468
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.748
Language: English

List of Maps
Introduction: Dark Horse, Bright Land
A Prologue in Two Parts
Key Dates in the Life of James K. Polk
The Man
Old Hickory's Boy
Carrying the Water
Tennessee and Old Tippecanoe
The Last Defeat
Hands Off Texas
A Summons from Old Hickory
Baltimore, 1844
"Who Is James K. Polk?"
The Conquest
Making Good on Texas
Standing Firm on Oregon
Eyeing California
Mission to Mexico
"American Blood upon American Soil"
54�40' or Compromise!
To Santa Fe and Beyond
Mr. Polk's War
Old Bullion's Son-in-Law
A President on the Spot
Securing the Spoils
The Whigs Find Another General
Homeward Bound
A Presidential Assessment
Epilogue: Sarah
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