U.S. Presidents / James K. Polk

James K. Polk

1795 - 1849

James K. Polk

Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil. She has proclaimed that hostilities have commenced, and that the two nations are now at war. War Message to Congress


Under James Knox Polk, the United States grew by more than a million square miles, adding territory that now composes the states of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, much of New Mexico, and portions of Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. More than any other President, Polk pursued "Manifest Destiny," a phrase coined by his fellow Jacksonian Democrat, John L. O'Sullivan, to express the conviction that Providence had foreordained the United States to spread its republican institutions across North America. He accomplished every major goal that he set for himself as President and in the process successfully waged war against Mexico, obtaining for the United States most of its present boundaries as a nation.

Fast Facts

James Knox Polk
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
University of North Carolina (graduated 1818)
“Young Hickory”
January 1, 1824, to Sarah Childress (1803–1891)
State Capitol Grounds, Nashville, Tennessee
John C. Pinheiro

Chicago Style

Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “James K. Polk.” Accessed June 17, 2024. https://millercenter.org/president/polk.

Professor of History

John C. Pinheiro

Professor Pinheiro is an professor of history and director of Catholic Studies at Aquinas College. He formerly served as a research assistant on the Correspondence of James K. Polk project at the University of Tennessee and as an assistant editor of The Papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia.