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Title: [President James K. Polk, half-length portrait, seated, facing right] Date Created/Published: [between 1855 and 1865, printed later]

Title: [President James K. Polk, half-length portrait, seated, facing right]
Date Created/Published: [between 1855 and 1865, printed later]

This area in American history is important because the gains of the Mexican-American War resulted in the Civil War due to the Compromise of 1850 and other acts. Polk delivered on his promises like no other American President, and Taylor opposed secession violently. Fillmore is regarded as a weak president, and would be succeeded by Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, who failed to prevent the Civil War from occurring.

James Knox Polk

11th President 1845-1849

Fast Facts:

  • Born: November 2, 1795 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
  • Died: June 15, 1849 in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Home: Polk House, Columbia, Tennessee
  • Parents: Samuel (1772-1829) and Jane Knox (1776-1852) Polk
  • Wife: Sarah Childress (1803-1891)
  • Marriage: January 1, 1824
  • Children: None
  • Occupations: Lawyer
  • Religion: Presbyterian
  • Political Party: Democratic
  • Political Offices Before Presidency: Member of Tennessee House of Representatives, U.S. Representative, Speaker of the House, Governor of Tennessee
  • Military Service: None
  • Election Results: 1844: 170 electoral votes to 105 for Henry Clay of Kentucky
  • Vice President: George Mifflin Dallas of Pennsylvania 1845-1849
  • States Admitted to the Union: Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin

More Facts:

  • Polk was a Dark-Horse candidate for President. A Dark Horse is someone who is unknown by the people outside of his state
  • Polk was the only Speaker of the House to become President
  • Polk was the first president to not actively seek Re-Election
  • Polk had the shortest retirement of any President: just 3 months and 11 days
  • Polk was the first President not to survive his mother

Grading: A

Polk is the only president who while in office fulfilled every campaign promise he had made while running for president

  • Polk signed the Oregon Treaty, establishing the border between Oregon and Canada
  • Polk signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War and gave California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico to the U.S.
  • Polk signed the Walker Tariff, dramatically reducing the tariff rate
  • Polk also Re-created the Independent Treasury put up by Martin Van Buren and taken down by John Tyler

Polk was succeeded by the hero of the Mexican-American War.

Zachary Taylor

12th President 1849-1850

Title: [Zachary Taylor, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left] / Brady, N.Y. Related Names: Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896 , photographer Date Created/Published: [photographed 1849, rephotographed between 1860 and 1890]

Title: [Zachary Taylor, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left] / Brady, N.Y.
Related Names:
Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896 , photographer
Date Created/Published: [photographed 1849, rephotographed between 1860 and 1890]

Fast Facts:

  • Born: November 24, 1784 in Orange County, Virginia
  • Died: July 9, 1850 in Washington, D.C.
  • Home: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Parents: Richard (1744-1829) and Sarah Dabney Strother (1760-1822) Taylor
  • Wife: Margaret Mackall Smith (1788-1852)
  • Marriage: June 21, 1810
  • Children: Anne Mackall (1811-1875), Sarah Knox (1814-1835), Mary Elizabeth (1824-1909), and Richard (1826-1879)
  • Occupations: Solder and Farmer
  • Religion: Episcopalian
  • Political Party: Whig
  • Political Offices Before Presidency: None
  • Military Service: Volunteer in Kentucky Militia, Major General in the U.S. Army
  • Election Results: 1848: 163 Electoral Votes to 127 for Lewis Cass of Michigan
  • Vice President: Millard Fillmore of New York 1849-1850

More Facts:

  • Taylor was the first President to have no political experience
  • Taylor’s daughter, Sarah Knox, married the Future President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, in 1835. Sarah died later that year of Malaria
  • Taylor was the second President to die in office and the only one to die outside of the “Curse”

Grading: I (Imcomplete)

Taylor died in the second year of his term, but we DO know what he probably would have done had he lived. Taylor opposed the Compromise of 1850 that had recently been drawn up by Henry Clay and threatened to use force to keep the Union together. In the end, though, his death allowed the Compromise to be ratified.

Taylor was succeeded by his Vice President.

Millard Fillmore

Title: Millard Fillmore / F. D'Avignon lith. ; from Dag. by Brady. Creator(s): D'Avignon, Francis, 1813-, lithographer Related Names: Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896 , photographer

Title: Millard Fillmore / F. D’Avignon lith. ; from Dag. by Brady.
Creator(s): D’Avignon, Francis, 1813-, lithographer
Related Names:
Brady, Mathew B., approximately 1823-1896 , photographer

13th President 1850-1853

Fast Facts:

  • Born: January 7, 1800 in Locke, Cayuga County, New York
  • Died: March 8, 1874 in Buffalo, New York
  • Home: East Aurora, New York
  • Parents: Nathaniel (1771-1863) and Phoebe Millard (1781-1831) Fillmore
  • First Wife: Abigail Powers (1798-1853)
  • First Marriage: February 5, 1826
  • Children by Fist Wife: Millard Powers (1828-1889) and Mary Abigail (1832-1854)
  • Second Wife: Caroline Carmichael McIntosh (1813-1881)
  • Second Marriage: February 10, 1858
  • Children by Second Wife: None
  • Occupation: Apprentice and Lawyer
  • Religion: Unitarian Branch of Congregationalism
  • Political Party: Whig (To 1854), American (Know-Nothing, from 1854)
  • Political Offices Before Presidency: New York State Assemblyman, U.S. Representative, Comptroller of New York State, Vice President
  • Military Service: Major
  • Election Results: None
  • Vice President: None
  • States Admitted to the Union: California

More Facts:

  • Fillmore was the second President whose father saw him enter office
  • Fillmore was the last Whig President
  • Fillmore later ran for President in 1856 after being denied for Re-Election in 1852
  • Fillmore supported the Union cause during the Civil War

Grading: F

  • Fillmore did not know how to solve the Slavery Issue, so he signed the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act, allowing Slaveholders to take free Blacks from the North to be slaves in the South. This infuriated Northern Whigs and Abolitionists, who would later form the Republican Party in 1856.
  • Fillmore also sent Matthew Perry to open Japan to trade with the U.S.

Fillmore was succeeded by an at-the-time retired politician named Franklin Pierce.

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