11. James Knox Polk

James Knox Polk
11.  James Knox Polk - Our Presidents

James Knox Polk, the first of ten children, was born in a farmhouse. Polk was home schooled. His health was problematic and in 1812 his pain became so unbearable that he was taken to a doctor who operated to remove urinary stones. Polk was awake during the operation with nothing but brandy available for anesthetics, but it was successful. The surgery may have left Polk sterile, as he did not sire any children. Polk graduated with honors in May 1818.
The University later named its lower quad, Polk Place, on the main campus after Polk. In 1822 Polk joined the local militia and rose to the rank of captain, and was soon promoted to colonel.Polk's oratory became popular, earning him the nickname "Napoleon of the Stump." Polk courted Sarah Childress, and they married on January 1, 1824.Polk was then 28, and Sarah was 20 years old. Throughout their marriage they had no children. They were married until his death in 1849.

During Polks career, Sarah assisted her husband with his speeches, gave him advice on policy matters and played an active role in his campaigns. An old story told that Andrew Jackson had encouraged their romance when they began to court.


Polk oversaw the opening of the U.s Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institution, the groundbreaking for the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first postage stamps in the United States.He promised to serve only one term and did not run for reelection. He died of cholera three months after his term ended.Scholars have ranked him favorably on the list of greatest presidents for his ability to set an agenda and achieve all of it. Polk has been called the "least known consequential president"of the United States.
11.  James Knox Polk - Our Presidents

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