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 James K. Polk

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The Presidency of James K. Polk
(American Presidency Series)
by Paul H. Bergeron
Hardcover - 310 pages (May 1987)
Univ Pr of Kansas; ISBN: 0700603190

President James K. Polk
Slavemaster President: The Double Career of James Polk
by William Dusinberre
Book Description: James Polk was President of the United States from 1845 to 1849, a time when slavery began to dominate American politics. Polk's presidency coincided with the eruption of the territorial slavery issue, which within a few years would lead to the catastrophe of the Civil War. Polk himself owned substantial cotton plantations-- in Tennessee and later in Mississippi-- and some 50 slaves. Unlike many antebellum planters who portrayed their involvement with slavery as a historical burden bestowed onto them by their ancestors, Polk entered the slave business of his own volition, for reasons principally of financial self-interest. Drawing on previously unexplored records, Slavemaster President recreates the world of Polk's plantation and the personal histories of his slaves, in what is arguably the most careful and vivid account to date of how slavery functioned on a single cotton plantation. Life at the Polk estate was brutal and often short. Fewer than one in two slave children lived to the age of fifteen, a child mortality rate even higher than that on the average plantation. A steady stream of slaves temporarily fled the plantation throughout Polk's tenure as absentee slavemaster. Yet Polk was in some respects an enlightened owner, instituting an unusual incentive plan for his slaves and granting extensive privileges to his most favored slave. Startlingly, Dusinberre shows how Polk sought to hide from public knowledge the fact that, while he was president, he was secretly buying as many slaves as his plantation revenues permitted. Shortly before his sudden death from cholera, the president quietly drafted a new will, in which he expressed the hope that his slaves might be freed--but only after he and his wife were both dead. The very next day, he authorized the purchase, in strictest secrecy, of six more very young slaves. By contrast with Senator John C. Calhoun, President Polk has been seen as a moderate Southern Democratic leader. But Dusinberre suggests that the president's political stance toward slavery-- influenced as it was by his deep personal involvement in the plantation system-- may actually have helped precipitate the Civil War that Polk sought to avoid.

Synopsis: James K. Polk held the office of President from 1845 to 1849, a period when the expansion of slavery into the territories emerged as a pressing question in American politics. During his presidency, the slave period of Texas was annexed and the future of slavery in the Mexican Cession was debated. Polk also owned a substantial cotton plantation in northern Mississippi and 54 slaves. He was an absentee master who had a string of overseers or agents manage his plantation and did not visit his estate while he was in the White House. In this book, William Dusinberre reconstructs the world of Polk's estate and the lives of his slaves, and analyzes how Polk's experience as a slavemaster conditioned his stance towards slavery-related issues. Dusinberre argues that Polk's policies helped precipitate the civil war he had sought to avert.
Hardcover: 304 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.89 x 9.48 x 6.44 
Publisher: Oxford University Press; (March 2003)
ISBN: 0195157354 

Correspondence of James K. Polk : January-June 1845 Vol 9
James K. Polk, et al
Hardcover / Published 1996

Correspondence of James K Polk, 1833-1834. Vol 2
by Herbert and Paul H. Bergeron Weaver
Hardcover Vol 002 (June 1972)
Univ of Tennessee Pr; ISBN: 0826511767
Special Order

Correspondence of James K. Polk : September-December 1844 Vol 8
by James K. Polk, Wayne Cutler (Editor), Robert G. Hall (Editor), Jayne C. Defiore (Editor)
Hardcover Vol 008 (July 1993)
Univ of Tennessee Pr; ISBN: 0870497774
Special Order

Correspondence of James K. Polk. Vol 1
by James K. Polk, Herbert Weaver (Editor), Wayne Cutler
Hardcover Vol 001 (June 1972)
Univ of Tennessee Pr; ISBN: 0826511465

James K. Polk : A Political Biography to the End of a Career 1845-1849
by Eugene Irving McCormac
(Hardcover - April 1995)
Special Order

James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse
(Library of American Biography)
by Sam W. Haynes, Oscar Handlin (Editor)
Paperback - 214 pages (January 1997)
Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 067399001X

James K. Polk : A Clear and Unquestionable Destiny
(Biographies in American Foreign Policy (Paper), 6)
by Thomas M. Leonard
(Paperback - November 2000)

James K. Polk (Encyclopedia of Presidents)
by Dee Lillegard
A biography of the eleventh American president, whose term in office saw great expansion of the western frontier.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding - 100 pages (April 1988)
Children's Press; ISBN: 0516013513

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