Presidency of James K. Polk

The Election of 1844 focussed mainly on the expansion issue into Texas and Oregon. polk


Southern Democrats favored expansion into Texas and refused to support the Democratic hopeful- Martin Van Buren.

Instead they selected James K. Polk from Tennessee to be their candidate who was a slave owner and an avowed expansionist.

  • Polk campaigned on the platform that the US already owned both Oregon and Texas and that it was a matter of RE-annexation.
  • Concerning the disputed claims of the Oregon boundary with GB, Polk used the slogan “Fifty-four forty or fight!”

The Whigs nominated Henry Clay who continued to press the components of his American System (high tariffs, internal improvements, and a national Bank).

  • Clay initially dodged the Texas annexation question but eventually realized he needed southern votes and relented to the annexation cause
  • This caused outrage among Northern Whigs who opposed the admission of another slave state and thus withdrew their votes from Clay
    • Northern Whigs instead voted for the Liberty Party candidate – James Birney
    • They only drew 3% of the national vote but it was enough to cost Clay the state of NY and ultimately the Presidency.

Polk’s Presidency is one primarily involved with the Mexican American War fighting and the negotiations for Oregon.