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James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse (Library of American Biography) Paperback – January 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0673990013 ISBN-10: 067399001X

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Product Details

  • Series: Library of American Biography
  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins College Div (January 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067399001X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0673990013
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,267,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

This biography explores the controversies, triumphs, and failures of the presidency of James K. Polk. In this book, Sam W. Haynes places Polk's expansionist agenda in both political and social contexts and examines the nature and origins of the expansionist impulse. For anyone interested in American history, Jacksonian America, or the Presidency of James K. Polk. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on December 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
James K. Polk has one of the most interesting historical reputations among American presidents. Serving for a solitary term, he consistently ranks among the most highly regarded occupants of the White House. Yet in spite of this he has been the subject of surprisingly little attention from historians. This is what makes Sam Haynes' short study so welcome. Seeing Polk as representative of the nation's desire for territorial expansion, he provides a concise account of the life of this understudied figure.

Haynes' book is hardly the final word on Polk; he compresses the first thirty years of Polk's life into a single chapter, raising many questions that are then left unanswered. It is only when Polk emerges as one of Andrew Jackson's lieutenants in the House of Representatives that the narrative slows enough to allow for insights. Haynes sees Polk as the "consummate Jacksonian," serving as a loyal lieutenant and emerging as one of the foremost heirs to his legacy. Yet two successive defeats in races for the governorship of Tennessee dimmed his political star, and his name was not among those of the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1844.

Nonetheless, Polk emerged from a deadlocked convention as the first "dark horse" nominee in American history. Hynes argues that the significance of the 1844 presidential convention lies in the embrace of territorial expansion as an issue that united a broad range of groups in a diverse country, which helped Polk defeat Henry Clay in the subsequent election. As president, Polk was a hands-on manager who carefully monitored every department of the executive branch. While viable with the small bureaucracy in the Washington of his day, this proved impractical when managing the far-flung war against Mexico.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By jeffrey batt on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
While many people try to depict the lives of our past Presidents in four or five hundred pages, this abbreviated view of the life and associations of James K. Polk is a refreshing change. As a history major, this book provides all of the pertinent information required to gain an insightful depiction of this man. It is a must read for anyone interested in Jacksonian America and an entertaining read for thinkers from all walks of life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Ronald Colyer on April 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
11 James K. Polk - 1845-49
Polk is our most underrated president. He championed the idea of manifest destiny. He believed the United States was destined to own all the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Texas was annexed, and the Mexican War was fought. The treaty added California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The U.S. stretched from sea to shining sea. Polk was from Tennessee. He accomplished what he wanted and decided not to seek a second term. I rank him #6.
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