James K. Polk / Edition 1

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When he was elected President in 1845, James K. Polk was only 49 years old-at that time the youngest president ever to be elected. He faced a conflicted nation on the verge of tremendous territorial expansion. James K. Polk's four years in office marked the greatest period of territorial acquisition in the history of the country-what New York journalist John O'Sullivan termed as the 'Manifest Destiny' of the United States to expand across the continent. By the end of Polk's presidency in 1849, U.S. possessions included the California, Oregon, and New Mexico territories. In addition, Texas had become part of the Union. This book analyzes Polk's political career and his role in each of these territorial expansions. James K. Polk: A Clear and Unquestionable Destiny shows that they were far more complex than the moral crusade that had been labeled 'Manifest Destiny.' Southern planters wanted to protect their 'peculiar institution' of slavery by adding new territories from which slave states would be carved. Commercial interests feared that war with England over any of these territories would adversely impact upon the nation's trade. Although the Oregon boundary dispute was settled with little friction, the Mexican War erupted after the annexation of Texas. This fascinating biography of our eleventh president and his successful efforts for expansion of U.S. territory will be of interest to students studying United States history, foreign policy, and the massive territorial expansion in the 1840s known as Manifest Destiny.

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Editorial Reviews

Howard Jones
This highly readable, well-researched, and tightly argued study focuses on the political abilities of President James K. Polk, whose aggressive foreign policies combined with a series of fortuitous circumstances to make him a major agent of Manifest Destiny. In four years, his administration set the path toward American empire by acquiring Texas, Oregon, California, and the Southwest, thereby spreading republican ideals as well as enhancing the nation's commercial capacity and securing its continental borders.
Anna Kasten Nelson
Overshadowed by Jackson and Lincoln, Polk contributed almost half the continent to young America during his term in office. Thomas M. Leonard's account will enlighten those who have neglected him and confirm his importance to the course of U.S. history. Crowded within President Polk's one term are complicated issues emerging from the continental expansion of the United States. Leonard's thematic approach to the study of Polk's policies provides a clear narrative that is accessible to both students and the public.
Kinley Brauer
Thomas M. Leonard provides handy summaries of each expansionist movement and a concise critical assessment of Polk's tactics and policies in accomplishing his programs. Students of American expansionism, sectionalism, and presidential politics will all benefit from this examination.
Don M. Coerversi
An excellent blend of political biography of Polk and topical discussion of the major expansionist issues of his presidency. A detailed chronology and an excellent bibliographic essay make this study highly useful for classroom purposes.
Don M. Coerver
An excellent blend of political biography of Polk and topical discussion of the major expansionist issues of his presidency. A detailed chronology and an excellent bibliographic essay make this study highly useful for classroom purposes.
The youngest US President to date when he was elected in 1845, during his one term Polk oversaw the greatest period of territorial acquisition in the country's history<-->California, the Oregon and New Mexico Territories, and Texas. Leonard (international relations, U. of North Florida) examines his role in each of the four, showing such complexities as slave states wanting to expand, and merchants fearing war with Britain underpinning what is usually seen as the imperialistic frenzy of Manifest Destiny. The series is designed for graduates, undergraduates, and general readers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780842026475
  • Publisher: Sr Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Series: Biographies in American Foreign Policy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 244
  • Sales rank: 1,252,808
  • Product dimensions: 0.55 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas M. Leonard is distinguished professor and director of the International Studies Program at the University of North Florida.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Chronology Chapter 3 James K. Polk and His America Chapter 4 The Path to Texas Annexation Chapter 5 A Compromise on Oregon? Chapter 6 The Beckoning of California Seaports Chapter 7 Mr. Polk's War and Peace Chapter 8 Conclusion Chapter 9 Bibliographical Essay Chapter 10 Index

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