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President James K. Polk

Updated on September 8, 2020
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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 9.

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Looking for great YouTube video clips, books, and free worksheets and lapbooks for teaching and/or learning about President James Knox Polk? Here you will find my favorite picks we used while studying the individual Presidents of the United States. This is part of a series of lessons I posted on individual Presidents. You can find links to all the lessons at President's Day Unit Study .

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Just the Facts on Our Eleventh President

Presidential Term: 1845 - 1849

Political Party: Democrat

Vice President: George M. Dallas

Birthplace: North Carolina

Occupation: Lawyer

Yearly Salary as President: $25,000

Height: 5'8"

First Lady: Sarah Childress Polk

Nickname: "Young Hickory" as he was Andrew Jackson's protege

When invited to a dinner party, James K. Polk replied, "I could not lose half a day just to go out and dine." Polk took his job seriously and believed his life should involve nothing but work and more work. He wrote in his diary, "I am the hardest working man in the country."

Great Worksheets, Lapbooks, Trivia, & Recipes

We found these to be helpful when creating a notebook, lapbook, and cooking project on President James K. Polk.

James K. Polk for Teachers offers links to free worksheets, book suggestions, general information and trivia, interactive computer games, and more related to president James Knox Polk.

Polk's Favorite Corn Pone Recipe provides a recipe for one of Polk's favorite foods, corn pone, and also includes a few of his other favorite dishes.

Presidential Statistics and Points of Interest includes an overview of James K. Polk's life and some fun points of interest.

James K. Polk's Corn Pone
James K. Polk's Corn Pone

James K. Polk's Corn Pone Recipe

Sift 2 cups (white) cornmeal with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Work 4 tablespoons shortening (or lard) into the dry ingredients. Blend well. Add 3/4 cup boiling water and continue blending. Slowly add 1/2 cup buttermilk until a soft dough is formed. The buttermilk should be added very slowly, making sure the dough retains enough consistency to be molded into small flat cakes. Grease a skillet, heat it, then place the cakes in it and bake them in a preheated medium-hot (350 degrees F.) oven for 1/2 hour or 40 minutes, until lightly browned and done. Makes approximately 12.
---President's Cookbook, (p. 185-186)

Our Favorite Children's Books on President James K. Polk

James K. Polk: Eleventh President 1845-1849 (Getting to Know the US Presidents)
James K. Polk: Eleventh President 1845-1849 (Getting to Know the US Presidents)
This was our favorite picture book on Polk, giving a nice overview of his life. * We also enjoyed "How To Draw The Life And Times Of James K. Polk" (Kid's Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the United States of America) by Melody S. Mis and "Frontier President: James K. Polk" by Bill Severn, which is a 219 page chapter book biography written for children. It is written more as a story of his life as opposed to a book full of facts.

Timeline of Major Events During Polk's Presidency

Timeline of Major Events from 1845-1949

Texas admitted as 28th state, which angers Mexico
First annual Thanksgiving dinner at the White House

US declares war on Mexico
Treaty with Britain determines Oregon Territory boundary at 49th parallel
Iowa admitted as 29th state
Walker Tariff Act reduces tariffs
Independent Treasury System restored

General Zachary Taylor defeats Mexico

US & Mexico sign Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: US gains TX, NM, CA, NM, AZ, NV, UT, and parts of CO & WY for $18 million and Rio Grande River is determined as the boundary between the US and Mexico
Wisconsin admitted as 30th state
Gold discovered in California

Department of Interior established
Polk died from cholera 3 months after his presidential term ended


Because the Democratic party was divided between supporting well-known John Calhoun and former president Van Buren (who opposed the annexation of Texas and wanted to end the expansion of slavery), they decided to run a "dark horse" candidate, James K. Polk. Polk had initially been hoping for a spot as Vice President. By vowing to only serve one term as president, he won the nomination and eventually the presidency.


Polk immediately outlined his goals as president: "One, reduction of the tariff; another, an independent treasury; third, settlement of the Oregon boundary question; and lastly, the acquisition of California." In four short years, he accomplished his four goals and much more.


After fighting for two years with Mexico, the US and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. Not only did this grant the United States the land that would become California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado ad Wyoming, but it also specified the Rio Grande River as the official boundary between the US and Mexico.

Our Favorite YouTube Video Clip on President Polk

Looking for more lessons on Presidents or all of my unit studies and lessons?

  • President's Day Unit Study - I posted links to each of my lessons on individual Presidents here. In each lesson I included fun worksheets, children's books, YouTube clips, timelines, and recipe ideas. On this page I also included our favorite books and YouTube video clips that cover all of the Presidents of the United States.
  • Fun, FREE Hands-On Unit Studies - I have posted my links to over 35 hands-on unit studies (compromised of over 170 lessons) that focus primarily on science and social studies. In each lesson plan I have listed the activities that we did (and included photos), the books we read, YouTube video clips that we watched, and lapbook links that pair with the lesson.

© 2012 Shannon

What first comes to mind when you think of James Knox Polk? - Or just let me know you dropped by. I LOVE getting feedback from you!

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