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James K. Polk: A Resource Guide

James K. Polk, President of the United States
James K. Polk, President of the United States.
From Life on Stone by Ch. Fenderich.
1 print : lithograph.
Prints and Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

Related Resources

America's Story

Meet Amazing Americans: James Knox Polk

Designed for elementary and middle-school students, America's Library provides a variety of stories about James Polk, including The First "Dark Horse" Presidential Candidate, From the Wilmot Proviso to the Compromise of 1850, and Expanding the Nation.

Jump Back in Time

The Battle of Buena Vista, February 23, 1847

Congress Created the Oregon Territory, August 14, 1848

James K. Polk Is Elected 11th President of the United States, November 5, 1844

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Was Signed In Mexico City, February 2, 1848

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1836-1922. Search this collection to find newspaper articles that reference James Polk from this time period.

A selection of articles related to James Polk includes:


American Treasures of the Library of Congress

American Treasures of the Library of Congress is an unprecedented exhibition of the rarest, most interesting or significant items relating to America's past, drawn from every corner of the world's largest library. The exhibition includes the following documents pertaining to Polk.

Manuscript Division

Manuscript Division Finding Aids Online

Access the finding aids for the papers of James K. Polk in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

Prints and Photographs Division

Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

Search PPOC using the subject heading Polk, James K James Knox, 1795 1849 to find digital images related to Polk, such as prints, photographs, and political cartoons. Search all text fields in PPOC using the phrase James Polk to locate additional images.


There are approximately 700 daguerreotypes in the Prints & Photographs Division. The majority of the images are portraits, including one of James Polk.

Gottscho-Schleisner Collection

This collection is comprised of over 29,000 images primarily of architectural subjects including interiors and exteriors of homes, stores, offices, factories, historic buildings, and other structures. The collection contains more than twenty photographs of Polk's residence in Columbia, Tennessee.

Presidents of the United States Selected Images From the Collections of the Library of Congress

This guide presents portraits of U.S. presidents and first ladies, including images of James Polk and Sarah Childress Polk.

Today in History

January 24

On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold on the property of Johann A. Sutter near Coloma, California. A builder, Marshall was overseeing construction of a sawmill on the American River. The Gold Rush began in earnest only after President James Polk endorsed the discovery in December 1848.

February 2

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in Mexico City on February 2, 1848, ending the Mexican War and extending the boundaries of the United States west to the Pacific Ocean. The terms of the agreement established the border between the U.S. and Mexico at the Rio Grande and the Gila River and granted the U.S. more than 525,000 square miles of former Mexican territory that includes present-day Arizona, California, western Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. This treaty, along with the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, completed the continental expansion of the United States.

February 23

United States General Zachary Taylor was victorious over Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in the Battle of Buena Vista on February 23, 1847. Santa Anna's loss at Buena Vista, coupled with his defeat by General Winfield Scott at the Battle of Cerro Gordo in April of that year, secured U.S. victory in the Mexican American War.

June 23

On June 23, 1845, a joint resolution of the Congress of Texas voted in favor of annexation by the United States. The leaders of the republic first voted for annexation in 1836, soon after gaining independence from Mexico, but the U.S. Congress was unwilling to admit another state that permitted slavery. Sam Houston, commander of the Texas army during the fight for independence from Mexico and the first president of the Republic of Texas, was a strong advocate of annexation.

August 14

On August 14, 1848, Congress created the Oregon Territory, an area encompassing present-day Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and western Montana.

November 5

On November 5, 1844, Democratic candidate James K. Polk defeated Whig Party candidate Henry Clay to become the eleventh president of the United States. Democrats nominated Polk as the nation's first "dark horse" candidate on the ninth ballot of the Democratic National Convention, after former president Martin Van Buren lost his bid because of his opposition to annexing Texas, a position deemed unacceptable by Southerners and by former president Andrew Jackson.

Virtual Programs and Services

Digital Reference Section Web Guides

A Guide to the Mexican War

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with the Mexican War (1846-48), including manuscripts, maps, broadsides, pictures, sheet music, books, and government documents.

Primary Documents in American History

This site offers a list of some of the most important documents in American history from 1763 to 1877. Each document has a page with background information, links to digital material associated with the documents, and bibliographies for both adult and young readers. Some of the documents contain information related to Polk, including the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.


James Polk Papers & Diary

Marvin Kranz, an American History Specialist in the Manuscript Division, examines important documents within the James Polk Papers and Diary at the Library of Congress.

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  October 1, 2014
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