Nickname: Young Hickory

Years in office: 1845–1849

Political party: Democratic

Birthday: November 2, 1795

Official presidential portrait of James K. Polk

by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1858

Gold Nugget, 1848 (National Museum of American History)

This small piece of gold sparked the gold rush, a mass movement of Americans to the west. It is thought to be the first piece of gold discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California. President Polk received this and other pieces as evidence of the discovery of gold. 

James K. Polk was our country’s first dark-horse candidate to win the presidency.  His close political ties to Andrew Jackson earned him the nickname “Young Hickory.”  His main opponent was Whig candidate, Henry Clay.  Clay was favored, but failed to take a stance on expansion and Texas Annexation. Polk was elected, and kept his campaign promise to only serve one term in office.


Pineville, NC


 Mexican-American War, TX


Columbia, TN


State Capitol, Nashville, TN


Davis, Kenneth C., and Pedro Martin. Don’t Know Much about the Presidents. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.

DeGregorio, William A., and Aaron Jaffe. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, Inc., 2017.

Kane, Joseph Nathan, and Janet Podell. Facts about the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2009.


Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com

Library of Congress, loc.gov

Miller Center, University of Virginia, millercenter.org/the-presidency

The White House, whitehouse.gov

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