Who Is James K. Polk?: The Presidential Election of 1844 (American Presidential Elections) (Hardcover)
The question Americans asked in 1844 was, "Who the hell is James K. Polk?"
Polk, of course, was not unknown, but was a highly unlikely presidential candidate given the availability of better-known options. Among the Democrats, this included Martin Van Buren, John C. Calhoun, and James Buchanan. Among the Whigs, Henry Clay was the clear frontrunner. Complicating the election were three other candidates: President John Tyler, a man without a party; Joseph Smith, the self-described prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the first presidential candidate to be assassinated; and James G. Birney, head of the antislavery Liberty ticket. On top of this remarkable cast of characters, the stakes of the election were high as the United States was undergoing a tumultuous political transition.
James K. Polk's ascension to the White House over more notable politicians was a pivotal moment in propelling the United States towards civil war, and the 1844 election expanded the vigorous campaigning that had been growing since 1824. In Who is James K. Polk?, Mark R. Cheathem examines the transition from traditional political issues, such as banking and tariffs, to newer ones, like immigration and slavery. The book also captures the Whig and Democratic parties at a mature stage of competition and provides detailed descriptions of campaign tactics used by the candidates, including rallies, music, and political cartoons.
Cheathem has written the definitive account of this important election in this volume for the esteemed American Presidential Elections series.