After 8 years of ineffective presidents, James K. Polk offers a stark contrast: a president who achieved every goal he set for his administration within his four-year term. Although he was a Jacksonian Democrat, he had learned the lesson that the nation needed a fiscal structure independent of commercial interests. Polk succeeded in establishing an independent treasury, a system that prevailed until the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. He greatly expanded the territory of the United States through annexation of Texas, a war with Mexico, and a negotiated settlement with Great Britain that resolved what had been an intractable problem with regard to the northern boundary of the Oregon Territory. Finally, he achieved a significant reduction in tariffs. Polk's success as president may be due to the impressive resume he brought to the job. Before becoming our 11th President, Polk had served in the Tennessee state legislature, as the 9th Governor of Tennessee, as a Member of Congress, and as Speaker of the House--Polk is the only president to have also served as Speaker. He did not run for re-election in 1848 (fulfilling a campaign pledge he had made in 1844), and died in Tennessee just a few months after leaving office in 1849.
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Author of Thy King Dumb Come and Accountability Citizenship, Stephen P. Tryon is a businessman and technologist with extensive experience in e-commerce, a retired Soldier, and former Senate Fellow.