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Inaugural Address of James Polk

Inaugural Address of James Polk

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On March 4, 1845, James Knox Polk, the eleventh president of the United States, gave his inaugural address of 4,801 words under the West Portico of the Capital, in pouring rain with a crowd under black umbrellas. His was the first inauguration that was reported by telegraph and the first that was illustrated in a newspaper.

Polk, called "Young Hickory" by his proponents, used his inaugural address to announce the American claim to the Oregon Territory as "clear and unquestionable". What he neglected to state was the geographical points of that claim, leading to a compromise at the 49th parallel that is still the border America shares with Canada.

In his inaugural address, President Polk also spoke fully about the following:

  • The Annexation of Texas
  • In his speech he used references from history, the Constitution, and philosophy to defend American expansion "as a way of creating and preserving a more powerful Union".

Polk's vow to govern for only one term made him a lame duck president from the very beginning.Yet, even with that handicap President Polk was able to broaden the limits of America in both land and freedom. He also made a point to address his duty and that of Congress to maintain "a plain and frugal government" and use the public monies in the best way "compatible with the public interests".

Although he is criticized today, President Polk was a good president who kept the country uppermost in his thoughts and did all he could to advance the interests of the country.

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