Who Was James K. Polk?

Contributor: Nichole Brooker. Lesson ID: 11116

President Polk was colorful: He was a dark horse, presided over the Gold Rush, and opened the White House to the public! He also expanded the size of the country. Write about your goals as you learn!


Social Studies, United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Dark Horse — that is what they called James K. Polk.

He was not well-known, but he COULD win if he were put in the right situation. And look at that! He became the 11th President of the United States and proved that being the "dark horse" sometimes equals a win!

Discover what contributions he made to the history of America!

President Polk's "claim to fame" was the expansion of the United States to the western coast.

During his presidency, he had four main goals. They were:

  • Settle the Oregon territory dispute with Great Britain.
  • Bring California into the U.S.
  • Set up an independent treasury.
  • Lower tariffs (taxes) on imports.

Complete the James K. Polk's Goals chart found in the Downloadable Resources while watching James Polk: Best Mullet Ever (1845 - 1849) from Professor Dave Explains:

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President Polk had lofty goals for a four-year term, but he proved that if you put your mind to something, you can achieve whatever you want! You will need to do a bit more research to fill in the worksheet. Check out White House's James K. Polk site for more information about his presidency.

Continue on to the Got It? section to check out a big list of facts about the eleventh president of America and decide for yourself if he was a successful leader of the United States.

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