JAMES K. POLK (1795-1849)
President James K. Polk is perhaps best remembered with the slogan, “54° 40’ or fight.” After all, if it wasn’t for Polk’s leadership and tenacity in promoting geographic expansion, Texas and the Pacific Northwest may never have become part of the United States. Nonetheless, our 11th president accomplished several other “firsts” and was unique in many lesser-known ways.
A MAGNIFICENTLY PRESERVED 9" DESSERT PLATE PURCHASED AND USED BY PRESIDENT JAMES K. POLK - NOW IN THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION OF OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE CHINA
Polk was a one-term President, serving from 1845 to 1849. It may have been his personal toughness that enabled him to lead the country through this tumultuous period. When he was only 17, he had surgery to remove gallstones that had bedeviled him throughout his childhood. The surgery was performed without benefit of either sterilization or anesthesia, because neither existed at that time, though anesthesia was invented while Polk was President.
Home-schooled as a young boy, James Polk had no formal education until the age of 18. Nonetheless, he was accepted as a sophomore to the University of North Carolina in 1816. He graduated in just two years, earning top honors in the classics and mathematics.
WELL EDUCATED FORMER FIRST LADY SARAH CHILDRESS (1803-1891)
Polk’s wife, the former Sarah Childress, was also very well educated, a rarity for women in those days. As the daughter of a wealthy Tennessee plantation owner and merchant, she was privileged to attend the Salem Female Academy in North Carolina. Throughout their time together she helped her husband write letters and speeches and served as his confidential political and intellectual sounding-board and advisor.
A PRISTINE 9.5" SHALLOW SOUP BOWL FROM THE JAMES K. POLK WHITE HOUSE CHINA COLLECTION - NOW IN THE COLLECTION OF RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX
At the time he was elected, James K. Polk was the youngest person ever elected to the presidency – the first President under 50. He was also the youngest president to die, excluding assassinations. He was only 53 when he passed away, just three months after leaving office. That made him the only President to die before age 60, and the one to enjoy the shortest-ever presidential retirement. Some historians speculate Polk died of cholera, whereas others attribute his early death to lifelong frail health. As it turned out, he predeceased his own mother by three years.
World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House china. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China as well as Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.