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158Remembering JKP and Polkaholism

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  • rule62ken
    Jun 15, 2011
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      My name is Ken and I'm a Polkaholic.

      I'm supposed to be the moderator of this community, but I'm afraid I have been neglectful of late, other than in trying to monitor it for spammers. I keep an online journal at www.livejournal.com where I maintain a community called Potus Geeks and write a daily blog on some president or some aspect of the presidency. Although livejournal requires membership (free or paid), Potus Geeks is a public community and can be accessed at this link: http://potus-geeks.livejournal.com/ , please feel welcome to read, lurk or join if you like.

      Here is part of what I wrote in today's blog:

      This is a special day for we Polkaholics because on June 15, 1849, 162 years ago today, James Knox Polk, the 11th President of the United States, died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 53. He has the shortest retirement of any President: 103 days after leaving office. The job may have literally killed him. Although the cause of death is given as cholera, his workaholism likely weakened him to the point that his immune system couldn't fight off the bug.

      There are several reasons why Polk is one of my favourite Presidents. Firstly, how many Presidents are immortalized in the words of a song by an alternative band generating somewhat of a cult following? I first became interested (obsessed?) with Polk when I heard one of my favourite bands, They Might Be Giants, sing their b-side "James K. Polk". It's lyrics told the story of a president whe came into office with a to-do list and who checked off every item on that list. The last verse of that song goes:

      "In four short years he met his every goal
      He seized the whole southwest from Mexico
      Made sure the tarriffs fell
      And made the English sell the Oregon territory
      He built an independent treasury
      Having done all this he sought no second term
      But precious few have mourned the passing of
      Mister James K. Polk, our eleventh president
      Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump"

      Another reason I like Polk is because he and his wife Sarah had such a strong partnership. At a time when women were relegated to a secondary domestic role, Sarah really was Polk's best friend, his sounding board and his most trusted adviser. Polk discussed policy matters with her and she was probably his strongest confidant. She helped with his speeches in private, copied his correspondence, and gave him advice. The Polks had no children, probably because of a painful operation that a teenage James had to remove stones in his urinary tract which likely left him unable to function sexually, so you know that there had to be more to their relationship than sex. Polk's last words were reported to have been "I love you Sarah, for all eternity, I love you." As author Walter Borneman wrote in his 2008 book entitled Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America, "Even if this utterance was embellished, there was nothing in Polk's life to suggest that the sentiment behind it was not true."

      Thank you Evelyn for your continued participation and posts, I alwaye enjoy your take on all things Polkaholic.

      I hope everyone has a great day, and in the spirit of JKP, I hope that we all are able to check off everything on our to-do lists.