A Country Of Vast Designs

A Country Of Vast Designs

James K. Polk, The Mexican War, And The Conquest Of The American Continent

Book - 2009
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Merry examines how, in a one-term presidency, James K. Polk completed the story of America's Manifest Destiny by expanding its territory across the continent. b&w photographs.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2009.
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9780743297431
Characteristics: x, 576 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., map, ports. ; 25 cm.


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Jul 26, 2017

An informative and important, if somewhat dry and indifferently, written history of our 11th president, the dimly remembered James K. Polk, with an emphasis on the Mexican-American War and the expansion of the country. A protege of Andrew Jackson, Polk lacked his flamboyance, but he, encouraged by John Tyler's expansionist tendencies, added a huge amount of territory to America, notably the West Coast, lowered tariffs, and stabilized the banks. Journalist/writer Robert W. Merry clearly admires Polk and so makes a strong case for his achievements, all done in one term (He was succeeded by Zachary Taylor, a hero of the Mexican-American War.) A lot of iconic American politicians show up, like Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay (Polk's chief rival.), John C. Callhoun, and Martin Van Buren and the book admirably brings these historical figures to life. Again, it can be a little slow and I would've liked a sharper focus on American expansion and Manifest Destiny, but it's a good book about an often forgotten part of our history.

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