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Full text of "The diary of James K. Polk during his presidency, 1845 to 1849 : now first printed from the original manuscript in the collections of the Chicago Historical Society"

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Brigham Young University 

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C|)tcaso Htsitottcal ^otittfQ 

COLLECTION 
VoL IX. 






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THE LAST RESIDENCE OF PRESIDENT POLK 

Occupied by him, as a home, from the expiration of his Presidential term until 

his death, June 75, 18 4g, and by Mrs. Polk until her death in i8g2. 

The house was torn down in IQOI, and its site is now 

occupied by a seven story apartment house. 



J1J04 TM3ai83^^ 10 30M3ai^3M T2AJ 3HT 



V'A CHICAGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S COLLECTIONS— VOL. IX. 

THE DIARY OF 
JAMES K. POLK 

DURING HIS PRESIDENCY 1845 to 1849 



NOW FIRST PRINTED FROM 
THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT 
OWNED BY THE SOCIETY 



EDITED AND ANNOTATED BY 

MILO MILTON QUAIFE 

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN THE LEWIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

ANDREW CUNNINGHAM McLAUGHLIN 

HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO 

IN FOUR VOLUMES 



v°L- ^^' 2i3&l(> 



PUBLISHED FOR THE SOCIETY 

By a. C. McCLURG & CO. 
CHICAGO 

I 9 I o 



Copyright 

By a. C. McClurg & Company 

A. D. 1910 



Entered at Stationers* Hall, London, England 

Publicalion Committee: 

Dr. O. L. Schmidt 

George Merryweather 

S. H. Kerfoot, Jr. 



A special edition of 500 copies is issued for the Society 



PRINTED* AND" BOUND -BY 
THE • PLIMPTON •PRESS 

[WD-Ol 
NORWOOD • MASS • U 'S 'A 



I 



THE DIARY OF JAMES K. POLK 

1845— 1849 



DIARY OF 

JAMES K. POLK 

IV 

Tuesday, 4th July, 1848, — This being the day 
appointed for laying the co[r]ner Stone of the Wash- 
ington monument in Washington, and having been 
invited by the committee of arrangements to attend 
the ceremonies of the occasion, and having deter- 
mined, though in feeble health, to do so, I had in- 
vited my Cabinet to meet & accompany me at 10 
O'clock this morning. Before that hour the Rev. 
Mr. Smith of the Presbyterian church called with 
the children composing the Sunday school of his 
church. There w^ere betv^een two and three Hun- 
dred children, who were invited into the East Room 
where I met them. It was [an] interesting inter- 
view. Mr. Smith made a short address in which 
he reminded me that three years ago, being the first 
4th of July after my election to the Presidency, he 
had visited me with his Sunday school, and now that 
I had voluntarily determined to retire to private life 
on the 4th of March next, they had called again to 
pay their respects. I responded in a few words of 



2 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [4 July 

reply, in which I stated that I remembered their 
visit three years ago; that I was then gratified but 
not more than I was upon this occasion. There were 
a number of persons present who witnessed the cere- 
mony. At 10 O'clock, the Cabinet assembled; all 
the members present. Accompanied by the Cabinet 
and escorted by Gen'l Walton, the U. S. marshall of 
the D. C, and his Deputies, and by a troop of horse 
commanded by Col. May of the U. S. Army, we were 
conducted in carriages to the City Hall where the 
procession was formed and moved to the site of the 
Washington monument on the Banks of the Potomac 
and South of the President's mansion. I witnessed 
the ceremony of laying the corner stone, and heard 
an address delivered by Mr. Speaker Winthrop of 
the Ho. Repts. I returned to the President's House 
and in about an hour, at the request of Gen'l Quit- 
man, I received the military on horseback. They 
were drawn up to receive me in Pennsylvania Ave- 
nue. This afternoon Dr. Rayburn arrived, bearing 
despatches & the ratified Treaty with Mexico. He 
stated that Mr. Sevier was sick at New Orleans & 
had requested him to bring on the Treaty. Mr. 
Sevier would ascend the Mississippi River. I im- 
mediately saw the Secretary of State and caused a 
proclamation ^ to be prepared announcing officially 
the definitive conclusion of peace with Mexico. At 
about II O'clock at night I signed the Proclamation. 
I desired to sign it on the anniversary of Independ- 
ance. My Private Secretary & Mr. H. C. Williams 
were engaged until a late hour to-night copying a 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IV, 627. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 3 

message which I had prepared to Congress on laying 
the Treaty before them for Legislative action. 

This being a regular evening for receiving com- 
pany a large crowd attended. There were many 
strangers in the City who had come to witness the 
laying the corner stone of the Washington Monu- 
ment. The East room and all the parlours were 
lighted up. The marine band attended and played 
south of the mansion. I retired at a late hour ex- 
ceedingly fatigued. 

Wednesday, 5/A July, 1848. — I convened the 
Cabinet at 10^ O'Clock this morning, all the mem- 
bers attended. I read to them the message which 
I had prepared to send to Congress, on laying the 
ratified Treaty with Mexico before that body. It 
was carefully examined and its various parts freely 
discussed. Some modifications, not affecting its sub- 
stance, were made at the suggestion of different mem- 
bers of the Cabinet. It was my intention to have it 
sent to Congress to-day, but about 2 O'Clock P. M. 
I learned from Mr. Buchanan that the do[c]uments 
to accompany it could not be prepared in time to 
be transmitted to-day. After the Cabinet adjourned 
I read the message to Mr. Ritchie, who approved it 
in all its parts. I transacted some other business to- 
day. The Marine Band played on the grounds this 
afternoon. Many persons attended. I was too 
much fatigued to go out. 

Thursday, 6th July, 1848. — I saw company this 
morning. A number of persons, and among them 



4 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [6 Jui.y 

several members of Congress, called. I transmitted 
a message ^ to both Houses of Congress to-day lay- 
ing before them the ratified Treaty with Mexico and 
recommending that legislative provision be made to 
carry its stipulations into effect. It wzs near 3 
O'clock P. M. before the Documents to accompany 
the Treaty v^ere prepared at the State Department. 
Among the documents transmitted were the instruc- 
tions to Mr. Slidell upon his appointment as minis- 
ter to Mexico, in November, 1845. These Instruc- 
tions were called for by Resolution of the Ho. Repts. 
at an early period of the present Session, and in a 
message to that House I declined to furnish the in- 
structions, deeming their publication in the then 
state of our relations with Mexico to be incompatable 
with the public interests. Upon the conclusion of 
a definitive Treaty of peace with Mexico, the rea- 
sons for with-holding them at that time no longer 
exist. 

Mr. Walker, the Secretary of the Treasury, called 
this morning [and said] that he had been informed 
by Vice President Dallas that he had been applied to 
by a person now in this City (but whose name I do 
not remember) and informed that he was author- 
ized by the Queen of Spain & her husband to ascej 
tain whether, if a channel was opened affording^n 
opportunity, the U. S. would make an overture to 
purchase the Island of Cuba. After conversing with 
Mr. Walker upon the subject I requested him to 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IV, 587- 
593. For message and accompanying documents, see //. Ex* 
Doc. 69, 30 Cong. I Sess. VIII. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 5 

ask Mr. Dallas to call and see me. He left & in 
less than two hours returned in company with Mr. 
Dallas. Mr. Dallas repeated the statement which 
Mr. W. had made to me. Mr. Dallas added that 
the gentleman referred to was a lawyer of Philadel- 
phia of good standing. He said he was a native of 
Spain and was the agent of [the] Queen of Spain 
in the investment of a large sum of her private for- 
tune in this country and in Cuba, and that he had 
great confidence in his representations. I then in- 
formed Mr. Dallas confidentially of the despatch 
which had been sent to Mr. Saunders, our minister 
at Madrid, authorizing him, if circumstances were 
favourable, to make an offer to purchase the Island 
of Cuba. I informed Mr. Dallas if he would call 
at the State Department he could read the despatch. 
I then authorized Mr. Dallas to say to the person 
to whom he referred that as soon as he produced the 
evidence of his authority to act in the matter the 
U. S. would make the offer to purchase the Island, 
but that he must do this upon his own authority & 
not in the name of the Government. I asked Mr. 
Dallas if the U. S. could afford to pay one hundred 
millions of Dollars for Cuba, to which he at once 
answered in the affirmative, and thought it would 
be a good bargain at that. 

Gen'l Pillow & Gen'l Cadwallader called. Gen'l 
Pillow informed me that he had learned that much 
conversation was being had in the City to the effect 
that the reason I had not heretofore sent in to the 
Senate the nomination of the Gen'l officers of the 
army appointed during the last recess was to favour 



6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [6 July 

him, & the fear on my part that his (Gen'l P.'s) nom- 
ination might be rejected by the Senate. Gen'l P. 
remarked that he desired that I should be relieved 
from so false an imputation, & that he himself should 
be relieved from any imputation of a desire that I 
should withhold the nomination of the other offi- 
cers, and therefore he desired that I would send in 
the nominations and his with them. He said he 
would prefer to be himself rejected, rather than rest 
under the imputation that he stood in the way of 
my sending in the nominations of the other officers. 
Gen'l Cadwallader confirmed Gen'l P.'s statement 
as to the conversations going on in the Hotels on the 
subject, and advised me to nominate all the officers 
appointed in the recess including Gen'l Pillow's 
[Pillow]. I stated that the officers alluded to, 
including Gen'l Pillow, appointed in the last 
recess of the Senate, would be in commission, 
under the Constitution, until the close of the Ses- 
sion of the Senate, and that as the war was now 
over and these officers would probably be discharged 
before the adjournment of the Senate, it would seem 
to be useless to send in their nominations. Both 
Gen'l Pillow & Gen'l Cadwallader repeated the 
opinion that I should send in the nominations. I 
finally told them I would consult the Secretary of 
War on the subject, & would be disposed to defer 
to his judgement. After they left I sent for the Sec- 
retary of War, who thought under all the circumstan- 
ces I had better send in the nominations. I attribute 
the conversations & complaints out of doors on the 
subject to Gen'l Quitman, who has importuned me 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 7 

personally & through his friends to send his nom- 
ination to the Senate. Indeed, I was informed sev- 
eral days ago that he had remarked that if I did 
not send in his nomination he would make an issue 
with me. I informed Mr. Jacob Thompson of Miss., 
of what I had heard of Gen'l Quitman's remarks, 
on the evening of the 4th Instant. Mr. Thompson 
called to see me again on yesterday morning, 
and informed me that he had seen Gen'l Quitman, 
who denied that he had made such a remark, though 
he was very desirous to have his nomination sent in. 
I am still of opinion that the complaints about the 
Hotels have proceeded from remarks made by Gen'l 
Quitman. I told Gen'l Cadwallader to-day that if 
I was certain of this I would not send in Gen'l Quit- 
man's nomination. I told Gen'l C, also, that Gen'l 
Pillow had never intimated a wish upon the subject 
until the present conversation, and that the nomina- 
tions had not been held back at his instance or de- 
sire. Upon a conferrence with the Secretary of War 
to-day it was determined to issue an order for dis- 
banding all the officers who engaged to serve during 
the war with Mexico, who were now in the U. S. & 
detached from their respective commands, on the 
15th Instant. 

To-day I prepared my decision on the proceedings 
of the Court of Enquiry in the case of Maj'r Gen'l 
Pillow. Concurring with the Court in their con- 
clusion that no further military proceedings in the 
case were required by the public interests, I ap- 
proved their conclusion & acquitted Gen'l Pillow of 
any censure. I did not concur with the Court in 



8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [7 July 

all their findings and inferences from them, but I 
did not deem it necessary to say anything in relation 
to the findings, but confined myself to an approval of 
the conclusion at which the Court had arrived. 

Friday, 7/A July, 1848. — Several persons called 
this morning and among them some most impor- 
tunate office seekers. Of the latter was John D. Mc- 
Crate, esqr., a member of the last Congress, from 
Maine. He applied to me to be appointed one of 
the commissioners to adjudicate claims under the 
Mexican Treaty, and informed me that he had ob- 
tained the signatures of all the Democratic Senators 
except three and a majority of the Democratic mem- 
bers of the Ho. Repts. recommending him for the 
office. It has become very customary for office-seek- 
ers to importune members of Congress recommend- 
ing them [to recommend them] and it is to be re- 
gretted that members of Congress generally sign 
papers of this sort as a matter of accommodation to 
those who apply to them, and without knowing or 
caring whether the person recommended is fit for 
the office or not. In this case one member told me 
on yesterday that he had signed the recommenda- 
tion, and expressed his doubts whether Mr. McC. 
ought to be appointed. Very little reliance is to be 
placed in such recommendations. I gave Mr. Mc- 
Crate no promise. In truth no law has yet been 
passed authorizing the appointment of such commis- 
sioners. After 12 O'clock I saw Mr. Buchanan, 
Mr. Marcy, and Mr. Mason, all of whom advised 
me to send [to the Senate] the nominations of Maj'r 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 9 

Gen'ls Pillow & Quitman & Brig. Gen'ls Gushing 
& Price. My own judgment was against it, as be- 
ing unnecessary now that the war with Mexico is 
over (see this Diary of yesterday) but I yielded 
to their advice and that of others, and sent the nom- 
inations to the Senate. I saw several public officers 
& transacted much public business to-day. In the 
evening several members of Congress called to see 
and consult me about public affairs. The slavery 
question as connected with the establishment of Ter- 
ritorial Governments in Oregon, New Mexico, & 
Upper California, was the chief subject of Conver- 
sation. Among the members who called were 
Messrs. Cobb of Georgia, Houston of AL, Bowden ^ 
of AL, McLane of Maryland, & Senator Sebastian 
of Arkansas. Mr. Birdsall of N. York called & 
urged me to remove from office Ben'j F. Butler and 
other Barnburners in New York who held office, up- 
on the ground that they had bolted from the regular 
nominations of the Democratic party for President 
& Vice President, & were attempting to organize a 
northern or geographical party on the slavery ques- 
tion; that they were disorganizers, and that [the] 
effect of their movements was to defeat the Demo- 
cratic candidates. Mr. Birdsall was exceedingly ex- 
cited in his manner & conversation. His tone was dic- 
tatorial & affirmative, so much so that I was con- 
strained to rebuke him by telling him that I was not 
in the habit of being addressed in such a manner. 
Before he left he became sensible of the impropriety 

^ Franklin W. Bowdon, Representative from Alabama 1846- 
1851. 



10 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [8 July 

of his conduct, & apologized. I told him that I con- 
demned the conduct of Mr. Butler & other disor- 
ganizers in New York who had pres[e]nted Mr. 
Van Buren for the Presidency, and that those of 
them who hold office under the Federal Govern- 
ment deserved to be removed, but that I doubted 
the propriety of removing them at this time. I told 
him that several Northern Senators who concurred 
with me as to their inexcusable conduct had ex- 
pressed to me the opinion that it would be unwise 
to remove them. If removed they would probably 
represent themselves as victims; and would appeal to 
the people by representing that they were removed 
by a President from a slave-state because they were 
opposed to permitting slavery in the territories re- 
cently acquired in which it did not now exist. This, 
I told him, would not be the reason of my action, if 
I removed them, but their secession from the Dem- 
ocratic party & their efforts to defeat the regular 
nominations of the Democratic party. I told him 
that their removal would place in the hands of dem- 
agogues a weapon in the Northern States by which 
Gen'l Cass's election might be placed in jeopardy. 
I found I could not satisfy him. So great was his 
excitement & so irrational was he, that my conver- 
sation with him was a very unpleasant one. 

Saturday, 8th July, 1848.— I saw several per- 
sons before the meeting of the Cabinet this morn- 
ing. The Cabinet met at the usual hour; all the 
members present. After transacting several matters 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY n 

of business I informed the Cabinet of the conversa- 
tion which Mr. Birdsall of N. York held with me 
last evening, urging the removal of Benj. F. Butler 
and other office-holders in N. York. I also read 
to them a letter of this date from Senator Dickinson 
of N. York, urging their removal. I asked the Cab- 
inet for their opinion on the subject. They all 
agreed that the Barnburners who had bolted from 
the regular Democratic nominations in N. Y. & held 
office under the Federal Government deserved to be 
removed, but Mr. Buchanan & Mr. Toucey advised 
against it at this time for fear of its bad effect on 
the pending Presidential election. Mr. Buchanan 
said he would remove them the moment the election 
was over. Mr. Mason, Mr. Walker, & Mr. Marcy 
were in favour of their removal. Mr. Johnson ex- 
pressed no opinion. I told the Cabinet that I had 
sent for Senator Felch & Mr. McClelland of the Ho. 
Repts., who are understood to be the confidential 
friends of Gen'l Cass, for the purpose of consulting 
them on the subject. The Cabinet all concurred in 
the propriety of this step. At 6 O'Clock Mr. Felch 
& Mr. McClelland called, & I had a full conversa- 
tion with them on the subject. They both thought 
that the removals would operate prejudicially to 
Gen'l Cass'[s] election. They informed me that 
they had within a day or two consulted with Demo- 
cratic members of Congress in both Houses from 
the free States other than New York, & that the 
opinion was general [that] though the Barnburn- 
ers who held office in N. Y. deserved to be removed. 



12 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [9 July 

it would be highly inexpedient to make the removals 
at this time. Mr. Felch & Mr. McClelland advised 
me not to make the removals. 

My nephew, James H. Walker, who is a Captain 
in the Regiment of Voltigeurs, arrived in Washing- 
ton on yesterday, direct from Mexico. He has been 
in service since the commencement of the Mexican 
War, first as an assistant Quarter-master (in which 
capacity he accompanied Col. Yell's Regiment from 
Arkansas) and afterwards as Captain in the Regi- 
ment of Voltigeurs. Upon my invitation he took 
apartments in the President's House. 

Sunday, gth July, 1848, — The weather to-day 
was cloudy and damp and unusually cool for the 
season. I am still somewhat feeble from my late 
indisposition and did not attend church to-day. 
Mrs. Polk remained at home also, and did not at- 
tend church. 

Monday, lOth July, 1848, — I saw many persons 
this morning. After 12 O'Clock I saw the Secre- 
tary of War and several other public officers, and 
transacted business in my office as usual. I had a 
long interview with Senator Bright of Indiana in 
relation to the adjustment of the Missouri compro- 
mise line as respects slavery, in the organization of 
Territorial Governments in Oregon, New Mexico, 
& California. I urged the public importance of the 
settlement of the question, in [order] to allay excite- 
ment, prevent the organization of geographical par- 
ties, & preserve the harmony of the Union. Mr. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 13 

Bright thought it would be settled by the adoption 
of the phraseology employed in the Resolutions for 
the annexation of Texas. In the evening I saw Mr. 
Venable of N. C. & Mr. Haralson of Georgia on 
the same subject, both of whom agreed to vote for 
the Texas compromise. Whilst these gentlemen 
were in my office Gen'l Pillow called, and desiring 
to see me alone they retired to my Private Secretary's 
office. Gen'l P. was excited, & after holding some 
conversation with him on other subjects he informed 
me of what I had before heard, that Mr. Stevens ^ 
of Georgia in debate in the House to-day had gone 
out of his way to abuse Gen'l P. personally, by apply- 
ing to him the epithet '' infamous," & other like 
terms. Gen'l P. informed me that he had been in 
search of Mr. Stevens all the afternoon, that he had 
been twice at his boarding house, but could not find 
him, and that he was determined to flog him on sight. 
I advised him against it, for although Mr. Stevens 
might deserve a castigation, that the Whig Party 
would endeavour to make political capital out of it 
by representing that an officer of the army was at- 
tempting to browbeat Congress and restrain the lib- 
erty of debate. I advised him at all events to post- 
pone it. Mr. Venable & Gen'l Haralson returned 
when Gen'l Pillow retired. Without knowing what 
conversation had passed between Gen'l Pillow and 
myself, Mr. Venable, when he rose to retire, re- 
quested me to see Gen'l P. and advise him not to in- 
terrupt Stevens. Mr. V. had heard Mr. S.'s speech 

^ Alexander H. Stephens, afterwards Vice-President of the 
Southern Confederacy. 



14 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [n July 

in the House. I requested Mr. V. to call and see 
Gen'l Pillow himself, on his return to his lodgings. 
He said he would do so. Mr. Bowden of Alabama 
called after night. He is taking a deep interest to 
have the slavery question settled on the Texas or Mis- 
souri compromise line. He called to see me on that 
subject. 

Tuesday, nth July, 1848, — I saw a number of 
persons this morning on business. My brother, 
Maj'r Wm. H. Polk of the 3rd Dragoons, U. S. 
army, arrived from Mexico this morning. He is 
thin in flesh and is far from being as athletic and vig- 
orous as he was when he entered the service. He 
took apartments in the President's House. The Sec- 
retary of the Treasury called before the hour of meet- 
ing of the Cabinet, but, having business at the Cap- 
itol, left and returned about i O'Clock P. M. The 
other members of the Cabinet assembled at the usual 
hour. Several matters of business were considered 
and disposed of. Resolutions of the Ho. Repts. call- 
ing for information on several points connected with 
the manner of prosecuting the war with Mexico, & 
particularly the establishment of temporary civil 
Governments in the conquered provinces, were de- 
livered to me by Mr. Campbell, the Clerk of the 
Ho. Repts., this morning. They were passed on yes- 
terday on the motion of Mr. Stevens of Georgia, 
who, I learn, made a violent, vindictative [vindic- 
tive] speech,^ & one personally abusive of me. It 

^ Globe, 30 Cong, i Sess. 910-913. The resolutions are in 
H, Journal, 30 Cong, i Sess. 1010-1012. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 15 

was in the same speech that he took occasion to ca- 
lumniate Gen'l Pillow (see this Diary of yesterday). 
The Resolutions are readily answered, though it will 
take some time to collect the information called for. 
The Secretary of War presented various details con- 
nected with the destination of the army, and partic- 
ularly the corps which should be ordered to Oregon, 
California, & New Mexico. These were disposed 
of, & being indisposed, the Cabinet dispersed & I 
retired to my chamber about 2 O'Clock P. M. This 
being reception evening a number of persons called. 

Wednesday, 12th July, 1848, — I spent the morn- 
ing as usual until 12 O'Clock in receiving company. 
I saw the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, 
and the attorney General on official business. I was 
somewhat indisposed to-day, but remained in my 
office & transacted business until dinner, & then re- 
tired to my chamber. The Marine band played on 
the President's grounds this afternoon, but I did not 
attend. I learn that after much discussion to-day, 
the Senate agreed to a Resolution ^ referring the 
Oregon-bill and my message in relation to the or- 
ganization of Territorial Government in California 
& New Mexico to a select committee of 8 members, 
four from the North & four from the South, and an 
equal number of each political [party]. The ob- 
ject was to see if a proposition of compromise upon 
the subject of slavery in these territories could be 
agreed upon. I learn that Ambrose H. Sevier of 

^ S. Journal, 30 Cong. I Sess. 465. The committee created is 
usually known as the ** Clayton Compromise committee." 



i6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [13 July 

Arkansas, one of the commissioners sent to Mexico 
with the ratified Treaty with Mexico, reached this 
City this evening. 

Maj'r Wm. H. Polk of the 3rd Dragoons, U. S. 
Army, left this morning to visit his wife in New 
York. He will return in a few days. After night 
Mr. Geo. S. Houston of Al. called with a friend. 

Thursday, 13th July, 1848, — A number of per- 
sons called this morning. A Delegation of the Iowa 
tribe of Indians called. Col. Sevier of Arkansas, 
late commissioner to Mexico, called. He reached 
this city last evening. I saw and transacted business 
with Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Marcy, & Mr. Toucey. I 
was engaged a part of the day in preparing my mes- 
sage in answer to the Resolutions of the Ho. Repts. 
of the loth Instant, calling for information in rela- 
tion to New Mexico & Upper California. The Sec- 
retary of War informed me that the Military Court 
of Enquiry in Gen'l Pillow's case had taken the rec- 
ord of their findings back, & after having had it for 
some time had returned it to him this morning. On 
examining it I found that they had made no change 
in it, except to substitute the word " arguments " for 
" inducements " in that part of their finding which 
relates to Gen'l Pillow's correspondence with Gen'l 
Scott. In the paper as it first stood they say they 
condemn the " inducements," and in the paper as 
amended they say they condemn the "arguments" 
offered by Gen'l Pillow to Gen'l Scott for not alter- 
ing his official Report of the battles of Contreras & 
Cherubusco. Upon an inspection of the correspond- 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 17 

ence it is apparent that both findings are unjust to 
Gen'l Pillow. The change of this single word in 
the finding did not make it necessary for me to 
change or alter my decision on the case, which was 
made in writing and delivered to the Secretary of 
War on the 7th Instant. Gen'l Pillow is a gallant 
and highly meritorious officer, and has been greatly 
persecuted by Gen'l Scott, for no other known reason 
than that he is a Democrat in his politics and was 
supposed to be my personal & political friend. He 
has come out of the late investigation with honour, 
having fully vindicated himself against the false 
charges preferred against him by Gen'l Scott. I dis- 
posed of business on my table as usual to-day. 

Friday, 14th July, 1848, — I saw company as 
usual this morning. The number of the office seek- 
ers continues to be quite as great as at any former 
period of my term. I have no offices to confer, and 
I am greatly annoyed by them. Col. Franklin H. 
Elmore of Charleston, S. C, called this morning & 
I expressed to him freely my anxiety that in the or- 
ganization of Territorial Governments in Oregon 
& in the recently acquired territories of New Mexico 
& Upper California, the slavery question might be 
settled upon the principles of the Missouri or Texas 
compromise on that subject. He agreed with me in 
opinion. I discussed the subject fully with him, 
and then remarked that as Mr. Calhoun had agreed 
to serve on the select committee of the Senate which 
had been raised on the subject, I hoped he would not 
be disposed to adhere to extreme views, but to com- 



i8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [15 July 

promise. In this Mr. Elmore agreed with me, and 
then asked me why I should not send for Mr. Cal- 
houn and converse freely with him on the subject. I 
told him I could not invite Mr. Calhoun to call, ist, 
because he was an older man than myself, had been 
longer in public life, and 2nd, because he might sup- 
pose that I desired to exercise some official influence 
over him. He intimated that Mr. Calhoun might 
call on me; to which I replied that if he did so I 
would freely express to him my anxiety, for the sake 
of the country and the harmony of the Union, to 
have the question settled, and my opinion that it 
could only be done by a compromise between the 
North & the South. I devoted a part of the day in 
preparing a message in answer to Resolutions of the 
House of the loth Instant calling for information in 
relation to New Mexico & California. I saw some 
of my Secretaries & other public officers & trans- 
acted business in my office as usual to-day. After 
night several members of Congress called. 

Saturday, l^th July, 1848. — Several members 
of Congress and others called this morning. The 
Cabinet met at the usual hour, all the members pres- 
ent. Several matters of business were considered 
and disposed of. Among them was considered the 
Treaty of Extradition with Prussia & several of the 
German states, which was transmitted to the Senate 
in December, 1846, with my objections stated to the 
3rd article, and which was ratified a few days ago, 
including that article. Mr. Buchanan had sub- 
mitted to me a Report containing his views & 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 19 

recommending that I should not ratify the Treaty, 
notwithstanding the advice of the Senate. I have de- 
cided objections to the 3rd article, and moreover the 
changed condition of the States of Germany pro- 
duced by the recent Revolutions and liberal move- 
ments in that and other countries of Europe, renders 
[it] doubtful whether it would be our policy to de- 
sire this particular Treaty. Its ratification by the 
Senate was unexpected, as more than two years had 
elapsed after the period fixed by its terms for the ex- 
change of ratifications had expired. This was 
brought about by the personal influence of the Baron 
Gerolt, the Prussian Minister, with Senators. Un- 
der the circumstances, however, I informed Mr. Bu- 
chanan that I thought it due, in courtesy to the Sen- 
ate to address to that body a message informing 
them of my objections to consummate the ratifica- 
tion of the Treaty according to their advice, and re- 
submitting the Treaty for their reconsideration, & 
requested him to prepare a message for me to this 
effect. 

Mr. A. H. Sevier, late commissioner to Arkansas 
[Mexico], who arrived [in the City] two or three 
days ago, called to-day. He had previously called, 
immediately on his arrival in this City. 

Sunday, l6th July, 1848. — I attended the First 
Presbyterian church to-day in company with Mrs. 
Polk, Miss Armstrong of Tennessee, & Miss John- 
son of Arkansas, who came over from their school in 
Georgetown & were spending the day with us. 

About Sunset Senator Calhoun & Mr. Franklin 



20 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 July 

H. Elmore of S. C. called. They took tea with my 
family, after which I invited them to my office. Mr. 
Calhoun desired to converse with me upon the diffi- 
culties attending the organization of Territorial Gov- 
ernments in Oregon, California, & New Mexico on 
account of the slavery question (see this diary of the 
14th Instant). I had a full conversation with 
him in the presence of Mr. Elmore, in which 
I expressed my decided opinion that the question 
ought to be settled upon the Missouri or Texas 
compromise line. He informed me that the select 
committee of 8 of the Senate, which had been 
raised on the subject, had held two or three meet- 
ings, one of them of several hours duration to-day, 
and that they had been unable to agree either upon 
the Missouri or Texas compromise. He stated that 
a proposition of Non-interference with the subject in 
California & New Mexico had been suggested by 
Senator Dickinson of New York, which might be 
agreed upon by the committee. He said that after 
much discussion in the committee that proposition 
had assumed a form substantially as follows, viz.^ 
that in Oregon the existing land laws, which pro- 
hibited slavery, should be left in force until altered, 
changed, or amended by the Territorial Legislature; 
and that in California and New Mexico the Legisla- 
tive power should be vested in the Governor, Secre- 
tary, & three Judges each, and that they should be 
restrained by Congress from Legislating on the sub- 
ject of slavery, leaving that question, if it should 
arise, to be decided by the judiciary. He said he 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 21 

would support this proposition, and I told him I ap- 
proved it, though I would prefer the Missouri or 
Texas compromise. He said that much would 
depend on me, in the appointments to be made of 
Governor, Secretary, & Judges; that they might be 
Northern men in Oregon, but that they ought to be 
Southern men in California & New Mexico, who 
would maintain the southern views on the subject of 
slavery. The tone of hisj:onversation on this point 
seemed to be designed to elicit a pledge from me to 
this effect. I at once felt the delicacy of my situation 
& promptly replied that that was a subject upon 
which I could not speak, that if the laws passed in the 
form suggested I would do my duty, and jocousely 
added that my friends, as Gen'l Harrison's Cincin- 
nati committee in 1844 [1840?] said for him, must 
have a ^* generous confidence " that I would do so. 

Monday, 17th July, 1848. — This was a busy 
day. Many persons called and I was much engaged 
with public officers and in attending to the business 
on my table. 

About 7 O'clock P. M. Senator Calhoun and Mr. 
Elmore of S. C. called (see this Diary of the 14th & 
i6th Instant). Mr. Calhoun informed me that the 
select committee of the Senate on the slavery ques- 
tion in the territories of Oregon, California, & New 
Mexico had been in session several hours to-day and 
had not been able to agree. He stated that they had 
agreed upon the plan suggested on yesterday, but 
the Northern members of the committee insisted 



22 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 July 

upon inserting a provision in the Bill allowing an 
appeal from the decision of the local Court, to be es- 
tablished in California & New Mexico, on the 
slavery question to the Supreme Court of the U. S., 
and to this Mr. Calhoun said he and two other mem- 
bers of the committee objected. He suggested that 
the settlement of the question might be postponed 
until the next Session of Congress. I urged upon 
him the great necessity of settling it now, and in this 
Mr. Elmore agreed with me. Mr. C. informed me 
that the Committee were to meet again on to-mor- 
row, and requested me to see Mr. Bright of Indiana, 
who is a member of the committee, and see if he 
would not agree to yield the provision in the Bill 
granting an appeal to the Supreme Court of the 
U. S. My brother, Maj'r Wm. H. Polk, returned 
from New York and brought his wife with him to- 
day. They took lodgings as a part of my family in 
the President's mansion. 

The Senate to-day confirmed the nomination of 
Gen'l Gideon J. Pillow as a Maj'r Gen'l of the army 
of the U. States. I learn that the Whig Senators 
opposed his confirmation violently on party grounds. 
He was warmly sustained by the Democratic Sen- 
ators, and was confirmed by a majority of nine votes. 
The Senate had before them all the evidence taken 
before the Court of Enquiry in Gen'l Pillow's case; 
and also the evidence in a former case about two 
Howitzers; the finding of the Courts and my de- 
cisions & final orders in the case. These had been 
sent to the Senate upon their call. Gen'l Pillow has 
now been fully vindicated & his triumph is complete. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 23 

Tuesday, l8th July, 1848, — A number of per- 
sons called this morning. The Cabinet assembled 
at the usual hour, all the members present. The 
Post Master Gen'l, after remaining a few minutes, 
retired to attend to necessary business. Several sub- 
jects of minor importance were considered and dis- 
posed of, but nothing worthy of special attention. 
After the Cabinet retired I devoted some time to the 
preparation of the message in answer to the call of 
the Ho. Repts. in relation to New Mexico & Cali- 
fornia. I disposed of business on my table as usual. 

This being reception evening, a considerable num- 
ber of persons, ladies & gentlemen, called. 

Wednesday, igth July, 1848, — I was more an- 
noyed this morning than is usual by persons seeking 
office & bringing before me petty matters. I almost 
lost my temper. I was engaged in business in my 
office during the day. I had a conferrence with 
Judge Mason about my message in answer to the 
Resolutions of the Ho. Repts. in relation to Oregon, 
California, & New Mexico. I read the message to 
him. After night he called again & some slight 
modifications were made, not affecting the substance 
or sentiment of the paper. The Select committee of 
the Senate on the slavery question involved in the 
establishment of Territorial Governments in Cali- 
fornia & New Mexico, Reported a Bill upon which 
they had agreed, Mr. Calhoun, I learn, having 
yielded his objection as stated to me on monday last 
(see this Diary of that day) in relation to the pro- 
vision granting the right of appeal from the Terri- 



24 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 July 

torial Court to the Supreme Court of the U. States. 
There is now some prospect that the question may 
be settled at the present session of Congress, and I 
sincerely hope it may be. 

There was music by the marine band on the Presi- 
dent's grounds this afternoon. I did not go out. 

Thursday, 20th July, 1848. — Company called 
as usual this morning. At 12 O'Clock I closed my 
doors. I read my message in answer to the Resolu- 
tion of the Ho. Repts. in relation to California & 
New Mexico to Mr. Buchanan & Mr. Marcy, both 
of whom approved it. Some slight verbal changes 
were made. I placed it in the hands of a clerk to be 
copied. Mr. Loving, a clerk in the 4th Auditor's 
office, & formerly of Nashville, Tennessee, copied it. 
I was occupied with business in my office as usual 
during the day. 

Friday, 21st July, 1848. — The morning was 
spent as usual in seeing company and hearing appli- 
cations for office. Mr. Loving (the clerk who 
copied it) finished the copy of my message in an- 
swer to the Resolutions of the Ho. Repts. in relation 
to California & New Mexico, about i O'Clock P. M. 
I sent for Mr. Toucey, the Atto. General, and read 
it to him. He approved it. It was too late an hour 
to send it to the House to-day. I transacted much 
business in my office to-day. Nothing of importance 
occurred. 

Saturday, 22nd July, 1848. — Several persons 
called this morning. The Cabinet met at the usual 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 25 

hour, all the members present. I read to the Cabinet 
my message in answer to the Resolutions of the Ho. 
Repts. of the loth Instant. It was fully discussed 
& approved by the Cabinet. The phraseology of 
some of the paragraphs of it were modified. As it 
treated of some legal and political principles of 
some intricacy as well as importance, I determined 
not to send it in to-day but to read it, before I did 
so, to some of my friends in the House, that they 
might be prepared before-hand to sustain it, if at- 
tacked by the Whigs. Some other matters were con- 
sidered and disposed of, but they were of no special 
importance. But though of no great general im- 
portance, they occupied the attention of the Cabinet 
until 4 O'clock P. M. After night, by my request, 
Mr. J. H. Thomas of Tenn., Mr. Kaufman of 
Texas, and Mr. Cobb of Georgia, all of the Ho. 
Repts., called, and I read to them my message in re- 
lation* to California & New Mexico, & informed 
them fully of my views in relation to the matters 
embraced in it. They approved it, and expressed 
themselves fully ready to sustain it if it should be at- 
tacked by the Whigs of the House, as it probably 
will be, as it is known that the call was prompted 
and made from political party motives. I sent also 
for the Hon. James Thompson of Penn. of the 
Ho. Repts., to whom I desired to read it, with 
the other gentlemen, but he was engaged and did not 
come. 

Sunday, 23rd July, 1848,— I attended the First 
Presbyterian church to-day accompanied by Mrs. 



2i^ JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [24 July 

Polk and the wife of my brother, Wm. H. Polk. 
Mr. James H. Thomas of Tennessee called in & 
took a family dinner with me to-day. After dinner 
Mr. Geo. S. Houston of Al. and Mr. McKay of 
N. C. of the Ho. Repts. called. I saw Mr. Hous- 
ton last evening & intimated to him that I would 
be pleased to submit my message in answer to the 
Resolutions of the Ho. Repts. to himself and Mr. 
McKay. I read it and discussed it fully with them. 
Mr. McKay said he thought it a very good paper, a 
compliment which is rare from him, as all who know 
him will testify. It is said that he has seldom been 
known to pay a compliment to any one. He is an 
excellent & a sensible man, as well as a man of good 
feeling, but his habit is to find fault with everybody 
& everything. Even in this case he was unwilling to 
concede to Texas that part of New Mexico on the 
East side of the Rio Grande, which I had conceded 
to her in my message. 

Monday, 24th July, 1848. — Many persons, mem- 
bers of Congress and others, called this morning. At 
1 1 O'clock my Private Secretary went to the Capitol 
with my message ^ in answer to the Resolutions of the 
Ho. Repts. calling for information in relation to 
New Mexico & California. I saw the Secretaries of 
State, war, & Navy at different periods of the day 
and transacted business. I attended to business in 
my office as usual to-day. In the afternoon I was 
informed that my message to the House was vio- 
lently assailed by several Whig speakers. 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 594-600. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 27 

Tuesday, 2Sth July, 1848. — Several members of 
Congress & others called this morning. The Cab- 
inet met at the usual hour; all the members present. 
The Ho. Repts. passed a Resolution some days ago 
calling for the instructions given to Mr. Sevier & 
Mr. Clifford as commissioners to Mexico. I re- 
quested Mr. Buchanan to read the Instructions to 
the Cabinet, and then submitted the question to the 
Cabinet whether they should be sent to the House in 
answer to their call. Mr. Buchanan & Mr. Toucy 
were decidedly of opinion that I should decline to 
send them in. No formal question was propounded, 
but the other members of the Cabinet, as far as they 
expressed themselves, concurred with them. My 
own opinion was that they could not be made public 
without prejudice to the public interests. The In- 
structions to Mr. Clifford & Mr. Sevier were to pro- 
cure the ratification of the Treaty by Mexico as it 
had been amended by the Senate, but if this was 
found to be impossible, then they were authorized to 
submit to certain modifications which did not affect 
the material stipulations. No contingency arose to 
make it necessary to suggest these modifications in 
order to secure its ratification by Mexico. To pub- 
lish the instructions at this time would, I apprehend, 
dissatisfy the Mexican people with their present 
Government which ratified it, and might lead to 
revolution and thereby disturb the amicable rela- 
tions which have just been restored between the two 
countries. The knowledge of the instructions can 
be of no possible aid to the Ho. Repts. in enabling 
[them] to perform understandingly any legislative 



28 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 July 

duty before them. Unlike the Resolution which 
passed the House in the early part of the present 
Session, this Resolution contains the usual reservation 
and leaves it to the President to decide v^hether their 
publication v^ould be prejudicial to the public inter- 
ests or not Upon full consideration of the subject 
I decided not to send in the instructions. 

Mr. Buchanan read a message to the Senate, v^hich 
I had requested him some days ago to prepare, in- 
forming that body of the reasons w^hich induced me 
not to ratify the Treaty of Extradition v^ith Prussia 
and several of the German States. I made some 
changes in the paper & suggested others, and at my 
request Mr. Buchanan took it to prepare another 
draft. Various subjects of detail connected with the 
War and Navy Departments were considered & dis- 
posed of. The Cabinet adjourned about 3 O'Clock. 
In the evening I disposed of business on my table as 
usual. 

Wednesday, 26th July, 1848, — Many persons 
called this morning. The importunities for office 
were quite as great as they have been at any former 
period of my administration. Among others who 
called were Mr. McClelland and Mr. Stuart ^ of the 
Ho. Repts. from Michigan. They presented to me 
a written paper of complaint, signed by themselves 
& by Senator Felch of Michigan & Mr. Bingham ^ 

^Charles E. Stuart, 1810-1887, Representative from Michigan 
1847-1853, Senator 1853-1859. 

2 Kinsley S. Bingham, 1808-1861, Representative from Michi- 
gan 1847-185 1, Senator 1859-1861. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 29 

of the House, also of Michigan, against the Secre- 
tary of War, because he had not consented to the ap- 
pointment of one of their constituents, named Wilk- 
ins, to a 2nd Lieutenancy in the regular army, & had 
caused Mr. Larned, a Whig, of Michigan to be ap- 
pointed. The paper was addressed to me as Presi- 
dent, and was violent in its charges & complaints 
against Mr. Marcy. It is one of the many instances 
which have occurred in my administration to show 
the importance which is attached by members of 
Congress to petty offices. Indeed many members of 
Congress assume that they have the right to make 
appointments, particularly in their own states, and 
they often, as in this case, fly into a passion when 
their wishes are not gratified. I spoke mildly to the 
two gentlemen & enquired of them if they really de- 
sired to make a grave issue with the Secretary of War 
about so paltry a matter. Mr. Stuart became very 
much moderated in the expression of his feelings 
after I had given them my opinion on the subject; 
while Mr. McClelland seemed to continue to be ex- 
cited, & said he had done his duty in making the rep- 
resentation to me and that I could take such action 
as I chose on the subject. The paper which they 
presented I am sure does injustice to Mr. Marcy, & 
if shown to him must lead to an unpleasant & per- 
haps angry correspondence between him and them. 
These members profess to be Democrats & the sup- 
porters of my administration, and yet they are ready 
to engage in a controversy with the secretary of War 
about a contemptible, petty, little office. It is not 
the first time that members of Congress have forgot- 



30 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 July 

ten that they were sent to Washington by their con- 
stituents to legislate, & not to usurp the functions of 
the Executive or to dictate to him in matters of ap- 
pointment to office. I was indignant when I read 
their paper (which I will preserve) but I suppressed 
my feelings. Mr. Buchanan called a few minutes 
after they left & I read their paper to him, & ex- 
pressed the opinion to him that it was not necessary 
to harrass the Secretary of War, engaged as he was 
in other more important duties, by showing him 
their paper containing their complaints against him. 
The Secretary of War happening to call on business 
in the after part of the day I informed him of the 
visit of Mr. McClelland & Mr. Stuart, & that they 
were much dissatisfied with him because Mr. Wilk- 
ins of Michigan had not been appointed a Lieuten- 
ant in the army. The Secretary seemed to remem- 
ber little of their application to have him appointed, 
& said, what I know to be true, that it was impossible 
to gratify the hundreds who have made similar ap- 
plications through members of Congress and others. 
The Secretary called to see me on much more im- 
portant business, and I did not deem it necessary to 
show him their paper or to trouble him further on 
the subject. I transacted business with several pub- 
lic officers and disposed of much business on my table 
to-day. There was music on the President's grounds 
this afternoon. I attended, & took a walk through 
the grounds with a friend. 

At 9 O'clock P. M. I learned that the Senate were 
still in session, & that the vote on the compromise 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 31 

Bill establishing Territorial Governments in Ore- 
gon, California, & New Mexico would probably be 
taken to-night. 

Thursday, 27th July, 1848. — At breakfast this 
morning I learned from Col. Walker, my Private 
Secretary, that he had just returned from the Senate 
chamber where he had been all night. He informed 
me that the Senate had remained in Session until 8 
O'clock this morning, when the vote was taken on 
the compromise Bill to establish Territorial Govern- 
ments in Oregon, California, and New Mexico, and 
that the Bill had passed by ayes 33 to noes 22. Im- 
mediately after the vote the Senate adjourned to meet 
on to-morrow. The debate, I learn, was an exciting 
one throughout the night. It was the question of 
Slavery which produced the difficulty. It was an 
unprecedented Session for the Senate. I remember 
no previous occasion upon which the Senate has re- 
mained in Session during the whole night. It often 
occurred in the Ho. Repts. when I was a member of 
that body, but never in the Senate. MajV Gen'l Wm. 
O. Butler, lately commanding the army in Mexico, ar- 
rived in this City last night and called on me in com- 
pany with the Secretary of War to-day. I transacted 
business With the Secretaries of State & the Navy, 
and disposed of business on my table as usual. Sen- 
ator Metcalfe ^ of Ky., the successor of Mr. Critten- 
don, and the Hon. Rich. M. Johnson of Ky. called 

^Thomas Metcalfe, Governor of Kentucky 1829-1833, Senator 
from Kentucky 1 848-1 849. 



Z2 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 July 

at different hours to-day. It was the first time Mr, 
Metcalfe had called since he took his seat in the 
Senate. 

Col. James Duncan of the army and Maj'r Cald- 
well of Ky., late of the Voltigeur Regiment, dined 
with me to-day. They were invited to dine by my 
brother, Maj'r Polk, who was also late of the army. 
I regret to learn this evening that a general impres- 
sion prevails that the compromise Territorial Bill, 
which has occupied the attention of the Senate so 
many days and finally passed that body at 8 O'Clock 
this morning, will probably be defeated in the Ho. 
Repts. It is said that the Southern Whigs will unite 
almost in a body with the Northern Whigs to reject 
it. Mr. C. J. Ingersoll & Mr. McClelland of Mich- 
igan, the committee of Foreign affairs of the Ho. 
Repts., called this afternoon at my invitation. My 
object was to inform them that on to-morrow I would 
send a message to the House in answer to their Reso- 
lution of the [17th] Instant, calling for the Instruc- 
tions given Mr. Sevier and Mr. Clifford, commis- 
sioners to Mexico, and to explain to them the reasons 
which made it proper that I should decline commu- 
nicating them. Their publication at this time, it is 
believed, would operate prejuducially in Mexico to 
our interests in that country. 

Friday, 28th July, 1848. — I had many calls this 
morning as usual and among them many office seek- 
ers. The number of this class of persons does not 
diminish as my administration approaches its close. 
They are the most annoying as well as disgusting 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 33 

part of my visitors. I sent a message ^ to the House 
of Repts. to-day declining to communicate the In- 
structions given to Mr. Sevier and Mr. Clifford as 
commissioners to Mexico, which were called for by 
their Resolution of the 17th Instant. I sent also a 
message ^ to the Senate in Executive Session, assign- 
ing the reasons for declining to ratify the Treaty of 
Extradition with Prussia & other German States, 
which I had submitted to the Senate in December, 
1845, and which that body had not advised & con- 
sented to ratify until the 21st of June, 1848. For 
these reasons I refer to my message. I saw & trans- 
acted business with the Secretaries of State, War, & 
Navy to-day. I learned in the afternoon that the 
Ho. Repts. had, by a majority of 15 votes, laid on the 
table the Bill, passed by the Senate on yesterday 
morning, to compromise the slavery question as it 
relates to the organization of Territorial Govern- 
ments in Oregon, California, & New Mexico. I 
regard this vote of the House as most unfortunate. 
The majority, I learn, was made up of every North- 
ern Whig, of about half the Northern Democrats, 
& of 8 Southern Whigs. Those of the Democratic 
party whose sympathies are with the Barnburners 
of New York, or who are timid & afraid to risk 
their popularity at home, united with the Whigs to 
defeat the Bill. The result of leaving the slavery 
question an open one, to be agitated by ambitious 
political aspirants & gamblers and their friends, 
[will be] to produce an organization of parties upon 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IV, 602. 
2 Ibid, IV, 600. 



34 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 July 

geographical lines, which must prove dangerous to 
the harmony if not the existence of the Union itself. 
The political factions in Congress are all at work, 
and they seem to be governed by no patriotic motives, 
but by the effect which they suppose may be pro- 
duced upon the public mind in the pending Presi- 
dential election. A heavy responsibility rests upon 
these, and especially the 8 Southern Whigs, who 
have united to defeat this measure of compromise of 
this most delicate & vexatious question. If no Presi- 
dential election had been pending I cannot doubt the 
compromise Bill would have passed the House. If 
it had done so the agitation would have ceased & 
the question would have been at rest. It is difficult 
to foresee what the effect of the defeat of this Bill 
may be. The political agitation is very great, & the 
result of the next Presidential election is becoming 
every day more and more doubtful. The probabili- 
ties are that a Northern candidate will be more dis- 
tinctly on anti-slavery ground, that the electoral 
colleges may fail to make a choice, & that the elec- 
tion may devolve on the House of Repts. The 
Senate, I learn, to-day passed a Resolution to adjourn 
the Session on the 14th of August. The Whig ma- 
jority in the House, who have heretofore passed two 
Resolutions fixing upon an earlier day, will, of course, 
agree to it. The body of the Whig party desire to 
adjourn without adjusting the slavery question by 
compromise, & to leave the Territories of Oregon, 
California, & New Mexico without Territorial Gov- 
ernments, doubtless in the expectation that in the 
chapter of accidents growing out of the excitement 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 35 

& agitation which must follow, that they may stand 
some chance to elect a Whig President. I deplore 
as a national calamity the want of patriotism which 
seems to actuate the conduct of the leaders of the 
Whig party in Congress; and I exceedingly regret 
that any portion of the Northern Democrats from 
timidity or other causes have been induced to act 
with them. Whilst I deplore this state of things, 
all I can do during the remainder of my term is to 
adhere undeviatingly to my principles & to perform 
my whole duty. This I will do at any hazard. I 
disposed of business on my table to-day as usual. 
After night Senator Turney of Tennessee & Mr. 
Thomas of Tennessee called. They were depressed 
in spirits & deplored, as I did, the existing state of 
things. 

Anticipating that an Internal Improvement Bill 
may pass at the present session, which I cannot ap- 
prove, I devoted an hour or two to-day in reducing 
to writing my views, so as to be ready with a veto 
message if such a bill should pass and be presented 
to me. The House have passed and sent to the 
Senate the Civil & Diplomatic Bill, with an item 
of appropriation in it for the Improvement of the 
Savanah River in Georgia. The object is to force 
me to give up my constitutional objections and sign 
the Bill, or to compel me to reject the whole Bill. 
My mind is made up. I will veto the Bill, if it 
comes to me with this item in it, whatever may be 
the consequences. I will do so, if it comes on the 
last night of the session, and if I am not over-ruled 
by two thirds, & Congress should adjourn without 



36 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [29 July 

passing the Civil & Diplomatic [Bill], I will issue 
my Proclamation conv[en]ing an extra session of 
Congress for the next day. To-day at i O'Clock 
P. M. the Secretary of State presented to me Mr. 
■ — • — the charge d'affaires of Sardinia to this Gov- 
ernment, who arrived in this country a few days 
ago. I received him in the parlour. He presented 
to me a letter from his Government, and after a 
formal interview such as is usual on such occasions, 
he retired. Maj'r Gen'l Patterson of the U. S. 
army called and paid his respects to-day. 

Saturday, 2Qth July, 1848. — There were calls 
as usual this morning. The Cabinet met at the usual 
hour, all the members present. Many matters of 
detail connected with the several Executive Depart- 
ments were considered and disposed of. Other sub- 
jects were also considered and disposed of, which, 
though of some importance, are not worthy of special 
remark. The Cabinet adjourned about 3 O'Clock 
P. M. I addressed a note to Maj'r Gen'l Wm. O. 
Butler, requesting him to call. He called after 
night & remained with me two hours or more. As 
he was the Democratic Candidate for Vice President 
I asked his opinion as to the propriety of removing 
from office Benjamin F. Butler & other Federal 
office holders in New York who have bolted from 
the Democratic party and refused to support the 
Cass & Butler [ticket], the Regular nominees of the 
Baltimore Convention. I read to him a memorial 
I had received from a number of leading Democrats 
of the City of New York requesting their removal. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 37 

He expressed the opinion that they ought to be re- 
moved, but said he would think further on the sub- 
ject & see me on monday. Mr. Butler & others 
whom I appointed at the commencement of my ad- 
ministration, and the papers in New York under 
their control, are now not only opposing the regu- 
larly nominated candidates of the Democratic party, 
but are as violent in their opposition to my adminis- 
tration as the Whigs are. They have factiously 
taken up Mr. Van Buren as their candidate for 
President and have united with the Northern Whigs 
in agitating the slavery question & endeavouring by 
union with the Northern Whigs to form a Northern 
Geographical party, and this is the basis of their 
organization. All this is clear enough, and Gen'l 
Butler agreed with me that they deserved to be 
removed from office, but doubted, with me, whether 
their removal now might not aid them in their un- 
patriotic & wicked agitation. Senator Turney of 
Tenn. informed me this afternoon that he had con- 
versed to day with Senators Dickinson of N. Y., 
Sturgeon of Penn., Allen of Ohio, Breese & Doug- 
lass of Illinois, & Hannegan & Bright of Indiana, 
& that they were all of opinion that Mr. Butler & 
other Barnburners of N. Y. who held office & who 
are actively opposed to the Democratic nominees, 
ought to be removed. 

Sunday, 30th July, 1848, — This was a damp & 
uncomfortable day and I did not attend church. 
Mrs. Polk also remained at home. In the afternoon 
the late Senator Bagby of Al., now minister to 



38 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 July 

Russia, who will sail on his mission in a few days, 
joined me in my walk on the President's grounds. 
He came in & spent an hour with me. 

Monday, 31 st July, 1848, — I had a throng of 
visitors this morning. Among them Maj'r Gen'l 
Worth of the U. S. army, & his staff, called. Maj'r 
Gen'l Butler and his wife called also, & I met them, 
with other ladies & gentlemen who accompanied 
them, in the parlour. It gave me pleasure to see 
these gallant officers who called to pay their respects. 
I cannot say as much for the herd of persons who 
called to importune and annoy me about offices in 
the course of the morning. I have a great contempt 
for professional office seekers, and there are many 
such, persons who have no merit, but desire to live 
on the public instead of relying upon their own 
exertions and some honest calling to make a living. 
I attended to much business in my office to-day. I 
saw several public officers and transacted business 
with them. 

My Private Secretary called my attention on 
yesterday to the New York Evening Post of the 28th 
Instant, containing two letters over the signature of 
Benjamin Tappan, formerly a U. S. Senator from 
Ohio, & Francis P. Blair, formerly Editor of the 
Globe. They purport to give a statement of facts of 
the manner in which the Resolutions for the annexa- 
tion of Texas were passed by Congress, on the ist of 
March, 1845, and profess to give conversations held 
with me by different persons on the subject. Mr. 
Blair gives a conversation which he states he held 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 39 

with me on the subject whilst these Resolutions were 
pending before Congress. I remark first, that I 
have not the slightest recollection of ever having held 
a conversation with Mr. Blair on the subject. If I 
did it has wholly escaped me : and secondly, that the 
misunderstanding, not to say total perversion, of me 
or my meaning, if any such conversations were held, 
proves the danger of detailing from recollection 
conversations which are alleged to have been held 
more than three years ago. Mr. Tappan has been in 
Washington several times since I have been Presi- 
dent, and at the present Session of Congress, and 
professed to be friendly to me. I remember well 
that during the first year after I was inaugurated 
as President of the U. S., and after my course in 
executing the Texas annexation Resolutions, by se- 
lecting the alternative of the first & second sections 
to be presented for the acceptance of Texas, or 
rather after that election had been made by President 
Tyler & been confirmed by me, was known to the 
public, Mr. Tappan expressed the desire to me that 
I would not adhere to my declaration that I would 
not be a candidate for re-election, remarking that it 
might be necessary for the safety of the Democratic 
party that I should stand as their candidate for a 
second term. During the present Session he ap- 
peared to be as friendly as he had ever been, and 
conversed with me freely on public affairs, but at 
no time did he ever so much as allude to my course 
on the Texas annexation Resolutions, or give any 
intimation that he was dissatisfied with it. Mr. 
Blair resides a few miles from this City & is in 



40 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 July 

town almost every day. He had never, to my 
knowledge, expressed any dissatisfaction with my 
course. He deliberately writes his letter, and with- 
out having the fairness or manliness to call & 
frankly inform me of it, or to make any inquiry of 
me of my recollection of the matters stated in it, 
sends it ofif to Mr. Tappan, and the first knowledge 
which I get of either of the letters is their publica- 
tion in the New York Evening Post, The conduct 
of both is highly disreputable and dishonorable. 
Tappan in his conversations & intercourse with me, 
always professing friendship & the support of my 
administration, has acted hypocritically and most 
dishonorably. Both Blair & Tappan reserve their 
n[a]rrations[?] to the public until the Barnburners 
in New York have bolted from the support of the 
Democratic nominees of the Baltimore Convention 
(Cass & Butler) and have set up Van Buren as the 
Northern Abolition, or as they term it Free soil 
candidate for the Presidency. The object of their 
letters was manifestly to aid Mr. Van Buren & the 
Barnburners in the election. Tappan does not pre- 
tend that he ever held a conversation on the subject 
of his letter with me personally, but details conver- 
sations with others. The conduct of both is despica- 
ble. I cannot, whilst President of the U. S., 
des[c]end to enter into a newspaper controversy with 
them. The time may come when I may deem it 
proper to notice their errors & to correct their mis- 
representations of me. I deem it proper at present 
to record in this diary a brief statement of facts, so 
that they may not be unknown if I shall be called 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 41 

hence before the proper occasion arises to make the 
statement over my own signature. I arrived in 
Washington on the evening of the 13th of February, 
1845. I stopped at Coleman's Hotel and had much 
company every day from that time until the day of 
my inauguration as President. The question of the 
annexation of Texas to the U. S. v^as pending before 
Congress. I had been elected as the known advo- 
cate of the annexation of Texas and was very anxious 
that some measure with that object should pass Con- 
gress. I expressed myself to this effect to many per- 
sons with whom I conversed. I believed that if no 
measure proposing annexation was passed at that 
session that Texas would be lost to the Union. I 
had no time or opportunity to examine minutely, or 
indeed at all, the particular provisions of any of the 
propositions on the subject which were before Con- 
gress or had been suggested. I repeatedly expressed 
the opinion that any measure was better than none, 
and that Congress ought not to adjourn without pass- 
ing a measure in some form on the subject. I had 
no opportunity to compare the different plans which 
had been proposed or suggested with each other, or 
to decide between them. My great anxiety was to 
secure the annexation in any form before it was too 
late. I remember that Senator Haywood had sev- 
eral conversations with me on the subject, and to him 
as well as to others I expressed my opinion without 
reserve. I remember to have understood from him 
and others near the close of the session, that the form 
in which the Resolutions had passed the House were 
[was] not acceptable to a few of the Democratic 



42 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 July 

Senators, who preferred another form. I remember 
to have said that if the measure cannot pass in one 
form, it was better to pass it in any form than not 
at all. The proposition to appoint commissioners 
to negotiate, as one of the forms which some pre- 
ferred, was mentioned in these conversations, and I 
may have said, & probably did, that if this form was 
adopted I would endeavour to affect [effect] annex- 
ation under it, and that for that purpose the first 
men of the country should be appointed on the com- 
mission. But I certainly never understood myself 
as pledged to select that mode, if the Resolutions 
passed in the alternative form. I never authorized 
Mr. Haywood or anyone else to make such pledges 
to Senators, and if any such pledges were made it 
was in a total misconception of what I had said or 
meant. I could not have made such a pledge under- 
standingly, for I had never compared the two propo- 
sitions with each other, or given them such examina- 
tion as would enable me to form a judgment 
between them. I may have said, & doubtless did, 
that if the plan of appointing commissioners was 
adopted, I would appoint able men & men of experi- 
ence. My great object was to secure annexation, 
and I was more anxious that that should be effected 
than I was as to the particular manner in which it 
should be accomplished. The Resolutions passed in 
the alternative form & were approved by President 
Tyler on the ist of March, 1845. Judge Mason, 
the present Secretary of the Navy, & who at that 
time was a member of President Tyler's Cabinet, 
makes to me the following statement of facts, which 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 43 

prove conclusively that I had not at that time made 
up my judgment between the alternate plans em- 
braced in the Resolutions. He states that President 
Tyler called a meeting of his Cabinet to take action 
under the Resolutions on the 2nd of March, 1845. 
He states that Mr. Calhoun, w^ho was then Secretary 
of State, had at the request of the President waited 
on me at Coleman's Hotel to ascertain my opinion 
upon the two propositions embraced in the Resolu- 
tions, and that Mr. Calhoun reported to Mr. Tyler 
in the Cabinet meeting that he had called on me and 
that I had declined giving any opinion, and had 
informed him that until I was installed as President 
and could consult with my own Cabinet I could not 
give an opinion on the subject, and that Mr. Tyler 
would, of course, if he desired or deemed it impor- 
tant to act, be governed by his own judgment. So 
little importance had I attached to Mr. Calhoun's 
calling on me that I had not thought of it since until 
I was reminded of it by Judge Mason. Mr. Tyler 
did act on the subject and elected the alternative of 
the House Resolutions, on the 3rd of March, 1845, 
and despatched an express messenger to Mr. Donel- 
son, the charge d'affaires of the U. S. to Texas, with 
his instructions on the subject. This was the state 
of the question when I came into ofBce. I nomi- 
nated my Cabinet to the Senate on the 5th of March, 
1845. It was some days before the nomination of 
Mr. Bancroft as Secretary of the Navy was con- 
firmed, & several days before Mr. Buchanan quali- 
fied and took charge of the State Department, Mr. 
Calhoun desiring to remain in the office a few days 



44 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 July 

to close some business which he had on hands. The 
subject was deliberately considered by myself and 
my Cabinet and decided on the loth of March, 1845. 
In my annual message of December, 1845, my deci- 
sion and action on the subject were communicated 
to Congress. My Cabinet were unanimously of the 
opinion that the election of the alternative proposi- 
tion made by Mr. Tyler ought not to be reversed, 
and that it was to be preferred to the other alterna- 
tive of appointing commissioners. In these views 
I concurred and Mr. Buchanan's despatch of the 
loth of March, 1845, to Mr. Donelson to this effect 
was unanimously approved by myself and my Cabi- 
net. In that Cabinet meeting, and at no other time, 
did I ever intimate to the Cabinet that I had made 
any pledges to Mr. Haywood or to any other Sena- 
tors that I would select the alternative of appointing 
commissioners to negotiate, & for the best of all 
reasons, that I had made no such pledge. Had such 
a pledge been made it would then have been fresh 
in my recollection and it is inconceivable that I 
should not have communicated such a commitment 
to my Cabinet, & yet I made no such communication. 
I remember that in my Cabinet meeting referred to, 
Mr. Walker expressed the opinion that Mr. Tyler, 
having made the election of the alternatives & sent 
ofif his express messenger with his instructions, I had 
no power to reverse it, if I desired to do so. My 
impression is that some other members of the Cabi- 
net entertained the same opinion. This point and 
every other connected with the subject was delib- 
erately considered. The Senate were in Executive 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 45 

Session at the time, and on the 12th of March, on 
Mr. Haywood's motion, a Resolution ^ was adopted 
calling on me to communicate to the Senate what 
action, if any, Mr. Tyler had taken on the subject, 
and what action, if any, I had taken. In a message ^ 
of the 15th of March I declined to answer the Reso- 
lution (see Executive Journal of the Senate) as being 
incompatible with the public interest. I knew, if I 
did answer, the action which had been taken could 
not be kept a secret by more than 50 Senators, and 
if it became public it would enable the French & 
English legations at Washington to take measures to 
embarrass & perhaps defeat annexation. When this 
answer went into the Senate, not a complaint was 
made by Mr. Haywood or any other Senator. 
Neither Mr. Haywood or any other ever made any 
enquiry of me personally on the subject. The Sen- 
ate remained in session until the 19th of March, and 
as no nominations of commissioners was made to 
them, they must have known that the alternative of 
appointing commissioners to negotiate had not been 
adopted. No complaint was made and yet is it con- 
ceivable that complaint would not have been made 
by those Senators, if there were any, who had under- 
stood that I stood pledged to adopt the alternative 
of appointing commissioners? Furthermore, when, 
nine months afterwards, in my annual message I 
laid before Congress my whole action on the subject, 
no complaint of violated faith was made from any 

^Haywood's resolution was introduced March 1 1, 1845. — S. 
Ex, Journal, special Sess. 1845, VI, 431. 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the PresidentSj IV, 382. 



46 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 July 

quarter. Now, for the first time, after the lapse of 
nearly three & an half years, complaint is made by 
Messrs. Tappan and Blair. I cannot with any pro- 
priety whilst I am President enter into a controversy 
in the newspapers with these persons, or vindicate 
myself by a statement of these and other facts con- 
firmatory of my true position, which are in my pos- 
session. I saw and conversed with Mr. Robert J. 
Walker, the Secretary of the Treasury, to-day, who 
remembers what occurred in the Cabinet meeting 
when the question of annexation was under delib- 
eration precisely as I do, and he adds other state- 
ments within his own knowledge to confirm this 
whole statement. 

If any of the Senators named by Messrs. Tappan 
& Blair were deceived by my alleged pledges to 
them, upon what principle of human action is it 
that they have not long since exposed me by making 
known their complaints to the public? So far from 
this, these very Senators supported the annexation of 
Texas in the mode in which it was accomplished, & 
none of them have, to this hour, made known to me 
that they objected to what I had done on the subject. 
All of them have supported my administration, not 
only upon Texas & the Mexican War, which, it is 
now alleged, was the consequence of the failure to 
select the alternative of appointing commissioners 
to negotiate for annexation. The whole story is an 
afterthought, and is designed to effect a political 
purpose, by advancing Mr. Van Buren's prospects 
for the Presidency. If any such pledge had been 
given, how can the Senators named justify themselves 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 47 

in concealing their knowledge of it at the time from 
their fellow Senators? If it were true, they perpe- 
trated a fraud by concealing it from their fellow 
Senators. Mr. R. J. Walker, who offered the 
amendment embracing the alternative for the ap- 
pointment of commissioners, informs me to-day that 
he never heard anything of such a pledge at the time, 
and never from any quarter until he read the letters 
of Messrs. Tappan & Blair to day in the New York 
Evening Post. He declares, furthermore, that part 
of Mr. Blair's statement which relates to the author- 
ship of the amendment which he as a Senator offered, 
to be untrue within his own knowledge. He states 
that he drew the amendment himself and offered it 
in the Senate. 

Tuesday, Ist August, 1848. — I saw company this 
morning as usual. Several members of Congress 
and others called. The Cabinet met at the usual 
hour; all the members present. After discussion, & 
having the opinions of the Cabinet, I decided it to 
be proper to appoint an Envoy Extraordinary & 
minister Plenipotentiary to the German Confedera- 
tion ^ at Frankfort. Mr. Buchanan recommended 
it, and suggested that Mr. Donelson should be trans- 
ferred from Berlin, but without breaking up or dis- 

^ The Revolution of 1848 took the form in Germany of a 
national parliament called to meet at Frankfort for the purpose 
of creating a supreme federal government and effecting the unifi- 
cation of Germany. In its early stage the movement gave great 
promise but the obstacles to its success proved too great to be 
overcome and the attainment of German unity w^as deferred until 
the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, 



48 JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY [i Aug. 

continuing the latter mission. He suggested that 
Mr. Donelson should perform the duties of Minister 
at both Courts for the time being. In this I con- 
curred. I sent a message to the House of Repts. 
to-day in answer to a Resolution of that body calling 
for information in relation to the military peace 
establishment. I am decidedly opposed to an in- 
crease of the army during the period of peace. 
There is a great disposition with many members of 
Congress, particularly of the Whig party, to increase 
it. The officers of the old army are in favour of an 
increase. This is natural because their profession is 
arms, and the larger the army the greater the pros- 
pects of promotion. Many of the officers who have 
been in service in Mexico, and who go out of service 
at the close of the war, are now in Washington & 
are anxious to have an increased peace establishment 
in the hope that they may secure for themselves ap- 
pointments. Many of these officers are exerting 
their influence with members of Congress with a 
view to secure appointments for themselves. Some 
Whig members of Congress favour the measure be- 
cause it is in harmony with their general policy. 
They favour, as a party, large expenditures, high 
tariffs, & Banks, and in addition to this they would 
be pleased to have a large increase of the standing 
army fastened on the country, which they would for 
political effect charge to be a consequence of the 
Mexican War. The message which I sent to the 
House to-day is the second in which I have ex- 
pressed the opinion that the proposed increase is un- 
necessary. If Congress shall increase the number of 



i&lSJ JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 49 

Regiments it will be against my opinion & rec- 
ommendation. 

Several matters of detail and minor importance 
were considered in the Cabinet and disposed of. I 
saw Judge Mason, who called in the evening, & held 
a conversation with him in relation to the late publi- 
cations made by Mr. Benjamin Tappan of Ohio and 
by Mr. Francis P. Blair upon the subject of the 
annexation of Texas, so far as he has been associated 
with me in my administration as stated in this Diary 
of yesterday (which see) and [he] repeated to me 
Mr. Calhoun's Report made to Mr. Tyler in Cabi- 
net on the and of March, 1845, of the conversation 
which Mr. C. had held with me (see this Diary of 
yesterday). Mr. Mason informed me that he pro- 
posed to write to Mr. Tyler and obtain his permis- 
sion to make this statement to me in writing, if it 
should be deemed important to do so. I told him 
I thought it would be well to obtain this permission. 
Mr. Mason condemns the publications made by 
Messrs. Tappan & Blair, and mentioned several 
facts within his knowledge proving, as far as cir- 
cumstances can prove, that their statement cannot be 
true, because it is wholly inconsistent with my whole 
course on the subject of Texas at the commencement 
of my administration. After the adjournment of the 
Cabinet I disposed of business on my table as usual. 

Wednesday, 2nd August, 1848, — Many persons 
called this morning. Indeed I was in a state of 
siege from the time I came to my office until i 
O'clock P. M. by the office seekers. I was seated 



50 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Aug. 

at my table and received their assaults. I had no 
offices to bestow but there is a Bill before Congress 
to create a board of Commissioners to decide upon 
claims of our citizens against Mexico, the payment 
of which has been assumed by the U. S. by the late 
Treaty. These places are much sought. Among 
others who besieged me for one of these places for 
her husband this morning [was a woman who] shed 
tears freely while she was telling her story of her 
husband's poverty and great need of an office. The 
longer I remain in office the more I am disgusted 
with such importunities. Several other females 
called to apply for offices for their husbands or other 
relations this morning. When I got clear of the 
office seekers I attended to my public duties during 
the balance of the day. I devoted an hour or two 
in reducing to writing my views on the subject of 
River and harbour improvements. I did this be- 
cause I think it probable that Congress will pass 
some bill on the subject which I cannot approve, and 
I desire to be prepared to assign my reasons for with- 
holding my approval. If I should have no occasion 
to use the manuscript, I will preserve it; and it may 
not be labour intirely lost. 

Thursday, 3rd August, 1848, — My office was 
Crowded with visitors this morning, most of them 
office-seekers, and I passed through a similar scene 
to that which I had to endure on yesterday (see 
yesterday's Diary). There have been no two days 
since my administration commenced when I have 
been more importuned and annoyed by applications 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 51 

for ofBce. It is most painful to me to be compelled 
to sit, as I often am, and listen to the personal appli- 
cation of persons for offices for themselves. I had 
a case of this kind to-day. An individual with 
whom I formerly served in Congress occupied more 
than an hour of my time in begging me to appoint 
him a commissioner to decide on Mexican claims, if 
the Bill before Congress should pass. I had no idea 
of appointing him, and yet I could not avoid hearing 
him without acting rudely towards him. Mr. Bu- 
chanan called & after transacting some business with 
him I introduced the letters of Mr. Benjamin Tap- 
pan of Ohio and Mr. Francis P. Blair, lately pub- 
lished in the New York Evening Post, on the 
subject of the Texas Resolutions (see this Diary of 
the 31st ult. & the ist Inst.). Mr. Buchanan had 
read these letters & strongly condemned Mr. Tap- 
pan and Mr. Blair. He remembered distinctly, as 
I did, what occurred in my Cabinet immediately 
after I was inaugurated as President, as stated in 
this Diary of the 31st ultimo. I had a full conver- 
sation with him on the subject. He advised me to 
take no public notice of them at present. He stated 
many circumstances to shew that they must be in 
error in the statement of facts which they profess to 
detail, and the impossibility of my having made the 
pledges attributed to me, because my whole conduct 
had been wholly inconsistent and irreconcilable with 
such pledges. He stated that he was a member of 
the Senate when the Texas annexation Resolutions 
passed, that he had heard nothing of such pledges 
until he saw the published letters of Messrs. Tappan 



52 JAMES K, POLK'S DIARY [3 Aug. 

& Blair a day or two ago. He stated that if any 
such pledge had been made the concealment of the 
knowledge of it by any Senator from himself and 
other Senators was a fraud practice^ upon them. I 
told him that I had been informed this morning that 
a second letter had been published by Mr. Blair in 
the New York Evening Post, repudiating the Balti- 
more nominations & giving in his adhesion to Mr. 
Van Buren as a candidate for the Presidency. I 
searched for the paper containing it, but could not 
find it. After Mr. Buchanan left I found the letter 
in the New York Evening Post of yesterday, the 2nd 
Inst. It is a disgraceful letter, and upon its face 
explains the motive which induced Blair to write 
his first letter upon the subject of the annexation of 
Texas. I will preserve this letter. Though Blair 
was a member of the Baltimore convention & con- 
curred in the nomination of Gen'l Cass, he says in 
this letter that his heart was with Mr. Van Buren, 
that he was inveigled into the support of Gen'l Cass 
in the Convention, and will be bound upon a point 
of punctilio to vote for him. 

My nephew, Capt. James H. Walker, of the 
Regiment of Voltigeurs, who has been spending 
some days in my family, left this afternoon for Balti- 
more to meet his company, where they are to be 
mustered out of the service of the U. States. I saw 
& transacted business with the Secretary of War and 
disposed of much other business on my table to-day. 
I devoted some time to reducing to writing my views 
on the subject of harbour & river improvements, so 
as to be ready with my objections if any Bill (as is 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 53 

probable) upon that subject should be presented to 
me for my approval at the present session. I under- 
stand that the Senate have struck out of the civil & 
Diplomatic appropriation Bill the item for the Im- 
provement of the Savannah River. I should cer- 
tainly have vetoed the w^hole Bill if it had come to 
me v^ith that item in it. 

Friday, 4th August, 1848, — I was doomed to 
endure again this morning the pressure of the office- 
seekers as [I] had been for the last three days (see 
this Diary for those days). My patience is almost 
exhausted by them, and I gave them very short and 
emphatic answers. I saw and transacted business 
with Mr. Buchanan and disposed of much business 
on my table to-day. I devoted two hours to the 
further preparation of my views on the subject of 
Internal Improvements (see this Diary of yesterday 
and the day preceding). 

Saturday, 5/A August, 1848. — Several persons 
called this morning. The Cabinet met at the usual 
hour, all the members present. Some [business] 
was transacted before the hour of i O'Clock P. M., 
that being the hour, by an arrangement made by the 
Secretary of State, at which Mr. Poussin, the Envoy 
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary [from 
France], was to be presented to me. It was an- 
nounced by my porter precisely at that hour that the 
Minister had arrived, when I accompanied Mr. 
Buchanan to the circular parlour below stairs. On 
delivering to me his credentials he made a short 



54 . JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [5 Aug. 

address in English. He also delivered to me a 
Decree of the National assembly of France in re- 
sponse to the Resolutions of the Congress of the U. 
S. passed in April last, tendering the congratulations 
of the American Government and people to the 
French people, ** upon the success of their recent 
efforts to consolidate the principles of liberty in a 
Republican form of Government." On delivering 
this Decree the Minister delivered another address 
in English. I responded briefly to both addresses. 
I will preserve a copy of what I said. It was an 
interesting ceremony. Mr. Poussin came to the U. 
S. about twenty five years ago in company with Gen- 
eral Bernard,^ and was for several years employed 
with the General as an officer of Engineers in the 
service of the U. S. He alluded felicitously to this 
fact in his address, and I responded by informing 
him that I remembered him at that time, and that 
the first time I had seen him was at Lexington, Va., 
in November, 1825, when I met him on my [way 
to] Washington to take my seat in the Ho. Repts. 
in the first Congress in which I served. He was then 
employed by Mr. Adams's administration in making 
the reconnoissance of a Road. He appeared much 
gratified that I remembered him, and said he remem- 
bered me also. He left apparently much pleased 
with the cordial manner in which I had received 
him. Mr. Buchanan and myself returned to my 
office, and the Cabinet resumed the consideration of 

^ Simon Bernard, French military engineer, invited to the United 
States to advise the board of army engineers engaged in coast de- 
fence w^ork; remained here 1819-1831. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 55 

the business before it. Mr. Buchanan read de- 
spatches which he had received from the Secretary 
for Foreign affairs of Venezuela, complaining of 
the interference of Mr. Shields, the U. S. charge 
d'affaires, in the domestic contest between the po- 
litical parties of that country. He also read a des- 
patch from Mr. Crampton, the British charge 
d'affaires at Washington, transmitting despatches 
from his Government, complaining of Mr. Shields, 
the U. S. charge d'affaires to Venezuela, in conse- 
quence of remarks charged to have been made by 
Mr. Shields to the Minister of Foreign affairs of 
Venezuela reflecting upon the Brittish Government, 
and attributing to that Government improper de- 
signs upon Mexico before the late war between the 
U. S. and Mexico, and also attributing improper 
designs upon the other Spanish American States. 
Mr. Buchanan read drafts of two letters which he 
had prepared to be prepared [sent] to Mr. Shields 
in relation to these complaints. They had been pre- 
pared by a subordinate (Mr. Hunter) in the State 
Department, and one of them, as Mr. Buchanan 
agreed, was couched in terms too harsh, and [he] 
said he would modify it. Assumed that the facts 
stated were true, & in the absence of any explana- 
tions from Mr. Shields, he is informed in these des- 
patches that his conduct is not approved, and he is 
admonished of the importance of taking no part in 
the domestic strifes or civil wars of the contesting 
parties in the country to which he is accredited as the 
Diplomatic Representative, of the U. S. Mr. Bu- 
chanan read a despatch received from Mr. Clifford, 



56 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [5 Aug. 

U. S. minister to Mexico, making known that civil 
war is raging in Mexico, that Gen'l Paredes is at the 
head of [an] armed force endeavoring to overthrow 
the Government, on the ground that it had sacrificed 
the interests of Mexico in making the late Treaty of 
peace with the U. S., and making known that the 
Government had despatched a secret Envoy to 
Washington to ask the aid of 4,000 troops from the 
U. S., for whose services they proposed to pay out of 
the installments to be paid to Mexico under the late 
Treaty of peace. Mr. Buchanan read the answer 
which he had prepared, which was to the effect that 
the President possessed no power to grant the aid 
which was asked, and the opinion that Congress, if 
applied to, would not grant the proposed aid, espe- 
cially at the present late period of their session. 
Some other business of minor importance was dis- 
posed of. I nominated to the Senate to-day, with 
the unanimous concurrence of the Senate [Cabinet], 
Andrew J. Donelson, now U. S. Minister at Berlin, 
to be En. Ex. & Min. Plen. to the German Confed- 
eration at Frankfort. He will perform the duties 
of both missions for the time being, and until it is 
ascertained that the Archduke John of Austria, 
recently elected to be the chief Executive ^ officer of 
the German confederation, is invested with exclusive 
powers to conduct diplomatic relations for all the 
states of Germany with Foreign Powers, and upon as- 

^ The Frankfort Parliament elected Archduke John of Austria 
" Imperial Administrator," whereupon the Diet of the old Bund 
transmitted Its powers to him and was dissolved. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 57 

certaining this the mission to Prussia will, of course, 
be discontinued. I submitted again to the Cabinet 
the propriety of removing from office Benjamin F. 
Butler and others in New York, who are opposing 
the Democratic nominations for President and Vice 
President of the U. S. I informed the Cabinet that 
since I had brought this subject to their notice a few 
days ago I had received a strong memorial from 
several of the leading men of N. Y. appealing to me 
to make the removals. I read this memorial to the 
Cabinet. I informed the Cabinet of what they all 
knew, the violence of Mr. Butler & other Federal 
officers in opposition to my administration and to 
the Democratic party, and of the fact that Mr. But- 
ler & others were now in open alliance with Whigs 
and abolitionists to get up seperate organization at 
a Convention to be held at Buffalo, in N. Y., on the 
9th Inst., to oppose the regularly nominated candi- 
dates of the Democratic party. I expressed the 
opinion that I ought no longer to retain them in office, 
and by retaining them thus give to them the apparent 
countenance of my administration in their treason 
to the principles they formerly professed to the party 
to which they formerly belonged. The Cabinet 
were unanimous in the opinion that their conduct 
was such as to give them no claims upon my ad- 
ministration, and that they deserved to be removed. 
Mr. Buchanan thought, however, that the removal 
of Mr. Butler at this time would tend to strengthen 
the bolting Barnburners in the North, by the use 
they could make of it upon the slave or free-soil ques- 



S8 JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY [5 Aug. 

tion, and therefore he advised against it at present. 
Mr. Toucey, who had formerly advised against the 
removals, acquiesced in the propriety of the measure, 
but thought it ought to be postponed until after the 
Whig-abolition & Barnburning Convention had met 
and acted at Bufifalo on the 9th Instant. The other 
members of the Cabinet were clearly in favour of 
their removal and so advised. Mr. Walker was of 
opinion that I ought to defer action until after the 
Buffalo convention on the 9th Inst. I then stated 
to the Cabinet that I would postpone action until 
after the 9th Instant, but that I would then, and be- 
fore the Senate adjourned, remove Mr. Butler. 

I had a Dinner party to-day. Among the guests 
were Gen'l Wm. O. Butler & wife, Gen'l Worth & 
wife & two daughters, Capt. Sprague of the 
army, atto. Gen'l Toucey, Senator Fitzgerald ^ of 
Michigan, Mr. Wallace^ of S. C, Mr. Lynde ^ & 
Mr. Darling^ of Wisconsin, all members of the Ho. 
Repts., Lieut. Butler & wife & Col. George W. 
Caldwell ^ of Ky., late of the army. 

The Senate continued in Session until a late hour 
at night, and several Senators who were invited did 
not attend. 

^ Thomas Fitzgerald, 1 796-1855, Senator from Michigan 1848- 

1849. 

^ Daniel Wallace, Representative from South Carolina 1848- 

1853. 
^William P. Lynde, Representative from Wisconsin 1 847-1 849, 

and 1875-1879. 

* Mason C. Darling, 1 801-1849, Representative from Wisconsin 

I 848-1 849. 
^ George A. Caldwell of the Voltlgeur regiment. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 59 

Sunday, 6th August, 1848, — I attended the First 
Presbyterian church to-day accompanied by Mrs. 
Polk & the wife of my brother, Wm. H. Polk. 

About 8 O'clock P. M. my nephew, Samuel P. 
Walker, my sister, Ophelia C. Hays, and her daugh- 
ter, Virginia Hays, and Sarah Polk Rucker, the 
niece of Mrs. Polk, arrived from Tennessee and, of 
course, took up their residence during their visit in 
the President's House and as guests of my family. 

Monday, 7th August, 1848, — Company called 
as usual this morning. I transacted business as usual 
with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of 
War. I disposed of much business on my table dur- 
ing the day. After night Senator Hannegan called 
and informed me that the Senate adjourned for the 
day at 8 O'Clock P. M. and that the Ho. Repts. were 
still in Session. He informed me that the Senate 
had been, during the whole day, in Executive Ses- 
sion, listening to a most impassioned & violent 
speech ^ of Senator Benton against confirming the 
nomination of Brig. Gen'l Kearney, U. S. army, as 
a Brevet Major General, for gallant & meritorious 
services in New Mexico and California. Mr. Han- 
negan informed me that Senator Benton was violent 
beyond what is usual even for him, and that he had 
avowed his intention to speak out the balance of the 
Session, and defeat all the public measures before 
Congress, rather than suffer the vote on Gen'l Kear- 
ney's nomination to be taken. I appointed Gen'l 
Kearney a Brigadier Gen'l mainly upon Senator 

^ Globe, 30 Cong, i Sess. App. 977-1040. 



6o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [8 Aug. 

Benton's recommendation, and his hostility to him 
now arises from the fact that he preferred charges 
against Lieut. Col. Fremont, his (Senator Benton's) 
son-in-law, upon which he was convicted by a Court 
Martial. The Ho. Repts. I learn, have been engaged 
during the whole day in making violent party speeches 
on the Presidential election & the merits & demerits 
of the Presidential candidates. They seem wholly 
to have forgotten that they have any public business 
to transact, and have converted the Ho. Repts. into 
an arena for making violent party speeches. This 
is a great outrage and they should be held to a strict 
account by their constituents for their wanton waste 
of the public time and disregard of the public inter- 
ests. The remainder of the Session of Congress is 
probably to give rise to scenes of unusual violence 
and party excitement. 

Tuesday, 8th August, 1848. — Many persons 
called this morning, most [of] them seeking ofRce 
as usual. The Cabinet met at the usual hour, all the 
members present. After transacting business and 
disposing of several matters of minor importance, I 
invited the attention of the Cabinet to several sub- 
jects which I deemed important. I informed them 
that I thought it probable that Congress would, be- 
tween this and the close of their session (the 14th 
Instant) [pass several bills], some of which I could 
not approve, and in relation to others I desired to 
have the advice of the Cabinet so that I might be 
prepared to meet them. Bills for the improvement 
of harbours & rivers were of the former, and these, 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 6i 

if any such should be presented to me for my ap- 
proval, I should certainly veto. I informed them 
that I had for some time past been preparing addi- 
tional views to those presented in my veto message 
of the River and Harbour Bill of the 15th of Decem- 
ber last, and hoped to have them so far completed 
as to be able to send in a veto message before the 
adjournment of the session, should such a Bill come 
to me. Upon that subject my mind was made up, 
& [I] wished no advice. I then informed them that 
from present appearances in Congress no Bills would 
be passed establishing Territorial Governments in 
New Mexico and Upper California, but that it was 
probable that a Bill would be passed establishing a 
Territorial Government in Oregon, with a restric- 
tion in it against the existence of slavery in that Ter- 
ritory, and I asked the advice of the Cabinet whether 
I should approve and sign such a Bill. I took their 
opinions severally and seperately, & they were unani- 
mously of opinion that as the whole territory of Ore- 
gon lay North [of] 36° 30', that being the Missouri 
compromise line, I ought to sign it I then pro- 
pounded the question whether I ought to accompany 
the notification that I had approved and signed such 
a Bill with a message distinctly stating that I had so 
approved and signed it because the territory lay 
North of the Missouri compromise line, remarking 
that if this was deemed proper the message ought to 
be prepared in advance. In propounding this ques- 
tion I intimated an opinion that I ought to send such 
a message, as necessary to explain my own views, and 
to prevent the inference that I would approve & sign 



62 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [8 Aug. 

a Bill with the slavery restriction in it establishing 
territorial Governments over territory lying South of 
the Missouri compromise line. Mr. Buchanan ex- 
pressed his opinion first. , He vv^ould have no doubt 
that I ought to send such a message, if it were not for 
the effect it might have upon Gen'l Cass's position 
on the slavery question as contained in his pub- 
lished letter to Mr. Nicholson, and the fear he enter- 
tained that it might operate prejudicially to his elec- 
tion. He said if I determined to send such a message 
he would be delighted to have the opportunity to 
assist me in preparing it. I told him he should have 
the opportunity if I so determined. Mr. Walker 
thought I ought at the time of signing such a Bill 
to explain in some way my position and views, but 
suggested that this might be done by an authorized 
article carefully prepared in the Union newspaper. 
The subject was very fully discussed and finally the 
Cabinet unanimously, with the exception of Judge 
Mason, inclined to favour Mr. Walker's suggestion, 
that the explanation had better appear in an article 
in the Union than in a formal message to Congress. 
Judge Mason finally acquiesced in these views. 
They all agreed that if this course was taken I ought 
in my next annual message fully to state my opinions 
and views on the subject. I then stated that my own 
inclination had been to send a message to Congress, 
but without deciding that question I requested Mr. 
Buchanan & Mr. Walker to prepare a paper, to be 
used either as a message or an article in the news- 
paper as I might hereafter decide to be proper. They 
agreed to do so. I then stated that a Bill had passed 



1848] JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY 63 

the Senate, & might pass the House, to create a Board 
of Commissioners to decide on claims of the people 
of California against the U. S., and that this Bill 
had designated by discription the three persons who 
were to be the commissioners, and this I considered 
to be a violation of the constitution. The Constitu- 
tion confers upon the President the power to make 
all appointments to office by and with the advice & 
consent of the Senate, except the appointment of in- 
ferior officers which might be vested by law in the 
President alone, in the Heads of Departments, or in 
the Judicial tribunals. By the Bill referred to Con- 
gress undertake to make the appointments by law. 
The Cabinet were unanimously of opinion that such 
a law would be unconstitutional, and that if it passed 
I ought to veto it. I told the Cabinet I would cer- 
tainly veto it if it passed. Knowing that my whole 
time would be occupied until the close of the session 
of Congress in performing other important and nec- 
essary duties, I stated my views on the subject and 
requested Mr. Toucey & Mr. Johnson to prepare the 
draft of a veto message so that I might be prepared 
if such a Bill should pass. I informed the Cabinet 
that if the Bill pending before Congress for the pay- 
ment of the French Spoliation claims prior to 1800 
should pass, I would not approve it, but would de- 
tain it & assign my objections to it in a message to 
Congress at its next Session. Congress has delayed 
to act upon almost all the important measures before 
them until the last days of the Session, when I will 
have no time to prepare my objections to any Bill 
which I cannot approve, unless I prepare my mes- 



64 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [9 Aug. 

sage in anticipation that certain messages [measures] 
may pass. 

This was reception evening. Many persons, ladies 
& gentlemen, called. 

Wednesday, gth August, 1848. — A crowd of 
company called this morning. At 12 O'Clock I 
closed my office. I devoted several hours in the 
preperation of a veto message in anticipation that 
some of the numerous Internal Improvement Bills 
now before Congress may pass and be presented to 
me for my approval & signature. I understand that 
a River & Harbour Bill embracing many objects & 
appropriating a large sum was under discussion in 
the Ho. Repts. to-day, and has been ordered to be 
engrossed. If it comes to me I shall certainly veto 
it. I disposed of much business on my table to-day 
and saw several of the Heads of Departments & other 
public officers & transacted business with them. 

Thursday, lOth August, 1848. — Saw a large 
number of persons this morning. In the midst of 
pressing and important public duties I continue to 
be greatly annoyed by office-seekers. Whenever my 
doors are opened to receive members of Congress and 
others on business, the office seekers press in. Being 
exceedingly engaged to-day I had [to] be almost rude 
and to ask them to leave my office at 12 O'Clock 
that I might be enabled to attend to the business 
before me. I did close my office at that hour. I 
saw the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy & trans- 
acted business with them. I disposed of business on 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 65 

my table. Mr. Buchanan read to me a part of the 
draft of [a] message on the Missouri compromise 
line, as applicable to the Territories of Oregon, Cali- 
fornia, & New Mexico, which I had requested Mr. 
Walker & himself to prepare in the Cabinet meeting 
of Tuesday last (see this Diary of that day). I 
devoted three or four hours to-day to the prepera- 
tion of a veto message in anticipation that a River 
& Harbour Bill would be presented to me for my 
approval before the adjournment of Congress. After 
Dinner I read what I had written to J. Knox Walker, 
my Private Secretary. He advised me if any such 
Bill came to me to retain it and assign my objections 
to it at the next Session. I find myself greatly 
fatigued & worn down by my labours and fear I will 
have to take this course for want of time to do justice 
to the subject. The Senate tonight passed the Oregon 
Territorial Bill, with the Missouri compromise pro- 
vision in it, by a majority of eleven votes. I hope 
it may receive the sanction of the House but fear it 
will not. Congress is in great excitement and con- 
fusion on the subject and the importance of settling 
the question at this Session becomes every day more 
important. 

I learn to-night that Mr. Van Buren has been 
nominated for the Presidency by the Buffalo Con- 
vention composed of Whigs, abolitionists, and Barn- 
burners. 

I retired tonight exceedingly fatigued & exhausted, 
caused from my great labours and anxiety concerning 
public afifairs, and especially the uncertain action of 
Congress upon any subject whatever. The members 



66 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [n Aug. 

are so much engaged in President making that they 
attend to little else. It is a Congress as reckless of 
the public interests as any I have ever known. They 
are enlarging the appropriations to an enormous and 
unnecessary amount, and if all their internal Im- 
provement schemes could prevail a further loan 
v^ould be indispensible. 

Friday, nth August, 1848. — Up to 12 O'clock 
to-day, when I closed my office, I was besieged by 
office seekers and others who called on business. I 
was so much fatigued that I concluded to abandon 
the attempt to finish my veto Internal Improvement 
message, should a Bill on that subject come to me. 
Subject to be interrupted every hour to attend to nec- 
essary public duties, I have not the time or the health 
& strength to do justice to myself or the subject before 
the adjournment of Congress on the 14th Instant; 
and must therefore, if an Internal Improvement Bill 
comes to me, retain it until the next session of Con- 
gress (see this Diary of yesterday). 

I prepared a short message to meet the case of the 
insertion of any Internal Improvement item in any 
of the General appropriation Bills, and it was copied 
by my Private Secretary. Mr. Toucey called and 
read to me the draft of a message which he had pre- 
pared on the California claims Bill, should it pass 
Congress. I had requested him to prepare it (see 
this Diary of tuesday last) . I attended to much busi- 
ness with public officers & on my table to-day. I 
learn that the Ho. Repts. rejected the missouri com- 
promise amendment of the Senate to the Oregon Ter- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 67 

ritorial Bill. This I deeply deplore. I fear that 
nothing will be done at this Session and that the 
slavery agitation'^will be kept up in the country. 

I learn to-night that the Buffalo convention of 
Whigs, Abolitionists, and Barnburners have nomi- 
nated Charles F. Adams, the son of the late John 
Quincy Adams, who is an avowed Abolitionist, for 
the Vice Presidency on Mr. Van Buren's ticket, the 
latter having been nominated for the Presidency. 
Mr. Van Buren is the most fallen man I have ever 
known. 

Saturday, 12th August, 1848. — Many persons 
called this morning. The Cabinet met at the usual 
hour this morning; all the members present except 
the Secretary of the Treasury, who, I learn, is con- 
fined to his house by indisposition. Several matters 
of business were disposed of. The subject of the 
propriety of sending a message to Congress, if the 
Oregon Bill should pass with the restriction as re- 
spects slavery, was further discussed (see this Diary 
of tuesday, the 8th Instant). The draft which Mr. 
Buchanan prepared at my request was read by him. 
I expressed the opinion, in which the Cabinet all 
concurred, that if the Oregon Territorial Bill with 
the slavery restriction in it passed and was presented 
to me for my approval and signature, I ought not 
to with-hold from it my signature, and that I could 
not do so without arraying the country into geo- 
graphical parties on the slavery question and greatly 
increasing the excitement, already great, which ex- 
isted in and out of Congress upon that question. The 



68 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [12 Aug. 

Cabinet were unanimously of opinion that I ought to 
sign the Bill. They had expressed the same opinion 
in the Cabinet meeting of the 8th Instant. I ex- 
pressed the opinion that if I approved and signed 
the Bill in the usual form without assigning my rea- 
sons, my opinion in regard to California & New 
Mexico would not be understood, and that it might 
be inferred that I had yielded the question in regard 
to the Territory South as well as North of the Mis- 
souri compromise line, which would not be true. I 
stated that I thought that I ought to accompany the 
notification [to] Congress with a message explana- 
tory of my position and of the reasons which had 
induced me to sign the Oregon Territorial Bill, 
should such a Bill pass. The draft prepared by Mr. 
Buchanan will require some modifications in order 
to conform precisely to my views. I put it into the 
hands of Mr. H. C. Williams, a confidential clerk, 
to be copied in a fair hand for my examination. Mr. 
Toucy, the atto. General, then read the draft of 
a message which he had prepared as applicable to 
the California claims Bill now before Congress, & 
which I had requested him in the Cabinet meeting 
on the 8th Instant to prepare. By that Bill Con- 
gress creates an office and assumes to appoint the 
officers, or rather to designate & direct who they shall 
[be], which, in my judgment is an infringement of 
the right of the Executive to make appointments, and 
is therefore unconstitutional. If the Bill shall pass 
it will be at a very late period of the Session, and I 
have requested the attorney General to prepare this 
veto message, that I might be prepared to meet it. It 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 69 

was a well drawn paper, and I placed it in the hands 
of Mr. H. C. Williams & Mr. Samuel H. Laughlin 
to be copied. Late in the afternoon I learned that 
the Senate had been engaged all day in a violent 
discussion on the Oregon Territorial Bill. About 
dark, accompanied by all the members of my Cabi- 
net, I repaired to the Capitol, as it is usual for the 
President to do near the close of a Session of Con- 
gress, so as to enable the committee of Enrolled Bills 
to present to him such Bills as may be passed for 
his approval and signature, without the necessity of 
waiting on him at his mansion. The President at- 
tends at the Capitol and occupies the Vice President's 
room on such occasions, for the convenience of Con- 
gress. On reaching the Capitol I found the Senate 
still engaged in the discussion of the Oregon Terri- 
torial Bill. The House of Representatives, I learn, 
were in great confusion & disorder, and about 9 
O'clock I learned that the House had adjourned. 
It was near 10 O'Clock P. M. before any Bill was 
presented for my approval. I approved and signed 
several Bills and among them the Civil and Diplo- 
matic appropriation Bill. About iij/^ O'Clock, 
learning that in consequence of the adjournment of 
the House no other Bills could be presented to me 
to-night, I returned to the President's mansion, leav- 
ing the Senate still engaged in discussing the Oregon 
Territorial Bill. 

Sunday, 13th August, 1848,— At breakfast this 
morning I learned that the flag was flying over the 
Senate chamber, which indicated that the Senate was 



70 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [13 Aug. 

Still in Session. The Senate continued in Session all 
night & until near 10 O'Clock this morning, when 
they passed the Oregon Territorial Bill with the 
restriction of slavery in it, and adjourned to meet at 9 
O'clock to-morrow morning. It was now certain that 
this Bill would be presented to me for my approval & 
signature; and I was engaged during most of the 
day, and until 12 O'Clock at night, in revising and 
modifying Mr. Buchanan's draft, & had Mr. H. C. 
Williams employed as a clerk in copying [it] for me. 
Mr. Mason was with me, assisting me most of the 
time, Mr. Buchanan a part of the time, and about 
10 O'clock P. M. Mr. Marcy came in. Mr. Bu- 
chanan was still of opinion that I ought not to send in 
such a message, for the reasons assigned by him in the 
Cabinet meeting of the 8th Instant. I thought other- 
wise and determined to do so. Mr. Buchanan was 
opposed, if I did send it in, to my making any dis- 
tinct declaration that I would veto a Bill with the 
slavery restriction in it which embraced territory 
South of 36° 30', the Missouri compromise line. I 
had prepared a paragraph in the message. Mr. 
Mason thought such a paragraph should be inserted. 
Late at night, say between 10 & 11 O'Clock, Mr. 
Ritchie came in, and on hearing the message ex- 
pressed the opinion that such a paragraph should 
be inserted, and thought the message as it stood was 
not strong enough and distinct enough on that point. 
I requested him to reduce to writing what he thought 
ought to be inserted. He did so, but on examining 
it I was not pleased with it and did not adopt it 
The point was discussed at some length, in which 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 71 

Mr. Mason and Mr. Marcy took part. I observed 
that Mr. Buchanan, after Mr. Ritchie came in, re- 
mained silent. I referred to him two or three times 
for his opinion upon different forms of phraseology 
which were proposed, but he gave none. He retired 
between 11 and 12 O'Clock. A paragraph was 
finally prepared with which I was satisfied, and 
which was approved by Mr. Marcy & Mr. Mason. 
Mr. Ritchie left the paragraph which he had pre- 
pared, & which I did not adopt, lying on my table. 
I will preserve it, as possibly something may arise 
hereafter to make it necessary to refer to the facts. 
I am induced to do this from Mr. Buchanan's entire 
silence after Mr. Ritchie came. Mr. Mason and 
Mr. Marcy approved the paper as I had modified 
[it], and thought I ought to send in such a message 
when I announced that I had approved & signed the 
Bill. Mr. Ritchie was of the same opinion. In the 
course of the afternoon Senator Turney of Tennes- 
see called, and was excited upon the subject and in- 
sisted that I should veto the Bill. I told him I 
differed with him in opinion, informed him of the 
course I proposed to take, and read to him the draft 
of my message to accompany the announcement to the 
Ho. Repts. in which the Bill had originated, that I 
had given to it my official sanction. While Mr. 
Turney was with me. Senators Cameron and Hanne- 
gan called. Senator Hannegan aside, and not in a 
tone so audible as to be heard by the others, told me 
that if I vetoed the Bill, though he had voted for it, 
he would sustain me. He told me if his vote could 
have changed the result he would have voted against 



72 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [13 Aug. 

it. About sunset Senator Calhoun and Mr. Burt of 
S. C. called. Mr. Calhoun expressed the opinion 
strongly that I should veto the Bill. I told him I 
had made up my mind to sign it, though I would do 
so reluctantly, and that I proposed to send a message 
to the House stating the considerations which had 
induced me to do so. He still insisted that I ought 
to veto it on constitutional grounds. I told him that 
if the question of imposing the restriction was an 
original one arising for the first time, I would have 
serious doubts of its constitutionality. I remarked 
that there might be questions arise effecting [affect- 
ing] the very existence of the Union, upon which we 
ought to yield individual opinions, in deference to 
what our predecessors had done, and I considered 
this one of them. I reminded him that I had in con- 
versation with him some days ago, when he had called 
to see me on the subject (pending the deliberations of 
the committee of 8 of the Senate) [told him] that I 
was willing to accept the Missouri compromise line. 
I told him that I was willing to accept the compro- 
mise reported by that committee. Both having now 
failed, I did not see that I could veto the naked 
Oregon Bill, inasmuch as all the territory of Oregon 
lay North of the missouri compromise line. I re- 
minded him that in 1844 a Bill to establish a Terri- 
torial Government over Oregon had passed the Ho. 
Repts. with the same restriction in it, with only 20 
or 30 negative votes; that in 1846 a similar Bill had 
passed the Ho. Repts., and that many of the Southern 
Democrats had voted for it; that when the latter Bill 
was pending Mr. Burt (who was present and to 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY n 

whom I appealed) had moved to insert an amend- 
ment ^ declaring that as the whole territory lay North 
of the missouri compromise line as a reason for in- 
serting the restriction in the Bill, that with that 
amendment the South would have been satisfied to 
pass the Bill with that restriction. I then reminded 
him that at the present Session of Congress every 
Senator, North & South and of all parties, had upon 
one or other of the propositions which had been be- 
fore the Senate voted for Bills with the restriction 
in them. I told him that the compromise Bill ^ re- 
ported by the committee of 8, of which he was a 
member and for which he voted, contained the re- 
striction; that the Bill containing the missouri com- 
promise also contained it so far as Oregon was 
concerned. He replied that these Bills contained 
provisions of compromise also ; to which I responded, 
that fact did not change a constitutional principle. 
I then told him [if] the Bill which had passed the 
Senate this morning should be presented to me I 
would reluctantly sign it, and that I proposed to 
accompany the notification to the House in which it 
had originated with a message assigning my reasons 
for having done so. I told him that the first reason 
would be the urgent necessity for a Government in 
Oregon, and the second that the whole territory of 
Oregon lay north of the missouri compromise line, 

^ Globe, 29 Cong. 2 Sess. 170. 

^ The Clayton compromise; the bill passed the Senate July 27, 
1848, but was tabled by the House in favor of a bill of its own. 
For an account of the measure, see Garrison, Westward Extensiouj 
303-305. 



74 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Aug. 

& was, therefore, not inconsistent with the compro- 
mise. I told him I had prepared such a message 
and that it was then being copied, that my impres- 
sion was that I would send it in, though I would 
reserve that question until to-morrow and would take 
until the Bill came to me to reflect on it. He then 
said if I sent such a message I ought to rest my action 
on the great necessity for a Government over Oregon, 
& intimated distinctly that if I committed myself to 
the missouri compromise line and claimed nothing 
north of it, that the south would not get so much 
in the final adjustment. I understood his meaning 
to be that it should be treated as a Diplomatic ques- 
tion by claiming more than I was willing to take. 
In the close of the conversation he again insisted that 
I should veto the Bill. I repeated that I would 
sign it, and told him that if I were to veto it after 
all that had occurred, and in the present excited state 
of Congress & of the public mind, I should do more 
to inflame that excitement & to array the country 
into geographical parties and to rend the Union, 
than any act which had ever been done by any Presi- 
dent or any man in the country. He left me fully 
understanding my opinions & what I would do. It 
was after 12 O'Clock at night when I retired. 

Monday, 14th August, 1848, — I rose early this 
morning, went to my office, & with my Private Sec- 
retary carefully revised the message which I pro- 
pose to send to the Ho. Repts. to-day, if the Oregon 
Territorial Bill should be presented to me, assigning 
my reasons for having signed it. I modified & 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 75 

changed several paragraphs, and caused some of the 
sheets, those on which the modifications were con- 
tained, to be recopied by Mr. H. C. Williams. At 
9 O'clock Mr. Toucey and Mr. Marcy came in, that 
being the hour appointed for my Cabinet to assemble 
to accompany me to the Capitol. Shortly afterwards 
Mr. Buchanan came in, and [I] was struck with a 
remark which he addressed to Mr. Marcy to the 
effect: Well, did you and Mr. Ritchie fix that para- 
graph in the message after I left last night? I had 
the message in my hand and replied to him by saying 
that the passage written by Mr. Ritchie had not been 
inserted (see this Diary of yesterday). I then read 
the paragraph as it had been prepared and inserted. 
Mr. Buchanan was still opposed to my sending in 
the message. I told him I had made up my mind 
to send it in. Mr. Marcy and Mr. Mason thought I 
ought to send it in under all the circumstances. 
About 9^ O'clock I proceeded to the Capitol, ac- 
companied by the members of my Cabinet except 
Mr. Walker, who was confined to his House by in- 
disposition. Shortly after reaching the Vice Presi- 
dent's room I learned that a debate was going on 
in the Senate, and shortly afterwards that a similar 
debate was going on in the Ho. Repts., against sus- 
pending the joint rule of the two Houses which pre- 
vents any Bill from being presented to the President 
for his approval or signature on the last day of the 
Session. The two Houses had agreed to adjourn the 
session at 12 O'Clock this day, and the object of the 
debate in both Houses was to prevent the question 
on suspending the rules from being taken until that 



76 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Aug. 

hour, when the adjournment would take place & the 
Oregon Bill be, of course, lost. Many other Bills 
were in the same condition with the Oregon Bill, & 
among others the army appropriation Bill, without 
which it was impossible for the Government to get 
on until the meeting of the next Session. This fact 
was made known to several Senators, to whom I also 
communicated the fact that if Congress adjourned 
without passing the army appropriation Bill, I would 
feel it to be my duty forthwith to issue my Proclama- 
tion conv[en]ing an extra Session of Congress to 
meet on to-morrow. About 10% O'Clock the dis- 
cussion ended, the Joint Rule was suspended, & all 
the Bills which had been matured were presented to 
me for my approval & signature. While I was very 
busy hastily examining the Army & Oregon Bills, 
Senator Calhoun came in [and] held a short con- 
versation [with] Mr. Mason in a different part of 
the room from that which I occupied. Mr. Mason 
stepped to me & said Mr. Calhoun wished to see me. 
I stepped hastily to him with one of the Bills in my 
hand. He urged me, if I would sign the Oregon 
Bill, to announce the fact to the Ho. Repts., in which 
it originated, in the usual form & not to send any 
written message with the notification, as I had in- 
formed him last evening I would probably do. I 
told him promptly that I had made up my mind, 
and would send in the written message. I returned 
to my table, signed the Oregon Bill and my message, 
and sent my Private Secretary with the message to 
the House of Repts., who delivered it about %ths 
of an hour before 12 O'Clock. I immediately made 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 11 

the nominations for the ofRcers in Oregon to the 
Senate, & in a few minutes they were confirmed. I 
signed all the other Bills which were presented to 
me, & the two Houses adjourned precisely at 12 
O'clock. A very few minutes before the adjourn- 
ment I learned that my message to the Ho. Repts. 
had not been read, & that the Speaker had intimated 
that it would not go on the Journal, but be locked 
up until the next Session. The House, I learned, 
was in great confusion & finally adjourned, when the 
hour of 12 O'clock arrived, in the midst of a call of* 
the ayes & noes. I sent my Private Secretary to the 
Speaker to request a copy of my message, as the draft 
which I had retained has, in making a fair copy from 
it for the House, been in some slight respects changed, 
so that it was not a literal & exact copy. The answer 
which my Private Secretary brought from the 
Speaker left some doubt whether he would permit 
me to have a copy of the message and I sent him 
back to repeat to the man, and to say to him that it 
was a public message intended for publication as 
other public proceedings. My Private Secretary 
returned & informed me that the Speaker had di- 
rected the clerk to furnish me a copy, but expressed 
doubts whether the message could go on the Journal. 
I then sent for the clerk (Mr. Campbell) and re- 
quested him to furnish [me] a copy. He enquired 
of me if I wished the printers to have a copy for 
publication, and I answered him that I did, and that 
I had requested a copy for myself with a view to its 
publication. The intimation which led to my re- 
quest for a copy, that its publication might be sup- 



78 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [15 Aug. 

pressed by the Speaker until the next Session of Con- 
gress, struck me with great surprise. Not exceeding 
two minutes before the adjournment of the two 
Houses, which took place precisely at 12 O'Clock in 
pursuance of a Joint Resolution previously adopted, 
a committee of the Senate consisting of Mr. Hanne- 
gan, chairman, & Mr. Green ^ of R. Island & Mr. 
Turney of Tennessee waited on me to inform me that 
unless I had some further communication to make 
they were ready to adjourn. I answered that I had 
no further communications to make. The confusion 
and disorder in the Ho. Repts. was such that they 
adjourned abruptly upon the arrival of the hour of 
12 O'clock, and no committee waited on me from 
that House. I returned to the Presidential mansion, 
and during the remainder of the day saw many mem- 
bers of both Houses of Congress, who called to take 
leave of me. I am heartily rejoiced that the Session 
of Congress is over. My long confinement and great 
labour has exceedingly exhausted me, and I feel the 
absolute necessity of having some rest. I have not 
been three miles from the President's mansion since 
my return from my tour through the Eastern States 
in June & July, 1847, a period of more than thirteen 
months. Judge Mason left with his wife to-night 
to visit a sick child in Virginia. 

Tuesday, 75/A August, 1848. — Many members of 
Congress called to take leave of me this morning. 
With them many office seekers made their way into 

^Albert Collins Greene, 1791-1863, Senator from Rhode Is- 
land 1 845-1 85 1. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 79 

my office. The professed office-seekers are certainly 
the most contemptible race on earth. They will 
never cease to annoy me. The Cabinet met at the 
usual hour; all the members present except the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, who is confined to his house 
by indisposition, and the Sec. of the Navy, who left 
the City on yesterday. Many matters preparatory 
to the execution [of] the laws passed by Congress 
at the late Session were attended to. I informed the 
Cabinet that I was so much fatigued and worn down 
that I proposed to leave on friday next on a visit to 
the Bedford Springs in Pennsylvania for the benefit 
of my health, and that I expected to be absent for 
ten days, and that I desired the members of the Cabi- 
net to remain at Washington during my absence. 
Mr. Johnson, the P. M. Gen'l, said he had contem- 
plated a short visit to the North with his family, 
to which I made no objection. During the day mem- 
bers of Congress called to take leave of me. This 
was reception evening. A few persons, ladies & 
gentlemen, called. 

Wednesday, l6th August, 1848, — Many persons 
called this morning. At 12 O'Clock I closed my 
office & devoted most of the day to clearing my table 
of the mass of papers relating to many matters of 
detail which had accumulated on my table. I saw 
public officers also and attended to business with 
them. There was music on the grounds this after- 
noon. I did not attend. I was much fatigued & 
was not well, having had symptoms of the return 
of chills during the day. 



6o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Aug. 

Thursday, lyth August, 1848. — It being known 
that I intended to leave on to-morrow on a short 
visit to the Bedford Springs ^ in Pennsylvania for 
the purpose of having some relaxation from my long 
continued confinement and labour, and for the benefit 
of my health, a great number of persons called to-day. 
Among others were a herd of office-seekers, who 
seemed to act as though they thought it was the last 
opportunity they would ever have to obtain [a] place. 
I had no offices for them and am greatly disgusted 
with them. I was constantly and laboriously occu- 
pied throughout the day and until a late hour at 
night in clearing my table of the business upon [it], 
and giving to the members of my Cabinet instruc- 
tions concerning the public business during my ab- 
sence. Among other things I was called on to make 
compensation to J. Quinn Thornton for making a 
journey from Oregon to Washington. Hon Robt. 
Smith of the Ho. Repts. from Illinois called on me 
early in the day on the subject. Congress had in- 
serted in the general appropriation Bill an item to 
defray the expenses and for the compensation of 
bearers of despatches from the Temporary Govern- 
ment in Oregon to the Government of the U. States. 
Mr. Thornton had brought to me in May last a 
private letter from Mr. Abernathy,^ the Governor of 

^ Near the town of Bedford, about lOO miles southwest of 
Harrisburg. 

^George Abernathy, 1 807-1 877, went to Oregon as a mis- 
sionary in 1840; was elected Governor upon the organization of 
the provisional government in 1845 and continued in office until 
superseded by Joseph Lane, in 1849. 



i848] JAMES K, POLK'S DIARY 8i 

the temporary Governor [government] of Oregon 
and on comparing this letter with the terms of the law 
I had doubts whether Mr. Thornton's claim was em- 
braced by the law. Mr. Smith [said] it was the in- 
tention of Congress to provide for his payment. He 
said he & Senator Douglass of Illinois knew Mr. 
Thornton well. I told him if Mr. Thornton would 
make a statement of his claim on oath and that he 
came at the instance and request of the Government 
or Governor of Oregon, and he (Mr. Smith) and 
Senator Douglass would address me a communication 
vouching for the good character and veracity of Mr. 
Thornton, and that it was the intention of Congress 
in the appropriation they had made to pay him, that 
I would direct his payment. Mr. Smith left and at a 
subsequent part of the day Senator Douglass called 
upon the subject, & I held in substance the same con- 
versation with him that I had with Mr. Smith. The 
Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. Walker) was in my 
office during my conversation with Mr. Douglass. I 
read to him the law of Congress & the letter from 
Governor Abernathy, and discussed with him the 
legal question whether, upon that letter as the only 
evidence that Mr. Thornton had come from Oregon 
as the bearer of communications to the Government 
of the U. S., his claim fell within the law. Mr. 
Douglass thought it did. Upon a minute examina- 
tion I thought otherwise, & so expressed myself. I 
then told Mr. Douglass what I had told Mr. Smith, 
and when I said to him if Mr. Thornton would state 
his claim on oath and he and Mr. Smith would vouch 
for his character and veracity and that it was the in- 



82 JAMES K, POLK'S DIARY {17 Aug. 

tention of Congress in the appropriation they had 
made to pay him that I would, upon this evidence, in 
connection with Gov. Abernathy's letter, direct him 
to be paid; Mr. Douglass said in an excited and of- 
fensive manner, that could be done but he would feel 
humiliated or degraded (I am not positive which of 
these terms he used) to do it. I was indignant at his 
manner and the terms he used, and said to him 
promptly in a stern manner that I did not ask him to 
humiliate or degrade himself; that I asked him to 
do nothing in the matter. I told him he had called 
on me to urge the payment of the claim; that I de- 
sired to pay it if I could do so legally; that my opin- 
ion was that I would not be justified in paying it upon 
the naked letter of Gov. Abernathy alone, and that I 
would not direct its payment upon that evidence. I 
told him that if the statement he & Mr. Smith had 
made to me verbally was not put in writing & the 
evidence I required furnished, I would not direct its 
payment. He intimated that some enemies of Thorn- 
ton who were intimate friends [of mine] had prej- 
udiced me against him. He was still excited. I 
told him the fact was not so and that I repelled the 
insinuation. I demanded of him to give me the 
names of the persons by whom he supposed I had 
been prejudiced against Thornton, which he declined 
to do. The interview was painful & most unex- 
pected to me. Mr. Douglass appeared to become 
calmer & to talk more rationally before he left. His 
arrogant tone and manner, as well as his language, 
was very offensive. I was myself somewhat excited 
& after he left the room I asked Mr. Walker, the 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY S3 

Sec. of the Treasury, if I had been betrayed into any 
impudent expression in my conversation with Mr. 
Douglass. He said I had not, and that Mr. Doug- 
lass was clearly in the wrong. Late in the afternoon 
Mr. Smith of 111. called and presented to me the evi- 
dence which I had required in support of Thorn- 
ton's claim, to wit: Thornton's own statement, ac- 
companied with statements from Senator Douglass 
and himself, such as I had required in the mo[rn]ing. 
These papers I directed to be placed on file in the 
War Department, and upon this evidence I directed 
Mr. Thornton to be paid, in the same way that I 
had directed Mr. Joseph L. Meek, who had borne 
communications from the Government of Oregon to 
the U. S., to be paid. Mr. Smith expressed his grat- 
ification that Thornton would be paid. I regret ex- 
ceedingly the excited conversation with Mr. Doug- 
lass. There was no occasion for it, and it was his 
own fault that it occurred. His conduct was not re- 
spectful to my public station ; was assuming and ar- 
rogant, and upon reflection he must regret it. 

The Hon. John McKeon called today in company 
with Mr. Marcy, the Secretary of War. I informed 
him in Mr. Marcy's presence that I had determined 
to remove Benjamin F. Butler from the office of At- 
torney of the U. S. for the Southern District of New 
York; that I desired to make the removal to-day, & 
that I was willing to appoint him (Mr. McKeon) in 
his place, and offered to do so. Mr. McKeon 
promptly said he could not accept it; that he held a 
good office in the City of New York which would 
not expire for two & an half years, which he would 



84 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Aug. 

not give up. I remarked that I regretted now that 
I had not appointed him when I appointed Mr. But- 
ler, shortly after I came into the Presidential office. 
He declined positively to accept the office. I then 
asked him to name a suitable person to be appointed, 
repeating that I had resolved to remove Mr. Butler 
and desired to do it before I left, as I intended to do, 
for the Bedford Springs on to-morrow. He and 
Gov. Marcy canvassed the claims of several of the 
lawyers in New York, but came to no satisfactory 
opinion. Mr. McKeon requested me to postpone 
making the removal & appointment until my return 
from the Springs, and that in the mean-time he 
would return to New York & consult confidentially 
some of his political friends and would write Gov. 
Marcy on the subject. After much conversation 
with him and Gov. Marcy I agreed to his suggestion. 
I authorized him to consult with Mr. Charles O'Con- 
ner ^ and Mr. Cutting, either of whom I was will- 
ing to appoint, but neither of whom he thought 
would accept, and after consulting with these two 
gentlemen confidentially to request them to unite 
with himself in recommending a proper person to be 
appointed. With the understanding that he would 
do so, and that I would act upon the subject as soon 
as I returned from the Springs, Mr. McKeon left. 
After night Gov. Marcy called on other business, & 
when he was leaving I told him that when he heard 

^Charles O'Conor, 1 804-1 884, a noted lawyer of New York. 
He was the senior counsel for Jefferson Davis and one of the 
signers of his bail bond. He changed the spelling of his name, 
the original form being O'Connor. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 85 

from Mr. McKeon, O'Conner, & Cutting, I would 
leave it to him to select the person proper to be ap- 
pointed. This I did because he was better able to 
judge of the fitness of the men (lawyers) in New 
York for the office than I could be. 

As I shall leave to-morrow for the Bedford 
Springs, I will continue this Diary in another vol- 
ume,^ not desiring to run the risk of any casuality 
by which this volume might be lost & fall into other 
hands. 

I retired late at night, exceedingly fatigued from 
a most oppressive day's labour. The weather is very 
warm, and I greatly need rest & relaxation from busi- 
ness. This I hope I shall have for the next few days. 

Friday, l8th August, 1848, — This morning I 
set out from Washington on a visit to the Bedford 
Springs in Pennsylvania. I took the morning train 
of cars & proceeded to Cumberland, Maryland, 
where I arrived at 6 O'Clock P. M. I was accom- 
panied by my nephew, Samuel P. Walker, of Ten- 
nessee, and by Dr. Foltz,^ a surgeon in the Navy. 
It had been known a day or two before that I in- 
tended to make the visit, though no public notice of 
it had been announced. My object was to have 
some repose and relaxation after my long and severe 
confinement and labour. Since my return early in 

^ The volume of the Diary in use at this time is discontinued 
with this day's entry, leaving some fifty pages blank. The entry 
for August 18 begins a new volume. 

^Jonathan M. Foltz, Surgeon in the navy 1838, Chief of the 
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery from 1871 until his retirement 
in 1872. 



86 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i8 Aug. 

July, 1847, from my Northern tour, I have not been 
more than two or three miles from my office, and 
during that whole period (13 months) my labours, 
responsibilities, and anxieties have been very great. 
Indeed I was exceedingly wearied and almost pros- 
trated by fatigue. I regret that Mrs. Polk could 
not accompany me. Some friends who were on a 
visit to us made it proper, in her opinion, that she 
should remain. My brother, Wm. H. Polk, and 
his wife, my sister, Mrs. Hays, and her daughter, 
and Mrs. Polk's niece. Miss Sarah P. Rucker, were 
inmates of our family and they constituted too nu- 
merous a company to be of my party. At Harper's 
Ferry and Charlestown a number of persons who 
had heard that I was expected to pass had assembled 
to see me. Senator Underwood of Ky. and his 
family, Mr. Thompson of the Ho. Repts. from Vir- 
ginia and his family, and Mr. Gaines of Natchez, 
Miss., were among the passengers in the cars as far 
as Cumberland. They all spent the night at the 
same Hotel with me in Cumberland. A number of 
the citizens of Cumberland called to pay their re- 
spects in the course of the evening. I should not 
omit to mention that my faithful servant, Wm. Day, 
a free man of colour, accompanies me and is very 
useful to me. I have had him in my employment 
as a messenger during the whole of my Presidential 
term. Col. James Polk ^ of Baltimore came up in 

^ Colonel James Polk of Somerset, Maryland, appointed Naval 
Officer at Baltimore December 29, 1845. He was a descendant 
of that branch of the Polk family which remained in Maryland 
when the President's ancestors removed to North Carolina. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 87 

the cars with me from the relay House. He is dis- 
tantly related to me, having descended from the 
same original stock. He will join my party in the 
morning & will accompany me to the Bedford 
Springs. 

Saturday, igth August, 1848, — After break- 
fast this morning I left Cumberland, Md., for the 
Bedford Springs, Penn., in a special coach furnished 
for my accommodation by Mr. Johnson, the very 
obliging stage contractor on the line. Mr. John- 
son accompanied me to see that I was properly ac- 
commodated. My company in the coach consisted 
of my nephew, Samuel P. Walker, Dr. Foltz, Sur- 
geon of the U. S. Navy, and Col. James Polk of 
Maryland. The latter gentleman fills the office of 
Naval officer at Baltimore. He descended from the 
same family with myself, and is distantly related. 
At the half-way House between Cumberland and the 
Bedford Springs (Anderson's) the teams in the 
coach were changed & we procured fresh horses. A 
number of farmers of the neighbourhood were 
there. They had heard the day before that I was 
expected to pass the road to-day. I shook hands and 
conversed with them. I soon found that they were 
democrats. One of them, named Cisney, was a 
sensible man, and talked more than any of the rest. 
He told me that the valley between the mountains in 
which we were was called Cumberland Valley, and 
that in politics it was a little Berks of a place. Berks 
is the great Democratic county of Pennsylvania, 
using [usually] giving between four and five thou- 



88 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [19 Aug. 

sand of a Democratic majority. He pointed to [a] 
House in view, which he informed me was the place 
of voting in that District, and informed me that at 
the Presidential election in 1844 out of 208 votes 
polled 192 of them were given to Polk & Dallas, 
and that they intended to give as good a vote to 
Cass & Butler this fall. I took leave of these honest 
farmers & we proceeded on our journey. I was re- 
quested by Mr. Cisney to call at a house which he 
described a mile on the way and shake hands with his 
elder brother, who was now 88 years old, and, as he 
said, always opened the election at their precinct by 
giving the first Democratic vote. I called at the 
House and found the old gentleman absent from 
home. I got out of the coach and shook hands with 
the old lady. She expressed her grief that the old 
gentleman was absent and said he would be almost 
beside himself when he heard I had been there. She 

said he had rode off down to Esquire 's. I do 

not remember the name of the " Squire," as she 
called it. I promised her to call and see him on my 
return, which seemed greatly to delight her. We 
proceeded on our way to the Springs, where we ar- 
rived about I O'clock P. M. It was known at the 
Springs that I was expected to-day, but I was not 
looked for until about 4 O'Clock, the usual hour for 
the arrival of the stage. It was not known that I 
would come over in a special coach and, arriving 
two or three hours earlier than the usual hour for 
the arrival of the Stage, the proprietor and company 
at the Springs were taken by surprise. I was in- 
formed after I arrived that the Citizens of the Vil- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 89 

lage of Bedford, situated about 2 miles from the 
Springs, and the company at the Springs had made 
arrangements to give me a formal reception, and had 
provided a band of music for the purpose. I pre- 
fer to have arrived quietly as I did than to have had a 
public reception. I found about 50 visitors at the 
springs, and among them v^as my old friend, the 
Hon. John Laporte,^ with whom I served in Con- 
gress many years ago. Col. Black,^ lately command- 
ing the U. S. Volunteers in Mexico, and his wife, 
Mr. Magraw of Pittsburg, Mr. McKinley, Editor 
of the leading Democratic paper at Harrisburg, 
were also of the number. In the course of the even- 
ing Gen'l Bowman and a number of other citizens 
of the village of Bedford came out to see me. In 
the evening I was requested to walk into the Ball- 
room, where there was music and a number of young 
persons dancing. I remained but a short time and 
then retired for the night. I find the buildings 
large & the accommodations good. The Springs 
are situated in a valley between two mountains. The 
valley is not more than two hundreds yards wide. 
One of the head streams of the Juniata runs between 
the mountains, and the Springs flow out of the sides 
of the mountain. The Spring of greatest medicinal 
virtue and chiefly used is a bold, strong fountain. I 
have not been furnished with an analysis of its prop- 
erties. The water, however, contains portions of 
magnesia & iron; & when used operates chiefly on 

^ John Laporte, Representative from Tennessee 1 833-1 837. 
^ Samuel Black, Lieutenant Colonel of the ist regiment of 
Pennsylvania Volunteers in the Mexican War. 



90 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Aug. 

the kidneys & bowels. There are also a white 
sulpher springs; a Slate Spring; a very large lime- 
stone Spring, and three or four other springs, all 
within a circumference of less than three hundred 
yards in diameter. The walks and grounds are neat 
& well shaded, and everything about the establish- 
ment has the appearance of comfort. I used but 
little of the water this evening. There is a great dif- 
ference between the hot & sultry atmosphere of 
Washington & this place. I slept under a blanket 
to-night and would have been uncomfortable with- 
out it. 

Sunday, 20th August, 1848, — I rose early this 
morning and walked to the main spring, drank some 
of the water, and then ascended the mountain by a 
winding path to its Summit, where a summer-house 
or shed had been erected. The fog rose and pre- 
vented the view over the valley below, which is said 
to be very fine. I returned and drank more of the 
water before breakfast. This being the sabbath was 
a quiet day, and I remained chiefly in my chamber. 
I wrote letters to Mrs. Polk & to J. Knox Walker. 
In the afternoon I ascended to the top of the moun- 
tain again & had a fine view of the valley below and 
-of the surrounding country. At dinner & in the 
afternoon I shook hands with a number of people 
from the village & the neighbourhood, who from 
curiosity had come to see the President of the United 
States. The day became cloudy and the atmosphere 
cold, so much so that about 2 O'Clock I had a fire 
made in my room. Towards sunset a cold rain com- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 91 

menced falling. At 8 O'Clock P. M. the company 
assembled in one of the large parlours and an ex- 
cellent sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Pur- 
viance ^ of the Presbyterian church. Mr. Purviance 
resides in Baltimore. After the service v^as over I 
retired for the night. The rain continued to fall 
when I retired, and I slept very comfortably under 
two blankets. 

Monday, 21st August, 1848, — The weather was 
cloudy and cool this morning, and I fear will be un- 
pleasant during the short stay I propose to make at 
the Springs. I walked to the Spring and drank 
freely of the water before breakfast this morning. 
It begins to produce its effect on my system. Sev- 
eral of the visitors left this morning, and others speak 
of leaving soon in consequence of the unfavourable 
character of the weather. I find the company pleas- 
ant. Several persons from the village of Bedford 
& the surrounding country visited me to-day. In the 
evening Mr. Meek, the Marshall of the Oregon 
Territory, arrived from Washington bearing de- 
spatches to me from Mr. Buchanan, the Secretary of 
State, & a communication from Mr. Cave Johnson, 
the Post master Gen'l. By them I learned that 
Gen'l Shields of Illinois, whom I had appointed 
Governor of Oregon, had, by a Telegraphic de- 
spatch, declined to accept. Before I left Washing- 
ton I had made known my intention, in the event 
Gen'l Shields should not accept, to appoint Gen'l 

^ Rev. G. D. Purviance, pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church, 
Baltimore. 



92 JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY [22 Aug. 

Joseph Lane of Indiana to be Governor of Oregon. 
This being known, Mr. Buchanan forwarded to me 
by Mr. Meek a commission for Gen'l Lane, all com- 
plete except my signature. I signed it and wrote a 
letter to Gen'l Lane. I delivered the commission 
and letter to Mr. Meek, with directions to proceed 
immediately to Gen'l Lane's residence on the Ohio 
River, near Evansville, Indiana, and deliver them 
to him. I prepared a Telegraphic despatch for 
Gen'l Lane, informing him of his appointment, and 
forwarded it to Thos. J. Reed,^ P. M. at Louisville, 
with a request that he would send it to him by the 
first boat descending the River. This Telegraphic 
despatch I delivered to Gen'l Bowman, the editor of 
the Bedford Gazette, who took it to the Telegraph 
office in the village of Bedford & sent it oflf to-night. 
Mr. Meek left in the Western Stage and proceeded 
on his journey. My orders are that the Governor, 
Marshall, and other officers of Oregon should, if 
practicable, proceed to Oregon this fall, & for this 
purpose a military escort has been ordered to be in 
readiness at Fort Leavenworth, Mo., to accompany 
them. If Gov. Lane and the other officers can 
leave Fort Leavenworth by the 15th of September, 
they can cross the Rocky Mountains before the snows 
of winter will obstruct their passage. 

Tuesday, 22nd August, 1848. — This morning 
was cool & fires were comfortable. It is almost 
too late in the season to visit this watering place. In 
the hot weather it must be a delightful spot. I rode 

^ Thomas J. Read. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 93 

two miles & visited Maj'r Watson at his house this 
morning. Major W. had invited me to do so. I 
was accompanied by a party of Gentlemen. When 
we arrived we met Judge Black/ who is a candidate 
for the Democratic nomination for Governor of 
Pennsylvania. There was a cold collation and other 
refreshments. I returned to the Springs & after 
dinner rode to the village of Bedford at the invita- 
tion of several of the citizens. A party of gentle- 
men accompanied me. We stopped at a Hotel 
where many citizens of the village called and were 
introduced to me. We took supper and returned to 
the Springs. I spend my time very comfortably. 
Judge Laporte, Judge Black, Col. Black of Pitts- 
burg, lately returned from Mexico, Mr. Magraw, & 
other Democratic friends are of the company at the 
Springs. The Hon. Job Mann, the Representative 
of the District in Congress, Gen'l Bowman, & others 
who reside in the village, spend a part of every day 
with me at the Springs. I use the water freely, & 
think the rest, mountain air, & water has invigorated 
and improved me. On returning from the village 
this evening I found the Hon. John McKeon of the 
City of New York, with whom I once served in 
Congress, had arrived. He very soon asked me to 
walk, and informed me that he had come especially 
to see me and to say that he would accept the office of 
Attorney of the U. S. for the Southern District of 
New York, if I removed Benjamin F. Butler, who 
now holds that office. The day before I left Wash- 

^ Jeremiah Sullivan Black, 18 10-1883, U. S. Attorney General 
1 85 7- 1 860, Secretary of State 1 860-1 861. 



94 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [23 Aug. 

ington Mr. McKeon called on me, and I informed 
him that I intended to remove Mr. Butler and that 
I had thought of tendering the office to him. He 
at that time declined accepting it, and in consequence 
of doubts on his mind who should be appointed, he 
requested me to postpone making the removal & ap- 
pointment until after my return from my contem- 
plated visit to Bedford Springs, & until he could go 
to N. York & consult two friends, Mr. Cutting and 
Mr. Charles O'Connor, as to the proper person to be 
appointed. I agreed to postpone action as he had re- 
quested. The Secretary of War was present during 
that conversation with him. He was to write to 
Mr. Marcy after his return to N. York. After he 
left I saw Mr. Marcy in the evening & told him that 
I would rely upon his opinion as to the person I 
would appoint. Now Mr. McKeon desires the ap- 
pointment himself. I informed him of what I had 
said to Mr. Marcy on thursday, after he left my 
office, & that I would not act until I saw Mr. Marcy, 
and that I would probably, after what I had said to 
him, appoint the person whom he might recommend. 

Wednesday, 23rd August, 1848. — Mr. John 
McKeon of New York, who arrived here on last 
evening, left here early this morning (see this Diary 
of yesterday). About 11 O'Clock to-day accom- 
panied by 8 or 10 gentlemen in carriages & in pur- 
suance of a previous arrangement, I set out to ride 
to the village of Schellsburg, about 9 miles on the 
turnpike road in the direction towards Pittseburg. 
In passing through the village of Bedford I called a 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 95 

few minutes at the House of my friend, the Hon. Job. 
Mann, the Representative in Congress from this 
District, & paid my respects to his family. Mr. 
Mann accompanied the party to Schellsburg. At 
Schellsburg the people from the village & many 
from the country called and shook hands with me at 
the tavern at which we stopped. Several ladies 
called. The people seemed to be much gratified. 
They said, and the people of the village of Bedford, 
that I was the first President of the U. S. who had 
ever visited them since the Whisky insurrection in 
1794, when troops had been collected there to sup' 
press it, and when Gen'l Washington was there. 
The people seemed to be much gratified at my visit. 
We took dinner at Schellsburg and returned to the 
Springs, having had a pleasant ride & spent the day 
pleasantly. On my return I found Judge Long- 
streth who, as well as Judge Black who accom- 
panied me to Schellsburg, is a candidate for the 
Democratic nomination as a candidate for Gov- 
ernor. He had arrived in the afternoon. The 
State convention to make the nomination will meet 
at Harrisburg on Wednesday next, the 30th Instant. 
I was informed that during my absence to [at] 
Schellsburg a fellow named Nugent, the correspon- 
dent of the New York Herald over the signature of 
Galvienses, and who has been calumniating me for 
the last two years in his letters to that paper, had ar- 
rived. He is the same fellow who was arraigned 
before the Senate for contempt at its last Session. 
He was pointed out to me, for I had never seen his 
person before to know him. He has, no doubt, fol- 



96 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [24 Aug. 

lowed me to the Springs to see what new slander he 
can invent for his employers to be published in the 
Herald, I informed Judge Laporte who he was, & 
took especial care not to speak to him & not to per- 
mit myself to converse in his presence. Though a 
writer of some smoothness I consider him an un- 
principled scoundrel. I may expect to see some 
falsehood or other propagated by him in the Herald, 

Thursday, 24th August, 1848. — Intending to 
leave on to-morrow I spent a considerable portion of 
the day in writing in my room. Quite a number of 
persons from the surrounding country called to see 
me to-day. Judge Black and Judge Longstreth 
both left to-day. The weather is so damp and cool 
that most of the company speak of leaving in two or 
three days. In the evening a number of young per- 
sons, male & female, came out from the village of 
Bedford, and there was dancing in the Ball-Room. 
I was requested to walk into the Ball room. I did 
so, & after remaining a few minutes I retired. My 
nephew, Samuel P. Walker, did some copying for 
me to-day. 

Friday, 2Sth August, 1848, — After Breakfast this 
morning I set out in the Stage for Cumberland, Md., 
on my return to Washington. I was accompanied 
by my nephew, Sam'l P. Walker; Dr. Foltz, sur- 
geon of the U. S. Navy; Col. James Polk of Mary- 
land, who has been one of my party during my visit 
to Bedford; and by Col. Samuel Black of Pittsburg, 
and his wife. When the stage had proceeded about 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY , 97 

four miles, I was overtaken by a messenger with a 
Telegraphic despatch from Genl Lane of Indiana, 
dated at Louisville, Kentucky, this morning, inform- 
ing me that he had received the Telegraphic de- 
spatch which I had sent through Thos. J. Reed, 
P. M. of Louisville, Ky., to him on the night of the 
2ist Instant (see this Diary of that day) and that he 
accepted the appointment of Governor of Oregon 
and would be ready to proceed to Oregon with Mr. 
Meek, the Marshall, this fall. This telegraphic de- 
spatch is dated at Louisville, Ky., this morning, and 
reached me before 10 O'Clock A. M. The stage to 
Cumberland stopped at the half-way House between 
the Bedford Springs and Cumberland (Anderson's) 
where I found about 20 persons of the neighbour- 
hood assembled to see me. I conversed familiarly 
with them. I stopped on the wayside an aged man 
named Cisney, who was and had been for many years 
a leading man of the neighbourhood. He told me 
he was 88 years old, that he had always been a Dem- 
ocratic [Democrat], & had voted at every election 
since he was entitled to vote. He is a remarkable 
person. We arrived at Cumberland about 5 O'Clock 
P. M. and remained there all night. During the 
evening many persons called to see me. I deter- 
mined to-night to stop at the Berkeley Springs on to- 
morrow. They are situated about 50 miles from 
Cumberland and two or three miles from the Rail 
Road from Cumberland to Baltimore. 

Saturday, 26th August, 1848. — I left Cumber- 
land in the cars at 8 O'Clock this morning, and 



g8 . JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 Aug. 

about 10 O'clock A. M. stopped at the depot near 
the Berkeley Springs. I left the cars and proceeded 
to the Springs. I was accompanied by my Nephew, 
Samuel P. Walker, Dr. Foltz, and Col. James Polk 
of Baltimore, who constituted my party. We ar- 
rived at the springs between 11 & 12 O'Clock and 
stopped at Strother's Hotel. We found a company 
of fashionable people, ladies and gentlemen, num- 
bering, it was said, between 150 and 200 persons. 
There were two Hotels at the place. Most of the 
visitors were at the Hotel at which I stopped. 
There was some competition, as I learned, as to the 
Hotel at which I should [stop], but in this I took no 
part but left it to Dr. Foltz, who had written from 
Cumberland last evening by the night train of cars 
to Capt. Bowie, a friend of his, who is a visitor at 
the Springs, to engage rooms. Capt. Bowie had en- 
gaged the rooms accordingly, and met us at the 
Depot to accompany us. I found at the Springs 
Senator Johnson of Louisiana and his wife; Judge 
Daniel ^ of the Supreme Court of the U. S. and his 
two daughters; Judge Pendleton & his family; The 
Rev. Dr. Laurie of Washington & his wife; Mrs. 
Key & her daughters, & many others, chiefly from 
Virginia & Maryland. The town of Berkeley is 
the County seat of Morgan County, Virginia, and is 
situated in a valley with mountains or hills around it. 
It was formerly called the bath springs. It has been 
resorted to as a bathing place for more than half a 
century. Gen'l Washington occasionally attended 

^ Peter Vivian Daniel, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 
1 840- 1 860. 



i848] , JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 99 

them, and a small log house is still standing and is 
pointed out as the one he occupied. There is no 
mineral or medicinal water. There is a clear boil- 
ing spring of water which is warmer that [than] the 
water of other springs usually is, being of a temper- 
ature of about 75 degrees. This water is used for 
bathing, & this is the only inducement which I could 
discover for visiting the place. The grounds and 
walks are handsomely laid off, and the Hotel is well 
kept. The dining hour was 2^ O'Clock P. M. A 
good deal of form and ceremony were observed at 
Dinner. In the afternoon I took a bath, but could 
not discover that it was in any respects superior to a 
bath taken any where else, where there was puring 
[pure] running spring water. I presume the chief 
reason why this has been a place of resort in summer 
must be that it is situated among hills and is in a 
healthy part of the country. I was introduced in the 
course of the afternoon to many of the visitors, ladies 
& gentlemen; and to several persons living in the 
village & adjacent country who called to see me. In 
the evening there was dancing in the large dining 
room, which was used also as a ball room. I was in- 
vited to go into the Bali-Room & did so. I remained 
about an hour, when I retired for the night. 

Sunday, 27th August, 1848. — Nothing worthy 
of notice occurred this morning. At 11 O'Clock ac- 
companied by Senator Johnson of Louisiana, Judge 
Daniel, Dr. Foltz, S. P. Walker, and Col. Harmon- 
son, I attended Divine service in a small methodist 
church. The Rev. Dr. Lourie of the Presbyterian 



100 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [27 Aug. 

church preached a good sermon. Col. Harmonson 
is a leading citizen of the village, is a Democrat, and 
has been very attentive to me since my arrival. He 
expressed his regret that I had stopped at the Hotel 
I did, as he informed me that the proprietor 
( Strother) was a violent Federalist & very vindictive. 
He introduced to me a number of the people of the 
village & adjacent country, w^ho had come in to see 
me. Among those whom he introduced were two 
methodist preachers, named Whitmore & Tyson, who 
had come in from the country to see me. Col. James 
Polk of Maryland, who had been one of my party to 
Bedford & here, left this morning. I will leave for 
Washington on to-morrow. Having determined to 
leave on to-morrow morning for Washington, I 
learned after night that the carriages which run from 
the House (Strother's) at which I stop to convey 
passengers to & from the Rail Road depot were filled, 
& that I could get no passage on to-morrow. The 
distance is about 2 ^ miles. I inquired how this 
was. Dr. Foltz and Dr. [Mr.] S. P. Walker had 
engaged seats at the bar on yesterday and were told 
that they would be furnished. Now it appeared that 
they would not be furnished. I felt that this was 
bad treatment, and so expressed myself to Dr. Foltz 
and Mr. Walker. Before bed-time two or three 
young men, having heard of the difficulty, called at 
my room to tender to me and my party seats which 
they had engaged. I declined to accept them, stating 
that I had been badly treated by the land-lord, but 
that I would not put them to any inconvenience ; that 
during my absence from Washington I had no other 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY loi 

or greater privileges than any other citizen, and that 
I would take care of myself. I learned afterwards 
that I was to [be] put into a Stage running to Han- 
cock, on the Rail Road, a distance of six miles. This 
I did not like. The young men who politely 
tendered me their seats were Mr. Davis of Baltimore 
(son of the former mayor) Capt. Boyle of Annapolis, 
late of [the] U. S. Army in Mexico, [and] Capt. 
Bowie of W [?] I was now satisfied that Col. 
Harmonson was right in his regret that I had not 
stopped at the other House (O'Farreirs) in the vil- 
lage. I had received an invitation at Cumberland 
on friday evening from O'Farrell & Co. to stop at 
their House, but Dr. Foltz wrote to Capt. Bowie, 
who was at the Springs, to engage rooms for me, & 
he had done so & met me at the depot on the rail- 
road on Saturday morning & informed me that he 
had done so. In this way it happened that I had 
stopped at Strother's. Strother pretends to belong 
to the mock aristocracy, but must be a low-bred man, 
and I attribute the bad treatment I have received to 
his vindictiveness in politics. 

Monday, 28th August, 1848. — Learning of the 
difficulty which had been interposed to my getting 
a passage in the regular conveyances this morning to 
the Rail Road Depot, Col. Harmonson, who was very 
indignant at, it had procured a fine new coach to 
convey me & my party to Hancock. An early break- 
fast was ordered by S. P. Walker & Dr. Foltz, in 
order to enable me to reach Hancock before the cars 
passed. (See this Diary of yesterday.) While 



102 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 Aug. 

walking in the porch, waiting for breakfast & the 
coach, Mr. Strother, the land-lord (who had no 
doubt become uneasy at the dissatisfaction expressed 
by all the visitors who had heard of his treatment of 
me) approached me and introduced the subject by 
inquiring which route I preferred to the Depot. I 
had but little to say to him, as I felt indignant at 
his conduct & did not care to converse with him. 
I gave him no satisfaction, but said to him that I had 
taken it for granted that as a matter of course the 
visitors at his house would be furnished with a con- 
veyance to the Rail Road when they wished to leave, 
& like all other visitors I had expected it until, to 
my surprise, I was informed last night that he had 
provided no such conveyance for me. One or two 
persons stepped up, and desiring to have no conver- 
sation with him I continued my walk in the porch. 
Dr. Foltz, S. P. Walker, and myself took an early 
breakfast; I paid a short visit to Col. Harmonson's 
family, and left in a new coach which Col. H. had 
provided for Hancock. I was accompanied by S. P. 
Walker, Dr. Foltz, my servant, and two gentlemen 
from Pennsylvania. We arrived at Hancock half 
an hour before the cars passed. At Hancock, or 
rather at the Depot on the opposite side of the Po- 
tomac River from the town, I saw & shook hands 
with a number of persons who were there. I took 
the cars & proceeded on my return. At the relay 
House I met Andrew J. Polk of Tennessee, who was 
on his way to Raleigh, N. C. At the Depot midway 
between Washington & Baltimore I met Mr. Bu- 
chanan, Sec. of State, who returned with me to Wash- 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 103 

ington. He informed me that he had that evening 
come that far with his sister on her return from a 
visit to Washington. On arriving at the President's 
mansion I found the family well, except my two 
nieces, Virginia Hays & Sarah P. Rucker, both of 
whom, I was informed, had chills and fevers on 
yesterday. My sister, Ophelia C. Hays, & my 
brother, W. H. Polk, & his wife, were still inmates 
of my family. J. Knox Walker, my Private Secre- 
tary, left to-night to visit his wife and children at 
Lynchburg, Virginia. I learn that Rob't J. Walker, 
Secretary of the Treasury, left the day after I did 
for Rockaway, N. Y., for the benefit of his health 
& was still absent; that Isaac Toucey, the Atto. Gen'l, 
had been called home suddenly in consequence of the 
illness of a member of his family; and that Cave 
Johnson & his wife had left on yesterday morning 
on a visit to the North. I learn that Judge Mason, 
who was absent in Va. when I left, returned three or 
four days ago. His sick child whom he had gone 
to Virginia to visit, I learn, died. 

Tuesday, 2Qth August, 1848, — I found on my 
table a large number of letters & communications 
which had been received in my absence and been 
opened & endorsed by my Private Secretary; none 
of which were very important, but most of which 
required attention. A number of persons called 
and among them were a number of office-seekers. 
At the usual hour of the meeting of the Cabi- 
net, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Marcy, & Mr. Mason 
attended, being all who were in the City (see 



104 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [29 Aug. 

this Diary of yesterday). Many matters, chiefly 
of detail, which had been awaiting my return 
were considered & disposed of. The Secretary of 
War presented a plan of distribution of the regular 
army among the various posts & stations deemed 
necessary to be occupied in a period of peace. This 
plan, running as it did into much detail, I could only 
approve generally. The larger portion of the force 
were to be stationed on the frontier, in Oregon & the 
newly acquired territories of New Mexico & Cali- 
fornia. The Secretary of State brought to my 
notice the numerous statements and rumours in pub- 
lic newspapers of a contemplated movement or 
expedition of citizens of the U. S. of hostile charac- 
ter towards Mexico, the object of which was said to 
be to revolutionize the Northern provinces of Mex- 
ico and to establish the Republic of Sierra Madra. 
If such a movement is on foot, or such an expedition 
contemplated, any attempt to exercise [execute] it 
would be a clear violation of our international obli- 
gations under the late Treaty with Mexico, & a vio- 
lation of our neutrality laws as applied to all nations 
with which the U. S. are at peace, and it would be 
the imperative duty of the President of the U. S. to 
take all legal measures in his power to arrest and 
prevent it. The persons supposed to be engaged in 
the contemplated expedition against Mexico are 
called in the newspapers Buffalo Hunters, meaning 
that they are to organize & invade Mexico, under the 
pretense that they are engaging simply in a Buffalo 
Hunt. After discussing the subject it was the unani- 
mous opinion of the members of the cabinet present 



I&48] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 105 

& myself that precautionary measures should be 
adopted to repress & prevent as [any] such contem- 
plated expedition. With that view it was agreed 
that the Secretary of State should immediately ad- 
dress instructions to the Attorneys of the U. S. in 
Louisiana, Texas, & other Western States to be vigi- 
lent in ascertaining if such a design was on foot, & 
if so and he could obtain the requisite proof, to insti- 
tute prosecutions against all persons concerned in it. 
It was agreed also that the Secretary of War should 
address without delay instructions to Gen'l Taylor, 
commanding the Western Division of the army, in- 
cluding Texas & the Rio Grande frontier, to use 
military force if necessary to check & repress such 
a movement, if one were attempted. Both the U. S. 
Attorneys and Gen'l Taylor were to be instructed to 
Report all the information on the subject which they 
possessed or could obtain, to the Government. Mr. 
Buchanan informed me that during my absence at 
the Bedford Springs Mr. Crampton, Brittish charge 
d'affaires, had called at the Department of State and 
informed him that he had a despatch from his Gov- 
ernment instructing him to call on the Government 
of the U. S. to perform their Treaty obligations to 
Great Brittain and to enforce our neutrality laws, by 
preventing our citizens from taking part with the 
people of Ireland in their present attempt to resist 
the authority of the Brittish Government. Mr. Bu- 
chanan informed me that at his suggestion Mr. 
Crampton agreed to postpone executing his instruc- 
tions by making the demand upon this Government, 
until after the arrival of the next Steamer from Eng- 



io6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [29 Aug. 

land, which was then daily expected, as the intelli- 
gence which that Steamer might bring might render 
such a step unnecessary. The Steamer had since 
arrived bringing intelligence unfavourable to the 
success of the Irish patriots and rendering it probable 
that they had been overpowered by the Brittish army 
in Ireland, and since this news was received he had 
heard nothing from Mr. Crampton. All my sym- 
pathies are with the oppressed and suffering people 
of Ireland, and I hope no occasion will occur to 
render it necessary for the Executive to act in enforc- 
ing our neutrality laws. I sincerely wish the Irish 
patriots success, but though this is the case, it would 
be my imperative duty to see our neutrality laws 
faithfully executed. No action is at present required 
in the matter. 

I stated to the members of the Cabinet who were 
present that I wished now to execute the purpose 
which I had for some weeks resolved upon, by re- 
moving Benjamin F. Butler of New York from the 
ofRce of United States Attorney for the Southern 
District of New York. The subject had been previ- 
ously submitted to the Cabinet, & I now called their 
attention to the very exceptionable speech, recently 
published, which he made at the Buffalo Convention, 
assembled on the 9th Instant, and to paragraphs in 
the New York Evening Post almost challenging his 
removal. I stated I had resolved to remove him, & 
that they might consider that as settled. I informed 
them that I had difficulties in determining who 
should be appointed in his stead, and it was upon that 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 107 

point I wished their advice. On thursday, the 17th 
Inst, the day before I left Washington on my visit 
to the Bedford Springs, the Hon. John McKeon 
called, & the Secretary of War and myself held a con- 
versation with him on the subject (see this Diary of 
that day) . At that time Mr. McKeon did not desire 
the appointment. He requested me to postpone act- 
ing on the subject until my return from the Springs, 
for the reason that he was not satisfied who ought to 
be appointed. I acceded to his wishes, with [and] 
the understanding was that he was to return to New 
York & after consulting Mr. Charles O'Conner & 
Mr. Cutting, he was to write to the Secretary of War 
recommending the person whom he thought it proper 
to be appointed. To my surprise Mr. McKeon 
visited me at the Bedford Springs on the 22nd Inst., 
& made known to me that he had changed his mind 
& was then willing to accept the appointment himself 
(see this Diary of that day) . On the morning of the 
23rd Inst., Mr. McKeon [left] the Springs without 
my seeing him. After he left I observed an article 
in the Pennsylvanian, signed by himself & others 
styling themselves a directory to take measures to aid 
the Irish people in their resistance to the Brittish 
Government. As soon as I read this article I had 
apprehensions that Mr. McKeon may have subjected 
himself to the penal provisions of our neutrality laws, 
which as President of the U. S. I would be bound to 
see faithfully executed. If any occasion should arise 
making [it] my duty to enforce these laws it must 
be done through the agency of the District attorneys 



io8 JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY [30 Aug. 

of the U. S., and in such case it would be very em- 
barrassing that Mr. McKeon himself should hold 
that office in New York. I accordingly immediately 
addressed a letter to the Secretary of War, enclosing 
the newspaper article and expressing my doubts of 
the propriety of appointing him. I kept a copy of 
this letter. The subject was discussed and all the 
members of the Cabinet present concurred with me 
in the opinion that Mi. McKeon ought not to be 
appointed; but after all that had ocurred with Mr. 
McKeon, and in view of the interview stated in this 
day's diary held by Mr. Crampton, the Brittish 
charge d'affaires, on the subject of the enforcement 
of our neutrality laws as respects the Irish question, 
Mr. Marcy suggested that it would be important to 
satisfy Mr. McKeon that he ought not to desire or 
insist upon being appointed ; and with a view to have 
an opportunity to confer with him & to satisfy him 
upon this point, Mr. Marcy proposed that he would 
send a Telegraphic despatch to Mr. McKeon & 
request him to come to Washington, & that for that 
purpose I should postpone making the appointment 
for two or three days. To this I agreed, & Mr. 
Marcy prepared a Telegraphic despatch & sent it 
off. I despatched much business which had accumu- 
lated on my table to-day. This being reception even- 
ing a number of persons called. 

Wednesday, 30th August, 1848. — I was sur- 
prised to learn, as soon as I rose this morning, from 
the servants that an old servant named Smith, a 
colored man whom I have hired & had in my employ- 
ment as a fire-maker during my whole term, died in 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 109 

his room in the President's House about i O'Clock 
this morning. He has been confined to his room by 
a chronic disease for some weeks past, but his imme- 
diate dissolution was not anticipated. He was a 
free man & a faithful old servant. During his illness 
he was waited on & all his wants supplied by the 
other servants. I directed my Stewart [steward] to 
procure a coffin & see that he was decently & properly 
interred. He was interred late in the evening. The 
expenses, as the Stewart [steward] reported, were 
twenty dollars, which I directed him to pay & he 
did so. In the course of the day Mr. Buchanan 
called and read to rne the instructions ^ which he had 
prepared, in pursuance of the understanding in 
Cabinet on yesterday, to the U. S. District attorneys 
to take measures to prevent the ^'Buffalo Hunters," 
as they were styled in the newspapers, from making 
any hostile movement upon Mexico, or fitting out 
an expedition with a view to invade the Northern 
Provinces of Mexico (see this Diary of yesterday). 
Mr. Marcy also called & read instructions which he 
had prepared to Gen'l Taylor on the same subject. 
I approved the instructions which they had prepared, 
and directed them to be sent off by mail without 
delay. I was occupied with business and visitors in 
my office to-day. The Hon. Mr. Bowden, one of 
the Representatives in Congress from Alabama, who 
still remains in the City, called to-day. The Hon. 
Isaac Toucey, Attorney General of the U. S., re- 
turned to-day from a visit to his family in Connecti- 
cut, one of whom had been seriously ill. He called 

^ Moore, Buchanan, VIII, 192 



no JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 Aug. 

to see me as soon as he reached the City. My 
nephew, Samuel P. Walker, left for his residence in 
Tennessee this morning. 

Thursday, 31st August, 1848. — Desiring to have 
time to attend to business in my office to-day & to be 
free from the annoyance of office-seekers, I directed 
my porter not to admit company until 2 O'Clock 
P. M., except officers of the Government on public 
business. Several public officers called & I trans- 
acted public business with them. The Secretary of 
War called, accompanied by Mr. John McKeon of 
New York, to whom he had addressed a Telegraphic 
despatch on tuesday, the 29th Inst, (see this Diary of 
that day) The object which the Secretary of War 
had in desiring Mr. McKeon to come to Washing- 
ton, was to confer with him in relation to the person 
proper to be appointed U. S. Attorney for the 
Southern District of New York, in place of Benja- 
min F. Butler whom I designed to remove. A full 
consversation took place between Mr. McKeon, Mr. 
Marcy, and myself on the subject. Though Mr. 
McKeon had positively declined to accept the office 
on the 17th Instant (see this Diary of that day) he 
was now anxious to be appointed. Mr. Marcy had 
this morning shown to Mr. McKeon the letter which 
I had addressed to him from the Bedford Springs on 
the 23rd Inst. Mr. Marcy and myself both thought 
that in view of the developments which had taken 
place since our interview with Mr. McKeon on the 
17th Instant, it would be improper to appoint him, 
& so informed him. Since that interview Mr. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY in 

Crampton, the Brittish charge d'affaires, had called 
on the Secretary of State to enforce our Treaty obli- 
gations & to enforce our neutrality laws with Great 
Brittain, in suppressing the movements in favour of 
the oppressed and suffering people of Ireland (see 
this Diary of the 29th Instant) but had been induced 
by Mr. Buchanan to postpone making the formal 
application for the present. He will, however, cer- 
tainly renew the demand should there be an occasion 
for it. Mr. McKeon admitted that he was a member 
of the Irish directory in New York who had been ac- 
tively engaged for some time past in raising money 
to aid the Irish people against the oppressions of the 
Brittish Government, but he said he had done noth- 
ing which would subject himself to a criminal prose- 
cution under our neutrality laws. I read these laws 
to him, and their stringent provisions seemed to 
strike him with surprise. He admitted that in his 
conference with Mr. Charles O'Conner of New 
York, the reason assigned by him why he would be 
unwilling to accept the office was that he might be 
subject to the penalties of our neutrality laws. Mr. 
O'Conner is a member with Mr. O'Conner [Mc- 
Keon] of the Irish Directory of New York. Both 
Mr. Marcy and myself told Mr. McKeon that in 
case it became my duty to enforce our neutrality laws 
it must be done, as he knew, through the agency of 
the attorneys of the U. S., and that if he were ap- 
pointed and were called upon to prosecute Mr. 
O'Conner or any other of his associates of the Irish 
directory, he would be in a very embarrassing con- 
dition. I told him and repeated it to him (because 



112 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 Aug. 

I was determined that he should not misunderstand 
me or my motives in not appointing him) that all my 
sympathies were enlisted on behalf of the Irish Pa- 
triots in their struggle to relieve themselves from 
the oppressions of their Government, and that I 
heartily wished them success, but at the same time 
that these were my individual feelings, I would be 
imperatively bound by my oath of office, if called 
on, to see that our neutrality laws were inforced. I 
told him that when I entered upon my duties of 
President of the U. S. I had taken a solemn oath 
to see that the laws were faithfully executed, and 
this duty I must perform in the case of our neutrality 
laws if required to do so. I submitted to him 
whether, under all the circumstances of the case, it 
was not better for himself, better for the Democratic 
party, and better for my administration that he should 
not be appointed. I told him in the course of the 
conversation that I had within a day or two past is- 
sued orders to the attorneys of the U. S. and to our 
military commanders in the Western States, and par- 
ticularly on the Mexican frontier, to enforce our 
neutrality laws, and to arrest and prosecute any per- 
sons who under the name of "Buffalo Hunters" 
might attempt to invade Mexico, or to fit out an ex- 
pedition to revolutionize the Northern states of 
Mexico, or to establish the Republic of the Sierra 
Madra, as it was reported in [the] newspapers there 
was a design to do. I told him I had felt bound to 
do this in execution of our neutrality laws & treaty 
stipulations towards Mexico. I told him I would be 
bound to do the same thing in reference to those of 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 113 

our citizens engaged in the Irish cause who might 
violate these laws. I expressed the hope to him that 
neither he nor any other citizen in New York would 
violate these laws so as to make it my duty to proceed 
against them. Nothing would give me more pain, 
but still it would be my duty & I must perform it. 
Mr. Marcy enforced all these views & presented 
others, but still Mr. McKeon was not satisfied, but 
desired the appointment. He had changed his 
opinion since the 17th Inst., when he was unwilling 
to accept it, and though the circumstances which had 
since transpired made it manifestly improper now 
to appoint him, he had set his mind upon it. He, 
however, became reasonable on the subject. It being 
decided that Mr. McKeon would not be appointed, 
I asked his advice whom I should appoint. Mr. 
Marcy and Mr. McKeon canvassed the qualifications 
and fitness of several members of the New York bar, 
and after hearing them I determined to appoint the 
Hon. Charles McVean, whom I knew personally and 
with whom I had once served in Congress. They 
both agreed that his appointment would be a good 
[one], & they thought would be agreeable to the 
people of New York. In answer to an enquiry made 
by me, Mr. McKeon said that Mr. McVean was not 
unfriendly to the Irish cause in New York, and 
would not be unacceptable to the Irish people in 
New York. He thought he had taken no part in 
the recent movements upon that subject. I finally 
said that I would appoint Mr. McVean, & would 
make the appointment either today or to-morrow as 
might be preferred. Mr. McKeon requested that I 



114 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Sept. 

would postpone making the appointment until to- 
morrow, as he would prefer that it should be made 
after he left the City. I told him I would postpone 
it until to-morrow. I disposed of much business on 
my table to-day & saw several public officers & trans- 
acted business with them. 

Friday, Ist September, 1848, — I did not open 
my office for the reception of company until 2 
O'clock P. M. to-day. A few persons were admit- 
ted before that hour, and among them the Hon. Mr. 
Henley of the Ho. Repts from Indiana. To-day I 
appointed Charles McVean of New York to be at- 
torney of the U. S., vice Benjamin F. Butler 
removed. Shortly after I became President I re- 
moved a Whig from this office & appointed Mr. 
Butler. I did so upon the general principle that the 
important subordinate public offices should be filled 
by persons who agreed in opinion with the President 
as to the policy to be pursued by the Government, 
and who would co-operate with the President in 
carrying out that policy. Mr. Butler at the time he 
was appointed was a democrat. He has since 
abandoned the Democratic party; has bolted from 
and does not support the regularly nominated candi- 
dates of the Democratic party for President & Vice 
President of the U. S.; has united himself with 
Federalists and abolitionists; and is endeavoring to 
divide the country into geographical parties. He 
does not now pretend to support the measures or 
principles of my administration. He has made sev- 
eral public speeches recently at New York, Albany, 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 115 

& Buffalo and other places, in some of which he has 
been offensive and highly disrespectful to my admin- 
istration. He is now one of the worst enemies to 
the Democratic party and its principles in the Union. 
Tht Post J Globe, and Atlas newspapers in New York 
which are his organs, are more abusive of me person- 
ally and of my administration than any Whig papers 
in the Union. Indeed the whole party of Barn-burn- 
ers in New York, of which Mr. Butler is a leading 
& controlling member, are not only abusive of me 
& my administration, but they seem to challenge and 
defy me to remove Mr. Butler, in the hope, no 
doubt, that they may enlist the public sympathy over 
him as a martyr for opinion's sake. By his removal 
to-day I have gratified [them], & they may make 
the most of it. I should not have removed Mr. 
Butler for his mere opinions upon any abstract ques- 
tion, nor for his free expression of them, but when 
he becomes a leading champion of a faction in assail- 
ing me personally and politically, in throwing every 
obstacle in his power in the way [of] the success- 
ful administration of the Government upon the pub- 
licly declared principles upon which I conduct [it], 
I do not hesitate to remove him from the honor- 
able and profitable office which he has heretofore 
held under my administration. My nephew, Capt. 
James H. Walker of the regiment of Voltigeurs, 
returned from Baltimore and stopped at the Presi- 
dent's mansion as guest in my family. At 2 
O'clock P. M. I saw company and during the day 
transacted much business in my office & with public 
officers. 



ii6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [2 Sept. 

Saturday, 2nd September, 1848, — Mr. Bu- 
chanan, the Secretary of State, left the City this 
morning on a visit to the Saratoga Springs & other 
places at the North. I appointed Mr. Toucey, the 
Atto. Gen'l of the U. S., to act as Secretary of State 
during Mr. Buchanan's absence. The Cabinet met 
at the usual hour, present Mr. Marcy, sec. of War, 
Mr. Mason, sec. of the Navy, and Mr. Toucey, Atto. 
Gen'l. The other three members of the Cabinet are 
absent from the City. Several matters of business, 
but of no general importance, w^ere considered and 
disposed of. Mr. Marcy informed me that he would 
leave this afternoon on a visit to his family in New 
York. I appointed Mr. Mason, the Sec. of the 
Navy, to act as Secretary of War during Mr. 
Marcy's absence. I disposed of business in my office 
as usual to-day, and was occupied until a late hour 
at night. This afternoon my sister, Mrs. Hays, left 
on a visit to New York accompanied by her hus- 
band's nephew. Brevet major Wm. Hays of the U. S. 
army. 

Sunday, 3rd September, 1 848. — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day and was accom- 
panied by Mrs. Polk, my nephew, Capt. James H. 
Walker, late of the Regiment of Voltigeurs, and by 
Mrs. Daniel Graham. 

Monday, 4th September, 1848, — This was a busy 
day. All of my Cabinet are absent from the City 
except the Secretary of the Navy and the Attorney 
General. The former is also acting Secretary of 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 117 

War, and the latter acting Secretary of State. They 
both called to see me on public business in the course 
of the day. My attention was called to several mat- 
ters of detail in relation [to which] I gave direc- 
tions, which would not have been brought to me if 
all the members of the Cabinet had been in [their] 
place. I disposed of much business on my table. 
Mr. Rhett of S. C. and Mr. Bowden of Alabama, 
both members of the Ho. Repts., called. I disposed 
of much business on my table. At 2 O'Clock P. M. 
I opened my office for the reception of visitors. Sev- 
eral persons called. All of them were either seeking 
office or begging money. The herd of office seekers 
who annoy me unceasingly are with rare exceptions 
worthless and contemptible people. It would be 
much better for them if they would go to their re- 
spective homes and engage in some honest calling by 
which they could make a living. To witness, as I 
constantly do, healthy young men acting the part of 
gentlemen-loafers, and hanging on at Washington 
from month to month begging for offices, is most dis- 
gusting to me. Nine-tenths of this class are wholly 
unworthy of any public place. 

Tuesday, 5/A September, 1848. — This was Cabi- 
net day. Judge Mason, the Secretary of the Navy, 
and Mr. Toucey, the Attorney General, are all the 
members of the Cabinet who are in the City. They 
called at the usual hour of the meeting of the Cabinet, 
and I transacted some business with them. On 
yesterday I had requested Mr. Toucey, as acting Sec- 
retary of State, to prepare a despatch to Mr. Ban- 



ii8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [5 Sept. 

croft, U. S. Minister at London, to interpose his good 
offices with the Brittish Government in behalf of any 
American citizens who might be under arrest for 
participating in the late disturbances in Ireland. 
We have no authentic information that any such 
American citizens have been arrested, but the news- 
papers state the fact to be so, and there is reason to 
believe the statement. I had directed Mr. Toucey 
to instruct Mr. Bancroft, if such was the fact, to see 
that they had a fair trial, and, if convicted, to pro- 
cure their pardon if practicable. I had also directed 
him to instruct Mr. B. to interpose in a delicate way, 
& intimate to the Brittish Government that it would 
be very gratifying to the Gov[ern]ment & people of 
the U. S. if that Government could, consistently with 
its own sense of duty, extend a general amnesty or 
pardon to English subjects in Ireland, who had 
recently attempted by a revolution to free themselves 
of the oppressions of their Government. We have 
no right to make such a demand, but simply to re- 
quest it and to appeal to the magnanimity of Great 
Brittain not [to] execute Mr. Smith O'Bryan and 
other Irish Patriots who are understood to be under 
arrest for Treason. Mr. Toucey read the despatch 
which he had prepared in pursuance of my instruc- 
tions. Some modifications were suggested by Judge 
Mason and myself, which he agreed to make, and 
exhibit the modified despatch to me before it was 
sent off. The whole American people with rare ex- 
ceptions deeply sympathise with the oppressed and 
suffering people of Ireland, and if by interposing 
our good offices the lives of O'Bryan and other lead- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 119 

ing patriots can be saved, I am sure we will do an 
act of humanity, and discharge a duty which will 
be acceptable to our own country and, indeed, to the 
civilized world, wherever liberal principles are 
cherished. I despatched a large amount of busi- 
ness to-day, chiefly of a character of no general im- 
portance. I saw some of the public officers, and 
conferred with them concerning business per- 
taining to their respective offices. In the afternoon 
I took a ride on horseback with my brother, 
Maj'r Wm. H. Polk. This was reception evening. 
The weather was very warm for the season and 
but few persons called. My nephew, Capt. James 
H. Walker, late of the Regiment of Voltigeurs, 
left tonight by the Southern Boat on his return to 
Tennessee. 

Wednesday, 6th September, 1848, — I directed 
my porter this morning not to admit visitors, ex- 
cept public officers on business, until 2 O'Clock 
P. M. My object was to clear [my] table if pos- 
sible of the business upon it. I was, however, fre- 
quently interrupted before that hour by the calls of 
public officers on business. The Secretary of the 
Navy and the Atto. General, who are the only mem- 
bers of the Cabinet in the City, called on business. 
At 2 O'clock P. M. my office was opened. A num- 
ber of persons called, most of whom were office 
seekers. I continued in my office until a later hour 
than usual, disposing of the business on my table. 
The Hon. Robert Smith, a member of Congress from 
Illinois, called to-day. 



120 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [7 Sept. 

Thursday, 7th September, 1848.— Several per- 
sons called this morning, and among others Col. 
Persifer F. Smith of the mounted Rifle Regiment. 
Col. Smith is now Maj'r General by Brevet. 
Although I appointed him originally and conferred 
upon [him] his Brevet promotion, I had never be- 
fore met him personally. He v^as accompanied by 
Senator Johnson ^ of Louisiana. I was engaged in 
my office until 2 O'Clock, when my doors were 
opened for the reception of company. A number 
of persons called and among them, as is always the 
case, were some office seekers. In the course of the 
day The Secretary of the Navy, the Atto. Gen'l, and 
some other public officers called on business. 

Friday, 8th September, 1848, — I was much 
occupied in my office to-day. Many persons called. 
I find in the absence of four members of my Cabi- 
net from the City (Messrs. Buchanan, Walker, 
Marcy, & Johnson) that very much of my time is 
taken up in the details of the executive duties. The 
Secretary of the Navy and the Attorney General 
called and spent an hour on business with me to-day. 
I had an interview with Gen'l Persifer F. Smith & 
Judge Mason, who is acting Secretary of War in 
Mr. Marcy's absence. Mr. Toucey read to me the 
despatch which, as acting Secretary of State, he had 
prepared to Mr. Bancroft (see this Diary of the 5th 
Instant). At my suggestion a single modification 
was made, & I approved it. Though occupied 

^ Henry Johnson, 1 783-1 864, Senator from Louisiana 1818- 
1824, and 1 845-1 849. 



i 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY . 121 

through the day nothing of much importance tran- 
spired. 

Saturday, gth September, 1848. — This was the 
regular day for the meeting of the Cabinet. The 
Secretary of the Navy and [the] Atto. General were 
the only members of the Cabinet in the City. They 
attended at the regular hour. Some matters of minor 
importance were considered and disposed of. They 
retired about 2 O'Clock P. M. I attended to busi- 
ness on my table as usual. Nothing of special inter- 
est occurred to-day. 

Sunday, lOth September, 1848, — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day. Mrs. Polk, Miss 
Rucker, and Miss Hays accompanied me. The Rev. 
Dr. McGuflfy,^ a Professor at the university of Vir- 
ginia, preached. 

Monday, nth September, 1848, — I was much 
occupied with business this morning. I kept my 
office closed until 2 O'Clock P. M. The Attorney 
General called & I transacted business with him. 
When I opened my office a number of persons called, 
almost all of whom were seeking office. I have 
become so disgusted by the importunities of this class 
of persons that I can scarcely be patient with them. 
I despatched them very summarily to-day. After 
night the Secretary of the Navy called and spent an 
hour with me on business. Nothing of special in- 
terest occurred to-day. 

^William Holmes McGufifey, 1 800-1 873, prominent educator, 
editor of the " Eclectic " series of readers and spellers. 



122 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [12 Sept. 

Tuesday, 12th September, 1848, — I was engaged 
as usual in my office this morning. Mr. Rhett of 
S. C. and Mr. Robert Smith of Illinois, both of the 
Ho. Repts., called. At the usual hour for the meet- 
ing of the Cabinet Judge Mason and Gov. Toucey, 
the only members of my Cabinet in the City, called. 
Several matters of no general importance were con- 
sidered and disposed of. They retired about 2 
O'clock P. M. I was occupied during the re- 
mainder of the afternoon in disposing of the business 
on my table. This was reception evening. A few 
persons, ladies & gentlemen, called. 

Wednesday, 13th September, 1848. — Mr. C. 
Johnson, the Postmaster General, returned to the 
City last evening, and called on me this morning. 
He has been absent with his wife two or three weeks 
on a tour to the North. I was engaged as usual in 
my office until 2 O'Clock P. M., when I opened my 
doors for .the reception of company. A number of 
persons, some of them strangers who called to pay 
their respects, and others anxiously seeking office 
[called]. The purpose of the herd of office-seekers 
is as constant and unceasing as the current of the 
Mississippi. Professional office-seekers, I must say, 
have become in my estimation the most contemptible 
of our race. After night the Postmaster General, 
Mr. Bowden of Alabama, & two or three other per- 
sons called. 

Thursday, 14th September, 1848.— 1 saw & 
transacted business with the Secretary of the Navy 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 123 

and some of the subordinate public officers to-day. 
At 2 O'clock P. M. I opened my office, and had to 
endure the customary annoyance of applications for 
offices which I had not to bestow. A number of 
persons of this class called. I disposed of business 
on my table as usual. Nothing of importance 
occurred to-day. 

Friday, I^th September, 1848. — I was engaged 
in my office during the forenoon. The Secretary 
of the Navy and the Attorney General called on busi- 
ness. The latter, who is acting as Secretary of State, 
brought with him important despatches from Mr. 
Saunders, U. S. minister at Madrid. I saw other 
public officers in the course of the day. I disposed 
of much business on my table. My correspondence 
is very heavy. On yesterday I received more than 
forty letters, and to-day nearly as many. In the 
absence of my Private Secretary my labours in mat- 
ters of detail are much increased. At 2 O'Clock 
P. M. I opened my office for the reception of com- 
pany. A number of persons called, some to pay their 
respects and others on business and seeking office. 

Saturday, l6th September, 1848, — My brother, 
Maj'r William H. Polk, and his wife left this morn- 
ing for Tennessee. They intend to make a visit to 
Columbia, Tenn., and go then[c]e to Memphis, 
Tennessee, where it is the intention of my brother to 
settle and engage in his profession, the practice of 
law. They have been inmates of my family for near 
two months. At the usual hour for the meeting of 



124 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Sept. 

the Cabinet, the Secretary of the Navy, the Post- 
master General, and the Attorney General called. 
They were all the members of the Cabinet who were 
in the City. The despatch received on yesterday 
from Mr. Saunders, U. S. minister to Spain, was 
presented and read by Mr. Toucey, the acting Secre- 
tary of State. Despatches received from Commo- 
dore Jones, commanding the Naval forces in the 
Pacific, were presented and read by Judge Mason. 
Several subjects of no general importance were con- 
sidered and disposed of. About 3 O'Clock P. M. 
the members of the Cabinet who were present retired. 

1 was engaged in my office during the remainder of 
the day, and, what is very remarkable, I received no 
visitors during the day. 

Sunday, lyth September, 1848. — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day. Mrs. Polk, Miss 
Rucker, & Miss Hays accompanied me. 

Monday, l8th September, 1848. — I saw no com- 
pany to-day, except public officers on business, until 

2 O'clock P. M. The Secretary of the Navy and 
several other public officers called. When I opened 
my doors I was subjected to the usual penance, which 
I have to endure every day, of listening to the impor- 
tunities of office-seekers. To-day a set of lazy-look- 
ing loafers made their appearance upon that busi- 
ness. Some of them were old customers, having 
called repeatedly before. I know [no] way to avoid 
this annoyance and consumption of my time. I can- 
not insult or be rude to my fellow citizens who call, 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 125 

however undeserving or worthless I may believe 
them to be. I attended to business and wrote some 
letters to-day. Nothing of importance occurred. 

Tuesday, igth September, 1848, — I was engaged 
in my office as usual to-day. At the usual hour of 
meeting of the Cabinet Judge Mason, Mr. Johnson, 
and Mr. Toucey, being all the members of the Cabi- 
net in the City, called. Several public matters were 
considered and disposed of. While the Cabinet were 
in Session Mr. Mayor Seaton and several members 
of the City authorities called, and in presence 
of the Cabinet represented to me the inconvenience 
& injury to the City which would arise if the im- 
provement of certain streets & avenues, authorized 
by an appropriation at the last Session of Congress, 
was delayed by the commissioner of public build- 
ings, if he proceeded to execute the work by contract 
instead of going on at once with the work & having 
it executed under his own inspection by labour em- 
ployed by himself. The latter mode was the one 
which the commissioner had at first resolved to adopt 
and had actually commenced the work, but had been 
induced to abandon his purpose in consequence of 
complaints by some citizens that the job had not been 
let out to contract. Mr. Seaton and the gentlemen 
with him insisted that the work could be more eco- 
nomically done by the commissioner than by contract, 
and that it could be done this season, whereas if he 
advertised for bidders to do it by contract the exe- 
cution of the work must be postponed until next year. 
They said the commissioner was of this opinion & 



126 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Sept. 

that he would still go on and have the work done 
himself if I would authorize him to do so. The mat- 
ter, including the proper construction of the law was 
discussed by these gentlemen and Mr. Mason and 
Mr. Toucey. I told Mr. Seaton and the gentlemen 
with him that I would look into the matter and let 
them know the result. They retired. Upon consul- 
tation with Judge Mason and Mr. Toucey I deter- 
mined to send after Mr. Seaton & request him to 
return. When he returned I informed him that if the 
City authorities chose to make a communication to me 
in writing, such as they had verbally communicated, 
I would refer it to the commissioner and leave it to 
his discretion to have the work done in either mode, 
as he might determine was for the public interest. 
This was entirely satisfactory to Mr. Seaton and he 
said he would do so. The Cabinet resumed its busi- 
ness and about 3 O'Clock P. M. adjourned. During 
its sitting the Hon. Robert M. McLane of Baltimore 
called and spent half an hour. I disposed of the 
business on my table. Nothing of much importance 
occurred to-day. 

Wednesday, 20th September, 1848. — Mr. Cave 
Johnson and Mr. Mason called at different hours 
this morning, & I delivered to each of them a letter 
which I had addressed to them respectfully [respect- 
ively], requesting full statements of all they may 
know of my opinions & action on the subject of the 
annexation of Texas in February, 1845, and imme- 
diately after the commencement of my administra- 
tion. These letters were written & dated on the i8th 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 127 

Instant. I have preserved copies of them in my let- 
ter book. A few days ago I addressed letters on the 
same subject to Gov. A. V. Brown of Tennessee and 
Hon. George Bancroft, U. S. Minister at London. 
Copies of these letters are also preserved in my letter 
book. I will address similar letters to the other 
members of my Cabinet as soon as they return to 
Washington. I have been induced to adopt this 
mode of vindicating my own course and the truth of 
history in consequence of two publications which 
made their appearance in the New York Evening 
Post of the 28th of July, and were re-published in 
the Daily National Intelligencer of the ist of August 
last. My letters to Mr. Brown and Mr. Bancroft 
will explain the subject and my object more fully. 
I addressed a letter to-day to Mr. William H. 
Winder of Phila., in answer to several communica- 
tions received from him in relation to the genealogy 
of the Polk family, from one branch of which Mr. 
Winder is descended. Mr. Winder being in Wash- 
ington, I sent for him and delivered my letter to him 
in person. A copy of my letter I have preserved in 
my letter book. Mr. Toucey called with despatches 
received from Mr. Clifford, U. S. minister in Mex- 
ico. I addressed a letter to-day to the Hon. Rob't 
J. Walker, Sec. of the Treasury, who is in New York 
(see letter Book). At 2 O'Clock P. M. I opened 
my office for the reception of company. But few 
persons called. One of these was seeking an office 
and begging money. He was a stout-looking young 
man, in good health, and I gave him neither. I at- 
tended to business in my office as usual to-day. 



128 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [21 Sept. 

Thursday, 2Ist September, 1848. — This morning 
my sister, Mrs. Hays, returned from a visit to New 
York. She left Washington to visit her husband's re- 
lations in New York on the 2nd Instant. Her hus- 
band's nephew, Lieut. Campbell Hays, late of the vol- 
unteer army in Mexico, returned with her. Mrs. Polk 
invited him to take a room in the President's House 
and be a part of our family during his stay in Wash- 
ington and he did so. The Secretary of the Navy 
called on business this morning. When I opened 
my doors at 2 O'Clock P. M. to-day, fewer persons 
called than is usual. I disposed of the business on 
my table, and devoted a part of the day to the reading 
of a Report ^ made at the late Session of Congress 
by the committee of commerce of the Ho. Repts. on 
the subject of improving Harbours and Rivers. 
This report undertakes to review and to answer my 
veto message of the 15th of December, 1847, on that 
subject. I had never before had leisure to read it. 
It is a weak document and in my judgment utterly 
fails to answer my message. It indulges in a good 
deal of partizan bitterness, better suited to an irre- 
sponsible newspaper than to an official document, 
and contains but little argument. As it is probable 
that a Harbour & River Improvement Bill, and 
probably other Bills for Internal Improvements, will 
pass at the next Session of Congress, which I cannot 
approve, I will devote a portion of my time during 
the present recess to a thorough investigation of that 
subject, so as to be prepared with the less labour to 
meet them with a veto. If the occasion occurs I am 

^ H. Rep. 741, 30 Cong, i Sess. IV. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 129 

resolved to leave on record another message on that 
subject, and as I have more leisure to prepare my 
views now than I can have during the next Session, 
I will devote a part of my time to that subject. 

Friday, 22nd September, 1848, — This was a re- 
markably quiet day, but few persons having called. 
I disposed of the current business on my table and 
devoted some time to the investigation of the Report 
of the committee of Commerce of the Ho. Repts., 
and of the report of the Chicago Convention on the 
subject of Harbour and River Improvements. I 
make this investigation now, when I have leisure to 
do so, that I may be prepared with my views drawn 
up if Congress at its next Session should pass any 
Bill on that subject. To-day Mr. Roseborough of 
Columbia, Tennessee, took dinner with the family. 
He has been for many years the Editor of the 
Observer, a bitter Whig paper at Columbia. I have 
been often assailed in his paper and have scarcely 
ever spoken to him before I was elected President. 
The circumstances under which he happened to dine 
with me to-day are these. My sister, Mrs. Hays, 
on her arrival here from New York on yesterday, 
informed me that she had met with Mr. Roseborough 
at the North; and as she desired to return home Mr. 
R. had agreed to accompany her, as he was returning 
also, and that he had agreed to call for her in a day 
or two. Accordingly he called last night. I saw 
him and of course treated him courteously. On his 
retiring, considering he had called to wait on Mrs. 
Hays to Tennessee, I invited him to return and take 



130 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [23 Sept. 

dinner. He did so. Nothing of any interest oc- 
curred to-day. 

Saturday, 23rd September, 1848,— This morn- 
ing my sister (Mrs. Ophelia C. Hays) left for her 
residence in Tennessee. She was accompanied by 
Mr. Roseborough of Columbia, Tennessee, who was 
the former Editor of the Columbia Observer, At 
the usual hour Mr. Mason, Mr. Johnson, and Mr. 
Toucey, who are the only members of the Cabinet 
in Washington, assembled. Various matters of de- 
tail of no great importance were considered and dis- 
posed of. At 3 O'clock the Cabinet dispersed. 
Hon. Rob't Smith of Illinois of the Ho. Repts. 
called to-day. He has not been to Illinois since the 
adjournment of Congress. He informed me that he 
would leave this evening. My sister (Mrs. Hays) 
left with us her daughter (Virginia Hays) who will 
spend the remainder of my Presidential term with us 
and will return with us to Tennessee in March next. 
Miss Sarah Polk Rucker, Mrs. Polk's niece, will 
also remain with us and return to Tennessee at the 
same time. The Hon. James Buchanan, Secretary 
of State, who has been absent from Washington on 
an excursion to the North for the last three weeks, 
returned this afternoon, and about 9 O'Clock P. M. 
called to see me. Mr. Walker & Mr. Marcy are still 
absent, but I hope will return next week. I have 
not had my full Cabinet together in council since 
the adjournment of Congress on the 14th of August 
last. I have conducted the Government without 
their aid. Indeed, I have become so familiar with 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 131 

the duties and workings of the Government, not only 
upon general principles, but in most of its minute 
details, that I find but little difficulty in doing this. 
I have made myself acquainted with the duties of 
the subordinate officers, and have probably given 
more attention to details than any of my prede- 
cessors. It is only occasi[on]ally that a great meas- 
ure or a new question arises, upon which I desire 
the aid and' advice of my Cabinet. At each meeting 
of the Cabinet I learn from each member what is 
being done in his particular Department, and espe- 
cially if any question of doubt or difficulty has arisen. 
I have never called for any written opinions from 
my Cabinet, preferring to take their opinions, after 
discussion, in Cabinet & in the presence of each other. 
In this way harmony of opinion is more likely to 
exist. 

Sunday, 24th September, 1848. — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day. Mrs. Polk and 
my niece, Miss Hays, accompanied me. 

Monday, 2Sth September, 1848. — The Secre- 
tary of the Navy called on business this morning. 
I was occupied as usual in my office until 2 O'Clock 
P. M., when I opened my doors for the reception 
of company. Many persons called and among them 
several ladies to pay their respects. None of them 
had any special business, except to seek office. The 
atto. General called about 2^ O'Clock on business. 
Dr. Richard W. Gardner of Tennessee, who was an 
assistant surgeon with the army in Mexico, called, 



132 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 Sept. 

and being in my office when Dinner was announced 
I invited him to dine with me and he did so. 

Tuesday, 26th September, 1848,— The Hon. 
Ralph I. Ingersoll, late U. S. minister to Russia, 
called this morning. The Cabinet assembled at the 
usual hour, present Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Mason, Mr. 
Johnson, and Mr. Toucy. The Secretary of the 
Treasury and the Secretary of War being [are] still 
absent from Washington. Mr. Buchanan read 
despatches received to-day from Mr. Bancroft, U. S. 
minister to Great Brittain, and also an interesting 
despatch from Mr. J. L. Martin, U. S. charge 
d'affaires to the Papal States, dated at Rome on the 
20th of August last. The same steamer which 
brought this despatch from Mr. Martin brought also 
the melancholy intelligence that he died after a short 
illness on the 28th of August. At the date of his 
despatch Mr. Martin makes no mention of his ill- 
ness, and, I learn, was seized of the disease from 
which he died only two days before his death. I 
deeply regret his premature death. He was an able 
and learned man and eminently qualified for his 
mission. He was, moreover, my personal as well 
as my political friend. During the period I was 
Speaker of the House of Representatives, he wrote 
a biographical sketch of myself, which was published 
in the Democratic Review} Several subjects of no 
general importance were considered and disposed 
of to-day. During the sitting of the Cabinet Mr. 
W. W. Seaton, Mayor of the City of Washington, 

'^Democratic Review, May, 1838, II, 197-208. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 133 

called and handed to me certain Resolves which had 
been passed by the corporate authorities of Wash- 
ington in relation to the manner of improving cer- 
tain streets and avenues in the City of Washington, 
for which purpose Congress at its last session made 
appropriations (see this Diary of the 19th Inst.). 
I sent for the commissioner of Public Buildings and 
referred the Resolutions to him, with instructions to 
execute the law in such manner as in his judgment 
would promote the public interests, having regard 
to economy and the speedy completion of the work. 
I disposed of business on my table as usual to-day. 
This was reception evening. But few persons, 
ladies & gentlemen, called. 

Wednesday, 27th September, 1848, — I was in 
my office at the usual hour this morning. Mr. 
Buchanan called with despatches received from 
abroad by the last steamer. None of them were very 
important. In the course of the day Mr. Mason & 
Mr. Johnson called on business. I transacted busi- 
ness with some other public officers. When I 
opened my office quite a number of persons came in, 
some to pay their respects and none of them upon 
business of any importance. The Hon. Ralph I. 
IngersoU of Connecticut, late U. S. minister to 
Russia, and Mr. Toucey, the Atto. General, took a 
• family Dinner with me to-day. 

Thursday, 28th September, 1848, — I was in my 
office as is usual to-day. Mr. Buchanan called and 
I transacted business with him. I disposed of the 



134 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 Sept. 



• 



business on my table and devoted part of the day to 
the preperation of further views on the subject of 
Internal Improvements, anticipating that I may have 
occasion to communicate them to Congress at its 
next session. Many persons called to-day, and 
among them an unusual number of military officers 
who had served in Mexico. Among them were 
Gen'l Persifer F. Smith & Col. Randolph ' of the 
Virginia Regiment. Many of the junior officers de- 
sire to be continued in the service. I[t] having be- 
come known two days ago that Dr. J. L. Martin, the 
U. S. charge d'affaires to Rome, was dead, the appli- 
cations for the place begin to pour in upon me. I 
received several letters upon the subject this morning. 
Lewis Cass, jr., of Michigan called and was exceed- 
ingly importunate that I should appoint him. I told 
him frankly that whilst his father was a candidate 
for the Presidency, if I were to gratify his wishes it 
would do his father great injury in his election, be- 
cause it would dissatisfy every other applicant. 
They would be apt to think that the son of a candi- 
date for the Presidency whom they were supporting 
should have given way to them. He then insisted that 
I should promise him the office as soon as the election 
was over. This I declined to do. Mr. Cass mani- 
fested great anxiety and was scarcely rational on the 
subject. There is nothing that is more unpleasant or 
that I dislike more than these personal importunities 
for office. My interview with Mr. Cass was a pain- 
ful one. I am the friend of his father and anxiously 

^ Thomas Beverly Randolph, Lieutenant Colonel of the ist Vir- 
ginia Volunteers. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 135 

desire his election, and I am sure I should have 
seriously injured him if I had gratified the wishes 
of his son. 

Friday, 2Qth September, 1848. — The Hon. Wil- 
liam L. Marcy, Secretary of War, returned from his 
visit to New York this morning. He has been ab- 
sent from Washington since the 2nd Instant. He 
called to see me as soon as he returned. Mr. 
Buchanan called and I transacted business with him. 
I was engaged in my office as usual until 2 O'Clock 
P. M., when I opened my doors for the reception of 
company. A number of persons called and among 
them the Hon. Mr. Bowden of the Ho. Repts. from 
Alabama. Nothing of special interest occurred 
to-day. 

Saturday, 30th September, 1848, — The Hon. 
Robert J. Walker returned this morning after an 
absence of more than a month from the Seat of Gov- 
ernment. He required relaxation for the benefit of 
his health and had been to the North for that pur- 
pose. At II O'clock the Cabinet assembled, all the 
members being present. It is the first time there has 
been a full meeting of the Cabinet since the adjourn- 
ment of Congress on the 14th of August last. Several 
subjects in relation to matters of detail were consid- 
ered and disposed of. After which I brought to 
the notice of the Cabinet the condition of New 
Mexico and California, and particularly of the latter. 
These territories, acquired by the Treaty with 
Mexico, have been left by Congress without any pro- 



136 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [30 Sept. 

vision for their Government. The temporary mili- 
tary Governments, which had been established under 
the authority of our Military and Naval commanders 
by virtue of the rights of conquest, during the war, 
had ceased to exist upon the ratification of the Treaty 
of peace. The Mexican authority over the country 
had ceased. Our squadron is on the coast of Cali- 
fornia and we have a small military force in the 
country. An additional Regiment under the com- 
mand of Brevet Brig. Gen'l Riley, is about to em- 
bark. These forces will hold the country and pro- 
tect the inhabitants against Mexican, Indian, or other 
enemies who might disturb them, but the Executive 
has no authority to organize a civil Government over 
them. In this state of things I brought to the notice 
of the Cabinet an extraordinary letter [from] Mr. 
Thomas H. Benton, Senator from Missouri, ad- 
dressed " To the people of California," and closing as 
follows, viz., " written at Washington City, this 27th 
day of August, 1848, and sent by Col. Fremont." 
This letter is published in the New York Herald of 
the 26th Inst. I am told it first appeared in a west- 
ern paper. It assumes to speak as from one in au- 
thority, and is in an arrogant tone and calculated 
to do much mischief. Among other things it ad- 
vises the people *^ to meet in convention " and form 
an Independant Government of their own until Con- 
gress shall act, and instructs them what kind of Gov- 
ernment they should form. It is sent by Col. Fre- 
mont, the son-in-law of the writer, and the inference 
is plain enough that he means they shall make Col. 
Fremont the Governor of the Independant Govern- 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 137 

ment they shall form. Indeed I think it pretty clear 
that this was the main object. The arrogance & 
whole tone of the letter are offensive and must do 
harm, unless the people of California have assurances 
from the Government that they will be taken care of 
by the Government. I expressed the opinion that 
the Secretary of State should address a letter to them, 
similar to the one he addressed by my direction to 
the people of Oregon on the 29th of March, 1847, 
when Congress had failed to establish a Territorial 
Government over that Territory. I thought that the 
assurance should be given to them that I would, at 
the next Session of Congress, earnestly recommend 
the establishment of a Territorial Government & the 
extension of our laws over them. This would prob- 
ably satisfy them until Congress can act, and prevent 
any revolutionary movement among them. It would 
satisfy them, too, that the Government was attending 
to their interests and that they need not be deceived 
by the semi-official and officious proclamation of Sen- 
ator Benton, by which they might be led to believe 
that he spoke by the authority of the Government 
here. I expressed my indignation in strong terms 
at' Mr. Benton's course. Mr. Buchanan expressed 
some doubts of the propriety of writing such a letter. 
I did not press the subject, but will, at the next Cabi- 
net meeting, bring the subject up again and direct 
the letter, such as I suggested to-day, to be written. 
Mr. Walker, the Secretary of the Treasury, stated 
that he had been called upon by the collector of 
Boston to decide whether goods, being the produc- 
tions of California, imported into the U. S., were 



138 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Oct. 

subject to duty. I decided promptly that as Cali- 
fornia was a part of our own country by the T[r]eaty 
with Mexico, that such importations were not subject 
to duty. In this he and all the other members of 
the Cabinet concurred. They concurred also in the 
opinion that goods, the products of the U. S., shipped 
to California were subject to no duties. The Secre- 
tary of the Treasury had doubts whether foreign car- 
goes shipped to California could be permitted to 
land and be vended duty free, or whether they should 
not be required to pay duties in Oregon or some 
other collection district of the U. S., and then be 
landed in California. This question was not decided 
but was reserved for further consideration. The 
Revenue laws of the U. S. have not been extended 
over California, and we have no collection districts 
in that country. Some other matters were consid- 
ered, and about 3 O'Clock P. M. the Cabinet ad- 
journed. I spent the balance of the afternoon in 
my office as is my usual habit. 

Sunday, 1st October, 1848, — By special invita- 
tion I attended to-day the dedication of a new church 
in this city, denominated '' The English Evangelical 
Lutheran Church of St. Pauls." Mrs. Polk and our 
two nieces. Miss Hays and Miss Rucker, accom- 
panied me. 

After night the Hon. Rob't J. Walker, the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, called at my request and spent 
an hour with me. He had [been] absent until yes- 
terday for more than a month. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 139 

Monday, 2nd October, 1848, — This was a wet 
day and but few persons called. No member of my 
Cabinet called during the day, which is a remark- 
able circumstance. I was occupied in my office as 
usual, and devoted a part of the day to the prepara- 
tion of some passages which I may introduce into 
my next annual message. Nothing worthy of special 
notice occurred to-day. 

Tuesday, 3rd October, 1848, — The Cabinet met 
at the usual hour to-day; all the members present. 
After disposing of some matters of minor impor- 
tance, Mr. Buchanan stated that there was a subject 
which he considered of some importance. It was 
this. By the late Treaty ^ between the Republic of 
New Granada and the U. States, the latter had 
secured for her citizens the right of passage through 
the New Granadian territory across the istmus of 
Panama. Mr. Buchanan stated that it was of great 
importance to our interests on both oceans that a 
Rail Road or canal should be constructed across that 
istmus, and that a number of American[s] were 
speaking of embarking in the enterprise, and that it 
was very desirable that a scientific survey of the 
route should be made. For this purpose Mr. Buch- 
anan recommended that some of our Topographical 
corps of Engineers should be ordered to make the 
survey, and Report upon the subject, and he added 
that Mr. Herron, the Minister to the U. S. from 
New Granada, was desirous that this should be done. 

^ 17. 5. Stat, at Large, IX, 881-903. 



I40 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Oct. 

I promptly informed Mr. Buchanan that I had ob- 
jections to the proposition, and stated them at some 
length. They were in substance ist, that the Treaty 
stipulation giving to citizens of the U. S. the right 
of way, imposed no obligation on the Government 
to make the survey, 2nd, That there was no appro- 
priation out of which the expense could be paid, 
3rd, that we had no power to expend money for such 
a purpose, and that if we could make the survey then 
upon the same principle we could construct the 
works, & 4th, that I was of opinion that there was 
no constitutional authority to do either. I told him 
that he was aware that I denied the power to make 
internal improvements, & that I could not see upon 
what principle we possessed the power to make ex- 
ternal improvements in a foreign country. I told 
him furthermore that if any improvement Bill 
should during my time be presented to me, I should 
certainly veto it, and that if I were to yield my sanc- 
tion to his proposition it would be argued by my 
opponents in Congress that while I denied the power 
to make internal improvements, I was exercising 
the power, and that too without an act of Congress, 
to make foreign surveys with a view to make foreign 
improvements. The discussion, which lasted some 
time, was exclusively between Mr. Buchanan and 
myself. My mind was clear on the subject and 1 
did not call upon any other member of the Cabinet 
and none of them gave an opinion. I brought again 
before the Cabinet the subject of New Mexico & 
California and Senator Benton's extraordinary let- 
ter to the people of California (see this Diary of 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 141 

Saturday last, the 30th of Sept.). I stated that I still 
thought a letter should be addressed to the people 
of California by the Secretary of State, such as I 
suggested on Saturday, and that I thought also that 
the instructions to be given to Gen'l Riley, who 
would command our land forces in California, 
should be now considered and settled. An earnest 
and protracted discussion, or rather comparison of 
views, upon these points took place, in which all the 
members of the Cabinet took part. Congress had 
left California without a Territorial Government. 
That territory is now a part of the U. S., and by an 
act of Congress our Post office laws have been ex- 
tended over it. In my message to Congress an- 
nouncing the peace with Mexico, I expressed the 
opinion that at the termination of the war the Mili- 
tary Government, established over it during the war 
& when it was a conquered province, ceased, & that 
the authority of Mexico over it had ceased also when 
the Treaty ceding it to the U. S. was ratified. The 
question of difficulty was what Government existed 
over the country until Congress should act, and what 
power to govern it the Executive possessed. That 
the late military Government was a Government de 
facto in existence, was probable, but could the Exec- 
utive enforce obedience to it. Senator Benton in 
his letter had recommended that the people should 
meet in Convention and form a Government for 
themselves. Mr Toucey thought that the sover- 
eignty of the territory rested in the people, and that 
they could, in the absence of the action of Congress, 
Govern themselves as they chose, and that the exist- 



142 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Oct. 

ing Government de facto was presumed to be in force 
by their consent. Mr. Mason was of a different 
opinion. He thought that the Sovereignty rested in 
the people of the U. S. and not in the people of the 
Territory. Mr Walker concurred in opinion with 
Mr. Mason. He thought that if the right to form 
such a Government as they chose was conceded to 
the people of California, there was nothing to pre- 
vent them from establishing a Monarchy, or from 
disposing of the public lands. Mr. Johnson thought 
that the existing Government de facto was the only 
one which could exist until Congress acted. Mr. 
Marcy was also of this opinion. Mr. Buchanan 
thought that the people might form a temporary 
Government not inconsistent with the constitution 
of the U. S., but that it would be very unwise for 
them to do so, and that they should be advised to 
submit by consent to the existing Government. He 
concurred with me in the opinion that it was im- 
portant to write the instructions I had proposed, and 
to send them to California before Senator Benton's 
letter reached California. After an anxious and 
very patient discussion, I stated that it was a subject 
which from its novelty was surrounded with many 
difficulties, but I thought instructions could be pre- 
pared which would avoid the decision of any ab- 
stract, doubtful question. I proposed for considera- 
tion that Mr. Buchanan should prepare instructions 
for Mr. Voorhies, the Post office agent who is about 
to proceed to California, which instructions he 
should make known, on his arrival in the country, to 
the following effect, viz,, That the inhabitants should 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 143 

be informed that California was now a part of the 
U. S., that the constitution of the U. S. extended 
over them & was in force, that Congress had failed 
to establish a Territorial Government over them, that 
the President would strongly recommend the estab- 
lishment of such a Government at the next Session, 
and that there was every reason to believe that it 
would be done, and that in the mean-time they were 
advised to consent to the existing Government de 
facto, so far at least as the rights of person & prop- 
erty were concerned. To this all agreed. I pro- 
posed further that he should inform them that they 
had no right, under the Constitution, to meet in Con- 
vention and abrogate the present Government de 
facto and form a new one, that if this was done it 
would not be by virtue of any authority derived from 
the constitution, and could only be justified by the 
extreme necessity of their condition. Upon this lat- 
ter point no distinct question was taken, but it seemed 
to be acquiesced in. I proposed that Mr. Marcy 
should give Gen'l Riley similar instructions. It was 
agreed that Mr. Buchanan & Mr. Marcy should pre- 
pare instructions accordingly, & submit them for 
consideration at the next meeting of the Cabinet. I 
requested Mr. Walker to prepare and report at the 
next meeting of the Cabinet what regulations he 
possessed the power to make in relation to Foreign 
commerce with that territory. In regard to our own 
commerce it was agreed that this was regulated by 
our laws relating to the coasting trade. After a sit- 
ting of 5 hours the Cabinet adjourned about 4 
O'clock P. M. 



144 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [4 Oct. 

This was reception evening. It was a wet night 
and but half a dozen people called. 

This morning I made a present of $50 in gold to 
each of my nieces, Miss Sarah P. Rucker & Miss Vir- 
ginia Hays. 

Wednesday, 4th October, 1848,— The Secretary 
of the Navy called and transacted business with me 
this morning. He was the only member of the Cabi- 
net who called to-day. At 2 O'Clock I opened my 
doors and a number of persons called, chiefly seek- 
ing petty offices. I had none to bestow and disposed 
of their applications very summarily. I disposed 
of business on my table as usual, and devoted a con- 
siderable portion of the day in preparing an expose 
of the " American system," as it was falsely called 
by its authors. This I designed to insert either in 
my next annual message or reserve it for the next 
veto message I may have to send to Congress on the 
subject of Internal Improvement. I consider it al- 
most certain that at the next session of Congress I 
may have occasion to send such a message. With 
this view I occasionally [devote] a leisure hour to 
the examination of the subject, and in reducing to 
writing such views as may occur to me. 

This evening my Private Secretary, J. Knox 
Walker, with his wife and four children and his 
wife's brother, Blutcher Tabb, returned to Wash- 
ington. His family have been spending several 
months with their relations at Lynchburg, Virginia. 
My Private Secretary has been absent with them 
since the 28th of August last. During that period 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 145 

I have had the occasional assistance of Mr. H. C. 
Williams, who has acted as Private Secretary. 

Thursday, 5/A October, 1848. — Since it has be- 
come generally understood that I do not open my 
doors for the reception of company until 2 O'Clock 
P. M. each day, I am but little interrupted until that 
hour. Public officers who call on business are an 
exception to this rule. These I see at any hour they 
may call. To-day the Secretary of State & the Sec- 
retary of War called on business. I disposed of the 
current business on my table as usual. After night 
the Post Master General called and spent an hour 
with me. I read to him the expose which I had 
prepared on the " American system " (see this Diary 
of yesterday) and which I may make a part of my 
next annual message. He approved of it & was 
pleased with it. 

Friday, 6th October, 1848, — I spent this morn- 
ing in my office as usual. I saw the Secretary of 
State and the Secretary of War on business. The 
Secretary of the Treasury called about one O'Clock 
P. M. I read to him the expose of the *^ American 
system" which I had prepared (see this Diary of 
the 4th, Instant). He approved it and was much 
pleased with it. About 2 O'Clock P. M., in pur- 
suance of a previous arrangement, the Secretary of 
the Navy called. Accompanied by the Secretary 
of the Navy, the Secretary of the Treasury, Commo- 
dore Warrington, & Mrs. Polk I visited the Navy 
yard [Yard]. We were received by Commodore 



146 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [7 Oct. 

McCauley,^ the officers, and marines in an appro- 
priate manner. Accompanied by the officers we 
visited various parts of the yard and witnessed the 
operations of the mechanics who were imployed in 
the different branches of business. We witnessed 
also the firing of a 32 pounder at a target at the dis- 
tance of 600 years [yards]. The shots were made 
with great precision. We spent a few minutes at 
Commodore McCauley's house, took a glass of Wine, 
and returned about 4 O'Clock. I spent the evening 
in my office and disposed of the current business on 
my table. 

Saturday, yth October, 1848.— ]udgt Mason, 
the Secretary of the Navy, left the City this morn- 
ing on a visit to the North, for the purpose of in- 
specting the Navy Yards at New York, Boston, & 
Kittera [Kittery]. The Cabinet assembled at the 
usual hour, all the members present except the Sec- 
retary of the Navy. Mr. Buchanan submitted the 
draft of instructions ^ which he had prepared to the 
people of California, in the form of a letter to be 
addressed to Mr. Wm. Voorhies, who was about to 
proceed to California as an agent of the Post Office 
Department. These instructions were prepared in 
pursuance of my directions at the last Cabinet meet- 
ing (see this Diary of the 3rd Instant). They were 
read and after full discussion were modified in some 
respects. Besides other modifications it was agreed 

^ Charles S. McCauley of Pennsylvania, commander of the 
Washington navy yard. 

^ Moore, Buchanan, VIII, 211-216. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 147 

to insert a clause in relation to the revenue laws and 
regulations established by the temporary military 
Government during the late war with Mexico, this 
being regarded as a Government de facto, still ex- 
isting by the presumed consent of the people of Cali- 
fornia. It was agreed that the duties levied on im- 
portations into California by this de facto Govern- 
ment could not continue to be collected by it con- 
formably to the constitution of the U. S. The 
Secretary of the Treasury presented his views, which 
were that California being now a part of the U. S., 
all the productions of California were entitled to be 
imported into any of our ports on the Atlantic free 
of du[t]y; that all the products of foreign countries 
which had paid duties at any custom house in the 
U. S., and all foreign articles which by our tariff 
were duty free, were entitled to be imported into 
California duty free. In other words, California 
being now a part of the territory of the U. S., our 
laws regulating the coasting trade were applicable 
to that country. The Secretary of the Treasury also 
expressed the opinion that foreign cargoes subject by 
our laws to pay duty would also be subject to such 
duties in California, but that as Congress had estab- 
lished no collection districts & authorized the ap- 
pointment of no officers to collect such duties, he 
possessed no power to do so. He said further that 
if foreign goods were taken into California without 
paying duties and should afterwards be shipped to 
any of our Atlantic ports, or collection Districts, they 
would be subject to pay duties. These views were 
approved by the Cabinet. Mr. Buchanan had ex- 



148 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [7 Oct. 

pressed an unwillingness to insert in his letter of 
instructions anything which would break up the for- 
eign trade of California with the Sandwich Islands, 
the South American States, & any other countries, 
fearing that if done it might dissatisfy the people 
and incline them to pursue Senator Benton's advice, 
& attempt to hold a convention & establish an Inde- 
pendent Government for themselves. He wished to 
avoid this and thought it better to say nothing about 
the foreign trade with California, & leave it as it 
was for the short time which would intervene until 
Congress could meet and act on the subject. He 
however concurred & asquiesced in the views upon 
the subject presented by Mr. Walker. Mr. Buch- 
anan retired to the adjoining room to prepare a para- 
graph embodying Mr. Walker's suggestions. While 
he was gone from my office Mr. Walker also pre- 
pared the draft of a paragraph at my table. When 
Mr. Buchanan returned both paragraphs were read. 
The substance of both was the same though the 
phraseology of neither was satisfactory, and it was 
agreed that they should prepare the draft after the 
Cabinet adjourned. The Secretary of the Treasury 
stated that he had been called on from Boston and 
other places for his opinion both in regard to the 
coasting & foreign trade with California. It was 
agreed that he should prepare an answer in con- 
formity to the suggestions upon the subject which 
he had made to-day, & which it had been determined 
should be inserted in Mr. Buchanan's instructions, 
& that Mr. Buchanan should accompany his instruc- 
tions with a copy of this answer. It was agreed that 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 149 

the Secretary of War should furnish the military 
ofBcer in command in California with a copy of Mr. 
Buchanan's instructions & also a copy of Mr. 
Walker's answer to the communications from Bos- 
ton & other places, and should incorporate them into 
his instructions to that officer. The Secretary of 
War read the draft of instructions on the subject 
which he had prepared in pursuance of my direc- 
tions at the last Cabinet meeting. They required 
modification, and after considering his paper he said 
he would make another draft & submit it to me be- 
fore it was sent off. I submitted to the Cabinet the 
propriety of uniting the two military departments or 
districts in Oregon & California into one, and of 
putting it under the command of Gen'l Persifer F. 
Smith, putting him upon his Brevet rank as a Briga- 
dier General. This had been suggested to me by 
Mr. Buchanan on yesterday. On reflecting upon the 
subject I approved it, and so did the whole Cabinet 
when I presented it to them. Gen'l Smith had been 
previously ordered with his Regiment of Mounted 
Riflemen to Oregon, and Gen'l Riley with his Regi- 
ment of Infantry to California, both to be in com- 
mand as Colonels of the line & not to be put on their 
Brevet Rank. Gen'l Smith is a man of education 
& intelligence & possessed of much knowledge of 
civil government as well as military command, and 
it was desirable to have such an officer in chief com- 
mand in California in the present anomylous state of 
that country. These were the reasons for making 
the change of the original arrangement. The Cabi- 
net all approving the suggestion, I determined to 



150 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [7 Oct. 

carry it out. General Smith being in the City, I 
addressed a note to him requesting him to call. He 
did so & I communicated to him, in the room adjoin- 
ing my office, what my wish was, and that I desired 
to know whether such a change of the orders which 
had been previously given would be agreeable to him. 
He said it would be entirely so, and added that he 
was ready to perform any service he might be or- 
dered to perform, and that he was very grateful to 
me for the advancement I had heretofore conferred 
upon him. He left and I informed the Cabinet of 
my interview with him. 

I called the attention of the Secretary of War to 
the fact that The State of Texas had organized a 
County & laid off a Judicial Circuit & extended her 
laws over that part of New Mexico lying East of the 
Rio Grande & within her limits, and suggested the 
importance of his giving instructions to the Military 
officer in command at Sante Fe to respect the officers 
and authorities of the State of Texas in that Terri- 
tory, and to sustain them & avoid coming in collision 
with them. This I deemed necessary fearing that 
the military officers in command at Santa Fe, in the 
absence of instructions, might come in collision with 
the authorities of Texas. The Secretary of War con- 
curred with me in my suggestions, & said he would 
prepare such instructions. In a message to Congress 
at the last session, or rather to the Ho. Repts., in an- 
swer to a Resolution of that body, I had expressed the 
opinion that the Western Boundary of Texas ex- 
tended to the Rio Grande, and that all that part of 
New Mexico on the East of that River was within 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 151 

the state of Texas. Such is still my opinion. Con- 
gress with a full knowledge of my opinion before 
them has done nothing to indicate a different opinion, 
and therefore I have no hesitation in giving the or- 
ders which I have directed the Secretary of War 
to prepare. The Cabinet adjourned about 4 
O'clock P. M. 

Sunday, 8th October, 1848, — Mrs. Polk and my- 
self attended the first Presbyterian church to-day. 
Our two nieces. Miss Hays and Miss Rucker, accom- 
panied Col. Walker and attended the Episcopal 
church. 

Monday, gth October, 1848. — I was occupied 
as usual in my office this morning. I saw the Secre- 
taries of State, of the Treasury, and of War at differ- 
ent periods of the day on business, & at one time they 
were all in my Office together. I saw also the com- 
missioner of Public Lands and other subordinate offi- 
cers on business. The Secretary of War read to me 
his instructions to the officers in command of the mil- 
itary forces in California, prepared in pursuance of 
my directions at the Cabinet meeting on the 7th In- 
stant (see this Diary of that day). With one or two 
Modifications, which he made at my suggestion, I 
approved them. He read to me also a copy of the 
Circular letter to collectors of the customs on the sub- 
ject of duties in California, &C., prepared by him in 
pursuance of the decision made in the Cabinet on 
the 7th Instant. The Secretary of War transmitted 
a copy of this Circular and a copy of Mr. Buchanan's 



152 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [lo Oct. 

letter of Instructions to Mr. Voorhies, with his in- 
structions. When I opened my office for the recep- 
tion of company at 2 O'Clock P. M. a number of 
persons called, and among others, Bishop Janes ^ of 
N. York, of the Methodist Episcopal church, accom- 
panied by the Rev'd Mr. Slicer & the Rev'd Mr. 
Hamilton. 

Brevet Maj'r Gen'l Persifer F. Smith, Mr. Bu- 
chanan, and Mr. Marcy took a family Dinner with 
me to-day. I disposed of the business on my table as 
usual. 

My private Secretary, Col. Walker, went to An- 
napolis this morning with his wife's brother. Mid- 
shipman Blutcher Tabb, who is about to enter the 
naval school at that place. 

Tuesday, lOth October, 1848, — I saw a few per- 
sons on business before the meeting of the Cabinet 
this morning. The Cabinet met at the usual hour, 
all the members present except the Secretary of the 
Navy, who is absent on a visit to the Navy yards at 
New York, Boston, & Kittera. Mr. Buchanan 
brought to my notice the subject of the Sound duties 
levied & collected by Denmark on the vessels of all 
other nations trading to the Baltic. He showed from 
statistics which he had collected that the amount of 
these duties or tolls collected from American vessels 
had amounted for several years past to more than 
one hundred thousand dollars annually. This is a 
heavy tax upon our commerce and ought, if prac- 

^ Edmund Storer Janes, 1807-1876, bishop of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church 1 844-1 876. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 153 

ticable, to be removed. Mr. Buchanan had pre- 
viously brought the subject to my notice, and to-day 
he read the draft of part of a despatch ^ which he 
had prepared to Mr. Flenegan,^ the U. S. charge 
d'affaires to Denmark, the object of which was to 
authorize him to make a Treaty by which our com- 
merce in that quarter might be relieved from these 
tolls. It would seem clear from the laws of Nations 
that these duties or tolls were not warranted, but the 
Nations of Europe having submitted to their im- 
position for centuries, and the U. S. having by a 
Treaty with Denmark acquiesced in her right to do 
so, it is perhaps too late now to controvert that right. 
Although this be so, we have an undoubted right, 
upon giving a year's notice, to abrogate our Treaty 
with Denmark, which is a very beneficial one to that 
country. Mr. Buchanan proposed in his despatch 
to instruct Mr. Flennigan to bring the subject to the 
Notice of the Danish Government with a distinct in- 
timation that unless a satisfactory arrangement was 
made as respects the Sound duties or tolls, the U. S. 
would give the notice and abrogate the Treaty. He 
proposed to authorize him to agree to pay one or two 
hundred thousand dollars in consideration of the re- 
linquishment by Denmark of these tolls or duties on 
American Vessels, that sum not being greater than 
that we would have to pay during the year's notice 
for the abrogation of the Treaty. The subject was 
discussed and I approved the suggestions of Mr. Bu- 
chanan, and requested him to complete his despatch 

^ Moore, Buchanan, VIII, 220-225. 
^ Robert P. Flenniken. 



154 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [lo Oct. 

and send it to Mr. Flannegan. Mr. Buchanan again 
brought up the subject of the survey of the Istmus 
of Panama (see this Diary of the 3rd Instant), and 
urged the importance of detailing some officers of 
our corps of Engineers to make the survey, stating 
that Gen'l Herron, the Granadian Minister, was very 
anxious on the subject. I repeated my former ob- 
jections. He then enquired of me if the Minister of 
New Granada should request the services of one of 
our officers of Topographical Engineers to make the 
survey for his Government & at their expense, 
[whether] I would agree to detail such an officer. 
I replied that the time and services of such an officer 
belonged to his own Government, which paid his 
salary, and that I must in such case decline giving 
my sanction to such an application. I added that if 
we had no employment for our officers they had bet- 
ter be disbanded. A suggestion was made that such 
officers might be relieved from duty for a few 
months, and be employed in this work. I thought 
it best not to give my sanction to the proposition even 
in this modified form, because it would be suscepti- 
ble of misconstruction. Some other matters of no 
general importance were considered and disposed of. 
I read to the Cabinet a communication which I re- 
ceived this morning from George Abernathy, the 
Governor of the Temporary Government in Oregon, 
dated April 3rd, 1848, in which he states that an In- 
dian war is raging in Oregon, presents their destitu- 
tion of arms and the means of defense, and earnestly 
calls upon the Government of the U. States for as- 
sistance and protection. We have no means of 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 155 

affording timely aid other than that which has been 
already ordered. It is most unfortunate that Con- 
gress had not granted the force for which I called to 
protect the people of Oregon in my message of May 
last communicating to that body the information 
brought by Mr. Meek. Congress not only refused to 
do this, but after the orders had been issued, upon the 
conclusion of the Mexican War, to have the mounted 
Rifle Regt. march to Oregon the last summer for 
their protection, that body, without the recommen- 
dation of the Executive & against our wishes, author- 
ized every man of that Regiment who would ask it 
to be discharged. The effect [of] this was, in effect, 
to disband the Regiment & to recruit it again, and in 
the mean-time the season was too far advanced to 
enable the Regiment to be marched across the Rocky 
mountains before the impassable snows of winter 
would set in. The present defenseless condition of 
the people of Oregon is wholly to be attributed to the 
neglect and inattention of Congress to their condi- 
tion, and their refusal to legislate in accordance with 
the Executive recommendation at the last Session. 
The truth is that Congress were more occupied at the 
last session in President making than in attending to 
the public business. After reading the papers just 
received the subject was discussed, but no order upon 
it was made to-day. This was reception evening, but 
few persons called. Col. Walker returned from An- 
napolis to-night. 

Wednesday, nth October, 1848, — I saw the 
Secretaries of State, Treasury, and War on business 



156 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [12 Oct. 

in the course of the morning. I sent for Gen'l P. F. 
Smith, who has been assigned to command our 
forces in Oregon & California, & submitted to his 
perusal the communication which I received from 
the Governor of the Temporary Government of Ore- 
gon on yesterday (see this Diary of yesterday). I 
directed Mr. Marcy, who is the acting Secretary of 
the Navy in Mr. Mason's absence, to prepare a de- 
spatch to the commander of our Squadron in the 
Pacific, directing him to proceed at once with a part 
of his force to Oregon to furnish the inhabitants of 
that territory with arms & munitions of War, and 
such disposible force as he could spare for their pro- 
tection and defense against the Indians who are 
making war upon them. This is all that it is in the 
power of the Government to do. The responsibility 
of Congress for its culpable neglect at the last session 
& their refusal to grant the means of protecting the 
people of Oregon, as recommended by me, is very 
great (see this Diary of yesterday). The despatch 
which I directed the acting Secretary of the Navy to 
prepare can be sent out by Mr. John Parrot, a special 
bearer of dispatches, who will sail from New York in 
two or three days for Vera Cruz, & who designs 
crossing through Mexico to the Pacific. I disposed 
of business on my table to-day as usual. 

Thursday, 12th October, 1848. — Mr. Buchanan 
and Mr. Marcy called on business this morning. 
Mr. Marcy read to me the despatch to the com- 
mander of our naval forces in the Pacific, which he 
had prepared as acting Secretary of the Navy, direct- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 157 

ing him to furnish arms, &C. to the people of Ore- 
gon, and to afford to them such assistance as might 
be in his power (see this Diary of yesterday & the 
day preceding). I saw and conferred with Genl 
P. F. Smith to-day in relation to the existing state of 
things in Oregon & California & the means of afford- 
ing speedy protection & defense to the people of these 
territories. Gen'l Smith was present when Mr. 
Marcy read his despatch to Commodore Jones com- 
manding our Squadron in the Pacific. At 2 O'Clock 
P. M. I opened my office for the reception of visitors. 
A larger number of persons than usual called. Sev- 
eral of them were strangers who called to pay their 
respects. The larger number were of a different 
claims [class]. They were seeking office. I had 
applications to-day for offices of all grades from 
ministers abroad down to messengers' places. I had 
applications also from persons begging money. I 
made a donation to the English Lutheran church of 
this City. I disposed of business on my table as 
usual to-day. 

Friday, 13th October, 1848. — I was closely en- 
gaged in my office to-day. I disposed of the current 
business on my table. I devoted the greater part of 
the day in preparing an elaborate draft of my views 
on the subject of Internal Improvements, and espe- 
cially Harbour and River improvements, by the Fed- 
eral Government. Denying, as I do, the power of 
the General Government to make such improve- 
ments, and deeming it probable, if not certain, that 
such a Bill will be presented to me for my approval 



158 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Oct. 

at the next Session of Congress, I desire to be pre- 
pared to meet it with a veto. Should another veto 
become necessary I desire to make it a strong paper, 
so that if I should be over-ruled, as I may be, by a 
united Whig vote and a part of the Democratic mem- 
bers, making a vote of two thirds, I may leave my full 
views on record to be judged of by my countrymen 
& by posterity. I can add to the strength of my veto 
message on the same subject of the 15th of December 
last. If I should not have occasion to use it, it will 
be left among my papers at my death. I am thor- 
oughly convinced that I am right upon the subject, 
and therefore I have bestowed much labour in pre- 
paring a paper which may contribute to convince 
others that I am so. I opened my office for the re- 
ception of company at 2 O'Clock P. M. Many per- 
sons called, some, of course, seeking office, but none 
of them having any business of importance. 

Saturday, 14th October, 1848, — I was occupied 
in my office during the morning as usual. The Cab- 
inet met at 11 O'Clock; all the members present ex- 
cept the Secretary of the Navy, who has been absent 
for the last week visiting the Navy Yards at New 
York, Boston, and Kittera. Several matters of de- 
tail and of no general importance were considered 
and disposed of. The Cabinet adjourned about 2 
O'clock P. M. I disposed of the business on my 
table. Nothing of interest occurred during the day. 
Senator Cameron of Penn. called after night. He 
informed me that he was on a visit of business to 
this City, and would remain two or three days. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 159 

Sunday, l^th October, 1848,— Mrs. Polk & my- 
self attended the First Presbyterian church to-day. 
Our two nieces, Miss Rucker & Miss Hays, attended 
one of the Catholic churches. They had never be- 
fore attended the Catholic worship. 

Monday, l6th October, 1848. — I attended to 
business in my office as usual to-day. The Secretary 
of State, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney 
General called on business at different hours of the 
day. At 2 O'Clock I received company. A num- 
ber of persons called. Nothing of importance oc- 
curred to-day. After night Senator Cameron of 
Pennsylvania called & spent an hour with me. 

Tuesday, lyth October, 1848. — I was engaged 
in attending to business in my office as usual this 
morning. The Cabinet assembled at the usual hour; 
all the members present except the Secretary of the 
Navy, who is still absent on a visit to the Navy Yards 
at New York, Boston, and Kittera. No subject of 
importance was submitted to the Cabinet to-day. 
Some minor subjects of detail were disposed of and 
about I O'clock P. M. they dispersed. I walked out 
with the Secretary of the Treasury for exercise and 
accompanying [accompanied] him to the Treasury 
buildings, and went in and sat a few minutes in his 
office with him. It was the first time I had ever been 
in his office. After sitting with him a short time I 
continued my walk. Mr. Bowden of the Ho. Repts. 
from Alabama took a family dinner with me to-day. 
This being reception evening a number of persons 



i6o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i8 Oct. 

called. I received them as is usual on such occasions 
in the parlour. 

Wednesday, i8th October, 1848. — I saw a num- 
ber of persons and others who called in the course of 
the day. When I opened my office at 2 O'Clock 
P. M. for the reception of company generally a num- 
ber of persons [called], all of whom, with two or 
three exceptions, were office-seekers. The day was 
spent in attending to various matters of duty, none 
of them of any general importance. It happens to 
occur to me and I therefore record it, that thirty 
years ago this day I arrived at my father's house in 
Tennessee on my return from the University of 
North Carolina, where I had graduated in the month 
of June preceding. I closed my education at a later 
period of life than is usual, in consequence of having 
been very much afflicted and enjoyed very bad health 
in my youth. I did not commence the Latin Gram- 
mer until the 13th of July, 1813. My instructor was 
the Rev. Dr. Robert Henderson of the Presbyterian 
church, who taught an Academy two or three miles 
South of Columbia, Tennessee. 

Thursday, igth October, 1848, — I was busily 
engaged during the day in my office. I transacted 
business on my table and at 2 O'Clock opened my 
office for the reception of company. Quite a num- 
ber of persons came in, several of whom were beg- 
ging money and others, who from their appearance 
were to[o] lazy to work, were asking for office. The 
office of President is generally esteemed a very high 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 161 

& dignified position, but really I think the public 
would not so regard it if they could look in occa- 
sionally and observe the kind of people by whom I 
am often annoyed. I cannot seclude myself but 
must be accessible to my fellow-citizens, and this 
gives an opportunity to all classes and descriptions 
of people to obtrude themselves upon me about mat- 
ters in which the public has not the slightest interest. 
There is no class of our population by whom I am 
annoyed so much, or for whom I entertain a more 
sovereign contempt, than for the professed office- 
seekers who have beseiged me ever since I have been 
in the Presidential office. 

Friday, 20th October, 1848. — Nothing of any 
importance occurred to-day. I was engaged as 
usual in my office. At 2 O'Clock when my office 
was opened for the reception of company a few per- 
sons called. All of those who did call wanted to 
serve the Government in some office, except one hale, 
stout looking man of middle age who was begging 
money. His story was that he had faithfully served 
the Democratic party & had made some sacrifices, & 
he thought now that he needed money they should 
furnish it to him. Of course I gave him nothing. 
He had health and strength and I told him he had 
better engage in some honest calling for a livelihood 
than to degrade himself by begging. 

Saturday, 21st October, 1848, — The Cabinet 
met at the usual hour this morning; all the members 
present except the Secretary of the Navy, who is still 



i62 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [21 Oct. 

absent on a visit to the Navy yards at the North. He 
has been absent for the last two v^eeks. Several mat- 
ters of no general importance were considered and 
disposed of to-day. I made enquiries of the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury in regard to the State of the 
revenue and the demands upon the Treasury. He 
informed me that the amount received from customs 
since the end of the last fiscal year was quite as large 
as had been anticipated, and he expressed the confi- 
dent opinion that the amount received for the year 
would be equal to the estimates which had been 
made. On the 27th of the present month the liqui- 
dated claims of our citizens against Mexico, amount- 
ing to something more than two millions of Dollars, 
is to be paid. These claims were assumed by the 
United States by the late Treaty with Mexico. There 
will be money enough in the Treasury to meet this de- 
mand and all others authorized by appropriations of 
Congress. I informed the Secretary of the Treasury 
that I was desirous during my term to commence the 
payment of the public debt by the purchasing of U. S. 
Stock as authorized by law, however small the sum 
paid might be, if the means of the Treasury would 
permit it. I informed him that I desired to do this 
supposing it might exert some influence over the pol- 
icy of my successor. I deem the speedy payment of 
the public debt of great national importance. If I 
commence its payment my successor may dislike to 
take the responsibility of reversing my policy in this 
respect. The Secretary of the Treasury concurred 
with me in these views, but said until the estimates 
of expenditures which would be required for the next 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 163 

year were received by him from the Heads of the 
several Executive Departments, he could not be pre- 
pared to say whether there would [be] money suffi- 
cient in the Treasury to justify the application of a 
portion of it to the payment of the debt. He said 
as soon as he received the estimates of the amounts 
to be expended for other objects he would give me 
an answer. The Cabinet retired between i & 2 
O'clock. 

At 5>^ O'clock P. M. between twenty and thirty 
Presbyterian clergymen who are now attending a 
meeting of the Synod of their church in this City 
called to pay their respects. They called in a body 
in pursuance of a previous arrangement which had 
been made through the Rev. Mr. Smith of this City 
that I would receive them at that hour. Mrs. Polk 
and myself received them in the parlour and were in- 
troduced to them. The Rev. Mr. Smith proposed 
that [there] be prayers if it was agreeable. It was, 
of course, agreeable & a very impressive and appro- 
priate prayer was made by the Rev. Dr. Roland 
Hill, of Winchester, Virginia. Mr. Hill is a man 
of eighty years of age & is a very interesting man. 
He informed me that he had been a minister of the 
Gospel since 1789, and that he had kept a Diary since 
that period until a few years past, when he had neg- 
lected it to some extent. He said he had been read- 
ing it over lately and that it brought up fresh to his 
memory so many events of years gone bye that it was 
almost like living his life over again. I regret very 
much that I had not commenced keeping a Diary at 
the beginning of my political life. All public men 



i64 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [22 Oct. 

should do so. After remaining about half an hour 
the Rev. gentlemen retired. There were three or 
four ladies with them. They belong to what are 
called the New School Presbyterians. 

Sunday, 22nd. October, 1848. — Accompanied 
by Mrs. Polk and our two nieces, Miss Rucker and 
Miss Hays, I attended Divine Service to-day at the 
Fourth Presbyterian church in this City (The Rev. 
Mr. Smith). The Synod now assembled in this 
City hold their sessions in that church. The Con- 
gregation was large and a good sermon was preached 
by the Rev. Mr. Boyd of Winchester, Virginia. 

Monday, 23rd October, 1848, — Judge Mason, 
the Secretary of the Navy, called this morning. He 
informed me that he returned on Saturday evening 
from his visit to inspect the Navy yards in the North- 
ern Cities. Mr. Buchanan called and informed me 
that he had received numerous despatches from our 
ministers and consuls abroad by the last Steamer, 
that he had not yet had time to read some of them, & 
none of them with care, but would do so and bring 
such of them as were of any importance to my notice. 
I was occupied & transacted business in my office as 
usual to-day. At 2 O'Clock I received company. A 
number of persons called. Nothing of importance 
occurred. 

Tuesday, 24th October, 1848. — The Cabinet met 
at the usual hour this morning; all the members pres- 
ent. Mr. Buchanan read despatches which he had 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 165 

received from Mr. Bancroft, relating to two Ameri- 
can citizens, one of them a naturalized citizen, who 
had been arrested under the charge of Treasonable 
conduct against the Brittish Government for having 
given aid & excited the Irish population in the late 
disturbances in that country. It was agreed that not 
being Brittish subjects they could not be punished for 
Treason against the Brittish crown. Mr. Buchanan 
said he had so written to Mr. Bancroft. Mr. Ban- 
croft has been heretofore instructed to see that they 
have a fair trial, and to protect & defend them as far 
as may be practicable, compatably with our Treaty 
obligations. I held a conversation with the Cabinet 
about the estimates to be submitted to Congress of 
expenditures for the next fiscal year. I expressed 
my great desire to commence the reduction of the 
public debt, if the means of the Treasury would per- 
mit it, during my term, because I desired to establish 
that policy before I went out, in the hope that it 
would be followed by my successor and that the 
whole debt would be speedily paid off. With this 
view I expressed the desire that the estimates of ex- 
penditure for the next fiscal year should be as small 
as was compatable with the absolute necessities of the 
public service. I called the attention of the Heads 
of Departments to this point to-day, that they might 
give it their personal attention. It has heretofore, 
I learn, been the habit of the Heads of Bureaus of 
the Diffe[re]nt Departments who have been charged 
with the duty of preparing these estimates to make 
them larger than is necessary, calculating that they 
will be cut down and reduced by Congress. This is 



i66 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [25 Oct. 

wrong and I directed my Cabinet to look to it this 
year that no larger sums were estimated for than 
would be actually needed. Some other matters of 
no general interest were considered and disposed of. 
The Cabinet adjourned about 2^ O'Clock. Col. 
Jno. A. Thomas of New York called about 3 
O'clock. I held a conversation with him about the 
prospects and probable result of the Presidential 
election. He agreed with me that if Gen'l Cass car- 
ried Pennsylvania he would be elected. He agreed 
with me also that the vote of that State would prob- 
ably depend upon the course of Mr. Wilmot and the 
Free Soil faction. He suggested the importance of 
seeing Mr. McClelland, a member of Congress from 
Michigan, who was understood to have influence 
with Wilmot and might induce him to abandon the 
Free Soil ticket and vote for Gen'l Cass. After a 
conversation of some length with him he determined 
to visit Mr. McClelland and I gave him an intro- 
ductory note to Gen'l Cass. This was reception 
evening. Not more than half a dozen persons called, 
all gentlemen. Mrs. Polk & the ladies of my house- 
hold did not appear in the parlour. 

Wednesday, 2Sth October, 1848, — I was en- 
gaged in my office as usual to-day. The Secretary of 
State and the Secretary of War called on business. 
I disposed of the business on my table. Nothing im- 
portant occurred. At 2 O'Clock P. M. I saw com- 
pany. Several persons called. None of them had 
any more important business than to seek office and 
to beg for money. One woman told me she lived in 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 167 

Baltimore, and had come down to ask me to give her 
some money. She brought no letters, & from her ap- 
pearance she was not an object of charity & [I] de- 
clined to give her any money. I am much annoyed 
by such people. 

Thursday, 26th October, 1848. — Judge Mason, 
the Secretary of the Navy, called this morning at my 
request. I read to [him] a paper of some length 
which I had prepared on the subject of the system 
which was called by its authors and advocates the 
" American system." The object of this paper was 
to show that the " American system " consisted of 
Several branches, viz., A Bank, Protective Tariff, 
Distribution of the land fund, & Internal Improve- 
ments; that it had been overthrown in all its branches 
except the internal improvement branch, and that if 
this was revived the others would necessarily be re- 
vived also. I read to him also a paper which I had 
prepared on the ^^ Executive Veto." Both these 
papers were written with a view to make them a part 
of a Veto Message, if any River & Harbour appro- 
priation Bill should pass and be presented to me for 
my approval at the next Session of Congress, which I 
think is probable. I read the former of these papers 
to Mr. Marcy on yesterday, who thought it might 
appropriately form a part of my next annual mes- 
sage. Mr. Mason concurred with Mr. Marcy & 
thought that both papers might form a part of the 
annual message with propriety. The Attorney 
Gen'l, Mr. Toucy, called, and I took his opinion. 
He thought that both papers belonged appropriately 



i68 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [27 Oct. 

to the annual message. They all approved the views 
presented in these papers. Though neither of the 
papers were written with any such view, I am in- 
clined to insert them in the annual message. I spent 
some time in revising them to-day. I was informed 
to-day that the Hon. Dixon H. Lewis, one of the 
Senators in Congress from the State of Alabama, 
died at the City of New York on yesterday. Mr. 
Lewis had remained in Washington after the ad- 
journment of the last session of Congress. I learn 
that he went to New York on a visit a few days ago. 
I was occupied in my office as usual during the day. 
I saw company at 2 O'Clock P. M. Nothing im- 
portant occurred. 

Friday, 27th October, 1848, — I was occupied in 
my office as usual today. The Secretary of State 
and the Secretary of the Treasury called on business 
in the forenoon. I read to the latter the views which 
I had prepared on the Executive Veto, which I had 
intended to reserve for a veto message on Internal 
Improvements, if any Bill of that kind should pass 
and be presented to me at the next Session of Con- 
gress. He advised that it be made a part of my an- 
nual message, and my present impression is that I 
will modify it and insert it in that message. At 2 
O'clock I saw the office seekers as usual. Some 
other persons called to pay their respects. 

Saturday, 28th October, 1848, — The Cabinet 
met at the usual hour to-day; all the members pres- 
ent. Mr. Buchanan stated that in a despatch to Mr. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 169 

Bancroft a few days ago, in relation to two American 
citizens who had been arrested in England under a 
charge of having participated in the late outbreak 
or attempted rebellion in Ireland, he had mistaken 
the law of Treason. In that despatch he had laid 
down the public law to be that an American citizen 
could not be arrested & tried for Treason by the 
Brittish authorities. He said on examination of the 
laws of England he found that in this he had been 
mistaken. He read a second despatch which he had 
prepared correcting the error, in which he cited au- 
thorities to show that there were two descriptions of 
allegiance, the one perpetual and the other tempo- 
rary, and that persons belonging to other nations, 
who were temporarily domiciled in England and 
under the protection of Brittish laws, might commit 
Treason. The Attorney Gen'l thought Mr. B. was 
right in this latter exposition of the law. Mr. Bu- 
chanan next presented an application from the Gov- 
ernment of the German confederation at Frankfort 
to the Government of the U. S., made through Mr. 
Donelson, for the services of an experienced Naval 
officer of rank to take command of the German Navy. 
Their object was to have the benefit of the scientific 
knowledge and experience of such an officer to in- 
struct them in the organization of their Navy. Mr. 
Buchanan, Mr. Mason, Mr. Walker, & Mr. Toucey 
expressed themselves decidedly in favour of granting 
the request. Mr. Marcy & Mr. Johnson did not 
enter into the conversation. There were objections 
to it in my mind, which I stated. In the first place 
an officer of the U. S. Navy would be in an anomy- 



170 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 Oct. 

lous condition if he held also a commission as com- 
mander (Admiral was the title which it was stated 
he was to hold) in the German Navy. In the second 
place he would continue to receive his pay as an 
officer of the U. S. whilst he was in a foreign service 
& was performmg no service for the U. S. It was 
then urged by Mr. Buchanan & Mr. Toucey that he 
might have leave of absence to go abroad, relinquish- 
ing his pay during his absence, that no order need 
be given to him to go into the German service, but 
leave it to him to do so if he chose. This did not 
satisfy me. It was then said the President of the 
U. S. as commander in chief of the army and Navy 
might order an officer to perform any duty he 
pleased. To this I replied that he might give an 
order to perform any duty in the service of the U. S., 
but not in that of a Foreign country. I then stated 
that the extent to which I could consent to go would 
be to say that the Secretary of the Navy might give 
leave of absence for six months to any officer of the 
Navy if there were no services for such officer to 
perform at home ; but that if such officer should take 
a command in the German service he must either re- 
sign & [or] Congress must pass a law authorizing 
the President to permit him [to] perform such For- 
eign service. I stated that I was unwilling, without 
the previous authority of Congress, to give the order 
or permission proposed. I gave other reasons which 
it is unnecessary to state. Mr. Buchanan then read 
despatches from Mr. Donelson requesting to be em- 
powered to negotiate a commercial Treaty with the 
German confederation. After some discussion, in 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 171 

which Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Walker, and myself 
chiefly participated, I accorded with Mr. Buchanan's 
views that it was prudent to postpone giving such in- 
structions until the German confederation was more 
firmly established, & until that Government had ap- 
pointed a minister to represent it in the U. States. 
Some other subjects, of no general importance, were 
considered and disposed of. The Cabinet adjourned 
about 3 O'clock P. M. In the evening I disposed of 
business on my table as usual. 

Sunday, 2gth October, 1848. — Mrs. Polk & my- 
self attended Divine service at the First Presbyterian 
church to-day. Our two nieces. Miss Hays and Miss 
Rucker, accompanied Col. Walker's family to the 
Episcopal Church. 

Miss Henrietta Rachel Armstrong, the daughter 
of Gen'l R. Armstrong, U. S. consul at Liverpool, 
Miss Ihrine Johnson, the daughter of Judge John- 
son of Arkansas, and Miss Matilda Sevier, the 
daughter of Senator Sevier of Arkansas, came over 
last evening from their school in Georgetown and 
spent the night & to-day with my family. They 
come occasionally & spend from Saturday evening 
until monday morning with us. They did not attend 
church to-day. 

Monday, 30th October, 1848. — I resolved this 
morning to devote a considerable portion of the day 
to the preperation of such portions of my annual 
message upon such pomts as I could foresee it would 
be proper to bring to the notice of Congress. I was 



172 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [30 Oct. 

SO constantly interrupted, however, by persons call- 
ing on special business, as they said, and by public 
officers calling on official business, that I had but 
little time to give to it. The Special business upon 
which several persons gained admittance before my 
regular hour for receiving company, turned out to 
be the usual and very important business of impor- 
tuning me for offices which I had not to bestow with- 
out turning better men out of office to make room for 
them. When I opened my doors at 2 O'Clock P. M. 
for the reception of company generally quite a num- 
ber of persons came in, most of them seeking office, 
and one of them begging money. A more hungry 
set of office seekers I have not seen for several days. 
The annoyance of this class of persons is a penance 
which I suppose I will have to endure until the last 
day of my term of office. Two or three gentlemen 
of very genteel appearance and manners called 
simply to pay their respects & wanted no office; and 
this was some relief to me. 

Mr. Buchanan called and read to me the despatch 
which he had prepared to Mr. Donelson, in answer 
to the request of the Government of the German con- 
federation to be furnished with an officer of the U. S. 
Navy to command the German Navy (see this Diary 
of the 28th Instant) . At my suggestion he modified 
the despatch so as make it conform more exactly 
to my views. The commissioner of the General 
Land office called, and while engaged in official busi- 
ness with him about 3 O'Clock P. M., my messenger 
informed me that about 30 journeymen painters who 
were employed in painting the Capitol, had called in 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY i73 

a body & wished to see me. They were shown in, 
& in the presence of the commissioner of the Land 
office & my Private Secretary they made known to 
me a misunderstanding that had taken place between 
the commissioner of the Public buildings, who had 
employed them to paint the Capitol, and themselves. 
The point of their complaint as well as I could 
understand it, was whether they should be paid for 
wet days, when they did not work. It appeared that 
they had been employed to work by the day. I told 
them that Congress had made an appropriation to 
paint the Capitol, that it was the duty of the commis- 
sioner to execute the law, that the President could 
not go to the Capitol & superintend the work in per- 
son, and that whatever their contract with the com- 
missioner was they were entitled to. I told them 
what their contract was I did not know, and that I 
was not a judge of such work and did not know what 
ought to be paid for it, or whether it was usual to 
pay for wet days, when they did not work, or not. I 
told them that the public wished no man to work 
without being fully paid for it, and that I would 
send for the commissioner of Public Buildings & tell 
him to do them justice. It is very annoying to me 
to be troubled with such trifling matters. They left, 
and in the evening I sent for the commissioner and 
told him what I had informed them I would. He 
had one of the Superintendents of the work with 
him. The Commissioner said they had no earthly 
cause of complaint, but were disposed to be factious 
and troublesome. I told him to pay them full wages 
and if he thought it right or it was usual to pay 



174 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [31 Oct. 

for wet days, when they did not work, of which I 
knew nothing, to do so. He said he was perfectly 
willing to do this. I have a suspicion that these 
workmen are Whigs and desire to get up a petty 
excitement on the eve of the Presidential election, 
with a view to control votes in Baltimore and Alex- 
andria where some of them reside. The Commis- 
sioner left, saying that he would do them full justice 
and do everything in his power to satisfy them. 
After night Mr. Lawrenson, the correspondent of 
the Baltimore Sun, called, accompanied with another 
of the superintendants of the work, and informed 
me that the workmen were getting up some excite- 
ment on the subject. I told them what I had told 
the workmen and the commissioner, and what the 
commissioner had said. My suspicion is confirmed 
that the complaint of the workmen is groundless, and 
that they have probably been prompted to it for po- 
litical efifect. 

Tuesday, Jlst October, 1848, — I gave orders to 
admit no one into my office this morning. Until the 
hour of meeting of the Cabinet I was occupied in 
writing some paragraphs for my next annual mes- 
sage. All the members of the Cabinet attended at 
the usual hour. I enquired of the members of the 
Cabinet how soon the estimates for appropriations 
for the next fiscal year would be prepared. All of 
them except those of the War and Navy Depart- 
ments, I was told, were ready, or would be in a day 
or two. I gave directions that all the estimates 
should be critically examined and that no appropria- 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 175 

tion which could be dispensed with consistently with 
the interests of the public service, should be asked 
for. The manner of preparing the estimates in the 
War and Navy Departments is for the Secretary of 
each of these Departments to require a Report from 
the heads of the several Bureau[s] connected with 
his Department, of the expenditures which will be 
required for the year. These Heads of Bureau are 
[in] the habit of estimating for very large and some- 
times extravagant sums. They do this for two rea- 
sons, first, because they suppose their own conse- 
quence depends somewhat on the sums they may 
[have] to disburse in their respective branches of the 
service during the year; and secondly, because they 
say their estimates may be cut down by Congress. 
These Bureau officers are, moreover, generally Fed- 
eralists, and in favour of large expenditures. They 
are not responsible to the public, and I charged the 
Secretaries of War and the Navy to examine their 
Reported estimates themselves. I stated to the Cabi- 
net that as the estimates for the next year were for a 
period of peace, and that I desired to set an example 
of economy which might have its influence on the 
policy of my successor. I informed them that I de- 
sired, if possible, to commence the payment of the 
public debt before the close of my term, by buying 
in a small portion of the outstanding public stocks. 
I informed them that I would strongly recommend 
the early payment of the public debt in my next an- 
nual message, and that this recommendation would 
come with the more force if I was at the same time 
enabled to state that I had paid off a small portion 



176 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Nov. 

of it The payment of the public debt, I thought, 
should be regarded as a vital principle of the future 
policy of the Government. The Secretaries of War 
and the Navy informed me that before they delivered 
the estimates from their respective Departments to 
the Secretary of the Treasury, they would submit 
them to me for my revision. I told them that I de- 
sired that they would do so. The Secretary of the 
Treasury stated that as soon as he received the esti- 
mates from the several Departments, he would be 
enabled to tell whether the means in the Treasury 
would be sufficient to enable him to purchase in a 
small amount of the public debt. No other general 
subject was considered to-day. After attending to 
some matters of detail the Cabinet dispersed about 
3 O'clock P. M. 

Wednesday, Ist November, 1848, — I directed 
my messenger to admit no company to-day until 2 
O'clock P. M. I had business on my table requir- 
ing my attention and did not wish to be interrupted. 
Before that hour, however, my Private Secretary in- 
troduced into my office Col. John D. Hawkins of 
N. C, who was about to leave the City and desired 
to see me. At 2 O'Clock quite a number of persons 
called. Some of them were strangers who called to 
pay their respects. Most of them were seeking 
office and one woman was begging money. She only 
wanted $80. She thought that sum was very mod- 
erate & that it would answer her purpose. The 
Secretary of the Navy called about 3 O'Clock & the 
P. M. General after night. I [was] busily occupied 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 177 

in my office all day. Nothing of importance oc- 
curred. 

Thursday, 2nd November, 1848, — This is my 
birthday. According to the record in my father's 
family Bible I was born on the 2nd of November, 
1795. I am, therefore. Fifty three years old. It 
will be 21 years on to-morrow since my father died. 
My mother is still living. Upon each recurrence of 
my birthday I am solemnly impressed with the van- 
ity & emptiness of worldly honors and worldly en- 
joyments, and of [the wisdom of] preparing for a 
future estate. In four months I shall retire from 
public life forever. I have lived three fourths of 
the period ordinarily allotted to man on earth. I 
have been highly honoured by my fellow-men and 
have filled the highest station on earth, but I will soon 
go the way of all the earth. I pray God to prepare 
me to meet the great event. 

I was busily occupied in my office during the 
whole day. A part of the day I spent in preparing 
my annual Message. I desire to have it in a state of 
forwardness, as far as I can anticipate the topics 
upon which I should treat, before the members of 
Congress begin to assemble in Washington, which 
may be expected shortly after the Presidential elec- 
tion, which will take place on the 7th of the present 
month. When they begin to assemble they will oc- 
cupy much of my time, and I have more leisure to 
devote to the message now than I will have then. 

None of my secretaries called to-day. I saw two 
or three subordinate officers on business. I disposed 



178 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Nov. 

of business on my table and saw company as usual at 
2 O'clock P. M. It was [a] quiet day with me and 
nothing of importance occurred. 

Friday, 3rd November, 1848. — Nothing of in- 
terest occurred to-day. The Secretary of the Navy 
called and submitted to me the estimates of appropri- 
ations for his Department for the next fiscal year. 
They were considerably reduced in amount below 
those of last year, and I thought them reasonable (see 
this Diary of the 31st ultimo). The Secretary of 
War called and informed me that estimates for his 
Department would be ready by to-morrow. He in- 
formed me that he had much difficulty with the 
Heads of Bureaus in his Department in having them 
[their estimates] reduced to reasonable amounts. • 

I saw company at 2 O'Clock, & was occupied as 
usual in my office During the day. When the Sec- 
retary of War called I read to him the rough draft 
of a part of my message which I had prepared. He 
approved it. 

Saturday, 4th November, 1848, — The Cabinet 
assembled at the usual hour this morning; all the 
members present. Mr. Buchanan read a despatch 
which he had prepared to Mr. Donelson in relation 
to the negotiation of a commercial Treaty with the 
German confederation, in the event it should be 
finally established and invested with the power to 
conduct the Foreign relations of all the German 
States. They contained Mr. Buchanan's views of 
what the Treaty should be in that, but postpone [to] 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 179 

confer powers on Mr. Donelson to Treat, but in- 
formed him that such powers would be conferred as 
soon as the German confederation was firmly estab- 
lished. Mr. Walker objected to the doctrine of a 
part of the despatch, and quite an animated discus- 
sion took place between Mr. Buchanan & himself. 
It was upon that part of the despatch which declared 
that one object of the Treaty, as in the Treaty with 
Hanover,^ would be designed to protect American 
Navigation against unequal foreign competition. It 
was the protective principle to which Mr. Walker 
objected, or rather to the argument which asserted it, 
and not to the terms of the Treaty which were pro- 
posed. Mr. Buchanan objected to the 4th article of 
the Treaty of 1827 with the Hansa towns as being 
unequal and unjust to the U. S., or to American Navi- 
gation. Mr. Toucey agreed with Mr. Buchanan. 
The subject was presented unexpectedly and I was 
not at first prepared to decide between them. After 
a protracted discussion, however, in which many 
collateral matters were introduced, I suggested some 
modifications of one or two paragraphs of the 
dispatch. The despatch was finally modified so as 
to have the assent of both Mr. Buchanan & Mr. 
Walker and the concurrence of the other members of 
the Cabinet. No other business of importance was 
brought before the Cabinet and they dispersed about 
3 O'clock P. M. 

I had a small dinner party to-day, consisting of 
Baron Gerolt, the Prussian minister, & his wife, Mr. 

^ Concluded June 10, 1846. Printed in U. S. Stat, at Large, 
IX, 857-868. 



i8o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [s Nov. 

R. J. Walker, & Judge Mason. I invited Mr. Bu- 
chanan & Mr. Ritchie, but they did not attend. 
Baron Gerolt has been recalled by his Government 
and is about to leave the U. S., and I desired to 
signify the respect v^hich I had for him, by inviting 
him to dinner. He has conducted himself in a man- 
ner highly satisfactory to this Government. He is, 
I believe, the only Foreign Minister at Washington, 
unless the Minister of the French Republic may be, 
whose feelings and opinions are v^ith the Democratic 
party of the U. S. I took pleasure in paying him 
the compliment of a Dinner on the eve of his de- 
parture on his return to his ov^n country. 

Sunday, 5/A November, 1 848. — The forenoon of 
to-day w^as rainy and unpleasant and Mrs. Polk de- 
clined attending church. It was a very quiet day. 
It being known that my rule is to receive no com- 
pany on Sunday no one called. 

Monday, 6th November, 1 848. — I had several 
calls by official persons on business this morning. 
Among others the Secretary of War and the Secre- 
tary of the Navy called at different hours. The 
Secretary of War submitted to me the estimates of 
appropriations for his Department for the next fiscal 
year, as prepared by the Heads of the several Bu- 
reau[s] in the War Department. On comparing 
them with the appropriations for similar objects for 
previous years, and before the Mexican war, they 
were found in some branches to exceed these appro- 
priations. The Secretary informed me that as origi- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 181 

nally prepared they had been much higher and that 
he had much difficulty with his Bureau officers in 
having them reduced to what they now were. I di- 
rected further reductions of some of the items to be 
made, and directed some of the items to be struck 
out altogether. After spending one or two hours 
with the Secretary in examining them I requested 
him to see his Bureau officers again, and to reduce 
still further, whenever the public service will permit. 
The Bureau officers, whose duty it is to prepare the 
estimates, are always in favour of large appropria- 
tions. They are not responsible to the public but to 
the Executive, & must be watched and controlled in 
this respect (see this diary of tuesday last). I dis- 
posed of the business on my tabic and devoted a part 
of the day to the preperation of my annual message. 
I desire to have it in a state of forwardness before 
the members of Congress begin to arrive, when I may 
expect to be much interrupted & have my time taken 
up by their calls. I saw company at 2 O'Clock. 
Several persons called. 

Tuesday, 7th November, 1848.— Th\% is the day 
appointed by law ^ for the election of President and 
Vice President of the U. S. Heretofore the people 
of the several states have by state laws fixed the 
period of holding the election in each state. Since 
the last Presidential election Congress for the first 
time exercised the power vested in them by the con- 
stitution, and fixed the same day for holding the elec- 
tion in all the states. There will be probably not 

^ Act of January 23, 1845. U, S. Stat, at Large, V, 721. 



i82 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [7 Nov. 

less than three millions ^ of votes polled in this 
election. 

The Cabinet met at the usual hour, all the mem- 
bers present. There being no other pressing busi- 
ness, I read to the Cabinet the portions of my next 
annual message which I had prepared, and invited 
the freest suggestions or criticism which any member 
of the Cabinet might think proper to make. The 
subjects mainly treated of in the paper which I read, 
were the veto power, a review of the system estab- 
lished shortly after the close of the war with Great 
Brittain in 181 5, called the " American system," the 
physical strength of our country in war, the vast 
territorial acquisitions we had made, their great im- 
portance and value, and the urgent necessity of 
establishing Territorial Governments over them. 
In connection with the latter subject the slavery 
question was considered, and concession and com- 
promise recommended. Mr. Buchanan expressed 
his approbation of the paper. He said in that part 
of the paper which treated of the ^^ American sys- 
tem " he did not go as far as I did in relation to 
Internal Improvements. He thought the Govern- 
ment had power to make improvements for purely 
military or Naval purposes, and if in making such 
as were strictly of this character incidental advan- 
tages accrued to commerce, it was well. He avowed 
himself opposed to a system of Internal Improve- 
ments as such. As to that part of the paper which 
treated of the protective tariff as a branch of the 

^ The total popular vote for President in 1848 was approxi- 
mately 2,875,000. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 183 

American system he said he approved the doctrines 
of my Inaugural Address. He was opposed to the 
tariff of 1842, & thought there should be increased 
protection by specific duties on coal and Iron, & 
that the tariff of 1846 should be modified in this 
respect. With the expression of these general views, 
he approved that part of the paper as I had written 
it, and thought it should go into the message. Mr. 
Toucey called my attention and made a suggestion 
of modification to that part of the paper which re- 
lated to the Wilmot Proviso & the subject of Slavery. 
The paper as read by me had been prepared at dif- 
ferent times within the last few weeks as I had leis- 
ure. The other members of the Cabinet expressed 
their approbation of the views which it contained. 
Mr. Marcy said when it came to be carefully re- 
vised there might be two or three changes of phrase- 
ology which he would suggest, but these were merely 
verbal and would not afifect its substance. The 
paper read was most of it the first draft and had 
many interlineations & erasures. I told the Cabinet 
I would cause it to be copied in a fair hand writing 
& submit it again for a more critical & minute exam- 
ination. I was gratified that the paper met so much 
favour from the Cabinet. Judge Mason thought it 
would be the ablest & most interesting message I had 
ever sent to Congress. I have other parts of the mes- 
sage yet to prepare, some of which, relating to the 
operations of the several Executive departments, I 
cannot prepare until I receive the Reports of the 
Heads of these Departments, which will be near the 
time of the meeting of Congress. No other subject of 



i84 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [8 Nov. 

any importance was considered to-day. The Cabi- 
net adjourned about 3 O'Clock P. M. I saw no 
company to-day. After the Cabinet adjourned I at- 
tended to business on my table. 

Wednesday, 8th November, 1848. — Information 
received by the telegraph and published in the morn- 
ing papers of this City and Baltimore indicate the 
election of Gen'l Taylor as President of the U. S. 
Should this be so, it is deeply to be regretted. With- 
out political information and without experience in 
civil life, he is wholly unqualified for the station, 
and being elected by the Federal party and the va- 
rious factions of dissatisfied persons who have from 
time to time broken ofif from the Democratic party, 
he must be in their hands and be under their absolute 
control. Having no opinions or judgment of his 
own upon any one public subject, foreign or domes- 
tic, he will be compelled to rely upon the designing 
men of the Federal party who will cluster around 
him, and will be made to reverse, so far as the 
Executive can reverse, the whole policy of my ad- 
ministration, and to substitute the Federal policy in 
its stead. The country will be the loose [loser] by 
his election, and on this account it is an event which 
I should deeply regret. In view of the probabili- 
ties of his election it is fortunate that I read to the 
Cabinet on yesterday the portions of my annual mes- 
sage which I had previously prepared. The Federal 
party will doubtless consider parts of it as having 
been prepared after I had known that Gen'l Taylor 
was elected, and as being intended for him, especially 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 185 

those portions of it which relate to the Veto power 
& the " American system." In the course of the day 
the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Navy, and 
the attorney General called and I transacted business 
with them. I was occupied as usual in my office 
during the remainder of the day. 

I placed a portion of the draft of my annual mes- 
sage, which I read to the Cabinet on yesterday, in 
the hands of a confidential clerk (Wm. V. Voorhies) 
to be copied. Mr. Voorhies occupied the room ad- 
joining my office. The original draft was much 
interlined and erased & I desired a fair copy that I 
might revise it with the greater facility. 

Mr. Buchanan handed to me to-day his answer 
to my letter to him of the 30th of September last, in 
relation to the publications of Benjamin Tappan of 
Ohio & Francis P. Blair respecting the annexation 
of Texas. A copy of my letter to Mr. Buchanan 
and also copies of similar letters addressed to each 
member of my Cabinet, of different dates (for I had 
not time to write them all on the same day) will 
be found in my letter-book. I had previously re- 
ceived answers from Mr. Bancroft and Mr. Cave 
Johnson which were full & satisfactory, stating facts 
within their knowledge as they were. Mr. Buch- 
anan's answer is short, is couched in general terms, 
fails to answer my special enquiries with the direct- 
ness & precision which I had expected, and as has 
been done by Mr. Bancroft and Mr. Johnson. Mr. 
Buchanan has stated to me in conversation facts as 
fully as they have done, but he has failed to put the 
same statements in his letter. His letter seems to 



i86 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [9 Nov. 

have been made general in its terms, and to have 
been made so probably with a view of avoiding the 
displeasure of Mr. Blair and Mr. Tappan. What 
he states is true, but he has not stated all he knows, 
as he has done in conversation with me. His 
answer is, in this respect, unsatisfactory, but the deli- 
cacy of my position must prevent me from intimating 
this to him. His answer can do no harm & will be 
of but little service to me in bringing out the truth. 

Thursday, gth November, 1848, — At 6 O'Clock 
this morning Mrs. Polk left in the Eastern cars for 
New York. She was accompanied by my Private 
Secretary (Col. Walker) and our two nieces (Miss 
Rucker & Miss Hays) a man-servant (Bowman) 
and a maid servant (Teresa). Her object in visit- 
ing New York was first to afford the young ladies 
an opportunity of seeing that City, but mainly to 
select some articles of furniture for our house, which 
is building at Nashville, Tennessee, and to have them 
shipped home via New Orleans. She will probably 
be absent 10 days, as she contemplates visiting my 
nephew. Cadet Marshall T. Polk, at West Point. 

Mr. Buchanan called this forenoon and, without 
the slightest allusion to the subject on my part, asked 
to withdraw his answer, handed to me on yesterday 
(see this Diary of yesterday) in relation to the pub- 
lications of Messrs. Tappan & Blair respecting the 
annexation of Texas. He said his object was to 
make some modifications of his answer. He no 
doubt felt conscious that his letter was not as full 
as he had stated to me in conversation, and that he 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 187 

had not done me justice. I handed him his answer 
as he requested. He left and returned about 3 
O'clock P. M. with a re-draft of his answer which 
he read to me. It was fuller than the former draft, 
and more satisfactory, but was still not so full upon 
some points as he had repeated to me in conversation. 
I did not manifest to him th^t I had any feeling on 
the subject, but received his modified answer as he 
had prepared it & handed it to me. Before Mr. 
Buchanan left Mr. Walker, the Secretary of the 
Treasury, came in, and shortly afterwards Mr. 
Buchanan retired. Without any preconcert or un- 
derstanding, it so happened that Mr. Walker had 
called to read to me, as he did, the draft of his 
answer to my letter to him on the subject of the 
Blair & Tappan publications respecting the annexa- 
tion of Texas. His draft of his answer was a full, 
frank, and honest statement of all the facts in his 
knowledge in reply to the enquiries of my letter. I 
expressed myself to him that it was so. He said he 
would copy it and hand it to me in a day or two. 
I have not yet received an answer from Gov. A. V. 
Brown of Tennessee upon the same subject (see my 
letter Book for my letter to him and also a letter 
to him of yesterday's date) . I read the letter to him 
of yesterday to Mr. Cave Johnson, who called to-day. 
Mr. Buchanan advised me to-day to make no publi- 
cation on the subject until after I retired from office, 
and then, if I did so, to leave it as a historical cor- 
rection of the errors of the statements of Messrs. 
Tappan & Blair. He repeated to me that he had 
no doubt they were mistaken and had misappre- 



i88 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [lo Nov. 

hended me in the material statements of their pub- 
lications. 

The Attorney General called on business to-day. 
Mr. Voorhies, assisted by Mr. H. C. Williams, both 
confidential clerks, continued the copying the rough 
draft of my annual message today (see this Diary 
of yesterday). They occupied the private room ad- 
joining my office. I disposed of business on my 
table and devoted a part of the day to writing other 
portions of my annual message. 

Friday, lOth November, 1 848, — I transacted 
business in my office as usual to-day. The Attorney 
Gen'l, the commissioner of the General Land office, 
& other public officers called on business. At 2 
O'clock P. M. I received company as usual. Many 
persons came in, and it appears that the rage for 
office has not been abated by the probable elec- 
tion of Gen'l Taylor, the Whig candidate. To-day 
among others Lewis Cass, jr., called again [and] im- 
portuned me for the mission to Rome. Though I 
may hereafter appoint him I thought his visit out of 
time and gave him no satisfaction. I have great 
respect for his father & on his account I may here- 
after appoint him. On yesterday I had an applica- 
tion from New York (Mr. John A. Thomas^) for 
the same office, and to-day a similar application by 
Thos. F. Marshall ^ of Kentucky. These gentlemen 
simply suggested their willingness to accept if the 
mission was still open, and acted very properly on 

^ These names have been written in the original manuscript and 
then crossed out. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 189 

the subject. Either of them are worthy and I regret 
that I cannot give it to either, and especially to the 
latter. Other applications for other places were 
made to-day. After night Mr. Buchanan [called] 
and I held a conversation with him in relation to the 
Notice of our Foreign Relations which it would be 
proper for me to take in my next annual Message. 
After he retired Thomas F. Marshall, Esqr., of Ken- 
tucky called and spent an hour or more with me. 
He is a talented & very interesting man. 

Mr. Wm. V. Voorhies & Mr. H. C. Williams 
were occupied a part of to-day in copying the parts 
of my annual message which I had prepared. 

Saturday, nth November, 1848. — The Cabinet 
met at the usual hour this morning; all the members 
present. The Secretary of the Treasury stated that 
he had received the estimates from the several De- 
partments of expenditures for the next fiscal year. 
He stated that before he could be prepared to state 
with precision the State of the finances, and what the 
condition of the Treasury would be at the end of the 
present fiscal year (30th June, 1849) he desired to 
obtain from the Secretary of War, as he had done 
from the Secretary of the Navy, an estimate of the 
balances of appropriation for the present fiscal year 
which would remain unexpended on the 30th of 
June, 1849. He had brought with him a statement 
of these balances under each specific head of appro- 
priation up to the present time which remained un- 
drawn from the Treasury. After examining some 
of these heads of appropriation with the Secretary 



190 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [n Nov. 

of War they retired together to the War Depart- 
ment to complete the examination. Mr. Walker re- 
turned about 3 O'clock P. M. and informed me that 
they had not completed the examination and that 
after they had done so he would see me on the sub- 
ject. I requested him to call on Monday morning. 
My secretaries have a constant struggle with the 
Heads of Bureau[s], who are charged with preparing 
the detailed estimates, to keep down the expenditures 
to a reasonable point. These Bureau officers are in 
favour of the largest and most extravagant expendi- 
tures and it becomes necessary to be vigilant to keep 
them in check. With my views upon the subject of 
River & Harbour Improvements, I have directed 
that no estimates for these objects should be sub- 
mitted for the next fiscal year, and none were sub- 
mitted, but to my surprise I learned from Mr. 
Walker to-day that estimates had been sent to him 
for the reappropriation of large sums which had 
been formerly appropriated for such objects and, re- 
maining unexpended, had gone to the surplus fund. 
They amounted to several hundred thousand dollars. 
I at once directed them to be struck out. I was indig- 
nant that they had been smuggled into the estimates. 
The Secretary of War had not observed them or had 
[not] known that they had gone to the surplus fund. 
There would be no distinction in principle in re- 
appropriating these sums after, by the operation of 
law, they had gone back to the surplus fund, & mak- 
ing new appropriations for the same objects, and I 
would feel it to be my duty to veto a Bill in the one 
case as soon as in the other. To have these estimates 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 191 

for re-appropriations & then to be compelled to veto 
a Bill making the re-appropriations, would have 
placed me in an awkward and indefensible position. 

Sunday, 12th November, 1 848. — This was a 
damp and unpleasant day and I did not go to church. 
Mrs. Polk is absent on a visit to New York, and Mrs. 
J. Knox Walker informed me at breakfast that in 
consequence of the weather she would not attend 
church. Mr. Ritchie called about 12 O'Clock and 
I read to him the portions of my message which I 
had prepared. He made no suggestions, except one 
or two verbal ones which were not material. He ap- 
proved the paper and expressed the opinion that its 
doctrines were sound, and he thought it would make 
a profound impression on the country. Mr. Ritchie 
took dinner with me and left about 3 O'Clock P. M. 

Monday, 13th November, 1848, — I was in my 
office at the usual hour this morning. I was desir- 
ous to know the result of the examination of the esti- 
mates of appropriations for the next year which the 
Secretaries of the Treasury and War retired from the 
Cabinet on Saturday to make (see this diary of that 
day) and I sent for the Secretary of War. He called 
and stated that the examination was not yet completed 
by his Heads of Bureau[s] under the orders he had 
given to them on Saturday, but that they had pro- 
gressed so far as to enable him to say that more [than] 
two millions of the unexpended balances of former 
appropriations for former years had, by operation 
of law, gone to the surplus fund, which would of 



192 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [13 Nov. 

course increase the means in the Treasury for the 
next fiscal year by that amount. I wrote a note to 
the Secretary of the Treasury requesting him to call 
on the same subject, and received an answer stating 
that he would not be prepared to give me the infor- 
mation I wanted before to-morrow. The Secretary 
of State called on business. I saw the commissioner 
of the General Land office and other public officers 
on business. Senator Douglass of Illinois called. 
He informed me that he had spent the time since the 
adjournment of Congress with his wife's relatives in 
N. Carolina. It was the first time I had seen him 
since the unpleasant interview I had with him two 
or three days after the adjournment of Congress in 
August last, a note of which I recorded in this diary 
at that time (see this diary of that day[?]). I re- 
ceived him with my usual cordiality. He was very 
pleasant in his manner and conversation. After 
some time I alluded to our unpleasant interview and 
told him I was glad he had called, for that after my 
former intimacy with him I felt deep regret that 
anything should have occurred to have produced a 
different relation between us. He interrupted me 
by saying that he had felt unpleasant about it, that 
the remarks he had made at the time were hasty and 
imprudent and about a man (J. Quin Thornton) that 
he cared nothing about, & owed me an apology for 
them & had called to make it. I told him that our 
regret was mutual at the occurrence, and that in re- 
flecting upon it I ought to have known that his re- 
mark (as he now stated) was hastily made, and that 
he could not have meant what it imported. I told 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 193 

him that I had intended, as soon as I heard of his ar- 
rival at the meeting of Congress, to have addressed 
him a note requesting him to call, and would have 
frankly held this conversation w^ith him. He said 
he was glad he had called without receiving such a 
note, and had voluntarily made the apology, which 
he felt he ought to make. The explanations were 
cordial and mutually satisfactory, and it was agreed 
to suffer the matter to sleep in oblivion. Senator 
Douglass has been one of my most ardent and active 
political supporters & friends, and I am much grati- 
fied that our former relations are restored. I trans- 
acted much business which had accumulated on my 
table to-day. At 2 O'Clock P. M. I received com- 
pany generally as usual. Several persons called, and 
among them as is always the case were several office- 
hunters, and one woman and one man begging money. 
The herd of office-seekers are the most unprincipled 
persons in the country. As a mass they are governed 
by no principle. As an illustration of this I received 
to-day a slanderous & abusive letter from a man 
named Henry Simpson of Philadelphia. This man 
annoyed me by his letters for an office for more than 
two years of my time. He was disappointed, and 
now that I am about retiring he vents his bitter feel- 
ings. Such persons as he contributed largely to swell 
the vote of Taylor, the Whig candidate for the Presi- 
dency at the late election. This man Simpson pro- 
fessed to be an ardent Democrat whilst he was seek- 
ing oflice from me. He will now, I have little doubt, 
profess to be a Whig and be among the crowd of 
office seekers to Gen'l Taylor. There are thousands 



194 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Nov. 

of unprincipled men like him who vote in elections 
according to their calculation of chances to get an 
office. The party in power will always be weakened 
by the votes of this class of persons. I am confirmed 
in the truth of the remark which I have long since 
made, that the patronage of the Government will, 
from the day any President enters upon his duties, 
weaken his administration. For every important ap- 
pointment he makes there are many applicants. All 
cannot be gratified, and those who are disappointed 
are soured and disappointed, and if they do not go 
over openly to the opposite party many of them 
secretly wish it success and throw their influence into 
their scale. It has happened in consequence of the 
war with Mexico that during my administration I 
have had to dispense an unusually large patronage, 
and the number of disappointed applicants for place 
have been unusually great. 

After night Senator Douglass of Illinois [called], 
and I read to him confidentially the portions of my 
annual message which related to my view of the 
^' American system," the Veto power, and the estab- 
lishment of Territorial Governments over California 
and New Mexico, & the slave question. He ap- 
proved it &, indeed, expressed himself as delighted 
with it. 

Tuesday, 14th November, 1848.— The Cabinet 
met at the usual hour to-day, all the members pres- 
ent. The subject of the estimates of appropriations 
for the next fiscal year, which was under consider- 
ation at the last Cabinet meeting, and concerning 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 195 

which I saw the Secretary of War on yesterday, was 
resumed to-day. From the investigations which had 
been made by the Secretaries of War, Navy, and 
Treasury into the balances of appropriations hereto- 
fore made and remaining unexpended, and their con- 
dition, the Secretary of the Treasury stated that the 
estimates for the next fiscal year would be between 
25 & 26 millions of Dollars, exclusive of interest on 
the public debt & the three millions to be paid to 
Mexico under the Treaty of Peace. Including the 
payment of this interest and the next installment due 
to Mexico, the estimates would be a fraction over 33 
millions. He stated that the amount of the estimates 
being thus ascertained, he was now enabled to say 
that the means in the Treasury were sufficient to 
justify the payment at this time of half a million, and 
perhaps a million of the Public Debt. The law was 
then examined which authorized the purchase of the 
public stock of the U. S. at its market value, in an- 
ticipation of the period of its re-imbursement. Au- 
thority exists to purchase in the market a portion of 
the Stocks but not of others. I then directed the 
purchase of half a Million to be made. The agency 
through whom the purchase was to be made was then 
considered. The Collectors of Boston, N. York, 
Philadelphia, & Baltimore were suggested. After 
discussion it was concluded to entrust the agency to 
make the purchase exclusively to Mr. C. W. Law- 
rence, the collector of New York. It is important 
that the intention of the Government to make the pur- 
chase should not be known until it was effected, for 
otherwise the holders of the Stocks would raise the 



196 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Nov 

price of it, and to avoid the danger of its becoming 
known it was deemed best to employ but one person 
to make the purchase. I am much gratified that dur- 
ing my administration I am enabled to commence the 
payment of the Public Debt. I will thus set an ex- 
ample to my successor of the policy which in my judg- 
ment should be pursued. There was unanimity of 
opinion in the Cabinet on the subject. The Secre- 
tary of War laid before me a remarkable account of 
expenditures made by Gen'l Scott in Mexico, amount- 
ing to between two and three Hundred Thousand 
Dollars, and for which no vouchers were submitted. 
This account, the Secretary stated, had been sent to 
him by Gen'l Scott. I told him he had no authority 
to pay any such account. Gen'l Scott it is under- 
stood alleges that the expenditures were made for 
secret service while he commanded the army in 
Mexico, and accompanying the account he offers to 
make verbal explanations. The Secretary of War 
concurred with me in opinion that he was not author- 
ized by law to settle any such account. It was agreed 
that he should so inform Gen'l Scott, and leave it to 
Congress to make provision for the case, if they 
thought it proper to do so. 

Mr. Thomas G. Clemson, U. S. chargb des affaires 
to Belgium, who recently returned to the United 
States on leave of absence, called about 2 O'Clock to 
pay his respects. He was introduced into my office, 
where the Cabinet were in Session, by Mr. Buchanan, 
and was introduced to me and to the members of the 
Cabinet. He remained a few minutes & retired. 
Mr. Clemson married the daughter of Mr. John C. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 197 

Calhoun of S. C. After the Cabinet adjourned I 
attended to business in my office as usual. 

This was reception evening. Mrs. Polk being ab- 
sent on a visit to New York, Mrs. Walker was in the 
parlour. Not more than half a dozen persons called, 
all gentlemen. 

Wednesday, /5/A November, 1848,— I spent the 
day in attending to the current business on my table 
and in preparing some passages and revising others 
which I had previously written for my annual mes- 
sage. No member of the Cabinet called. Two or 
three public officers called and I transacted public 
business with them. At 2 O'Clock P. M. I received 
company. Quite a number of persons, ladies & gen- 
tlemen, called, most of them to pay their respects, but 
some of them on the business which so much annoys 
me of seeking office. 

Thursday, 16th November, 1848. — I was occu- 
pied as usual in my office to-day. I attended to busi- 
ness on my table, and devoted a part of the day to 
writing passages for my annual message. Mr. H. C. 
Williams & Mr. Loving, two confidential clerks, 
were engaged during the day in the room adjoining 
my office in copying parts of my message which I had 
previously prepared. They finished the copy after 
night and I compared it with the original. At my 
request Judge Mason called about 8 O'Clock and 
read over with me a part of my message. He made 
some suggestions of verbal alteration. I read to him 
my introductory and concluding paragraphs. He 



ipS JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Nov. 

approved the latter & made some suggestions of 
modifications of the former. The part of the body 
of the message which he examined was that relating 
to the veto power. He approved it and made no 
suggestion of m[o]dification of it. Before my hour 
for receiving company, my door happening to be a 
little [open] a fat, well-fed-looking man pushed it 
open and walked in. He was a man whom I had 
removed from office and his business was to be re- 
instated. He occupied half an hour of my time 
much to my annoyance, when finally I lost all 
patience & told him that it was not my hour to receive 
company and that I was much occupied with other 
business. I took up my pen & commenced writing 
& he left. At 2 O'Clock when I received company 
generally I was besieged by office-seekers. This is a 
penance which I have to pay daily. As my term of 
office approaches its close the passion for office seems 
to increase, and the very scum of society seem to have 
been let loose upon me. From missions abroad down 
to clerkships and messengers' places, I am troubled 
daily. Scarcely a day passes, too, that [some] stout- 
looking fellow does not call to beg money. It is 
some relief that sometimes persons call simply to pay 
their respects. 

Mr. Buchanan called on business in the fore-part 
of the day. I retired late at night considerably in- 
disposed from the effects of severe cold. 

Friday, 17th November, 1848, — In taking my 
usual walk about 8 O'Clock this morning I was 
stopped near the Treasury Building by Mr. McCul- 



1848] JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY 199 

loch, the First comptroller of the Treasury, who said 
that he had not yet prepared a Report which I had 
required him to make to me some time ago. The 
Secretary of State had made a written Report to me 
stating that the First comptroller had improperly 
passed an account in favour of John H. Eaton ^ for a 
month's salary when he was minister to Spain; stat- 
ing also that Mr. Eaton's account had long since been 
settled; that he had subsequently presented this claim 
for an additional month's salary and that it had been 
rejected by Messrs. Forsyth,^ Webster, Upsher,^ & 
himself severally as Secretaries of State. He stated 
that notwithstanding all this the first comptroller had 
taken up the case, overruled the whole of them and 
ordered the money to be paid to Mr. Eaton, & that 
it had been paid. Upon receiving this communica- 
tion from Mr. Buchanan, I referred it to the First 
comptroller with a written endorsement ther[e]on, 
requiring him to make a Report of any explanation he 
had to make on the subject. It was this Report which 
Mr. McCulloch stopped me in my walk this morning 
to inform me he had not yet prepared. I told him I 
had intended on yesterday, but had omitted it, to ad- 
dress him a note enquiring the cause of the delay, and 
that I had intended as soon as I returned to my office 

^ John H. Eaton of Tennessee, 1 790-1 856, Secretary of War 
1829-1831, minister to Spain 1836-1840. 

^ John Forsyth of Georgia, Secretary of State under Jackson 
and Van Buren, 1 834-1841. 

^Abel Parker Upshur of Virginia, 1790-1844, Secretary of 
the Navy 1841-1843, Secretary of State 1 843-1 844; killed by 
the bursting of a gun which was being tested on the U. S. war 
ship Princeton in 1844. 



200 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Nov, 

this morning to address him such a note. He said 
he would make it in a day or two ; that he had been 
busy and had been examining the subject. I replied 
that it was a very simple affair and could not require 
much time, and that it had been more than six weeks 
since it had been referred to him. He was about to 
make some other remarks, when, feeling indignant 
at his conduct, I told him that I thought it probable, 
as I was to retire from office shortly, he regarded me 
as a setting sun, and did not deem it necessary to obey 
my orders. This he disavowed & said he had too 
much respect for my office. Not wishing to hold 
further conversation with him, I told him I should 
expect his Report in a day or two & left him. He is 
a Whig whom I have permitted to remain against 
much importunity to have him removed, particularly 
in the early part of my administration. There have 
been many complaints against his delay in transact- 
ing business, and I have several times spoke[n] of re- 
moving him and would have done so, but the Secre- 
tary of the Treasury always objected to it because he 
considered him a man of ability, and found his ex- 
perience and knowledge useful to him in transacting 
the business of the Treasury Department. 

Mr. Chase, a member of the Ho. Repts. from Ten- 
nessee, called this morning. He has spent his time 
since the adjournment of Congress in the Eastern 
States. Brigadier General Sterling Price of Mis- 
souri, who commanded the U. S. army in New Mex- 
ico in the latter part of the War with Mexico, called 
to-day. Brt. Maj'r Gen'l Persifer F. Smith of the 
U. S. army also called. He is about to leave for 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 201 

Oregon & California. Mr. Bodisco, the Russian 
minister, called and delivered to me an official letter 
from the Emperor, his master, announcing the mar- 
riage of one of his sons. I received him in the par- 
lour. Such ceremonies seem very ridiculous to an 
American. 

Mr. Buchanan called early in the day and spent 
three or four hours in the private room adjoining my 
office in examining the portions of my annual mes- 
sage which I had prepared & had copied. After he 
had done so he returned to my office and expressed 
his dissent from some of my views on the slavery 
question, as connected with the establishment of Ter- 
ritorial Governments in California & New Mexico. 
After some conversation on the points of difference I 
requested him to take my draft & prepare one of his 
own embodying his views, and I would then compare 
them and consider his suggestions. I told him that 
my desire was to have the question settled at the next 
Session of Congress, and with that view I desired at 
the same time that I expressed my own views in the 
message to conciliate, as far as was practicable, the 
North and the South. I told him I was willing to 
omit a portion of the argument with this view, if it 
was deemed proper. He took my draft with him to 
his lodgings & will submit his to me for my consid- 
eration as soon as it is prepared. 

I transacted business & saw company at 2 O'Clock 
as usual to-day. 

Saturday, l8th November, 1848. — The Cabinet 
met to-day at the usual hour. The attorney General 



202 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i8 Nov. 

submitted to me an able opinion in writing upon the 
case of Lieut. Gofif ^ of the Pennsylvania volunteers, 
who was murdered at P[e]rote in Mexico by Capt. 
Foster of the Georgia volunteers. Capt. Foster was 
arrested and put upon his trial in Mexico before a 
military Court, but broke custody and made his es- 
cape to Georgia before the trial was concluded. The 
case was brought to my notice by the Governor of 
Pennsylvania, who transmitted to me a communica- 
tion addressed to him upon the subject by Maj'r Gen'l 
Patterson. I referred the question to the attorney 
General for his opinion, whether Capt. Foster could 
be now arrested & tried in the Courts of the U. S. 
The Attorney General decides that he cannot be so 
arrested and tried, upon the ground that Congress has 
passed no law making provision for such a case. The 
opinion was a very satisfactory [one]. I hand it 
[handed] the papers to the Sec. of State, upon which 
I made an endorsement directing that he should write 
to the Gov. of Penn. and transmit to him a copy of 
the opinion of the Atto. Gen'l. 

Not having anything of special interest to submit 
to the Cabinet to-day, the sitting was a short one. 
Messrs. Buchanan, Marcy, & Mason retired early. 
I requested Messrs. Walker, Johnson, and Toucey to 
remain. They did so, and I read to them a portion 
of my message which I had revised, and which I had 
submitted to Mr. Buchanan on yesterday and to Mr. 
Marcy and Mason last night. The parts read were 
those relating to the Veto power. The ^^ American 
system," the Foreign Relations, and the Introductory 

^ Marvin H. Goff, stabbed at Perote, April lO, 1848. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 203 

and concluding passages. They approved it all, and 
only suggested two or three additional paragraphs to 
amplify the views I had taken. The additions sug- 
gested were not material. 

Mr. Buchanan returned whilst the reading was 
going on, and laid on my table the sheets of my mes- 
sage relating to the slavery question as connected with 
the establishment of Territorial Government in Cal- 
ifornia & New Mexico, which he had taken with 
him to his lodgings on yesterday (see this diary of yes- 
terday). Mr. Buchanan retired as soon as he 
stepped in, only remaining long enough to lay the 
papers on my table. On examining what he had 
written in the afternoon, I found he had not prepared 
a draft of his own as I expected, but had written a 
single paragraph not covering a page of letter paper, 
and had made a few interlineations in pencil on my 
draft. I had not time to-day to examine his sug- 
gestions, and simply looked into the papers to see 
what he had written. 

Mrs. Polk returned at 8 O'Clock this evening from 
her visit to New York. She left here on the morn- 
ing of the 9th Instant. She was accompanied on her 
return by Col. Walker and our two nieces. Miss Hays 
and Miss Rucker, and the two servants whom she 
took with her. 

Sunday, igth November, 1 848. — I was indis- 
posed to-day from the effects of a severe cold. Mrs. 
Polk was fatigued from her journey to New York 
and we did not attend church. The day was cold & 
I remained quietly in my chamber. 



k 



204 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Nov. 

Monday, 20th November, 1 848, — Mr. Bu- 
chanan, the Secretary of State, left Washington last 
evening on a visit to his residence in Pennsylvania. 
This morning I appointed Mr. Toucey, the Attorney 
General, to be acting Secretary of State during Mr. 
Buchanan's absence. Mr. Marcy, the Sec. of War, 
called this morning and spent three hours or more in 
the private room adjoining my office examining a 
portion of my message. He made in pencil some 
brief suggestions of change of phraseology, none of 
them affecting any sentiment of the paper. I was 
occupied in revising other parts of the message and in 
disposing of the business on my table. At 2 O'Clock 
P. M. I saw company. A number of persons called 
&, as never fails to be the case, some of them were 
seeking office. After [night] Mr. R. J. Walker & 
Judge Mason called at my request, and assisted me in 
examining & carefully revising a part of my annual 
message. 

Tuesday, 21st November, 1848. — The Cabinet 
met at the usual hour; all the members present ex- 
cept Mr. Buchanan, who is absent on a visit to Penn- 
sylvania. The whole time was occupied to-day 
in reading and examining my annual message. 
Verbal alterations, not affecting any doctrine or senti- 
ment, were suggested and made. It is a very lengthy 
paper and requires if possible to be condensed. The 
Cabinet retired between 3 & 4 O'Clock. I saw two 
or three public officers on business before the meet- 
ing of the Cabinet. After night I spent two or three 
hours alone in examining my message with a view to 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 205 

condense it and reduce its length. I succeeded to 
some extent, but it will still be an unusually long mes- 
sage. This was reception evening but I did not go 
to the parlour. Mrs. Polk attended to the company 
who called. 

Wednesday, 22nd November, 1848, — I was oc- 
cupied in my office as usual to-day. I devoted a part 
of the day to my annual message, endeavouring to 
condense it. It will be very long in spite of any con- 
densation which I can make. Mr. Marcy and Mr. 
Toucy called at my request and spent three or four 
hours in the private room adjoining my office, in ex- 
amining my message with a view chiefly to suggest 
any parts of it which might be omitted, so as to reduce 
its length without impairing its strength. They called 
again after night and spent some time on the same 
business. They found this a difficult work. The 
subjects embraced in the paper are very important, 
requiring not a casual notice but a full examination. 
To make it as full as I desire the danger is that it will 
be so long that it will not be read by the mass of peo- 
ple, and by none but the politicians. I sent for the 
Secretary of the Treasury and saw him on business 
to-day. The Hon. Mr. McLane of Maryland and 
the Hon. Mr. Henley of Indiana, both members of 
Congress, called at different hours to-day. The 
members of Congress may be expected to arrive daily 
until the meeting of Congress on the 4th proximo. 

Thursday, 23rd November, 1848. — By a Proc- 
lamation issued by the Mayor of Washington this day 



206 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [23 Nov. 

was set apart as a day of thanksgiving. To afford 
the public officers an opportunity to observe it as 
such, I directed that the several Executive Depart- 
ments should be closed. I was much occupied in re- 
vising my annual message and in preparing some ad- 
ditional paragraphs during the whole day. It is 
very remarkable that not a single public officer or 
visitor called to-day. I do not remember that this 
has ever happened since I have been President. A 
few individuals, I believe, visited my Private Secre- 
tary in his office. On examining the pencil notes on 
the sheets of my message made by Mr. Marcy and 
Mr. Toucey on yesterday, I found that they had sug- 
gested verbal changes and modifications of para- 
graphs, but had not changed its purport or meaning 
in any respect; nor had they effected much by way of 
condensation. A few passages which were not ma- 
terial they proposed to omit. (See this Diary of 
yesterday.) After night Mr. Walker and Mr. Ma- 
son called at my request and assisted me in revising 
a part of the sheets of my message. No material 
changes were made. They promised to call on to- 
morrow morning & assist me in revising the remain- 
ing sheets. 

This morning I had made a material change in that 
part of the message which relates to the slave-ques- 
tion, as connected with the establishment of Terri- 
torial Governments in California & New Mexico. I 
read the modification to Mr. Walker & Mr. Mason, 
who highly approved it and thought it a valuable 
change of my original draft. The substance of the 
modified draft was, ist, non-interference by Congress, 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 207 

which I thought the true course; 2nd, the Missouri 
compromise line, to which I was willing to accede 
as a compromise; & 3rd, to leave the subject to the 
decision of the Judiciary. 

Friday, 24th November, 1 848. — Mr. Walker 
& Mr. Mason called at 9 O'Clock this morning and 
assisted me in revising the remaining sheets of my 
annual message (see this Diary of yesterday), Mr. 
H. C. Williams & Mr. Loving, two confidential 
clerks, commenced this morning to make fair copies 
of my message for the two Houses of Congress. 
They occupied the private room adjacent to my office. 
Several passages of the Message relating to the op- 
erations of the several Executive Departments re- 
main to be written. They will be short and it will 
require but little time to prepare them. They can- 
not be written until I receive detailed information 
from my Secretaries. Mr. Young, the Commis- 
sioner of the General Land office, made a Report to 
me to-day in pursuance of previous instructions, 
showing the area of the recently acquired territories 
of the U. S. ; and also that possessed by the U. S. be- 
fore their acquisition; & showing also the addition 
of sea coast which we had acquired. This Report 
was accompanied by a map. The information con- 
tained in this Report I will present to Congress in my 
message. Mr. Broadhead,^ a member of Congress 
from Pennsylvania, called to-day. At 2 O'Clock 
P.M. I received company. Many persons called; 

^ Richard Broadhead, Representative from Pennsylvania 1843- 
1849, Senator 1851-1857. 



( i 



208 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [25 Nov. 

and I was besieged for an hour by importunate ap- 
plicants for office. 

In the afternoon I sent for Mr. Toucy, the 
Atto. Gen'l, & Mr. Johnson, the P. M. Gen'l, and 
read to them the modifications I had made in the first 
draft of my message on the subject of slavery 
(see this Diary of yesterday). They highly ap- 
proved the modifications. After night Mr. Stanton, 
a member of Congress from Tennessee, called; and 
w^hilst he was in my office the Hon. Nathan Clifford, 
U. S. minister to Mexico, accompanied by Mr. 
Toucy, the Atto. Gen'l, called. Mr. Clifford had 
obtained leave of absence for a short time, & ar- 
rived in Washington by the Southern Boat this after- 
noon. Mr. De La Rosa, he informed me, had ac- 
companied him as Envoy Extraordinary & minister 
Plenipotentiary from Mexico to the U. States. Mr. 
Clifford remained for two hours and more, and gave 
me an interesting account of the Condition of things 
in Mexico. Mr. H. C. Williams & Mr. W. W. 
Loving, two confidential clerks, were engaged to-day 
in copying my message. They occupied the room 
adjoining my office. 

Saturday, 2Sth November, 1848, — The Cabinet 
met at the usual hour; all the members present ex- 
cept Mr. Buchanan, who is absent from Washington 
on a visit to Pennsylvania. I read to the Cabinet the 
modified draft which I had prepared of the passage 
of my Message which relates to slavery (see this 
Diary of yesterday & the day preceding). I had 
previously submitted it to the members of the Cab- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 209 

inet individually, except to Mr. Marcy, & they had 
approved it. Upon hearing it read Mr. Marcy ap- 
proved it also. Two or three verbal alterations were 
suggested & were made. I informed the Cabinet 
that I would substitute it for the passage on the same 
subject which I had first prepared. Mr. Clifford, 
formerly atto. Gen'l of the U. S. and now Minister to 
Mexico, called. There being no special business to 
lay before the Cabinet to-day, Mr. Clifford remained 
& was engaged in free conversation about Mexican 
affairs until the Cabinet adjourned. 

Judge Bryant ^ of Indiana, the Chief Justice of the 
Supreme Court of Oregon, & Mr. Adair, the Collec- 
tor of the Customs for that Territory, called. They 
were on their way to Oregon, & expect to take pas- 
sage [on] a vessel which will leave New York for 
Chagres on the ist of December. Mr. Walker & 
Mr. Mason each handed to me to-day passages which 
they had prepared for my message, relating to their 
respective Departments. After night I revised & 
modified them and made paragraphs of my own. 
Mr. Williams, Mr. Loving, & Mr. Dibrell of Nash- 
ville were engaged to-day making copies of my mes- 
sage. Mr. Williams was taken with a violent chill 
& remained all night. 

Sunday, 26th November, 1 848.— I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day. Mrs. Polk and 
our two nieces. Miss Hays and Miss Rucker, accom- 
panied me. 

^ William Perkins Bryant. 



2IO JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [27 Nov. 

Monday, 2ph November, 1848, — I was in my 
office as usual early this morning and was busily en- 
gaged during the day. Mr. Buchanan, who has been 
absent for some days on a visit to Pennsylvania, called 
this morning. I delivered to him some Foreign de- 
spatches which had been received in his absence. I 
delivered to him also a Report made to me by the 
I St comptroller of the Treasury on a communication 
made to me by Mr. Buchanan some weeks ago, in re- 
lation to a payment which had been made to John 
H. Eaton, late minister to Spain, by the comptroller. 
(See this Diary a few weeks ago.) I had not had 
time to read the Report, but as the Report had been 
made by Mr. Buchanan I handed it to him for his 
examination first. If it shall not be satisfactory to 
him I will then examine it. I read to Mr. Buchanan, 
in the presence of Mr. Marcy who had called in, the 
modification which I had made during his absence of 
that part of my message which related to the subject 
of slavery in the establishment of Territorial Govern- 
ments in California and New Mexico. He ap- 
proved the modification which had been made. I 
requested Mr. Marcy to furnish me with a brief 
statement of the general operations of the army, with 
a view to enable me to take the proper notice of these 
operations in my message. In the evening Mr. 
Marcy sent to me the information I had requested. 
Mr. Walker called and handed to me a rough state- 
ment of the finances, imports & exports, public debt, 
&C. Mr. Mason called and informed me confiden- 
tially that his friends in Virginia desired, on his re- 
turn to the state at the close of my term, he should 



i848] JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY 211 

either go on the Bench of the State or be a candidate 
for Congress in his District; or be elected Governor 
of the State by the Legislature next winter. He 
stated that he would be unwilling to accept either of 
the two former positions ; and that if he were to be 
chosen Governor it would be necessary for him to 
enter [on] the duties of the office on the ist of Jan- 
uary next, and in that event [he] would have to leave 
the Navy Department at that time. It was in rela- 
tiori to this that he wished to consult me. I told him 
I should regret to loose his services as Secretary of 
the Navy, but that if he regarded it for his interest I 
would interpose no objection to his leaving the De- 
partment. I told him I would not be in the way of 
his advancement in his own State, and that I thought 
if he could be elected Governor of Virginia it would 
be a dignified & highly honorable position, and that 
he ought to accept it. Mr. Toucey, the Atto. Gen'l, 
called at my request, and I consulted him upon the 
legal question whether under the Mexican Treaty it 
would be competent for the President to nominate 
to the Senate a commissioner & surveyor to run & 
mark the Boundary line between the two countries, 
without a previous act of Congress. He thought the 
President had the power to do so under the Treaty, 
without an act of Congress. I concurred with him 
in opinion & prepared a paragraph for my message 
relating to the subject accordingly. Mr. Calderon, 
the Spanish minister, called & delivered to me a letter 
from the Queen of Spain announcing that her sister, 
who was married to the Duke Montpensier, the son 
of Louis Phillipe, late king of France, had given 



212 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 Nov. 

birth to a daughter. I received Mr. Calderon in the 
parlour below & received the important announce- 
ment w^hich v^as delivered with due form & cere- 
mony. Such ceremonies are supremely ridiculous to 
an American. At 2 O'Clock I received company, 
and was annoyed as usual for more than an hour by 
office-seekers. Mr. Williams & Mr. Loving and 
Mr. Dibrell, confidential clerks, were employed to- 
day in making copies of my message. Mr. Williams, 
who was taken ill on Saturday, remained but a short 
time. After night Senator Dix of New York and 
his son called. Senator Dix has been in the City 
some days, but had [not] before called. He was the 
candidate of the Barnburners for Governor of New 
York and was defeated at the late election. He was 
the Free-Soil candidate and run [ran] on the same 
[ticket] with the Abolitionist, Seth M. Gales, who 
was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. He had 
contributed with Mr. Van Buren, therefore, to defeat 
the Democratic candidate for President at the late 
election. I received him courteously but no allusion 
was made during his visit to the late election or to 
any party political subject. 

Tuesday, 28th November, 1848. — I was busily 
engaged in my office until the hour of the meeting of 
the Cabinet. All the members of the Cabinet at- 
tended. I conferred with them in relation to several 
passages for my message, relating to the finances, the 
Constitutional Treasury, & the public debt. These 
several paragraphs were read & some modification of 
phraseology suggested. Mr. Walker had furnished 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 213 

me at my request a rough draft setting forth the op- 
erations of the tariff of 1846. Not being satisfied 
with it I told him to leave it with me and that I would 
make a draft of my own, which I did after night. 
Mr. Walker had not furnished me with the statistics 
for the financial statement of my message. I urged 
him to do so as early on to-morrow as possible. The 
Secretary of War had given to me a short paragraph 
relating to the War Department & Indian affairs. 
The Post master General left with me a statement of 
the operations of the Post Office Department. The 
Secretary of the Navy has as yet furnished no state- 
ment of the operations of his Department. I saw 
the Hon. Mr. Cummins/ a member of the Ho. 
Repts., and some others in the course of the day. 
Messrs. Williams, Dibrell, and Loving, the three con- 
fidential clerks who have been employed for several 
days making three fair copies of my message for 
Congress and the printer, continued their work to- 
day in the room adjoining my office. This was re- 
ception evening. A larger number of persons, ladies 
& gentlemen, called than have done so for some weeks 
past. Among them were several members of Con- 
gress. 

Wednesday, 2gth November, 1848, — I was 
busily employed in revising and correcting my mes- 
sage and adding new paragraphs to it to-day. The 
Secretary of the Navy furnished the paragraph re- 
lating to the Navy. I revised [it] with him, and 
made several changes, omitting some sentences & 

^John D. Cummins, Representative from Ohio 1 845-1 849. 



214 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [29 Nov. 

modifying others. He took the revised draft and 
had a copy made. I revised the draft of the passage 
relating to the War Department, which the Secretary 
of War had left with me. The Secretary of the 
Navy have [having] furnished a copy of his para- 
graph as it had been altered by me, I sent for the Sec- 
retary of War and went over with him and the Sec- 
retary of the Navy both their drafts. The Secretary 
of the Treasury called and furnished me with the 
statistics required for the financial statement in the 
message. I submitted to him my draft of passages 
relating to the payment of the public debt and the 
operations of the tariff act of 1846 and the Constitu- 
tional Treasury. He approved them. I sent for the 
Post master Gen'l and submitted to him the changes 
I had made in the paragraph which he had furnished 
me in relation to his Dept. It was after night when 
he called. He approved of the modifications which 
I had suggested by interlineations & additions & 
omissions. I took the paper and at my table made a 
fair copy of it as modified. I put all these paragraphs 
into the hands of the three clerks (Messrs. Wil- 
liams, Dibrell, & Loving) who were copying for me. 

A number of members of Congress called to-day 
and among them were Senator Turney from Tennes- 
see, Senator Felch & Mr. McClelland of Michigan; 
Mr. Wick of Indiana, & Mr. Morse of La. 

I was quite as busy to-day as I have been any day 
during my term. My message will be very long. 

The Union of this morning contains an article un- 
dertaking to state what my message will contain. I 
was much vexed when I saw it. It is an infirmity of 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 215 

Mr. Ritchie that he cannot keep a secret. I had read 
to him some days ago a considerable portion of my 
message, but I informed him expressly that it was 
communicated to him confidentially. Without 
meaning to do wrong, such is his propensity to give 
news to the public, and to appear to the public to be 
the Executive organ, that in this morning's paper he 
shadows forth what I may say in it. Mr. Ames, the 
assistant Editor of the Union called, and I expressed 
my dissatisfaction at Mr. Ritchie's course in strong 
terms. He informed Mr. Ritchie, and in the course 
of the day I received a note from him explaining the 
appearance of the article in his paper, but it was not 
satisfactory. 

Thursday, 30th November, 1848. — In the course 
of the day I saw at different times the Secretaries of 
State, Treasury, War, and Navy and transacted busi- 
ness with them. My three confidential clerks, Messrs. 
Williams, Loving, & Debrell, continued to occupy the 
room adjoining my office and were employed in 
finishing their respective copies of my message. I 
made some verbal changes and modifications, which 
made it necessary to recopy portions of it. Mr. Bu- 
chanan informed me that he had appointed Saturday 
next, the 2nd Dec'r, for Mr. De La Rosa, the Mex- 
ican Minister, to present his credentials. He fur- 
nished me with a translation of an address which Mr. 
De La Rosa proposed to deliver on the occasion of 
his presentation. 

Several members of Congress called; among them 
the Hon. Geo. W. Jones of Tennessee and the Hon. A, 



2i6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Dec 

G. Brown of Mississippi. I saw company for a few 
minutes at 2 O'Clock P. M. when I closed my office 
& resumed my business. I was constantly occupied 
through the day with my message and other matters 
requiring my attention. Mr. Dibrell and Mr. 
Loving finished complete copies of my message to- 
night. Mr. Williams will finish his copy on to- 
morrow. 

Mr. Ritchie called this morning and appeared to 
be very much mortified at the indiscreet publication 
of the article in his paper on yesterday. He meant no 
harm I am satisfied. It is a constitutional infirmity 
with him, I believe, that he cannot keep a secret: all 
he knows, though given him in confidence, he is al- 
most certain to put into his newspaper. My sym- 
pathies were excited at seeing his mortification, and I 
relieved him by telling him to let it all pass (see this 
Diary of yesterday). I sent for Mr. Ames, who is 
Mr. Ritchie's co-editor of the Union, and told him 
that I was vexed when I saw him on yesterday, and 
spoke perhaps too strongly; that I was satisfied Mr. 
Ritchie meant no harm by the publication of the 
article, and requested him not to repeat what I had 
said to him on yesterday. After night Mr. Ritchie 
called and read a part of my message. 

Friday, Ist December, 1 848, — I called a meet- 
ing of the Cabinet at 11 O'Clock to-day. All the 
members were present. Having had my message 
copied into a fair hand writing I read it to the Cab- 
inet. It is now complete except the detailed state- 
ments of sums, &C, to be obtained from the respec- 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 217 

tive Executive Departments. When I had finished 
reading it Mr. Buchanan said that he thought it 
would be a complete paper if I left out those parts of 
it which related to the *^ American system " and the 
" Veto " power. Though he considered the views 
presented upon these points able, he thought they 
would produce excitement in Congress and that they 
might be considered out of place in the annual mes- 
sage. He thought the Whigs would consider them 
as an attack on Gen'l Taylor; and that they might be 
used in a veto message of an Internal Improvement 
Bill, if one should be presented to me, as he thought 
it probable there would be at the approaching session 
of Congress. I told him that I had read these parts 
of the message to the Cabinet on the day of the Presi- 
dential election (the 7th Instant) and they had ad- 
vised me to put these passages in the message. I 
stated that I had informed the Cabinet at that time 
that they had been prepared during the summer, with 
a view originally to be used in a veto message, and 
that I had so informed the Cabinet when I first read 
them to them on the 7th Inst, and had at that time 
informed them that I then thought of transferring 
them to the annual message, and that the Cabinet had 
approved the suggestion. I stated to him that I 
had on that day, after consulting the Cabinet, made 
up my own mind to make them a part of the annual 
message, that I had accordingly revised them, and 
on the 9th of November put them into the hands of 
a confidential clerk (H. C. Williams) to be copied 
in an open hand writing for further revision and ex- 
amination. I stated that with this open copy I had 



2i8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Dec. 

further revised and perfected them, and that it would 
greatly embarrass me in making up my message if 
at this late day, and just on the eve of the meeting 
of Congress, they were now left out of it. Mr. 
Walker thought they would do better for a Veto mes- 
sage than for the annual message, and he would ad- 
vise that they be omitted in the latter if he were 
certain an internal improvement Bill would be pre- 
sented to me at the next session. Other members of 
the Cabinet engaged in the conversation. Mr. Bu- 
chanan & Mr. Walker made the only objections, such 
as are here stated. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Mason 
thought they were proper for the annual message. 
Mr. Toucey thought, there might be a paragraph 
prepared to show more distinctly the reason why 
they were inserted in the annual message. Mr. Bu- 
chanan thought they would not fall under the clause 
of the constitution which authorized the President 
to give to Congress, " information of the state of the 
Union." I was somewhat troubled at the objections 
to their insertion, and said that if the objection had 
been made when they were first read to the Cabinet 
I would then have had time to shape my message 
without them, but it was now almost too late. The 
Cabinet adjourned near 4 O'Clock P. M. No other 
subject was considered but the message. 

The three clerks (Dibrell, Williams, & Loving) 
continued to occupy the room adjoining my office 
making out fair copies of the message for Congress. 
I made, on a review of it, frequent alterations by in- 
terlineations, erasures, & insertions, which caused the 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 219 

necessity of re-copying many portions of it. I re- 
tired late at night much fatigued. 

Saturday, 2nd December, 1848, — No meeting 
of the Cabinet was held to-day, though at different 
hours I saw every member of it in relation to busi- 
ness connected with his particular Department. 
The Secretary of the Navy called in the forenoon 
& read to me his annual Report. At 2 O'Clock 
P. M. I received Mr. De La Rosa, the Envoy 
Extraordinary & minister Plenipotentiary from 
the Republic of Mexico. He was presented to me 
by the Secretary of State in the parlour. He was 
attended by his Secretary of Legation & Interpreter. 
My Private Secretary accompanied me to the par- 
lour. Mr. De La Rosa did not speak English, but 
addressed me in Spanish, to which I responded in 
English. He had previously furnished to the Secre- 
tary of State a copy of his address and a copy of my 
response had been furnished to him. The address 
and response will be published in the Union on to- 
morrow. It was an interesting ceremony. I saw 
several members of Congress to-day. I was busily 
occupied with my message. The three clerks (Lov- 
ing, Dibrell, & Williams) continued the copying in 
the room adjoining my office. My Private Secre- 
tary assisted them in comparing their copies. I was 
frequently in the room with them, giving directions. 
Mr. Ritchie called in the evening, and I read to him 
the portion of the message which related to the 
" Veto." After night the Post Master Gen'l called 



220 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Dec. 

and read to me his annual Report. After he retired 
I was occupied until near 12 O'Clock comparing 
the copies of my message and making critical cor- 
rections of it, so as to have the copies precisely alike. 
We did not finish more than half of it. It is a very 
long paper; I fear too long, but I do not see any 
part of it v^hich I can omit. The Secretary of War 
sent to me his annual Report this evening, but I had 
not time to read it to-day. 

Sunday, Jrd December, 1 848, — From the neces- 
sity of the case I continued the examination of the 
copies of my message with my clerks, which had been 
left unfinished on yesterday (see this Diary of yester- 
day). Mr. Daniel Graham, the Register of the 
Treasury, assisted us. Mr. Graham, Mr. Dibrell, 
& Mr. Loving took dinner with me. Mrs. Polk at- 
tended church. I continued to be occupied with 
the message until night. After night I read it con- 
fidentially to Messrs. Cobb of Georgia, Thompson 
of Pennsylvania, & Jones of Tennessee, all members 
of the Ho. Repts. I had directed my Private Secre- 
tary to request them to call. I thought it prudent 
to do this that some of my friends in Congress might 
be apprised of what it contained before it was sent 
in. Mr. Ames, the assistant Editor of the Union, 
had requested to see it. He called and I submitted 
one of the copies of it to him & Mr. Edmund Burke, 
the commissioner of Patents. They read it in my 
Private Secretary's office. They both expressed 
themselves as highly pleased with it. The three 
members of Congress, to whom I also read it, ex- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 221 

pressed themselves as pleased with it. Mr. Thomp- 
son of Penn. seemed to be a little tender-footed about 
slavery and the tariff. Upon the vs^hole he thought 
v^ell of it. It v^as about 12 O'Clock before I re- 
tired from my office. I w^as much fatigued. I 
regret the necessity of having to spend the sabbath 
as this day w^as spent. This, however, is my last 
annual message. It is very long and I shall be so 
occupied with company to-morrow as not probably 
to be able to give attention to it. 

Monday, 4th December, 1848, — My three con- 
fidential clerks (Messrs. Williams, Loving, & Dib- 
rell) were engaged with my Private Secretary in 
correcting and comparing the three copies of my 
message during the whole day. I was frequently in 
the room with them. During the day many mem- 
bers of Congress called. The Judges of the Supreme 
Court of the U. S., the Atto. Gen'l, the Clerk, & 
Marshall called in a body to pay their respects. All 
the Judges were present except Chief Justice Taney,^ 
who is detained at home by indisposition. Justice 
Wayne ^ was not with the other members of the 
Court, but called a few minutes after they retired. 
A Joint committee of the two Houses of Congress 
called to notify me that Congress was organized and 
ready to receive any communication I might have to 
make. I return [ed] for answer that I would make 
a communication in writing to the two Houses to- 

^ Roger Brooks Taney, 17 77-1 864. 

^ James Moore Wayne, 1 790-1 867, Associate Justice of the 
Supreme Court 1 835-1 867. 



222 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [5 Dec. 

morrow at 12 O'Clock. The committee consisted of 
Senators King of Alabama and Davis of Massachu- 
setts, and of Messrs. Wentworth of Illinois, Rock- 
well of Connecticut, & Shepherd ^ of N. Carolina. 
At I O'clock I gave the copy of my message which 
had been prepared by Mr. Dibrell, to the foreman 
(Mr. Teenum) of the Union office, for the purpose 
of having it printed for the use of Congress by the 
time it was sent in on to-morrow. I entrusted it to 
him confidentially. After night I examined the 
proof sheets of my message as it had been printed at 
the Union office. I invited Mr. Dickins, the Secre- 
tary of the Senate, and Mr. Thos. J. Campbell, the 
Clerk of the Ho. Repts., to call and read the message 
that they might become familiar with the handwrit- 
ing and be enabled to read to their respective Houses 
on to-morrow with the more facility. They called 
accordingly, and read the copies as I examined the 
proof with the printer. The printed and manu- 
script copies were literally copies of each other. 
Judge Mason, my Private Secretary, the three clerks 
who had copied the message, and the Hon. James H. 
Thomas, the latter the Representative in Congress 
from my immediate District in Tennessee, were pres- 
ent during the reading and comparison. I finished 
between 12 and i O'Clock at night, and retired to 
rest, being exceedingly fatigued. 

Tuesday, ^th December, 1848. — Being much en- 
gaged this morning in arranging the Reports and 
Documents from the several Executive Departments, 

^ Augustine H. Shepperd. 



I848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 223 

which were to accompany my message to Congress, 
I gave orders to my porter to admit no company. 
He afterwards informed me that many members of 
Congress and others called. At a quarter before 12 
O'clock [my Private Secretary] left with my mes- 
sage ^ for the Capitol, and delivered it to the two 
Houses a few minutes after 12 O'Clock. The Secre- 
taries of State, War, Navy, & Treasury and the Post 
master Gen'l called, and were present when I sent 
off my message. The Attorney General was engaged 
in the Supreme Court & was not present. This was 
the regular day for the meeting of the Cabinet; but 
I informed my Secretaries that I was too much fa- 
tigued to transact any further business, and they dis- 
persed before i O'Clock P. M. I arranged the 
original manuscripts and passages which had been 
written during the preparation & revision of my mes- 
sage and put them under envelopes with a view to 
preserve them. It may be interesting to refer 
to them in after years. 

This was the regular evening for receiving com- 
pany. A large number of persons, ladies & gentle- 
men, called. Among those present were the Vice 
President of the U. S., the Speaker of the Ho. Repts., 
and a number of Senators & Representatives. The 
French minister and several other members of the 
Diplomatic corps were also present. Many persons 
expressed to me their approval of my message. I 
learn that it is generally received well by the Demo- 
cratic party in Congress. 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IV, 629- 
670. 



224 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [6 Dec. 

Wednesday, 6th December, 1848, — A large 
number of members of Congress called to-day. 
They were all of the Democratic party, except four 
Senators of the Whig party who called together 
about 2 o'clock, viz., Senators Berrien of Georgia, 
Dayton & Miller ^ of New Jersey, and Baldwin ^ of 
Connecticut. The Democratic members all ex- 
pressed their satisfaction with my message. I 
received the Whig Senators with courtesy & en 
deavoured to make their visit agreeable. No politi- 
cal topic was introduced. I learn that no business 
of importance was transacted in either House of 
Congress to-day. I disposed of some of the business 
which had accumulated on my table. I feel much 
wearied by my great confinement and labour for the 
last few days. 

Thursday, yth December, 1848, — Many mem- 
bers of Congress called to-day. I directed my porter 
to admit them at any hour of the day. Mr. Walker 
called and read to me that part of his annual Report 
which relates to the tariff. It is one of his ablest 
papers. The Secretary of War called and exhibited 
to me specimens of California Gold, which had been 
sent him by Col. Mason commanding the U. S. 
troops in California. A portion of these specimens 
he will retain in the War Dept. and the balance he 
will send to the mint of the U. S. at Philadelphia 
to be coined. So numerous were the visits of mem- 

^ Jacob W. Miller, Senator from New Jersey 1841-1853. 
^ Roger Sherman Baldwin, Governor of Connecticut 1 844-1 846, 
Senator 1847-185 1. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 225 

bers of Congress to-day that I had but little oppor- 
tunity to attend to business on my table. I learn that 
the death of the Hon. Dixon H. Lewis, late Senator 
from Alabama, was announced in the Senate to-day 
& both Houses adjourned without transacting any 
business. 

Friday, 8th December, 1 848. — Neither house of 
Congress set [sat] to-day, both having adjourned 
over on yesterday until monday next. Many mem- 
bers of Congress called at different periods of the 
day. The Democratic members all express their 
satisfaction at my message. The subject is not in- 
troduced by the Whig members who call, & I, of 
course, do not allude to it. The Whig newspapers, 
so far as I have seen them, are very abusive of it, 
but none of them attempt by argument to answer it. 
Any low fellow can use hard words, and this is 
usually the resort of those who cannot answer an 
argument, or successfully gainsay the truth of argu- 
ments used. Democratic papers generally speak 
favourably of it. 

Saturday, gth December, 1848. — Before the 
hour of the meeting of the Cabinet this morning I 
saw a number of members of Congress. Henry A. 
Wise, Esqr., of Virginia, called. It was the second 
time Mr. Wise had called since he returned from his 
mission to Brazil. He appreciated my forbearance 
in not recalling him from his mission, and, as I have 
heretofore learned from Judge Mason, is very grate- 
ful for what he regards as my magnanimity towards 



226 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [lo Dec. 

him. When I was Speaker of the Ho. Repts. he 
assailed me with great bitterness, but has long since, 
as I learn, become satisfied that he had done me great 
injustice. He was one of the Democratic Electors 
of President and Vice President in Virginia in the 
late election, & in that contest has behaved well. I 
received and treated him with politeness & courtesy. 
He entered into conversation on public affairs, and 
I conversed freely with him. Whilst he was with 
me Judge Mason, Mr. Toucey, & Mr. Johnson came 
in. He remained a few minutes and retired. The 
other members of the Cabinet came in shortly after- 
wards, except Mr. Walker, who did not attend to-day, 
being engaged, as I presume, in revising his annual 
Report, which, as I understand, he intends to send 
to Congress on Monday next. Mr. Buchanan 
brought to my notice several matters connected with 
our Foreign affairs and obtained my views in rela- 
tion to them. They were none of them of general 
importance. Several other matters of no great im- 
portance were considered and disposed of. Judge 
Catron & his wife, Mrs. Benson, Mr. Daniel Gra- 
ham & his wife, Hon. James H. Thomas of the Ho. 
Repts., and Mr. John C. McLemore of Tennessee 
took a family dinner with me to-day. After night I 
disposed of some of the business which had accumu- 
lated on my table. 

Sunday, lOth December, 1 848. — Mrs. Polk and 
myself, accompanied by our two nieces. Miss Rucker 
and Miss Hays, attended the First Presbyterian 
church to-day. After night Judge Mason called 



I848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 227 

and sat an hour with me in conversation in relation 
to the public events of my administration. His 
name is being used by his friends of the Virginia 
Legislature, now in session, for the office of Gov- 
ernor of that State. He is not a candidate for the 
office, but would accept it if elected. In the course 
of conversation he asked me if I had ever written 
any letter to Col. Benton which could do me any in- 
jury if published. I told him I had not. I told him 
I had held no correspondence with Col. Benton, un- 
less it might be to address him a note during the earlier 
period of my administration, when he professed 
to support it and be my friend ; that any such notes, 
if published, could do me no harm. I stated to him 
that Col. Benton had occasionally addressed notes 
to me during the same period. Judge Mason then 
said that his reason for asking the question was that 
he had learned from a lady, whose name he did not 
give, that she had learned from the Blair family that 
Col. Benton would probably publish some letter of 
mine which would do me an injury. I told Judge 
Mason that he had no such letter. I do not know 
what this means. I am, however, at the defiance of 
both Blair & Benton. The former has proved him- 
self to be unprincipled and the latter, I fear, is no 
better. From the day I approved the sentence of 
the Court martial in Col. Fremont's case. Col. Ben- 
ton, for no other cause than that I dared to do my 
duty, has been exceedingly hostile to me. He has 
not called on me, nor have I spoken to him for more 
than twelve months. He was at the same church 
which I attended to-day. 



228 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [n Dec. 

Monday, nth December, 1848. — Many mem- 
bers of Congress called this morning. The Secre- 
tary of War & the Secretary of the Navy called on 
business. I was engaged during the greater part of 
the day after 12 O'Clock in disposing of a mass 
of business which had accumulated on my table. 
Nothing worthy of special notice occurred during 
the day. After night the Post master General, Sen- 
ator Turney, & Mr. James H. Thomas called & 
spent an hour in conversation with me in relation 
to public affairs. After they retired Senator Doug- 
lass of Illinois called and held a long conversation 
with me on the subject of A Bill which he had in- 
troduced into the Senate to admit California & New 
Mexico into the Union as a State, instead of estab- 
lishing Territorial Governments in the first instance 
over them. I was surprised to learn to-day from 
Senator Dickinson of New York and the Secretary 
of War that Mr. Buchanan had selected a newspaper 
in Rochester, New York, as the publisher of the laws 
of the United States for the next year, which is a 
free-soil paper, & opposed the election of the regular 
Democratic candidates for the President & the Vice 
President of the U. States. I highly disapprove of 
the selection. I think no paper should have been 
selected but one which was sound and had supported 
my administration, & if I had known Mr. Buchanan's 
intention before he acted I would have prevented it. 
He is undoubtedly endeavoring to conciliate the 
barnburners of New York. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 229 

Tuesday, 12th December, 1848, — Several mem- 
bers of Congress called to see me this morning. 
Among others Senator Breese of Illinois, accom- 
panied by a Mr. Cooper, who is, as I understood 
him, a member of the legislature of Illinois. Mr. 
Breese read to me a passage from a New York 
paper; I think it was a part of [a] letter from Wash- 
ington to the New York Herald, to the effect that 
the administration desired Mr. Breese's defeat in the 
election of U. S. Senator from that State. Mr. 
Cooper said that Gen'l Shields was a candidate for 
the Senate and had informed him (Cooper) at his 
house some time ago that he had a letter from Bu- 
chanan expressing the wish that Gen'l Shields might 
be elected and that Mr. Breese might be defeated. 
I told Mr. Breese that I had never heard of the mat- 
ter which he brought to my notice before, and that 
I had never uttered a syllable upon the subject. I 
told him that the President's situation was a very 
delicate one between political friends, and that I 
had never interfered in any way in the elections in 
the States. Mr. Breese said that he had given to 
the administration a faithful support and that it was 
unjust to him & calculated to do him great injury if 
the story was not contradicted. I told him I did not 
desire to be connected with the matter in any way. 
I repeated to him that I had never heard of it before, 
and that I desired to have nothing to say in relation 
to it. I was on my guard to say nothing which could 
be used so as to mix my name up with the Senatorial 



230 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [12 Dec. 

election in Illinois. I suspected that Mr. Breese had 
called and brought Mr. Cooper with him that the 
latter might repeat what I might say. The whole 
story, I have no doubt, has originated in the impru- 
dence of Mr. Buchanan, who dislikes Mr. Breese and 
is the friend of Gen'l Shields. 

Senator Borland of Arkansas called and made 
application to me to appoint his son a cadet at West 
Point. I made him no promise but told him the 
10 cadets at large would not be appointed until 
February, that the applications were very numerous, 
but that I would consider his application with others 
when the time came to make the appointments. 
Though Mr. Borland has just been elected to the 
Senate of the U. S. from Arkansas I have no confi- 
dence in him as a politician. He professes to be a 
Democrat, but I have a strong conviction that he 
will continue to do so only so long as he may con- 
sider it his interest. 

The Cabinet met at the usual hour; all the mem- 
bers present except Mr. Walker, who wrote me a 
note informing me that he was much engaged in 
his office and asking to be excused from attending 
to-day unless something important was before the 
Cabinet in relation to which I might deem his pres- 
ence necessary. The Atto. Gen'l was also absent 
attending the Supreme Court. I sent to the Senate 
to-day nominations for all the appointments I made 
during the last recess, and some other nominations. 
I sent to the Senate also two Indian Treaties ^ for 
their consideration with a view to their ratification. 
One of them (the Treaty with the Menomonees) 

^ U, S» Stat, at Large, IX, 949-955. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 231 

was an important one. Several matters of detail 
were considered and disposed of, none of them of 
much importance. I then stated to the Cabinet 
that I feared no action would be had at the present 
session of Congress for the Government of Cali- 
fornia & New Mexico ; that I feared this would be 
the case from the want of concert of action or any 
common views among the members of Congress with 
whom I had conversed. I stated further that I 
apprehended if these territories were left without a 
Government for another year, and especially Cali- 
fornia, they might be lost to the Union. I gave my 
views at some length for this apprehension. They 
were, in substance, that in the course of the next year 
a large population would be attracted to California 
by its mineral wealth and other advantages, that 
among the emigrants would be men of enterprise 
and adventure, men of talents and Capital; and that 
finding themselves without a Government or the pro- 
tection of law, they would probably organize an 
independant Government, calling it California or 
Pacific Republic, and might endeavour to induce 
Oregon to join them. I stated that if this state of 
things existed when Congress came together twelve 
months hence, that the leading Federalists (alias 
Whigs) would be glad to avail themselves of the 
opportunity to give up the country for the purpose 
of relieving Gen'l Taylor of his embarrassments 
upon the Wilmot Proviso. I added that the Fed- 
eral party had from the commencement of our his- 
tory been opposed to the extension of our limits; 
that they opposed the acquisition of Louisiana as 
they had recently done that of our new possessions. 



232 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [12 Dec. 

To guard against the loss of California I deemed it 
very important that the question of its Government 
should be settled at the present Session of Congress. 
I then stated that I thought [it] indispensible that 
we should agree upon a plan of settlement (for Con- 
gress seemed to have no plan) and exercise what 
influence we might possess to carry it through at 
the present Session. All present agreed that this 
would be proper and, indeed, our duty. It is a ques- 
tion rising above ordinary party considerations. We 
have a country to serve as well as a party to obey. 
On comparing information, as far as we had been 
able to collect it from conversations with members 
of Congress, we were satisfied that neither of the 
propositions for the settlement of the Slavery ques- 
tion presented at the last Session of Congress could 
prevail; and that either of them would be embar- 
rassed by the Wilmot Proviso in the Ho. Repts. 
What then was to be done, was the question. Sena- 
tor Douglass of Illinois had introduced a Bill into 
the Senate to admit both California and New Mex- 
ico into the Union as one State. The territory, we 
were all of opinion, was too large, and the settle- 
ments in it too detached & distant from each other to 
form one State. After full consideration it was 
agreed that I should see Senator Douglass and ad- 
vise him to modify his Bill so as to admit California 
alone into the Union as a State, and to bring in a 
seperate Bill for the Government of New Mexico. 
All were agreed that this was the most feasible plan 
of settling the slavery question, by leaving it to the 
inhabitants of the new state to decide the question for 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 233 

themselves, and at the same time avoid the danger 
of loosing California, of which there was very great 
danger if the present session of Congress adjourned 
without acting on the subject. 

This being reception evening an unusually large 
number of persons, ladies & gentlemen, members of 
Congress, citizens, & strangers attended. 

Wednesday, 13th December, 1848. — Senator 
Douglass of Illinois called this morning at my re- 
quest, and I communicated to him fully my views 
in relation to the slavery question and the admission 
of California into the Union as a state, and the pro- 
priety of bringing in a seperate Bill for the Govern- 
ment of New Mexico (see this Diary of yesterday). 
He thought well of my suggestions of modification 
of the Bill he had introduced into the Senate, and 
said he would consider them and confer with Sena- 
tors on the subject. At my suggestion he said he 
would call & see Mr. Buchanan on the subject. 
Many members of Congress called this morning & 
among them Mr. Calhoun of S. Carolina, who had 
reached Washington only a day or two ago. I had 
some conversation with him, in which I expressed 
my opinions on the subject of the slavery question 
and the government of California & New Mexico. 
They were, in substance, the views entertained in 
the Cabinet on yesterday (see this Diary of that day) . 
He expressed no decided opinion, said he had not 
read Mr. Douglass's Bill or my message, but ex- 
pressed himself as anxious to settle the question at 
the present session. It was after i O'Clock before 



234 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [13 Dec. 

members of Congress ceased to occupy my attention, 
and up to that hour I had not time to read a single 
letter or transact any business. Among others Sena- 
tor Dickinson of New York called, much excited, 
& showed me a letter from a citizen of Rochester, 
N. York (Mr. H. Gay) denou[nc]ing in strong 
terms the selection by Mr. Buchanan of a Barn- 
burning paper in that town in which to publish the 
laws of the U. States, because that paper had opposed 
the Democratic nominees for President at the last 
election and was opposed to my administration. I 
told him Mr. Buchanan had certainly committed an 
error. He had previously spoken to me on the sub- 
ject (see this Diary of the nth Inst.). Mr. Bu- 
chanan called on business at a subsequent part of the 
day & [I] showed him Mr. Gay's letter. He said 
that he had made the selection of that paper with- 
out consulting me & that he took the whole responsi- 
bility. I told him that although the law authorized 
him to make the selection I would be held responsi- 
ble for it. He said he had obtained the best infor- 
mation he could, and understanding that it was a 
moderate Barnbu[rn]ing paper, & not desiring to 
take part between the Hunkers & Barnburners he 
had selected on[e] Hunker and one Barnburner 
paper, & he desired me to say to Senator Dickinson 
that he had not consulted me on the subject and was 
alone responsible. I told him I disapproved the 
selection & feared it would do mischief. His future 
personal aspirations for the Presidency undoubtedly 
induced Mr. Buchanan to commit this great mistake. 
I desire to avoid a rupture with him at this late 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 235 

period of my administration or I would order the 
paper to be discontinued. I learn from my Private 
Secretary this afternoon that a vote was taken in the 
Ho. Repts. to-day approving the Wilmot Proviso by 
a considerable majority. Some of the Northern 
Democrats are giving way and reversing their votes 
of the last session, and I am the more satisfied that 
unless Senator Douglass's Bill is accepted, no adjust- 
ment of the territorial questions can be affected [ef- 
fected] at the present session. After night Senator 
Foote of Miss, called, & I had a full conversation 
with him on the subject and gave him my views as 
entertained and expressed in Cabinet on yesterday 
(see this Diary of that day). After my company 
retired to-day I disposed of much business on my 
table. I am daily applied to for office. The pas- 
sion for place is quite as great and the applications 
quite as numerous as at any former period of my ad- 
ministration. Senator Foote informed me that it 
was believed in the City that Gen'l Cass would be 
returned to the Senate of the U. S., & that some of 
the Whigs predicted that he would be instructed to 
vote for the Wilmot Proviso. 

Thursday, 14th December, 1848. — I had many 
visitors this morning, members of Congress and 
others. Among them Senator Dickinson of New 
York called again to see me on the subject of the 
selection made by Mr. Buchanan of a Barnbu[rn]ing 
Abolition paper in Rochester, New York, in which 
to publish the laws of the U. S. This selection was 
a great mistake on the part of Mr. Buchanan. Mr. 



236 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Dec. 

Dickinson delivered to me several letters which he 
had received, strongly condemning the selection. I 
strongly disapprove the selection, but dislike to have 
a rupture or any difficulty vs^ith my Secretary of State 
so near the close of my administration. At 12 
O'clock I received in the parlour Don Rafael 
Anvida, the first charge d'affaires from Venezuela, 
who had ever been accredited to the U. States. He 
was presented to me by Mr. Buchanan. He did not 
speak English, but was accompanied by an inter- 
preter. My Private Secretary was with me. Mr. 
Anvida made an address to me, with a translation 
of which I had been previously furnished, to which 
I responded in a short address. 

I gave a Cabinet Dinner to-day at which were 
present all the members of the Cabinet and some of 
the ladies of their respective families: Senators 
Atchison of Mo., Sturgeon of Penn., Douglass & 
Breese of Illinois, Butler, S. C, Atherton of N. 
Hampshire, Hunter of Va., King of AL, Bright of 
Indiana, & Houston of Texas were of the company. 
Mr. Venable of N. C, Ho. Repts., Mr. Ritchie & 
daughter, Walker Anderson of Florida, Dr. Foltz 
of the Navy, Mr. Aspenwall ^ and Stevens of N. 
York, the latter the traveller, were also of the party. 
Senator Douglass remained after dinner & [after] 
the company had retired and I held a long conversa- 
tion with him on the subject of the Bill he had in- 

^ William H. Aspinwall, merchant, of New York. In 1850 
he started a steamship line to California by way of the Isthmus 
of Panama; he was the builder of the railroad across the Isthmus 
opened in 1855. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 237 

troduced into the Senate, to admit New Mexico & 
California into the Union as one State, in which I 
strongly advised him to modify the Bill so as to 
admit California alone as a state, as more likely to 
succeed. I told him this would secure the acquired 
territory to the Union, and that he could bring in a 
seperate Bill for the Government of New Mexico. 
He was favourably inclined to adopt my suggestions, 
but did not decide positively to do so. My time 
was so constantly occupied with company to-day 
that I had but little time to dispose of business on 
my table. 

Friday, /5/A December, 1 848, — Many members 
of Congress called this morning. Among them 
Senator Dickinson called to know whether Mr. Bu- 
chanan's order, selecting a Barnburning abolition 
paper at Rochester, N. York, in which to publish the 
laws of the U. S., had been or would be revoked. He 
said if it was not revoked he would make a publica- 
tion exposing the Secretary for the act (see this Diary 
for several days past). Finding that he was still 
much excited and resolved to make a publication in 
the newspapers, and desiring to prevent a newspaper 
quarrel between him and the Secretary of State, I 
availed myself, at a subsequent period of the day 
when Mr. Buchanan [called, of the opportunity] to 
inform him of Mr. Dickinson's intention, and to 
submit to him whether it would not be better for 
him to revoke the order and select some other paper, 
which was friendly to my administration. I told 
him I thought he had made a mistake in the paper 



238 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [15 Dec. 

he had selected, but that I would not, if it was dis- 
agreeable to him, order the change, though I would 
be gratified if he consented to make the change. He 
said he cared nothing for Dickinson's threatened 
publication, for that he could answer. He said if 
I chose to take the responsibility of requesting that 
the change be made, he would make it, and state to 
the Editor that it was done at my request, and that 
he would have no unpleasant feeling toward me on 
the subject. I told him I thought, on his own ac- 
count as well as that of the administration, it was 
very unfortunate the selection had been made, & that 
I was ready to take the responsibility. I told him 
that I would see Mr. Marcy on the subject & let him 
know on to-morrow what [I] determined to do. 

Senator Hunter called by previous appointment at 
I O'clock, and I had a full conversation with him 
on the territorial & slavery question, as connected 
with New Mexico & California. I repeated to him 
the views which I had expressed in Cabinet on tues- 
day last, and which I have since expressed to Sena- 
tor Douglass and others. He expressed himself as 
very desirous to settle the question in any way to 
avoid the degradation of the South, by getting clear 
of the Wilmot Proviso, but expressed his fears that 
this was impracticable. After night Mr. Venable of 
the Ho. Repts. called, and I held a similar conversa- 
tion with him. He concurred with me in my views 
and will co-operate in carrying them out. I ad- 
dressed a letter to Gen'l Cass to-day, giving him a 
statement of the difficulties which were encountered 
on this subject. I took the occasion also to inform 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 239 

him of what I had learned from Senator Foote on 
the 13th Inst, (see this Diary of that day) that he 
might be returned to the Senate from Michigan, and 
that, in that event, some of the Whigs were predict- 
ing that he would be instructed to vote for the Wil- 
mot Proviso, and that if he obeyed he would have 
to abandon the ground he had taken in his Nicholson 
letter, & I gave him my opinion on the subject. I 
refer to my letter to him, a copy of which will be 
found in my letter book. 

After night Senators Atchison of Missouri & 
Cameron of Penn., called & enquired of me if I had 
nominated Lewis Cass, jr., to the Senate as charge 
d'affaires to Rome (his nomination is now before the 
Senate) at the request of his father (Gen'l Cass). I 
replied that it was a question of some delicacy, but, 
as they were both the friends of Gen'l Cass, I would 
say to them confidentially that it was done at the 
request of Gen'l Cass, who was anxious he should 
receive the appointment and thought him well quali- 
fied for it. I told them I knew very little of the 
young man personally, and had nominated him from 
the belief that he was qualified & from the great 
respect I had for his father. They expressed deep 
regret at it, and expressed the opinion [that he] had 
no claims & that he would be rejected by the Senate. 
Mr. Atchison declared his intention to vote against 
his nomination. They desired to know if I would 
withdraw his nomination. I told them I could not 
unless his father voluntarily requested it. They en- 
quired of me, if he was rejected, if I would then 
appoint Senator Hannegan in his place (information 



240 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 Dbc. 

1. 

having been received here to-day that Mr. Hannegan 
had been defeated in the Senatorial election for the 
next term) as they were very anxious to see him pro- 
vided for. I told them I deemed it improper to 
say anything on that point. In the course of the day 
I disposed of much business on my table. 

Saturday, l6th December, 1848, — I had scarcely 
reached my office this morning before members of 
Congress and others commenced calling. I received, 
as is usual, a large mail this morning, but had no 
opportunity to open or read a single [letter] before 
the hour of meeting of the Cabinet. I have omitted 
to note for some time past the annoyance to which 
I am daily subjected by importunate office seekers. 
There has been no period of my administration when 
the applicants for office have been more numerous 
or pressing, unless it may have been the first two 
months of my Presidential term. I regard office 
seekers as a class, I mean such (and there are many 
of them) and [as] make it their study [to] devise 
means to live off the public without relying upon 
their own resources and exertions, as the most useless 
and least deserving portion of society. The impres- 
sion seems to have obtained to some extent that Gen'l 
Taylor will make but few if any removals from 
office, and to this I attribute the press for place at 
the close of my term. Since the commencement of 
the present session of Congress members of Congress, 
who are doubtless urged to it by their constituents, 
call on me daily to procure places for their friends. 
There is a class of gentlemen loafers who congregate 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 241 

at Washington during every session of Congress, 
who are standing applicants for every vacancy. 
This class is more numerous at the present session 
than I have known it to be during my term. 

The Cabinet assembled to-day at the usual hour; 
all the members present. Some subjects of minor 
importance were considered and disposed of. I in- 
formed the Cabinet that I proposed on monday next 
to nominate the Hon. Ambrose H. Sevier of Arkan- 
sas to the Senate as the commissioner on the part of 
the U. S. to run the boundary line between Mexico 
and the U. S. in pursuance of the Treaty of Peace. 
All the members of the Cabinet approved the selec- 
tion of Mr. Sevier. About the time the Cabinet were 
retiring I walked ^*nto the room adjoining my ofRce 
with Mr. Buchanai and informed him that I would 
take the whole responsibility of revoking the appoint- 
ment of an Editor of a barnburning abolition paper 
at Rochester in N. York, as one of the publishers of 
the laws of the U. S. (see this Diary of yesterday). 
I told him that he could select any other paper he 
chose provided it was a Democratic paper, friendly 
to my administration, and which had supported the 
election of the Democratic candidates for President 
& Vice President at the last election. I read to him 
a paragraph from the paper at Rochester which he 
had selected, & which was published since he selected 
it, vaunting his appointment, of an exceptionable 
character. Mr. Buchanan said it was an exception- 
able article and that he would yield to my request 
& revoke the appointment. About an hour after- 
wards Mr. Buchanan sent by his messenger the draft 



242 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 Dec. 

of a letter in his own hand-writing to be addressed 
" to the publisher of the Rochester daily advertiser, 
New York." The draft of the letter was not signed, 
but there was a note at the bottom in pencil " is this 
right." I took a copy of the draft which I will pre- 
serve. I did not like it, but determined, if Mr. 
Buchanan desired it, to let it go. I sent for Mr. 
Marcy and showed it to him. He thought as I did 
that it was exceptionable. It would undoubtedly be 
published by the dismissed Editor and would show 
that Mr. B. had not yielded to my suggestions cheer- 
fully or willingly, but under constraint. He 
thought it was enough to say that the arrangement 
had been changed at my request or on my suggestion, 
instead of saying as he had done " I have deemed it 
to be my duty to [accede to] the special request of 
the President, & C." At my request Mr. Marcy 
wrote a draft of a letter somewhat modifying Mr. 
Buchanan's draft. After Mr. Marcy retired I sent 
for Mr. B., and while the messenger was gone after 
him I prepared two drafts of my own, copies of which 
I will preserve with the copy of his. When Mr. 
Buchan[an] came I submitted my drafts to him & 
said to him that if he preferred [?] his own to either 
of them he could send it if he chose, but that I 
thought it unnecessary, as I had taken the whole 
responsibility, for him to say that he had acted at 
my special request, for this would indicate that I had 
some motive towards the particular paper he had 
selected, which I had not, but had objections to giv- 
ing the patronage of my administration to an aboli- 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 243 

tion paper which opposed it, that I desired some 
paper to be employed to publish the laws which was 
Republican in its character, and not one which 
agitated a sectional issue which might endanger the 
Union, and which in the last election had contributed 
to defeat the Democratic party. He took one of my 
drafts and his own, and as he left my office he said 
he would omit the word ^^ special " in his at all 
events. What precise form of letter he will send 
off I do not know. I note this small affair thus 
particularly because when his letter, whatever it may 
be, is published, it may produce some excitement, 
and I desire to preserve all the facts. It is a weakness 
of Mr. Buchanan that he is too much inclined to court 
his political opponents, and especially the barn- 
burners of N. York, in the vain hope, as it seems to 
me, that he may win them over & make them his 
friends. He does not reflect that in attempting this 
he is driving ofif the true Democrats of New York 
who remained faithful in the last Presidential elec- 
tion and continued firm in the support of my admin- 
istration. Such occurrences with any member of my 
Cabinet are exceedingly unpleasant to me. Though 
Mr. Buchanan said to me on yesterday (see this 
Diary) that he would yield to my wishes in this 
matter without any feeling on his part, his whole 
manner & conduct to-day indicates that he has feel- 
ing upon the subject. 

In the afternoon I disposed of some of the business 
on my table. After night Hon. R. W. Johnson of 
Ar. of the Ho. Repts. called, & I informed him of 



244 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Dec. 

my intention to appoint Mr. Sevier commissioner to 
run the Mexican boundary line. Mr. J. is Mr. 
Sevier's brother-in-law. 

Sunday, lyth December, 1848, — Accompanied 
by Mrs. Polk and our two nieces, Miss Rucker and 
Miss Hays, I attended the First Presbyterian Church 
to-day. 

Monday, l8th December, 1 848. — As soon as I 
was in my office this morning members of Congress 
and others commenced calling, and my time was 
occupied with company until after 12 O'Clock. 
The Secretary of State and the Secretary of War 
called at different hours on business. I disposed of 
several applications for pardon & of other business 
which had accumulated on my table. I was very 
busy during the day, but nothing of special interest 
occurred. After night Hon. George S. Houston of 
Alabama & Senator Turney of Tennessee called. 
Mr. Houston arrived in the City a day or two ago 
and I had not before seen him. I had a long con- 
versation with them about public affairs and par- 
ticularly urged upon them the importance of pro- 
viding a Government for California at the present 
Session [of] Congress. 

Tuesday, igth December, 1848. — A large num- 
ber of members of Congress called this morning, 
some of them bringing with them some office-seeker 
to introduce to me. Almost every member who 
called was seeking an office for some constituent or 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 245 

friend. The number of applications and the pres- 
sure for office has not been greater at any period of 
my administration than it has been since the meet- 
ing of the present session of Congress, with the ex- 
ception of the first two or three months of my term. 
Many persons have taken up the impression that 
Gen'l Taylor will make but few removals from 
office, and to this I attribute the anxiety of so many 
[to] get places. The Cabinet met at the usual hour, 
all the members present. Mr. Walker, having im- 
portant business to attend to at his office, retired be- 
fore all the other members came in. There was no 
business of importance before the Cabinet to-day and 
after a short sitting they retired. I attended to busi- 
ness on my table as usual. 

This was the regular weekly evening for receiving 
company. An unusually large number of persons, 
ladies and gentlemen, members of Congress and of 
the Judiciary, Foreign Ministers, strangers, and citi- 
zens called. The Circular parlour and one or two 
of the adjoining parlours were filled. Among others 
who were present I noticed Mr. John Van Buren. 
Though he had been several times in Washington 
& had called on me this was the first time he had 
called on Mrs. Polk. Upon two or three occasions 
I had decided that he should be invited to dinner, 
and in each case Mrs. Polk had countermanded the 
order. This she did upon the ground that if he so 
far neglected the courtesies of life as not to call and 
pay his respects to her that he should not be honoured 
with an invitation to dinner at [by] the President. 
Upon one of these occasions I was amused when she 



24^ JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Dec. 

told me she had burned John Van Buren's dinner 
ticket, which I had requested my Private Secretary 
to send to him. During the past year he has been 
traversing the country making violent political 
speeches against my administration, and advocating 
the " free-soil " doctrine and his father's claims to 
the Presidency. I, of course, treated him cour- 
teously in my own parlour. 

Wednesday, 20th December, 1848. — I was 
scarcely in my office this morning when my mes- 
senger informed me that some gentlemen had called. 
When they were shown in I found their business to 
be to annoy me about clerkships and other petty 
offices. My time was occupied until near i 
O'clock by members of Congress and others who 
called. The business of most of them was to seek 
offices for themselves or their friends. After I got 
clear of the office hunters I told my Private Secre- 
tary, jestingly, that I required to have one of Colt's 
revolving pistols to clear my office of the office seek- 
ers and to enable me to attend to my public duties. 
The Secretaries of State, Treasury, War, Navy, & 
the atto. Gen'l called at different periods of the day 
on official business. Mr. Clifford, U. S. Minister 
to Mexico, called. He is on his return to Mexico 
to resume the duties of his Mission. He takes his 
wife and two of his children with him. I invited 
him to the Diplomatic Dinner which I will give 
on to-morrow. The Clerk of the Ho. Repts. called 
to-day and delivered to me a Resolution of that 
House calling for information and the constitutional 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 247 

or legal authority under which I had ordered mili' 
tary contributions to be collected & disbursed for 
the support of the army during the late war with 
Mexico. I have heretofore given information on 
this subject to Congress which appeared to be satis- 
factory. I will, however, now prepare and send to 
the House a more full and elaborate message on the 
subject. I attended to much business on my table 
to-day. 

Thursday, 21st December, 1848, — I was in my 
office at the usual hour this morning. The first per- 
son who entered was a young man seeking office. 
He was a stout looking fellow who was able to pur- 
sue any honest calling for a livelihood. He had no 
particular office in view, but was ready to accept any 
that was going. I have great contempt for such 
persons and I made short work of him. My time 
was taken up until after 12 O'Clock by members of 
Congress seeking offices for their constituents and 
for loafers about this City, who by their importunities 
had induced them to call to see me in their behalf. 
At different hours of the day I saw the Secretaries 
of State, Treasury, War, & Navy and the atto. Gen'l 
on official business. I saw also, Mr. Clifford, U. S. 
Minister to Mexico. He came to the United States 
on leave of absence a few weeks ago and is now on 
his return to Mexico, taking with him his wife and 
two children. He leaves in the Southern boat on to- 
morrow morning. I invited him and his wife to 
dine with me to-day, and they did so. This was 
the day on which I gave a dinner to the Diplomatic 



248 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [22 Dec 

corps. All the Foreign ministers, their wives & 
daughters, & their Secretaries of Legation dined 
with me. In addition to the Foreign corps & Mr. 
& Mrs. Clifford, Miss White of this City and Messrs. 
Vinton ^ of Ohio, C. J. IngersoU of Pennsylvania, 
McClelland of Michigan, Iverson ^ of Georgia, all 
of the Ho. Repts., and Mr. Buchanan, the Secretary 
of State, dined with me. Tht whole dinner party 
consisted of 37 persons. As it was a Diplomatic 
Dinner there was more form and ceremony than I 
am accustomed to observe. Among the Foreigners 
present I was gratified to have Mr. De La Rosa, the 
Mexican Minister, his wife & daughter, and his Sec- 
retary of Legation. The party passed off very pleas- 
antly. 

1 learn that a Resolution was passed in the Ho. 
Repts. to-day instructing the Committee on the Dis- 
trict of Columbia to bring in a Bill to abolish the 
slave-trade in said District. I learned this from the 
Hon. Mr. Iverson of Georgia, who was one of my 
Dinner party to-day. He informed me that the 
adoption of the Resolution had produced consider- 
able excitement among the Southern Members. 

Friday, 22nd December, 1 848. — I was in my 
office at the usual hour this morning. A number of 
persons called. After 12 O'Clock I transacted busi- 
ness with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of 
the Navy. About 2 O'Clock the Hon. Mr. Inge of 

^Samuel Finley Vinton, Representative from Ohio 1 843-1 851. 

2 Alfred Iverson, Representative from Georgia 1 847-1 849, Sen- 
ator I 855-1 86 I. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 249 

Alabama called to see me about the appointment of 
a Land officer at Tuscaloosa, Ala., to fill a vacancy 
which had occurred in consequence of the death of 
the former incumbent. After conversing on that 
subject Mr. Inge informed me that considerable ex- 
citement existed in the Ho. Repts. to-day in conse- 
quence of the Resolution passed on yesterday direct- 
ing the Committee on the District of Columbia to 
bring in a Bill to abolish the slave-trade in the said 
District. He informed me that before he left the 
House a paper was being handed round for the 
Southern members to sign calling a meeting of all 
the Senators & Representatives from the slave-hold- 
ing states, to take place this evening. He said that 
the movement had been set on foot by Southern Sen- 
ators, and that Senator Foote of Mississippi had been 
in the Hall of the House and was active in promoting 
it. He informed me that the Southern Whig mem- 
bers disapproved the vote of yesterday and were as 
much excited at it as Southern Democrats, but that 
some of them had declined to sign the paper, and 
among these he named Mr. Stephens of Georgia. 
This was the first intimation I had that such a move- 
ment was contemplated. I felt the delicacy as well 
as the responsibility of my station and gave no ex- 
pression of opinion further that [than] my disap- 
proval of the Resolution passed on yesterday and my 
hope that the Northern members would not press so 
mischievous a proposition. About dark Mr. James 
H. Thomas of the Ho. Repts. from Tennessee called 
to consult with me on the same subject. He stated 
to me in substance what Mr. Inge had told me. He 



250 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [22 Dec. 

said the paper calling a meeting of Southern mem- 
bers of both Houses for to-night had been presented 
to him for his signature and that he had declined to 
sign it, but had stated he was willing to attend the 
meeting, reserving to himself the right to approve or 
not of its proceedings after he saw what they were. 
He said he was informed that the object was to agree 
upon an address to the people of the slave-holding 
states on the subject of the proceedings of the Ho. 
Repts. on yesterday. He asked me what I would 
advise him to do. This it was natural he should do, 
as he represents the District in Tennessee in which I 
reside, and is a citizen of the same village. He is a 
prudent man and desires to do what is right. I told 
him that as President of the U. S. it would be my 
duty to allay any sectional excitement which might 
arise, and to do all in my power to prevent any vio- 
lent proceedings which might endanger the harmony 
of the Union. I told him that considering the deli- 
cacy & responsibility of my position I deemed it im- 
proper to advise him as to his course. I remarked 
further that if I was a member of either House I 
should not deem it improper to meet & consult with 
others, but that I would judge for myself how far I 
would give my assent to any proposition which might 
be made. He said such was his view of the subject, 
and that he thought he would attend the meeting 
and see what was proposed. I stated to him that I 
approved his course in declining to sign any paper 
for the call of the meeting. He informed me that 
he knew several members who had refused to sign 
the paper, who said they would attend the meeting. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 251 

The agitation of the slavery question is mischie- 
vous & wicked, and proceeds from no patriotic mo- 
tive by its authors. It is a mere political question 
on which demagogues & ambitious politicians hope 
to promote their own prospects for political promo- 
tion. And this they seem willing to do even at the 
hazard of disturbing the harmony if not dissolving 
the Union itself. Such agitation with such objects 
deserves the reprobation of all the lovers of the 
Union & of their country. I disposed of much busi- 
ness on my table to-day. 

Saturday, 23rd December, 1848. — Several 
members of Congress and others called this morn- 
ing. The Cabinet met at the usual hour, all the 
members present. After disposing of some business 
of minor importance, Mr. Buchanan [stated] that 
he had brought over copies of the correspondence 
called for by a Resolution of the Ho. Repts., passed 
some days ago, requesting the President to commu- 
nicate any information in his possession relating to 
the imprisonment of American citizens in Ireland 
suspected of being guilty of treasonable purposes 
against the Brittish Government. At my request 
he read over the whole correspondence upon the 
subject which had taken place between the Secre- 
tary of State and Mr. Bancroft, and between the 
latter and the Brittish Government. All the corre- 
spondence ^ deemed important, omitting such por- 
tions of it as consisted in speculations and opinions 
of the Secretary of State and Mr. Bancroft, it was 

^H, Ex. Doc. 19, 30 Cong. 2 Sess. IV. 



252 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [23 Dec. 

decided should be sent to the House in answer to 
their call. Mr. Bancroft deserves high praise for 
the vigilant & able manner in which he conducted 
the affair and finally succeeded in procuring the re- 
lease from imprisonment of Mr. Bergen & Mr. 
Ryan, two American citizens who had been arrested 
on suspicion that they had visited Ireland with trea- 
sonable designs. After considering some other mat- 
ters of minor importance the Cabinet at about 3 
O'clock adjourned. 

Between sunset & dark, Senator Foote of Missis- 
sippi called and enquired of me if I had heard what 
had occurred at the meeting of the Southern mem- 
bers of Congress held at the Senate-chamber last 
night on the subject of the slavery question and the 
agitation of it by Congress, and particularly by the 
Ho. Repts. (see this Diary of yesterday). I told 
[him] that I had heard generally that such a meet- 
ing had been held, but that I had not been informed 
minutely or particularly what had been done. He 
then informed me that Senator Metcalfe of Ken- 
tucky had been placed in the chair; that Senator 
Atchison of Mo. & Mr. Gayle of Al. of the Ho. 
Repts. were Vice Presidents, & that Mr. Venable of 
N. C. had been appointed Secretary. He informed 
me that about 70 members of both political parties 
from the slave-holding states were present, and that 
Mr. Bayley of Va. had offered Resolutions,^ which 
on motion of Mr. Stephens of Georgia had been re- 
ferred to a committee of one from each of the slave- 

^ For an account of the entire proceedings see Washington 
Union J January 28, 1849. 



1848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 253 

holding states, who were to report to an adjourned 
meeting on or before the 15th of January next. He 
informed me that this was done by the unanimous 
voice of those present. He said there was no vio- 
lence, but a calm and firm purpose on the part of 
those present to assert & maintain the constitutional 
rights of the Southern States if the majority in Con- 
gress should attempt to carry out the purpose indi- 
cated by the late votes in the House of Represent- 
atives on the subject of slavery in this District. He 
said that the Committee appointed would prepare 
an address to the State Governments of the slave- 
holding states on the subject, if the measures threat- 
ened in Congress assailing the constitutional rights 
of the South were pressed. I said but little in reply, 
but said Generally that my position as President of 
the U. S. made [it] my duty to represent all the 
States & to preserve the harmony of the Union as 
far as I possessed the power to do so. I expressed 
the hope to him that the threatened interference from 
the North with the delicate subject of slavery would 
not be pressed to extremities. I expressed also the 
belief that the North would not so press it if they 
ascertained that the South of both political parties 
were firm and united in resisting encroachments on 
their rights. I expressed my satisfaction at learn- 
ing from him that no violent measures, or such as 
look to the possibility of disunion had been adopted 
at the meeting of the Southern members of Congress 
last night, and I expressed the hope that none such 
would be hereafter adopted. After Foote retired 
Senator Butler of S. C, to whom I had sent a request 



254 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [23 Dec. 

to do so by my Private Secretary this morning, called. 
He is Chairman of the Judiciary committee of the 
Senate, to which is referred a Bill brought in by Sen- 
ator Douglass of Illinois proposing to admit Cali- 
fornia & new Mexico into the Union as a State. It 
was upon that subject that I desired to converse with 
him. I accordingly held a long conversation with 
him, heard his views, and gave him mine. I found 
him well disposed to settle the question of providing 
Governments for these Territories at the present Ses- 
sion. He had decided objections to Mr. Douglass's 
Bill, and in its present form he said he could not vote 
for it. I stated to him that I was informed by several 
members of Congress that no Bill establishing a Ter- 
ritorial Government over these Territories could be 
passed through the Ho. Repts. without having the 
Wilmot Proviso attached to it; and that if that Pro- 
viso should pass both Houses and be applied to the 
acquired country lying South of the Missouri com- 
promise line of 36° 30' I could not approve it, and 
that if [in] the discharge of my constitutional duty 
I should be compelled to veto such a Bill, involving 
as it would a geographical question, it would pro- 
duce vast excitement in the country, which should if 
possible be avoided. I stated further to him that I 
had been informed that a Bill to admit a State in- 
stead of creating a Territorial Government might, 
& probably could, be passed without being embar- 
rassed by the Proviso. I gave him my opinion that 
the only mode of avoiding the Proviso would be to 
amend Mr. Douglass's Bill and confine the State to 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 255 

be admitted to the country West of [the] Range of 
Mountains which seperated the Pacific portion of 
California from New Mexico; & provide for New 
Mexico and the country East of these mountains in a 
seperate Bill. I urged him to adopt this course & 
expressed to him the opinion that if this Session of 
Congress adjourned without providing any Govern- 
ment for California, there was danger of its being 
lost to the Union. I gave him my reasons at some 
length for this opinion (they are already recorded 
in a previous part of this Diary) . After a long con- 
versation he left me in doubt what course he would 
pursue. New Mexico being an interior country, 
the same danger of losing it by the establishment of 
an Independent [government] does not exist in its 
limits that does in California. Mr. Butler said 
nothing to me about the meeting of the Southern 
members of Congress last night to consider the 
slavery question, & I was glad he did not. I do not 
know whether he was at the meeting or not. It is a 
delicate subject upon which, in view of my respon- 
sibilities & duties, I do not desire to converse with 
members of Congress, & shall not do so unless they 
introduce the subject. My opinions as [to] the 
wickedness of agitating the subject in Congress are 
well settled, & events may occur which will make 
it my duty to incur high & vast responsibilities. I 
will meet them, but am resolved to give no favour to 
violent or disunion movements, but on the contrary 
to do everything, consistently with my sense of con- 
stitutional duty, to preserve the Union & its harmony. 



256 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [24 Dec. 

Sunday, 24th December, 1848. — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day. Mrs. Polk & our 
two nieces, Miss Rucker & Miss Hays, accompanied 
me. Shortly after returning from church a serv- 
ant informed Mrs. Polk and myself that the French 
minister had called to pay his respects. As it is con- 
trary to our fixed rule to receive company on the 
sabbath the servant was directed to ask hirn to be 
pleased to excuse us. He did so, and the minister 
sent up his card. 

After night the Secretary of War & the Secretary 
of the Navy called & remained with me half an hour 
in my office. Mr. Mason informed me that he would 
leave to-night in the Southern Boat on a visit to his 
residence in Va., & that he expected to be absent a 
Week or ten days. 

Monday, ^5/A December, 1848, — This being 
Christmas Day neither House of Congress was in 
Session ; the Executive offices were all closed, and I 
spent perhaps the most quiet day of my Presidential 
term. I saw not a single visitor during the day, ex- 
cept two persons who called to see me about a pardon 
for a convict now in prison in this District. The 
day was damp and gloomy. Mrs. Polk & the family 
attended church. Being relieved from company I 
was busily engaged during the whole day in writing 
a message to the Ho. Repts. in answer to [a] Reso- 
lution calling for information as to the legal author- 
ity to levy contributions on the enemy by means of 
duties collected on imports into the mexican ports in 
our military possessions during the war with Mexico. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIAHY 257 

I have heretofore communioated to Congress the 
general ground on which the power to levy contribu- 
tions in this mode was exercised. The Ho. Repts. 
have, however, made another call, and I deem it to 
be proper to go fully into the subject in answer to 
their Resolution. I sent for the atto. Gen'l in the 
afternoon and requested him to turn me to a legal 
authority on the subject, and especially upon the 
point that the Supreme Court of the U. S. had rec- 
ognized the public law of nations as being binding 
on the U. S. He promised to do so, and to furnish 
me the authority on to-morrow. 

Tuesday, 26th December, 1848, — Several mem- 
bers of Congress called this morning. I sent for 
Senator Douglass of Illinois and had a long conver- 
sation with him in relation to the Bill he had intro- 
duced-into the Senate & which had been referred to 
the Judiciary committee, providing for the admis- 
sion of California & New Mexico into the Union 
as a State. I urged him to consent to seperate the 
two territories and to confine the State proposed to 
be admitted to California; and to provide for the 
Government of New Mexico in a seperate Bill. I 
urged this course as the only one by which he could 
probably succeed. He finally agreed to do so and 
expressed the opinion that if the Judiciary commit- 
tee would Report the Bill back to the Senate in a 
reasonable time it could be passed by that body. I 
informed him of my conversation with Senator But' 
ler of S. C, who is chairman of the Judiciary com- 
mittee (see this Diary of Saturday last). I ex- 



258 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [27 Dec. 

pressed to him my great anxiety that the Bill should 
pass in some form. 

This was Cabinet day. All the members at- 
tended except the Secretary of the Navy, who left 
on yesterday morning on a visit to his residence in 
Virginia. The Secretary of the Treasury & the 
atto. General remained but a few minutes, the 
former having pressing business in his Department 
& the latter having business in the Supreme Court 
of the U. S. I read to the remaining three mem- 
bers of the Cabinet the rough draft of my message 
prepared on yesterday in answer to the Resolution 
of the Ho. Repts. calling for the legal authority by 
virtue of which contributions in the form of a tariff 
of duties had been levied and expended in Mexico 
during the late war with that Republic (see this 
Diary of yesterday). There was no business of im- 
portance before the Cabinet and about i O'Clock 
they adjourned. I had not finished my message, a 
part of which I read to them, and devoted a part of 
the day to that subject. I attended to the business 
on my table as usual. This was reception evening. 
A large number of persons, ladies & gentlemen, 
members of Congress, Foreign ministers, citizens, 
and strangers called. 

Wednesday, 27th December, 1848. — The morn- 
ing until after 12 O'Clock was spent as usual in re- 
ceiving visitors. Many persons, members of Con- 
gress and others, called. I was occupied during the 
day in attending to the business which had accumu- 
lated on my table. There was a fall of snow to-day. 



1848J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 259 

the first that has occurred during the winter. Noth- 
ing worthy of special notice occurred. Mark Pil- 
low of Tennessee, now a temporary clerk in one of 
the Departments, took dinner with my family to-day. 
After night the Secretary of War called at my re- 
quest & examined with me the draft of the message 
to the Ho. Repts. which I had prepared in answer 
to a Resolution upon the subject of contributions 
levied in Mexico during the late war with that 
country. Whilst making the examination Judge 
John K. Kane of Philadelphia called & spent half 
an hour. His object was to have his son, who is a 
surgeon in the Navy, ordered to accompany the 
Joint commission of officers of the army & Navy who 
are about to proceed to the coast of California and 
Oregon with a view to select suitable points for naval 
stations and for military defense. After Judge K. 
retired my porter reported that a young man had 
called twice to-night and insisted that I would see 
him, as [he] must leave the City in the morning. I 
directed him to be shown up. He came in. He 
had but one arm. He said he wished to see me 
privately. The Secretary of War proposed to re- 
tire. The young man seemed to be embarrassed, 
& without giving me his name or making known his 
business retired. 

Thursday, 28th December, 1848. — Saw mem- 
bers of Congress, office-seekers, and others as usual 
this morning. Among others Hon. A. C. Dodge ^ 

^Augustus Caesar Dodge, Senator from Iowa 1848-1855, min- 
ister to Spain 1855-1859. 



26o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [29 Dec. 

& Geo. W. Jones,^ the two U. S. Senators from the 
State of Iowa, who took their seats in the Senate 
two or three days ago, called. They are the first 
Senators in Congress from that State. After 12 
O'clock I put a part of my message to the Ho. 
Repts. in answer to their Resolution on the subject 
of contributions collected in Mexico, in the hands 
of Mr. Loving, a confidential clerk, to be copied. 
He occupied a room adjoining my office. I finished 
the message in the course of the day. After it is 
copied in a fair hand and without interlineations & 
[I] will carefully revise it. After night Senator 
Hannegan of Indiana called. He reached Wash- 
ington to-day, having been defeated in his election 
for another Senatorial term. Senator Atchison of 
Mo. called with him. Nothing important occurred 
to-day. 

Friday, 2gth December, 1 848. — This morning 
was occupied as usual in receiving company. Many 
members of Congress & others called. Among 
them, of course, were some office-seekers. After 
12 O'clock I devoted some time & [to] revising my 
message in answer to the Resolution of the House 
in relation to military contributions levied in Mex- 
ico. Mr. Loving, a confidential clerk, finished the 
copy of the message which he was making. The 
Secretaries of State and the Treasury called and I 
read the message to them. The latter suggested an 
additional view which I had not presented in the 
paper. It was that by the Treaty of peace with 

^ George Wallace Jones, Senator from Iowa 1 848-1 859. 



i848] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 261 

Mexico, ratified by the Senate of the U. S., the power 
which I had exercised of levying & collecting con- 
tributions on the enemy in the form of duties on 
merchandise imported into the Mexican ports in the 
military occupancy of our army had been recognized 
and affirmed. After they retired I prepared a 
paragraph on this point. I attended to some of the 
business on my table to-day. Many matters of minor 
importance and of detail remain on my table to be 
attended to. The public have no idea of the con- 
stant accumulation of business requiring the Presi- 
dent's attention. No President who performs his 
duty faithfully and conscientiously can have any 
leisure. If he entrusts the details and smaller mat- 
ters to subordinates constant errors will occur. I 
prefer to supervise the whole operations of the Gov- 
ernment myself rather than entrust the public busi- 
ness to subordinates, and this makes my duties very 
great. " 

Saturday, 30th December, 1848. — A few mem- 
bers of the Cabinet called this morning before the 
hour of meeting of the Cabinet. The Cabinet as- 
sembled at the usual hour; all the members present 
except the Secretary of the Navy, who is absent on 
a visit to his residence in Virginia. I read my mes- 
sage to the Cabinet in answer to a Resolution of the 
Ho. Repts., on the subject of military contributions 
levied and expended in Mexico for the support of 
our army. The paper was fully discussed and was 
approved by the Cabinet. Some slight modifica- 
tions of it were suggested and made. I had pre- 



262 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [30 Dec. 

pared a paragraph & Mr. Buchanan one at my re- 
quest on the point suggested by the Secretary of the 
Treasury on yesterday, in relation to the affirmance 
made by the Senate of the U. S. in the ratification 
of the Mexican Treaty of the power of the President 
to levy military contributions by means of duties on 
imports (see this Diary of yesterday). Both para- 
graphs were read, when I observed to the Cabinet 
that I would prepare a new paragraph embodying 
a part of both drafts. Some other unimportant mat- 
ters were considered & disposed of, and the Cabinet 
adjourned near 4 O'Clock P. M. At my request 
Hon. James H. Thomas, of Tennessee, Hon. Mr. 
Iverson of Geo., and Hon. Mr. McClernand of 
Illinois called and I read to them my message in 
answer to the Resolution of the House on the sub- 
ject of military contributions and explained to 
[them] the principles on which I had acted. I did 
this that they might be prepared to defend my course 
if it should be assailed on the going in of the mes- 
sage. To-day Senator Allen of Ohio called in com- 
pany with Ex. Gov. Bartley of Ohio and another 
person whom he introduced to me. I note the fact 
of Senator Allen's call because it is the first time he 
has visited me since the latter part of the winter or 
early last Spring. I could not but observe that he 
had not called, & supposed that he had taken offense 
at something, or was dissatisfied with some measure 
of my administration, but I knew not the cause. I 
received him as though nothing had occurred, and 
no explanation took place. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 263 

Sunday, 31st December, 1848, — Mrs. Polk and 
myself, accompanied by our niece. Miss Rucker, at- 
tended the First Presbyterian church to-day and 
listened to a very solemn and impressive sermon by 
the Pastor (Mr. Ballentine) addressed chiefly to 
those who had passed the meridian of life. Our 
niece, Miss Hays, accompanied Col. Walker's family 
& attended the Episcopal church. 

Monday, Ist January, l84g. — This being the 
first day of a new year the President's mansion was 
thrown open for the reception of visitors. Between 
II and 12 O'clock company commenced arriving. 
A very large crowd called, larger than is usual on 
such occasions. Every parlour, the East room, & 
outer hall were crowded. All the foreign ministers 
and the persons attached to their respective Lega- 
tions appeared in their Court Dresses. Many offi- 
cers of .the army & Navy were present in their full 
uniform. The Cabinet and their families. Judges 
of the Supreme & District Courts, Senators and Rep- 
resentatives in Congress, citizens and strangers, were 
of the immense crowd. I received the crowd in the 
Circular parlour and for three hours shook hands 
with a dense column of human beings of all ages 
and sexes. The Marshall of the D. C. and his Dep- 
uties and the commissioner of Public Buildings stood 
near me and preserved order and caused the crowd, 
after shaking hands, to pass on into the other par- 
lours and the East Room. So dense was the crowd 
& so great the jam that many persons, I learn, left 



264 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Jan. 

early. During the period of reception the fine 
marine band of music played in the outer Hall. I 
must have shook hands with several thousand per- 
sons. Toward the close of the day some gentlemen 
asked me if my arm was not sore, and if I would 
not suffer from the day's labour. I answered them 
that judging from my experience on similar occa- 
sions I thought not. I told them that I had found 
that there was great art in shaking hands, and that I 
could shake hands during the whole day without 
suffering any bad effects from it. They were curious 
to know what this art was. I told them that if 
a man surrendered his arm to be shaken, by some 
horizontally, by others perpendicularly, and by oth- 
ers again with a strong grip, he could not fail to suffer 
severely from it, but that if he would shake and not 
be shaken, grip and not be gripped, taking care al- 
ways to squeeze the hand of his adversary as hard 
as he squeezed him, that he suffered no inconvenience 
from it. I told them also that I could generally an- 
ticipate when I was to have a strong grip, and that 
when I observed a strong man approaching I gener- 
ally took advantage of him by being a little quicker 
than he was and seizing him by the tip of his fingers, 
giving him a hearty shake, and thus preventing him 
from getting a full grip upon me. They were much 
amused at my account of the operation, which I 
give [gave] to them playfully, but admitted that 
there was much philosophy in it. But though I 
gave my account of the operation playfully, it is all 
true. About 3 O'Clock the company dispersed. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 265 

After night I sent for the Secretary of War, and 
carefully read over and revised my message to the 
Ho. Repts. in answer to their Resolution on the sub- 
ject of military contributions levied in Mexico, w^ith 
him (see this Diary of Saturday last). Some para- 
graphs v^hich had been suggested on Saturday by 
some members of the Cabinet, I determined, on re- 
vising them with Mr. Marcy, to omit. Mr. Marcy 
thought the message as I finally agreed it should 
be would be unanswerable. Mr. Loving, a confi- 
dential clerk, who had copied the original draft of 
the message, called to-night and corrected the copy 
according to the revised draft. I regard it as among 
the most important messages I have made to either 
House of Congress during my Presidential term, and 
therefore I have given to it more than ordinary at- 
tention. 

Among the visitors whom I observed in the crowd 
to-day was Hon. Andrew Johnson of the Ho. Repts. 
Though he represents a Democratic District in 
Tennessee (my own State) this is the first time I 
have seen him during the present Session of Con- 
gress. Professing to be a Democrat, he has been 
politically if not personally hostile to me during my 
whole term. He is very vindictive and perverse in 
his temper and conduct. If he had the manliness 
or independence to manifest his opposition openly, 
he knows he could not be again elected by his con- 
stituents. I am not aware that I have ever given 
him cause of offense. 



266 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [2 Jan. 

Tuesday, 2nd January, l84g. — A few members 
of Congress called before the hour of meeting of 
the Cabinet this morning. The Cabinet met at the 
usual hour; all the members present except Mr. 
Mason, who is absent on a visit to his residence in 
Virginia. Mr. Marcy did not come in until about 
I O'clock. I read to the other members of the Cab- 
inet my message ^ to the Ho. Repts. on the subject 
of Military contributions as I had revised it, and 
about 12 O'clock my Private Secretary took it to 
deliver it to the House. Nothing of much impor- 
tance was before the Cabinet to-day. The Secretary 
of War handed to me a letter to his Department from 
Gen'l Taylor tendering his resignation as Major 
General of the Army of the U. States to take effect 
on the 31st of January, 1849. He seerns resolved 
to hold on to the office as long as possible, and there- 
fore fixes the period when his resignation is to take 
eflfect about the period when he will probably leave 
his residence in Louisiana to enter on his duties as 
President of the U. S. Mr. Marcy also presented 
a letter from Capt. Hughes of the Topographical 
Engineers, asking leave of absence for six Months 
with liberty to leave the U. S. Mr. Marcy stated 
that he learned from him that his object was to go 
to the Istmus of Panama in the employment of a 
company to survey the route for a Rail Road between 
the two oceans. I declined to grant the leave asked. 
I had some weeks ago declined to detail or give leave 
of absence to any of our officers when I was earnestly 
urged to grant similar leave by Mr. Buchanan (see 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IV, 678. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 267 

this Diary). I issued to-day a Proclamation or 
summons convening an Extra Session of the Senate 
for Monday, the 5th day of March next. This is 
usual when one administration is about retiring and 
another is coming into Power. The object is to en- 
able the new President to make such nominations 
and changes of the Cabinet and other public officers 
at the commencement of his administration as he may 
desire. Mr. Buchanan presented a Postal Treaty^ 
which had been concluded by Mr. Bancroft with 
the Brittish Government at London on the 15th of 
December last. Mr. Buchanan had received the 
printed copy of the Treaty which he presented from 
Mr. Crampton, the Brittish Charge d'affaires. The 
mail of this evening will probably bring despatches 
on the subject from Mr. Bancroft. I am gratified 
that the differences between the two Governments 
on the subject of postages on letters and other mail- 
able matters transported in their respective packets 
and Steamers has been settled during my adminis- 
tration. My successor will be relieved of all exist- 
ing questions of difficulty with Foreign Nations and 
will have a plain duty before [him]. His situation 
in this respect will be very different from mine when 
I assumed the administration of the Government on 
the 4th of March, 1845. 

This was reception evening. It was a very cold 
night, and the company was not large. A few ladies 
& gentlemen called. Among others Judge Mason, 
Sec. of the Navy, called, having returned from his 
visit to Va. this morning. 

^ U. S, Stat, at Large, IX, 965-975. 



268 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Jan. 

Wednesday, 3rd January, i84g, — I was engaged 
in my office as usual this morning. At i O'Clock, 
in pursuance of a request made on yesterday by the 
Hon. Mr. Duncan of Ky. of the Ho. Repts., I re- 
ceived Mr. Duncan, Senators Foote & Davis of 
Miss[iss]ippi, Hannegan of In[d]., & Atchison of 
Missouri. According to Mr. Duncan's request the 
Secretary of War was present. Mr. Duncan pre- 
sented to me a letter from Maj'r Crittendon, late of 
the Mounted Rifle Regiment, requesting me to re- 
vise & reverse my approval of the proceedings of a 
Court Martial [held] in Mexico before which he 
was tried and dismissed from the service. The pro- 
ceedings of the Court were approved in the recess 
of Congress. Maj'r Crittendon was dismissed 
the service and the next in rank promoted in his 
place. The officer thus promoted has been nom- 
inated to the Senate, but his nomination has not been 
acted on. Their application was that I should re- 
consider and reverse my approval of the proceed- 
ings of the Court and restore Maj'r Crittendon to 
the service. Much discussion upon his case took 
place between these gentlemen & the Secretary of 
War and myself. They did [not] question his guilt 
of the charge for which he had been tried, but in- 
sisted that the proceedings of the Court were illegal. 
I told them I would reexamine the case, but that if 
I should come to the conclusion that the proceedings 
had been illegal (about which I expressed no opin- 
ion) then the only remedy would be to withdraw 
the nomination of the officer promoted and re-nom- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 269 

inate MajV Crittendon. This was my opinion be- 
cause Maj'r Crittendon was now out of the army 
and could only be restored by a nomination and con- 
firmation by the Senate. Maj'r Crittendon's offense 
was being drunk on duty & there is no doubt of his 
guilt. It was the third time he had been arraigned 
for the same offense. All this they admitted, but 
insisted that he had been dismissed illegally, that is, 
that there was a technical legal error in the proceed- 
ings of the Court. The Secretary of War concurred 
with me in the views which I expressed, & enforced 
them in the course of the discussion. The interview 
occupied more than an hour. 

Mr. Buchanan called about 2 O'Clock & informed 
me that he had received from Mr. Bancroft, U. S. 
Minister to Great Brittain, the Postal Treaty which 
he had concluded with the Government of that 
country. He left the Treaty and also a despatch 
from Mr. Bancroft with me. 

My Private Secretary on his return from the Capi- 
tol this morning informed me that my Message sent 
to the Ho. Repts. on yesterday in answer to their 
Resolution on the subject of contributions levied in 
Mexico, had been read to-day and [had] given rise 
to a fierce debate, the Whig leaders attacking it, and 
that it had been finally referred to a select Commit- 
tee of nine members, to be appointed by the Speaker. 
Of [course] the committee will be composed [of] a 
Majority of Whigs, who will bring in a party Report. 
I am confident I am right and did nothing but my 
duty, and have no fears of the public verdict what- 



270 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY U Jan. 

ever Report a partisan committee may make. It is 
unfortunate so far as the first impression on the pub- 
lic mind is concerned; the debate to-day, I learn, 
was altogether or chiefly on the Whig side. Neither 
of the gentlemen to whom I had read the Message 
on Saturday evening last (see this Diary of that day) 
obtained the floor. I disposed of much business in 
my office to-day, and among other things signed my 
name to official papers several hundred times. 
These signatures were chiefly to certificates of merit 
to private soldiers for distinguished conduct in bat- 
tle during the War with Mexico. 

Thursday, 4th January, 184Q. — I saw company 
as usual this morning. Several members of Con- 
gress and others called. I was busily engaged in my 
office during the day. The Secretaries of State, 
War, and Navy called on business at different hours. 
Nothing of importance occurred to-day. 

I had a Dinner company to-day consisting of the 
Judges of the Supreme Court of the U. S., the atto. 
Gen'l, Clerk, & Marshall and their families who are 
in Washington; of Judge Crawford & Dunlop of 
this District; & of the members of the Judiciary 
committees of the two Houses of Congress, making 
in the whole near forty persons. All the Judges 
of the Supreme Court were present except Chief 
Justice Taney & Justice McKinley,^ the former be- 
ing absent at Baltimore and the latter being indis- 
posed. 

^ John McKInley of Alabama, Associate Justice of the Supreme 
Court 1837-1852. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 271 

Friday, ^th January, l84g. — Many persons, 
members of Congress and others, called this morn- 
ing. Almost every member who called applied for 
offices for their friends, and those who were not 
members applied for offices for themselves. I have 
been too busy for several days past to note in this 
Diary the unceasing importunities by which I am 
annoyed by the office-seekers. I spent the day in 
disposing of many matters of detail which had ac- 
cumulated on my table. The Secretary of the Navy 
called on business. He was the only member of the 
Cabinet whom I saw to-day. The Secretary of the 
Senate delivered to me this evening the Postal 
Treaty with Great Brittain which I sent to the Senate 
on yesterday, with a Resolution giving the advice 
& consent of that body to its ratification. 

Saturday, 6th January, i84g. — A number of 
members of Congress called this morning. The 
Cabinet met at the usual hour; all the members pres- 
ent except the Secretary of the Navy, who is detained 
at his house, as I learn, by indisposition. Several 
matters of no general importance were considered 
and disposed of, and the Cabinet dispersed about 
2 O'clock P. M. I signed the Ratification of the 
Postal Treaty with Great Brittain this afternoon. 
This is an important Treaty, and Mr. Bancroft de- 
serves high credit for the zealous ability with which 
he conducted the Negotiation. It places our own 
Steamers and Packets upon an equal footing with 
the Brittish and relieves our merchants, naturalized 
citizens, and others from a heavy discriminating 



272 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [7 Jan. 

charge of postage on letters and other mailable mat- 
ter conveyed in American vessels. This change has 
been effected by the policy of the administration. 
Had it occurred under other circumstances & when 
so many other great events had not been crowded 
into a single Presidential term it would have at- 
tracted more public attention and been regarded as 
an important achievement. After the Cabinet ad- 
journed to-day I disposed of much business on my 
table. 

Sunday, yth January, l84g, — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day. Mrs. Polk and 
our two nieces, Miss Hays and Miss Rucker, accom- 
panied me. We met at church the Hon. Abram 
Rencher ^ of N. C. and his wife. Mr. Rencher was 
charge d'affaires to Portugal at the commencement 
of my administration, and was recalled at his own 
request. He has spent some time in travelling in 
Europe since he relinquished his mission, and re- 
turned to the U. States a few days ago. On coming 
out of church I met him unexpectedly. He served 
in Congress with me several years ago. 

Monday, 8th January, l84g. — This morning my 
office was crowded with an unusual number of visit- 
ors. Among them were many members of Con- 
gress. The office-seekers were very importunate. It 
reminded me of the first month of my term, when 
as a matter of course I expected them to be numer- 

^ Abraham Rencher, Representative from North Carolina 1829- 
1839, and 1841-1843, charge d'affaires at Lisbon 1843-1847. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 273 

ous. In addition to office seekers there were men 
and women wanting money. I was glad to get clear 
of them. I had no offices to bestow and no money 
to spare. I directed my porter to close my doors 
punctually at 12 O'Clock, and it was not until that 
hour that I had an opportunity to attend to any busi- 
ness. The Atto. General was the only member of 
the Cabinet whom I saw to-day. I was busily en- 
gaged in my office during the day, but nothing wor- 
thy of notice transpired. After night several mem- 
bers of Congress called. 

Tuesday, gth January, l84g, — Several members 
of Congress called this morning, most of them seek- 
ing offices for their constituents. The Cabinet met 
at the usual hour; all the members present except the 
Secretary of the Navy, who is, I learn, confined to 
his house by indisposition. There being nothing 
important to bring before the Cabinet to-day, the 
Secretary of the Treasury left before all the other 
members [had] assembled. Several matters of 
minor importance were considered and disposed of, 
and the Cabinet dispersed about 2 O'Clock. I was 
engaged the remainder of the day in attending to 
the business on my table. After my doors were 
closed & I had directed no one to be admitted a 
man who had evaded the vigilance of my porter 
opened my office door & stepped in. He wished, he 
said, to sell me wine to take home with me, and to 
get an office for a friend. I was at the moment very 
much engaged writing at my table and was vexed at 
his unceremonious intrusion. As I wanted no wine 



274 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [lo Jan. 

& had no offices to confer, and was, moreover, much 
engaged in my official duties I made short work of 
it with him. His name was Lawrence. It is not 
the first time that the same person has annoyed me 
about matters in which neither the public nor my- 
self could have any interest. A Telegraphic de- 
spatch was received in the City to-day to the effect 
that Paymaster Dix ^ of [the] U. S. Army had died 
of cholera. The rumour thus brought requires con- 
firmation. In less [than] an hour I had applica- 
tion for his place as Paymaster. In the course of 
the evening several other applications were made 
for it. 

Wednesday, loth January, 184Q. — My office 
was crowded with visitors this morning. The 
rumour of Paymaster Dix's death which reached this 
City on yesterday brought on me a crowd of appli- 
cants for his vacancy. Many members of Congress 
called to press the claims of their friends, while 
others called and urged their own claims. One en- 
tire Delegation in Congress, Senators and Repre- 
sentatives, from one of the States, called to urge the 
claims of one of their constituents for the place. 
One Lady (Mrs. B.) a widow, called and impor- 
tuned me to appoint a gentleman whom she named 
who is now a clerk in one of the Departments. She 
appealed to me to appoint him upon the ground that 
she desired to marry him provided he could get an 
office that would support a family. She was a gay 
person of good character, accustomed to good so- 

^ Roger Sherman Dix of the ist Infantry, died January 7, 1849. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 275 

ciety, and was rather a pretty woman. She said she 
could not marry her lover while he was a Clerk, 
but that if I would appoint him a Paymaster in the 
army she would do so and would be very happy. 
The dispensation of the patronage of the Govern- 
ment will weaken if not break down any adminis- 
tration. I closed my doors at 12 O'Clock and at- 
tended for an hour to business on my table, when 
Senators Allen of Ohio & Bright of Indiana called 
& gave me the distressing intelligence that a Tele- 
graphic Despatch had announced the death of the 
late Senator Sevier of Arkansas. Mr. Sevier's nom- 
ination is now before the Senate for commissioner 
to run the Boundary between the U. S. and Mex- 
ico, and Messrs. Allen & Bright, immediately on 
hearing of Mr. Sevier's death, had left the Senate 
in Session and called to urge me to appoint The Hon. 
John B. Weller ^ of Ohio in Mr. Sevier's place. 
The mojnent an office-holder dies his place is sought, 
without waiting for the funeral ceremonious [cere- 
monies] to be over. The Hon. Rob't Johnson of 
Arkansas called about 3 O'Clock. He is the broth- 
er-in-law of Mr. Sevier, and seemed much affected 
by the intelligence of his death. Mr. Sevier's little 
daughter is at school at Georgetown. Mr. John- 
son saw Mrs. Polk and informed her that he was 
on his way to Georgetown to communicate the 
dreadful intelligence to Mr. Sevier's daughter. 
Mrs. Polk insisted on him to bring the poor little 

^ John B. Weller, Representative from Ohio 1839-1845; after- 
ward removed to California where he was elected to the U. S. 
Senate and later Governor. 



276 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [ii Jan. 

girl (who has often visited us) to the President's 
House and let her remain with us for a few days. 
He agreed to do so, and in the evening brought her 
over & left her with Mrs. Polk. Miss Johnson, the 
aunt of the little girl, who is also at school at George- 
town, accompanied her, and they are both with us. 

It having been announced that the President's 
Mansion would be open for company this evening, 
many hundreds of persons, ladies and gentlemen, 
attended. All the parlours, including the spacious 
East Room, were lighted up and were filled with 
people. The marine band played in the outer Hall. 
Among the visitors were Foreign Ministers, Officers 
of the army and Navy, members of both Houses of 
Congress, citizens, & strangers. In the course of the 
evening, and as soon as I could be released from re- 
ceiving & shaking hands with company, I walked 
through the parlours with Mrs. Madison on my arm. 

Thursday, nth January, l84g, — I was besieged 
by the office-seekers this morning. It was after i 
O'clock P. M. before I could devote a moment to 
business. Men and women annoyed me for office 
for themselves, their relatives, and friends. The 
people of the U. S. have no adequate conception of 
the number of persons who seek to live upon the 
Government, instead of applying themselves to some 
honest calling to make a living. Several of those 
who called to-day have importuned me half a dozen 
times for office. They have no claims upon the 
country and no individual merit. I cannot exclude 
them from my office, though I hold them in very 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 277 

low repute, and indeed I almost loath them when I 
see them entering my door. The Secretary of State 
was the only member of the Cabinet who called to- 
day. I spent the after part of the day in attending 
to the business on my table. 

Friday, 12th January, 184Q, — I was in my office 
at the usual hour this morning. I was exceedingly 
annoyed by a number of persons seeking office & 
begging money. Some of them were persons who 
have repeatedly called on the same business before, 
others I had never seen & knew nothing of them. 
Some of them were females. They wanted money 
for themselves or offices for their husbands, brothers, 
sons, or other relations. Several members of Con- 
gress called also, and bored me for offices for their 
constituents and others. The number of applicants 
for office has greatly increased and is increasing, 
and as a^general rule those who are most importunate 
are least deserving. If I had the treasury of the 
Government to bestow in charities I could readily 
do so to worthless people. After i O'Clock P. M. 
I attended to business on my table. 

Saturday, 13th January, l84g. — I was occupied 
this morning by members of Congress and others 
about offices until the hour of- meeting of the Cabi- 
net. The Cabinet met at the usual hour; all the 
members present. Several matters of business, 
chiefly of detail and of no general importance, were 
considered and disposed of. The members of the 
Cabinet entered into a general conversation among 



278 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [13 Jan. 

themselves whether it would be proper for them to 
resign to me on the 3rd of March, or to Gen'l Tay- 
lor after he was qualified. They agreed that their 
resignations should be made to me, but there was 
some diversity of opinion whether they should take 
effect immediately, or when a successor was ap- 
pointed. If they resigned to me on the 3rd of 
March there would be no Cabinet on Sunday, the 
4th, & Monday, the 5th of March, and on the latter 
day there might be official business to transact re- 
quiring their signatures. Mr. Walker objected to 
resigning to take effect when a successor was ap- 
pointed, because he was unwilling to serve under 
Gen'l Taylor. Mr. Buchanan was willing to con- 
tinue a few days if Gen'l Taylor should request it, 
until his successor could be appointed. Finally, 
upon the suggestion of Mr. Toucy, they agreed 
to resign to me on the 3rd of March, to take effect 
on monday, the 5th of March, and suggested that I 
should accept them and enclose them to Gen'l Tay- 
lor on the 3rd, so as to enable him to appoint persons 
ad interim to take charge of the several Departments 
and conduct the business until permanent appoint- 
ments could be made. Some members of the Cabi- 
net enquired whether it was my intention to attend 
the Inauguration of Gen'l Taylor, to which I 
answered that if Gen'l Taylor called on me on his 
arrival in the City, and a place was assigned me on 
the occasion of the Inauguration, I should certainly 
attend. I informed them also that if Gen'l Taylor 
called, as I presumed he would do, I would invite 
him to dinner & treat him with all proper respect 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 279 

as the President elect of the U. S. I informed them 
that I would remain in the President's mansion in 
performance of my public duties until the evening 
of the 3rd of March, that on the night of that day 
I would attend at the Capitol as is usual, for the con- 
venience of Congress for the purpose of receiving 
& signing Bills, and at 12 O'Clock of that night, my 
official term would expire, I would retire to a Hotel 
where my family would be. The family will leave 
the President's mansion on the morning of the 3rd 
of March and go to a Hotel. I will remain & at- 
tend the Inauguration ceremonies on monday, the 
5th, and on tuesday, the 6th, will set out with my 
family for my residence in Tennessee. One of the 
Cabinet enquired whether I would invite Gen'l Tay- 
lor to take quarters in the President's House on his 
arrival in Washington, to which I replied that I 
had not thought upon that point. Some of the Cab- 
inet thought it would be proper to do so. The 
Cabinet adjourned about 3 O'Clock, and in the 
afternoon I attended to business on my table. 

After night Senators Douglass of Illinois & Downs 
of La. called to consult me about a bill which the 
latter had prepared to admit California as a State 
into the Union. I had a long conversation with 
them on the subject, & think the plan proposed is 
feasible & hope it may succeed. 

Sunday, 14th January, 184Q. — Mrs. Polk is suf- 
fering from the effects of [a] severe cold & did not 
attend church to-day. Accompanied by our two 
nieces (Miss Hays & Miss Rucker) I attended Di- 



28o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Jan. 

vine service in the Hall of the Ho. Repts. The 
Rev. Mr. Dascomb of the methodist church (of 
Ky.) preached. There was a very large audience, 
the floor & galleries of the Hall being filled. The 
subject of the discourse was the Cross of Christ, a 
noble theme. The minister laboured very much and 
seemed to be making a very great effort. There was 
nothing solemn or impressive in the manner or mat- 
ter of the sermon ; and the idea was constantly in my 
mind that the minister was endeavouring to make a 
display of eloquence & learning, in which I think 
he failed. 

After night Hon. Mr. Houston of Alabama & 
Hon. Messrs. Cobb & Lumpkin of Georgia called 
to consult me about an adjourned meeting of the 
Southern members of Congress on the subject of 
slavery which was to take place on to-morrow night. 
I have heretofore carefully avoided having anything 
to do with this movement. I[t] was gotten up 
originally without consulting me. I have feared 
from the time I first heard of the first meeting of 
the Southern members of Congress on the slavery 
question that there might be a design on the part of 
one or two leading men to agitate the slavery ques- 
tion for selfish purposes, & that it might end in no 
good. These gentlemen informed me to-night that 
Mr. Calhoun had drawn up an address to the 
Southern States to be signed by all the Senators 
and Representatives from the slave-holding states, 
and that from what they had heard of its import 
they could not sign it. They informed me further 
that from what they had heard, the Whig Senators 



I&49] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 281 

& Repts. from the South would decline in a body 
to sign it. They asked my opinion on the subject. 
I replied that if there was anything in the proceed- 
ings or the address that looked like or might tend to 
disunion I was opposed to it. I told them if when 
the rights of the south were threatened with invasion 
by the late votes in the Ho. Repts. in relation to 
slavery in the D. C. the Southern members had 
chosen to assemble to consult temperately and calmly 
for the purpose of acting in concert & making an 
appeal to the Northern section of the Union to ab- 
stain from making the threatened aggression on their 
rights, that I did not see that such an assemblage 
for such a purpose would have been improper. I 
told them that as they had suspicions that other ob- 
jects were in view by some, and that as the Whig 
members would not unite, I could see no good that 
could result from an address to be addressed to the 
Southern states to be signed by a part only of the 
Southern members. They were all of this opinion. 
I told them that the slavery question was a very deli- 
cate & dangerous one, and advised them that in the 
present state of things as they communicated them to 
me to abstain at present from signing an address by 
a fraction of the Southern members & leave it to 
future developments to determine what it might be 
proper to do. They concurred in my views, or 
rather they were their own views in which I con- 
curred. I think the movement of the Southern 
members was originally ill advised. The Whigs, I 
learn, at first went zealously into it, but upon con- 
sultation have concluded to leave the consummation 



282 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [15 Jan. 

of the proceedings exclusively to the Democratic 
members, alledging that they have confidence in 
Gen'l Taylor, who is a large slave-holder, that he 
will protect the rights of the South. If they take 
this course it will produce a division in the South 
upon the slave question and encourage, rather than 
discourage, the aggression of the Northern Aboli- 
tionists and Whigs upon the rights of the South. 
Should this be the result great mischief will be pro- 
duced by the proceeding of the portion of the 
Southern members who may attend the meeting & 
send forth an address. My advice to the gentlemen 
who called this evening was to attend the meeting 
to-morrow night & endeavour to prevent anything 
from being done; but not themselves to sign any 
address. 

Monday, I^th January, l84g. — A large number 
of persons called this morning, of whom a consid- 
erable proportion as is usual were office seekers. It 
was not until about i O'Clock P. M. that I was en- 
abled to attend to any business. I sent for Hon. 
James H. Thomas of the Ho. Repts. (of Tenn.) and 
for Mr. Cave Johnson, the P. M. Gen'l, this morn- 
ing. Mr. Thomas arrived first and while he was 
with me Mr. Johnson came in. I communicated to 
them the information given to me last night by 
Messrs. Houston of Al. & Cobb and Lumpkin of 
Georgia in relation to the meeting of Southern mem- 
bers of Congress proposed to be held on to-morrow 
night on the Slavery question. I expressed to 
[them] my opinion that such a meeting could result 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 283 

in no good, and advised Mr. Thomas not to unite in 
signing any address, as I had advised the three re- 
ferred to who called on me last night (see this Diary 
of yesterday). Both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Thomas 
concurred with me in my views. Mr. Johnson 
thought that any member who attended the meeting 
would have to explain his object in doing so to his 
constituents, and that it would be a point of attack 
upon him as long as he remained in public life. I 
remarked that as the Southern members generally, 
both Whigs & Democrats, had attended the first 
meeting in December last, that I thought the sober- 
minded democrats, such as the gentlemen who called 
on me last night and Mr. Thomas, might attend 
to-night in order to prevent mischief from being 
done. I advised that no address of any kind be 
signed. In these views, after I had presented them, 
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Thomas concurred. They 
left me, Mr. Johnson saying that he would visit the 
Capitol to-day for the purpose of seeing some of our 
prudent Southern Democratic friends with a view to 
induce them to take the course I had advised. 
Shortly after they retired the Hon. Mr. McLane of 
[the] Ho. Repts. (of Maryland) called to see me 
on the same subject. Before he asked my opinion 
he expressed his own. He declared his resolution to 
sign no address, & said he had written to his father, 
who had advised him to sign no address, but had 
advised him at the same time to see me. I repeated 
to him the views I had expressed to Messrs. Hous- 
ton, Cobb, & Lumpkin last night & to Mr. Thomas 
& Mr. Johnson to-day. He announced his inten- 



284 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 Jan. 

tion to attend the meeting to-night for the purpose 
of making known his views & giving his reasons for 
declining to sign any address. I fear that mischief 
will come out of this ill-advised proceeding. Mr. 
McLane avowed his intention not to act upon the 
subject of slavery in a caucus, but that he was willing 
to consult with other Southern members as to what 
action in Congress they would deem proper to be 
had if the rights of the South were threatened or 
attempted to be invaded by the North. In the course 
of the day I disposed of business on my table as usual. 
Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Marcy called at different 
hours of the day to see me on business. After night 
Col. Weller of Ohio called. I tendered to him the 
appointment of commissioner under the Mexican 
Treaty to run the boundary line between the two 
countries. He accepted, & I will nominate him to 
the Senate on to-morrow. I had some weeks ago 
nominated the late Senator Sevier of Arkansas for 
this office, and his nomination was pending before 
the Senate when information of his death was re- 
ceived. After night Senators Dodge & Jones of 
Iowa called in company with Mr. Petrikin of Penn., 
who is the son of the late Dr. Petrikin,^ with whom 
I served several years in Congress. 

Tuesday, l6th January, l84g. — I learned from 
my Private Secretary this morning that a meeting of 
the Southern members of Congress was held at the 
Senate chamber last night. It was an adjourned 
meeting to deliberate on the course proper to be 

^ David Petrikin, Representative from Pennsylvania 1837-1841. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 285 

taken by the South on the slave question (see this 
Diary of yesterday & the preceeding day). I learn 
that an address ^ to the Southern States was reported 
by Senator Calhoun of S. C, and that great division 
of opinion prevailed in the meeting upon the pro- 
priety of adopting it. Almost all of the Whig mem- 
bers & a number of leading Democratic members, 
as Col. Walker informed me, refused to sign it; and 
finally it was, on motion of Senator Berrien of 
Georgia, recommitted to the committee to report 
to an adjourned meeting to be held on next monday 
night. Col. Walker's impression is that nothing will 
be finally done, unless it be by a portion of the 
Democratic party and perhaps two or three Whigs 
with Mr. Calhoun at their head. I have feared 
from the time I heard of the ill-advised movement 
of holding a meeting of Southern members of Con- 
gress that it would end in no good and might do 
mischief. I am now satisfied that my apprehensions 
were well founded. Col. Walker gave me the fore- 
going information immediately after I came into 
my office this morning. A few persons called seek- 
ing office and on like unprofitable errands. Between 
10 & II O'clock Senator Calhoun of S. C. called. 
He has not been to see me since his arrival in Wash- 
ington shortly after the meeting of Congress, when 
he called to pay his respects. I anticipated his busi- 
ness the moment he entered my office, & I was not 
mistaken. He very soon introduced the subject of 
the slavery question and the meeting of the Southern 
members of Congress at the Capitol last night. He 

^Washington Union, January 28, 1849. 



286 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 Jan. 

was very earnest in the expression of his opinion that 
the South should no longer delay resisting the ag- 
gressions of the North upon their rights. As soon 
as I had an opportunity I expressed my strong at- 
tachment to the Union of the States, the great im- 
portance of preserving* it, and my hope that Govern- 
ments might be provided for California & New 
Mexico, and especially the former, by admitting it 
into the Union as a State without having the Bill for 
that purpose embarrassed by the Wilmot Proviso. 
I found he was opposed to an adjustment in this 
mode. I urged the importance of the measure, and 
expressed the opinion that the admission of Califor- 
nia into the Union as a state was the only practical 
mode of settling the slave question. In this form the 
question of slavery would be left to the people of the 
new states when they came to form a State constitu- 
tion for themselves. I told him that I deemed it 
of the greatest importance that the agitation of the 
delicate and dangerous question of slavery should 
be arrested, as I thought it would be by the organ- 
ization of Governments for the territories acquired 
by the Treaty with Mexico. I told him that Sen- 
ator Douglass of Illinois had suggested to me that the 
question as to New Mexico might be settled with 
the assent of the State of Texas, by making the 
Northern boundary of that State the parallel of 36° 
30' North Latitude & extending that parallel West 
of the Rio Grande, leaving all of New Mexico on 
both sides of that River and South of that parallel 
to be a part of the State of Texas, and that that State 
should cede to the U. S. all the territory within her 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 287 

limits lying North of that line. I told him that the 
area acquired by Texas by such an arrangement 
would be about equal to the area which would be 
ceded by Texas to the U. S. I told him also, that 
all the inhabited portion of New Mexico lay south of 
36° 30', & would fall under the Government of the 
State of Texas, while the country North of that line 
to be ceded by Texas to the U. S. was a wilderness 
country. I told him that the proposition struck me 
favourably, that I presumed it would be satisfactory 
to the members of Congress from Texas & to that 
State, and that coming as it did from a Northern 
Senator there was a fair prospect, if the South, as I 
thought they should do, supported a Bill of this kind, 
that it would pass. I told him this would provide a 
Government for all the inhabited portion of New 
Mexico ; and that if California, bounded by the Cal- 
ifornia mountains. was admitted as a State, the whole 
difficulty would be settled, and that the Free-soil agi- 
tators or abolitionists of the North would be pros- 
trate and powerless, that the country would be 
quieted, and the Union preserved. He was opposed 
to all this ; spoke in excited terms of the Texas mem- 
bers & said that they had betrayed the South; that 
he had heard of this proposition about New Mexico 
ten days ago, and that it was a bid for the Texas men. 
I told him I had never heard of it until last Saturday 
night, when it was suggested by Senator Douglass 
of 111. in the presence of Senator Downs of La. He 
was opposed to the admission of California as a 
State, because slave-holders had been prevented from 
emigrating with their property to it and it would be 



288 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 Jan. 

a free state. I replied that whether admitted now 
or hereafter the people inhabiting the country would 
have a right when they came to form a state consti- 
tution to regulate their own domestic institutions, 
and that Congress could not prevent this. He pro- 
posed no plan of adjusting the difficulty, but insisted 
that the aggressions of the North upon the South 
should be resisted and that the time had come for 
action. I became perfectly satisfied that he did not 
desire that Congress should settle the question at the 
present Session, and that he desired to influence the 
South upon the subject, whether from personal or 
patriotic views it is not difficult to determine. I 
was firm and decided in my conversation with him, 
intending to let him understand distinctly that I gave 
no countenance to any movement which tended to 
violence or the disunion of the States. The conver- 
sation was inter[r]upted by the arrival of a mem- 
ber of the Cabinet, this being the regular day for 
the meeting of the Cabinet. All the members of the 
Cabinet were present except the Secretary of the 
Treasury. Several matters of no general impor- 
tance were considered and disposed of. After the 
other members of the Cabinet had retired I gave a 
relation of my interview with Mr. Calhoun to Mr. 
Mason and Mr. Johnson, who remained. I dis- 
posed of business on my table as usual. 

This being reception evening, a number of per- 
sons (not a large crowd) ladies & gentlemen, called. 

I omitted to state that between ii and 12 O'Clock 
to-day the Secretary of War informed me that a fine 
volunteer uniformed company from New York were 



i849j JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 289 

in the City, & he desired that I would review them. 
I accompanied him to the front porch & the com- 
pany marched past in review. I afterwards received 
the officers & men of the company in the parlour & 
shook hands with them. 

Wednesday, lyth January, l84g. — A number of 
members of Congress and others called this morn- 
ing. They were on the usual business of seeking 
office for themselves and their friends. Among 
others who called was Mr. Stanton of Tennessee of 
the Ho. Repts., and I had a conversation with him 
on the subject of the meeting of the Southern mem- 
bers of Congress on last Monday night, and on the 
importance of settling the slavery agitation by pro- 
viding Governments for New Mexico and Califor- 
nia at the present Session. I stated to him the plan 
on which I thought this might be done. It was the 
same which I had stated to Mr. Calhoun (see this 
Diary of yesterday). I told him that I was for pre- 
serving the Union & its harmony, & opposed to any 
movement, in Congress or out of it, which might 
tend to disturb it; and that I thought members of 
Congress had better exert their energies to settle it 
in Congress, than to agitate the slavery question in 
caucus out of Congress. I expressed to him the 
opinion that if Southern members would unite, it 
might be settled at the present session upon the plan 
suggested by Senator Douglass, as stated to Mr. Cal- 
houn as recorded in this Diary on yesterday (which 
see). I found Mr. Stanton in favour of the South- 
ern members making an address to the Southern 



290 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Jan. 

States. I told him I had not been consulted about 
the meetings of Southern members of Congress 
which had taken place. I told him that I under- 
stood the immediate cause of the movement had been 
the adoption of a Resolution by the Ho. Repts. in- 
structing a committee to bring in a Bill in relation 
to slavery in the District of Columbia, but that since 
that time I had been informed that the House had 
receded by reconsidering that obnoxious Resolution, 
and that it was not probable that any attempt would 
be made to revive it. I told him that I saw nothing 
improper in Southern or any other gentlemen con- 
sulting together when their common rights were 
seriously menaced, if the object of such consultation 
was to ensure concert of action to avert the danger, 
but that I was opposed to any movement which 
looked to or tended to the possible dissolution of the 
Union. I told him that I had been informed that 
the whole of the Whig members of Congress, and 
several of the leading Democratic members, would 
under existing circumstances refuse to sign any ad- 
dress; and that it would probably not be signed by 
more than one-third of the Southern Delegations in 
Congress. I told him the effect of this, instead of 
preventing aggression from the North, would be to 
encourage it; while it could not fail to produce a 
conflict among Southern members & their constit- 
uents themselves. In this state of things I gave my 
opinion against signing the address, and especially 
such an one as I understood had been presented to 
the meeting on Monday night last. I told him that 
I could not avoid the suspicion that there were two 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 291 

or three individuals, perhaps not more than one (but 
I named no one) who desired to have no set[t]lement 
of the question, but who preferred a sectional excite- 
ment in the South & a dissolution. I told him I set 
my face against all such designs, and warned him 
against being involved in any such movement. I 
urged the necessity and importance of going to work 
in earnest in Congress, and not in caucus, to settle 
the question. I told him it was time enough to think 
of extreme measures when they became inevitable, 
and that that period had not come. I told him that 
the people every where were devoted to the Union, 
and that it would be a heavy responsibility if South- 
ern members of Congress should prevent an adjust- 
ment of the slavery question by meeting in caucus 
& publishing addresses, instead of meeting in Con- 
gress, where their constituents had deputed them to 
act. He seemed to be surprised at these views. I 
told him I was a Southern man, and as much at- 
tached to Southern rights as any man in Congress, 
but I was in favour of vindicating and maintaining 
these rights by constitutional means ; and that no such 
an extreme case had arisen as would justify a resort to 
any other means; that when such a case should arise 
(if ever) it would be time enough to consider what 
should be done. Company came in & Mr. Stanton 
retired. I held a conversation upon the same sub- 
ject with Senators King and Fitzpatrick of AL, in 
which I stated the plan of Senator Douglass of set- 
tling the slave question (see this Diary of yesterday) 
and stated to them my opinions. I disposed of busi- 
ness on my table as usual to-day. I read to Mr. 



292 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i8 Jan. 

Ritchie to-night a letter which I had received from 
the late Senator Wm. H. Haywood of N. C, dated 
1 8th of December last, and the answer which I had 
prepared (see my letter Book). Some of the facts 
stated in my answer related to Mr. Ritchie, and I 
read the letter & answer to him to ascertain whether 
his recollection corresponded with my own. Mr. 
Ritchie said the facts were all correctly stated in my 
answer. 

Thursday, l8th January, 184Q, — Many per- 
sons, members of Congress and others, called this 
morning. The importunity for office is unabating. 
I am so annoyed by office seekers, and so much of 
my time is consumed by them, that I sometimes al- 
most loose my patience and can hardly control my in- 
dignation. About II O'clock to-day a company of 
Firemen from Baltimore, 30 or 40 in number, called 
and desired to see me. I directed them to be shown 
into the parlour below stairs, where I met and shook 
hands with them. I returned to my office and at- 
tended to business throughout the day. The Secre- 
tary of the Treasury called on business. 

I had a large dinner party to-day. Of the party 
were the Vice President of the U. S. ; the Speaker 
of the Ho. Repts. ; the Secretary & Clerk of the two 
Houses; Maj'r General Jesup, of the U. S. army & 
daughter; Hon. Elisha Whittlesey of Ohio & wife, 
& Mr. Forney,^ Editor of the Pennsylvanian, The 
balance of the company consisted of Senators and 

^John Weiss Forney, 1817-1881, journalist; editor of the 
Pennsylvanian 1 845-1 853, of the Washington Union 1 853-1856, 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 293 

Representatives in Congress and the wives of several 
of them; of whom I rem[em]ber the following, viz., 
Senators Metcalf of Ky.; Clark of R. I.; Allen, 
Ohio; Hannegan, In[d].; Johnson, La.; Johnson, 
Geo.; Foote, Miss.; Bradbury, Maine; & Repre- 
sentatives McDowell, Va. ; Houston, Al. ; Thompson, 
Miss.; Inge, Al. ; Houston, Del. The whole num- 
ber, ladies & gentlemen, made 36 or 37 persons. 

I conversed with several members of Congress of 
both Houses who called to-day, and urged upon them 
the great importance of passing a law to admit Cal- 
ifornia into the Union as a State as proposed by 
Bills introduced into the Senate by Senators Downs 
and Douglass, and providing a Government for New 
Mexico (see this Diary of the i6th and 17th Instant) . 
All with whom I conversed listened favourably to 
the plan suggested, except Mr. Robertson ^ of the 
Ho. Repts. from Indiana. He wished to throw 
the responsibility of settling the slavery question on 
General Taylor's administration, and thought that 
nothing should be done at the present Session. I 
told him we had a country to save as well as a party 
to obey, and that it was the solemn duty of the pres- 
ent Congress to settle the question. Senator Rusk of 
Texas was present when I held the conversation with 
Mr. Robertson. At Dinner to-day I had a casual 
conversation with Senator Clarke of R. I. on the 
subject, in which I remarked that there was danger 
that California would be lost to the Union unless a 

and 1861-1868; established the Philadelphia Press 1857, and the 
Washington Chronicle 1861. 

^ John L. Robinson, Representative from Indiana 1 847-1 853. 



294 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [19 Jan. 

Government was provided for the inhabitants of that 
Territory at the present Session of Congress. To 
which he replied, let her go. I said to him that 
if California set up an independant Government 
and seperated from the Union, the Eastern States 
would be much injured by it. He thought not, and 
said their ships & commerce would derive as much 
advantage if she was independant as if she was 
connected with the Union. The sentiments he ex- 
pressed confirmed the opinion I have heretofore 
expressed that the old Federal Party will avail them- 
selves of any pretext to prevent the extension of our 
territorial limits (see my opinions on this point re- 
corded in this Diary some days ago). 

Friday, igth January, l84g. — My time was oc- 
cupied as usual this morning with calls from mem- 
bers of Congress and others. It was near i O'Clock 
P. M. before I could attend to any business in my 
office. I conversed with several members of Con- 
gress as I had done for the last three days (see this 
Diary) and urged upon them to provide Govern- 
ments for California and New Mexico at the present 
Session. I begin to have hopes that it may be done. 
Among others who called this morning was rather an 
elderly woman who said she lived in Alexandria. 
She wanted money to pay her rents & for other 
purposes. She brought no letters. I did not learn 
her name. She said she had lived in Alexandria many 
years. She had a genteel appearance. I endeav- 
oured to waive her application by treating her civ- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 295 

illy and telling her she should apply to her neigh- 
bours & friends, who knew her. She became more 
& more importunate & I was forced at last to give 
her a positive denial. This did not satisfy her, and 
she named a sum which would satisfy her. I de- 
clined to give it to her and was compelled at last to 
tell her plainly that I did not know her or that she 
was worthy. I informed her that I contributed to 
objects of real charity, as far as my means permitted, 
and asked her again why she had not applied for aid 
to her neighbours in Alexandria, to which she re- 
plied that she did not wish to expose her necessities. 
I note this case to show some of the annoyances to 
which a President of the U. S. is subjected. 

The Secretary of State called in the course of the 
day & transacted business with me. After night 
Vice President Dallas called and introduced his 
friend, Dr. Griffin of Pennsylvania. He spent an 
hour with me. 

Saturday, 20th January, l84g. — Several mem- 
bers of Congress called this morning. The loafers 
and hangers on about the City importune members 
of Congress to call with them and present them for 
offices. They are generally persons without merit; 
and I must say that some of the worst appointments 
I have made during my administration have been 
made upon the recommendation of members of Con- 
gress. Indeed, many members sign all papers & rec- 
ommend all persons who apply to them, without 
seeming to reflect that they as [are] misleading the 



296 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Jan. 

President, and without considering that they have 
any responsibility for such appointments as they rec- 
ommend. 

A delegation of Chickasaw Indians were presented 
to me this morning by the commissioner of Indian 
afifairs. They delivered to me letters from their 
Tribe relating to their interests. I held some con- 
versation with them and directed them to call on the 
commissioner of Indian afifairs on Monday next. 

The Cabinet met at the usual hour; all the mem- 
bers present. The Secretary of the Navy read a de- 
spatch received last night from Commodore Jones, 
commander of the Pacific squadron; the Secretary 
of War read a letter to the Paymaster General from 
Paymaster Rich serving in California; and the Sec- 
retary of State read a letter from Mr. Larkin, for- 
merly U. S. consul at Monterey in California. 
These several communications represent the in- 
creased richness of the gold region recently discov- 
ered in California, the rage which prevails among all 
classes to go in pursuit of it. Commodore Jones & 
Paymaster Rich represent the desertions from the 
squadron & the army to go in pursuit of gold to be 
such as to destroy all efficient service in both arms 
of the service. They represent also the state of an- 
archy and confusion existing in California, where, 
without any regularly organized Government, there 
is no security for life, liberty, or property, and they 
represent the urgent necessity for the establishment 
of the authority of the U. S. by the organization of a 
Government of some kind in that Territory. It oc- 
curred to me at once that it would be proper for me 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 297 

to transmit these communications to Congress with a 
message urging the establishment of civil Govern- 
ment for the inhabitants of California at the present 
Session, and I submitted tw^o questions to the Cabinet, 
ist, Whether these communications should be sent to 
Congress, and if so what the recommendations of my 
message should be. The views of all the members 
of the Cabinet were freely given. Mr. Marcy & 
Mr. Walker advised that the communications be 
sent to Congress with a message. Mr. Buchanan, 
Mr. Mason, Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Toucey advised 
against it. The latter gentlemen thought they should 
be published without delay in the Union newspaper, 
and that if called for by Congress, as they probably 
would be, they should then be transmitted. They as- 
signed their reasons for this opinion. Among other 
reasons they said that I had already in my annual 
message said all that could be said to induce Con- 
gress to act, and that exception might be taken by the 
Whig members, and perhaps some Democrats, if I 
repeated my views. After their views were ex- 
pressed Mr. Marcy expressed his willingness to ac- 
quiesce in them, though he rather preferred that the 
papers should be sent to Congress with a message. 
Finding that Mr. Walker alone concurred fully with 
me in my first impressions, I stated that I would for 
the present yield to the views of the majority of the 
Cabinet. I then directed that copies of the commu- 
nications, or of the material parts of them, should be 
furnished to the Editor of the Union for publication. 
I then stated to the Cabinet that I had become per- 
fectly satisfied that no Bill to establish a Territorial 



298 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Jan. 

Government could be passed through the Ho. Repts. 
without having the Wilmot Proviso attached to it 
as a condition, that with this provision the Bill would 
probably be rejected by the Senate, and that if it was 
not, and the Provision was made to apply to territory 
South of 36° 30' I must veto it, and in either event 
the people of California would be left without a 
Government. I expressed to them the opinion that 
the only hope of providing a Government for Cali- 
fornia at the present session was to admit her as one 
of the states of the Union, as had been proposed in 
the Senate by Senators Downs of La. & Douglass of 
111. In this opinion all the members of the Cabinet 
concurred, and expressed their desire that such a 
proposition might pass. I expressed my fears that 
the extremes of the South headed by Mr. Calhoun 
and the extremes of the North headed by Hale & 
Giddings might unite to prevent such a measure 
from passing, and thus keep the subject of slavery 
open for political agitation. I expressed my strong 
desire that California might be admitted as a state, 
because I believed if this was not done at the present 
session the danger was imminent that the inhabitants 
of this nne country would, before the next session of 
Congress, set up an independant Government for 
themselves, and that the Whig party, who would 
then be in power, would suffer the country to be lost 
to the Union. I gave my reasons at some length for 
this opinion. I expressed my disapprobation of any 
further proceedings of the southern members of 
Congress on the slave question in caucus. I thought 
they had much better direct their energies in Con- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 299 

gress instead of in caucus for the purpose of allay- 
ing excitement upon the subject, by authorizing the 
people of California to form a state Government, 
leaving it to themselves to determine whether slavery 
should exist or not. I stated that a proposition v^as 
now made by a Northern Senator (Mr. Douglass) 
to admit California as a state upon these terms, and 
that no Southern man ought to object to it. I 
thought it was wholly unjustifyable for Southern 
members of Congress, when a fair prospect was pre- 
sented of settling the whole question, to withhold 
their co-operation, and instead of aiding in affect- 
ing [effecting] such an adjustment, to be meeting in 
a sectional caucus and publishing an address to in- 
fluence the country. I added that I feared there 
were a few Southern men who had become so excited 
that they were indifferent to the preservation of the 
Union. I stated that I put my face alike against 
southern agitators and Northern fanatics, & should 
do everything in my power to allay excitement by 
adjusting the question of slavery & preserving the 
Union. Seeing that the only hope of an adjustment 
was to admit California as a State, I expressed the 
opinion that it was our solemn duty to exert all our 
influence with members of Congress to induce them 
to pass the Bill of Mr. Douglass or Mr. Downs. In 
this the Cabinet unanimously concurred, and it was 
agreed that each member of the Cabinet should be 
active in seeing members of Congress & urging them 
to support the Bill to admit California at once as a 
State. Each member of the Cabinet agreed to do 
this. At my suggestion each member of the Cabinet 



300 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Jan. 

agreed to visit and converse w^ith the members of 
Congress from particular states, and was to report 
at the next meeting of the Cabinet. Messrs. Bu- 
chanan, Marcy, & Toucey were to see the members 
from the Northern states, and Messrs. Walker, Ma- 
son, & Johnson were to see the members from the 
southern or the Slave-holding states. I stated that I 
would myself be active, and converse with such mem- 
bers of Congress as called, & that I would send 
special [ly] for some of them, and endeavour to con- 
vince them that it was their duty to support such a 
Bill. This is an unusual step for the Executive to 
take, but the emergency demands it. It may be the 
only means of allaying a fearful sectional excitement 
& of preserving the Union, and therefore I think 
upon high public considerations it is justified. In 
the course of the discussion Mr. Buchanan stated the 
fact that he had called on Mr. Stephens, a Whig 
member of the Ho. Repts. from Georgia, who is a 
member of the committee of Ways & Means of the 
Ho. Repts., and had requested him to aid in passing 
the Bill at any [an] early day making an appropri- 
ation for the payment of the installment under the 
Treaty with Mexico, and that he was much surprised 
to learn from Mr. Stephens that he was opposed to 
making any appropriation for that purpose. Mr. 
Buchanan stated that he expressed to him his sur- 
prise that he should be willing to violate the public 
faith by with-holding the appropriation stipulated 
by the Treaty to be paid to Mexico, & that Mr. 
Stephens had replied that he was opposed to retain- 
ing California & New Mexico, acquired by the 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 301 

Treaty, as a part of the Union. This is in accord- 
ance with the opinion expressed to me by Senator 
Clark of Rhode Island on the i8th Instant (see this 
Diary of that day) and still further satisfies me that 
the Federal party only want a pretext to surrender 
up the valuable territories acquired by the late 
Treaty with Mexico. This makes the step resolved 
on by the Cabinet to-day still more important. 

iWithin the last three days I have been called upon, 
first by Senator Hannegan of In., & next by Senator 
Breese of 111., to know, if the Senate would pass a Res- 
olution requesting [it, whether] I would enter into 
or negotiate a purchase from the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany in Oregon of their possessory rights in that Ter- 
ritory and of their right to navigate the Columbia 
River. I stated that Mr. Hannegan had brought to 
me the copy of a despatch from Mr. Addington, 
Under Secretary of Foreign affairs in Great Brit- 
tain, addressed to the President of the Hudson's Bay 
company, which he stated to me he had obtained 
from Mr. Buchanan for the purpose of bringing it 
to me. Mr. Hannegan is chairman of the committee 
of Foreign affairs of the Senate, and Mr. Buchanan 
stated that at his request he had let him have the 
paper to bring to me. I read the paper to the Cab- 
inet & stated to them as I had done to Mr. Hanne- 
gan and Mr. Breese, that I was unwilling to make 
such a nego[tia]tion without more knowledge of 
what we were purchasing & of its value. Mr. Bu- 
chanan said he would not do so unless the Senate 
previously advised it. I replied that I would not 
do so if they did advise it, without more knowledge 



302 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Jan. 

of what we were purchasing than we possessed. The 
same proposition was brought before me, and a Res- 
olution on the subject introduced in the Senate in 
Executive session at the last session of Congress. 
At that time the proposition was that the U. S. should 
pay a round sum of a million of dollars to extinguish 
all the rights of the Hudson's Bay company in Ore- 
gon. I refused to do so, as I will now refuse, as I 
told Mr. Hannegan and Mr. Breese, and now re- 
peated to the Cabinet. I stated that I suspected it 
was a project of speculators who hung about the lob- 
bies of Congress at the last and present Session of 
Congress, and whose only object was to make a hand- 
some sum for themselves as the agents of the Hud- 
son's Bay company. A man named George Saun- 
ders of Ky., I understood at the last session, was in 
Washington on this business, & represented himself 
to be the agent of the Hudson's Bay company. The 
same individual, I understand, is again in Washing- 
ton on the same business. From what I have heard 
of him he is unscrupulous and unprincipled. By his 
importunity, by with-holding from them his real ob- 
ject, probably some Senators have been induced to 
move in the matter. 

After night I sent for Senator Douglass & held a 
long conversation with him in relation to his Bill to 
admit California into the Union as a state, & the 
prospect of passing it. I told him confidentially that 
I and every member of my Cabinet were in favour 
of his Bill, as the only thing that could probably be 
done at the present session so as to provide a Govern- 
ment for California, & thus secure that valuable 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 303 

country to the Union & put an end to the slavery 
excitement. He expressed himself as much grati- 
fied, and thought there was a fair prospect for pass- 
ing the Bill. 

Sunday, 21st January, l84g, — Mrs. Polk & Miss 
Rucker attended the First Presbyterian church to- 
day. I was somewhat indisposed & did not go out. 
Senator Turney & Mr. Thomas of Tenn. took a 
family dinner with me to-day. I urged them to sup- 
port the Bill of Senator Douglass of 111. to admit 
California into the Union as a state, as the only 
means of saving the country to the Union & allaying 
the slavery excitement. Mr. Thomas will support 
the Bill. Mr. Turney had some objections to its de- 
tails, but I think he will yield them. I expressed my 
apprehensions that the proceedings of the Southern 
members of Congress in caucus on the slavery ques- 
tion might interfere with & possibly defeat the pas- 
sage of the Bill, and advised them to act in Congress 
instead of in caucus. I gave them my views fully, 
as they have already been recorded in this Diary, in 
relation to the proceedings of the Southern members 
of Congress (see this diary for the last two or three 
weeks) and the importance of providing Govern- 
ments for California & New Mexico at the present 
session of Congress. 

Monday, ^2w J January, 184Q, — An unusually 
large number of persons called this morning, most 
of them seeking office. Among them were several 
members of Congress, upon whom I urged the great 



304 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [22 Jan. 

necessity of admitting California into the Union as 
a State, as proposed in the Bill brought into the Sen- 
ate by Senator Douglass. At different periods of 
the day, the attorney General, the Secretary of State, 
and the Secretary of the Treasury called on business. 
Some subordinate officers also called on business. I 
was busy in my office throughout the day, though 
nothing worthy of special notice occurred. 

After night the Hon. Rob't M. McLane of [the] 
Ho. Repts. called and informed me the Southern 
members of Congress were to have another meeting 
on the slavery question to-night, and that as he had 
resolved to sign no address to the people under ex- 
isting circumstances he doubted whether he ought to 
attend, and he asked my advice. I told him that I 
feared mischief instead of good would grow out of 
the proceedings, but that as he had attended the 
previous meetings it might be well for him to attend 
that to be held to-night, for the purpose of preventing 
mischief. I advised him if he did attend to use his 
influence to have any definite action postponed, 
either indefinitely or at all events until near the close 
of the session of Congress, for that by that time I 
hoped Governments might be organized for Cali- 
fornia & New Mexico, and in that event the slavery 
agitation would cease and there would be no neces- 
sity or pretext for the Southern members of Congress 
as such to take any step on the subject. I told him 
that I feared that the proceedings of the Southern 
caucus might produce such excitement as to prevent 
the admission of California into the Union as a 
State or any other settlement of the slavery question, 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 305 

and that I approved his determination not to sign 
any address. I told him that the immediate cause of 
the first meeting of the Southern members was the 
passage by the Ho. Repts. of an obnoxious Resolu- 
tion which they regarded as invading Southern 
institutions and Southern rights, but that since 
that time the House had reconsidered their vote 
on the Resolution & had thereby receded, & that 
since that time there was a fair prospect of settling 
the slavery question in the Territories acquired by the 
Mexican Treaty, if the Southern members [would 
give] their support to admit California as a state, as 
I thought they ought to do, and that for these reasons 
I thought no further proceedings ought to be had 
in caucus, but that action should rather be had in 
Congress. 

Tuesday, 23rd Januciry, l84g, — A number of 
persons called this morning. The Cabinet met at 
the usual hour; all the members present. Mr. Bu- 
chanan stated that Mr. Eames, recently appointed 
Commissioner to the Sandwich Islands, desired to 
draw an advance of half a year's salary, viz., one 
quarter's salary now (to-day) and one quarter's sal- 
ary when he was ready to sail, & Mr. Buchanan rec- 
ommended that he be allowed to do so. Mr. Bu- 
chanan read two opinions of the Attorney General, 
the one by Mr. Wert ^ in Mr. Monroe's administra- 
tion & the other by Mr. Berrien in Gen'l Jackson's 
administration, to show that the President had the 
legal authority to make the advance. These opin- 

^ William Wirt. 



3o6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [24 Jan. 

ions settled the law of the case, though I think they 
were wrong originally. I decided that Mr. Eames 
might be allowed to draw four months of his salary 
when he was ready to sail on his mission, but declined 
to allow him to do so now. No formal question was 
taken in the Cabinet on the question. Mr. Toucey 
and Mr. Mason expressed themselves in conversation 
in favour of allowing him an advance of salary. The 
other members of the Cabinet expressed no opinion. 
Mr. Buchanan then read preliminary instructions 
which he had prepared to Mr. Weller, the commis- 
sioner appointed to run the boundary line between 
the U. S. and Mexico. Several questions of detail 
were submitted & discussed & the instructions finally 
agreed on. Some other matters of minor impor- 
tance were considered. The Cabinet adjourned 
about 3 O'clock P. M. I disposed of business on 
my table as usual in the afternoon. I learn that the 
Southern members of Congress met in caucus on the 
slavery question last night & that they were nearly 
equally divided between the draft of an address pre- 
pared by Mr. Calhoun of S. C. & [one by] Mr. 
Berrien of Georgia, & that by a majority of them 
Mr. Calhoun's draft was adopted. I learn also that 
not more than half the members who were present 
will sign the address, and I fear great mischief & 
an increased excitement on the slavery question will 
be the result of their proceedings. 

Wednesday, 24th January, l84g, — This morn- 
ing an unusual number of persons called, and I was 
literally besieged by them for offices, from high 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 307 

places down to clerkships & messengers' places. The 
impression seems to prevail among certain classes 
that Gen'l Taylor will make few removals, & there is 
therefore a general rush to get into office before he 
succeeds me. I gave the herd who beset me this morn- 
ing but little comfort, and disposed of them as sum- 
marily as it was possible without being rude in my 
own office. In the course of the morning I held con- 
versations with Senator Cameron of Penn. & Mr. 
Bayley of Va. & Mr. Ive[r]son of Geo. of the Ho. 
Repts., and urged them severally by all the argu- 
ments at [my] command to support the Bill to admit 
California into the Union as a state. The two latter 
were decidedly favourable to the measure, while Mr. 
Cameron said he was inclined to support it, but that 
he would examine the subject further. In the course 
of the day I sent for the Secretaries of State, Treas- 
ury, & War, and saw each" of them on business. I 
disposed of business on my table as usual. 

Thursday, 2^th January, i84g, — Saw company 
as usual this morning. A number of persons, mem- 
bers of Congress and others, called, most of them on 
the old business which annoys me so much, that of 
seeking offices which I have not to bestow without 
turning out better men than the applicants. At 12 
O'clock the Hon. Elisha Whittlesey of Ohio and 
Mr. Smith (son of the late Harrison Smith of this 
City) called in pursuance of a previous arrange- 
ment; and Mrs. Polk and myself accompanied them 
in my carriage to see the foundation of the Washing- 
ton Monument and the progress of the work. At 



3o8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [25 Jan. 

the monument we met several of the managers of the 
Washington monument society/ After viewing it 
we drove [to see] the buildings now in process of 
erection for the Smithsonian Institute. I returned 
about 2 O'clock P. M. Mr. Whittlesey, with whom 
I served many years in Congress and whom I have 
always regarded as an honest man, in speaking of the 
importance of providing Governments over the ter- 
ritories recently acquired from Mexico expressed the 
hope that California might be admitted as a State at 
the present Session, and leave it to the people to de- 
cide for themselves whether they would permit slav- 
ery to exist or not. Mr. Whittlesey is a Whig, and I 
remarked in reply that I was glad to hear such a sen- 
timent from him. This lead [led] to a conversation 
in which I gave him my views fully on the subject, 
as I had done to many members of Congress during 
the present Session of Congress (see them recorded 
in this Diary). Mr. Whittlesey said he fully con- 
curred with me in my views, and that he had felt so 
deeply interested on the subject that he had called 
on Senator Clayton of Delaware and conversed with 
him last evening. He informed me that Senator 
Clayton (who is a Whig) took the same view of the 
subject and concurred with me in my views. I told 
him that I was glad to hear it, because I regarded 

^ The Washington Monument Society was organized in 1841 
and collected $87,000.00 in contributions of $1.00 each, each con- 
tributor being enrolled as a member of the society. The corner 
stone of the monument was laid July 4, 1848, and construction 
proceeded slowly until 1855 when it stopped. In 1876 Congress 
took up the work and carried it to completion in 1885. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 309 

the subject as rising above mere party considerations, 
and wished it settled, I cared not by whose votes. 
He intimated a wish that I would see Mr. Clayton. 
I replied that my political relations with Mr. Clay- 
ton were not such as to justify me in inviting him to 
see me; but that if he chose to call I would confer 
with him on the subject with pleasure. I expressed 
my views on the same subject to Mr. Rhett of S. C. 
this morning. Mr. Rhett said he had understood 
that I was exerting my influence to prevent the South- 
ern members from signing an address on the subject 
of slavery, as a part of them had resolved to do in 
caucus. I gave him my views fully on the whole 
subject as they are recorded in this Diary. I ex- 
pressed to him the apprehension that such a proceed- 
ing would increase the excitement and prevent a set- 
tlement of the slavery & territorial questions at the 
present session of Congress. He thought otherwise, 
&, to use his own language, he said the meeting of 
the Southern members had already made some of 
the Northern members begin to back. He said he 
was absent from the City when the first meeting had 
been called & that if he had been present he would 
have advised against it, but that as it had been called 
it would never do not to act, by making an address to 
the Southern states. I told him I differed with him 
in opinion. I disposed of business on my table as 
usual in the after part of the day. After night Sen- 
ator Bright of Indiana called & held a long conversa- 
tion with me. I was happy to hear from him that 
he would vote to admit California as a state without 
the restriction of the Wilmot Proviso. About 9 O'- 



310 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 Jan. 

Clock P. M. my Private Secretary informed me 
that the Hon. James H. Thomas of Tennessee had 
received a Telegraphic Despatch informing him 
that his wife was dangerously ill, and that he would 
leave for home to-night. 

Friday, 26th January, l84g. — I spent the morn- 
ing as usual in receiving company. Several mem- 
bers of Congress and many other persons called. I 
omitted no favourable opportunity which occurred 
to urge upon such members of Congress as I saw the 
importance of passing a law at the present Session of 
Congress to admit California into the Union as a 
State. In pursuance of a previous arrangement 
made through the Secretary of State, at the hour of 
I O'clock P. M., accompanied by the Secretary of 
State, I repaired to the parlour below stairs & there 
received & recognized the Baron Roenne, the 
Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary of 
the German Empire. He was the first Diplomatic 
Representative accredited from the Provisional Cen- 
tral Power of Germany to the U. S. The Minister 
made an address to me to which I responded. The 
Baron Roenne was formerly for many years the En- 
voy of his Majesty, the King of Prussia, to the U. S., 
& I remember him, having made his acquaintance 
and seen him during the period I was a Represent- 
ative in Congress. Shortly after I returned from the 
parlour to my office the Hon. Mr. Tallmadge of the 
Ho. Repts. from the City of New York, accom- 
panied by a dozen or more of the members of the 
City Council of New York, called. I received them 



i849] JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY 311 

in my office. What the object of the visit of so 
many members of the City Council of N. Y. to 
Washington in a body may be I do not know. In 
the course of the day the Secretary of State and the 
Secretary of War called on business. I disposed of 
business on my table as usual. After night the Hon. 
Elisha Whittlesey of Ohio called to see me again in 
relation to the conversation he held with me on yes- 
terday, on the subject of admitting California into 
the Union as a State (see this Diary of yesterday). 
He informed me that he had seen and conversed 
with Senator Clayton of Delaware on the subject and 
that he was very anxious to pass such a Bill. He in- 
formed me that Senator Clayton was desirous to call 
and confer with me on the subject if I would desig- 
nate a time when I could see him. I replied that I 
would see Mr. Clayton at any time he might call, 
but suggested that I would be more likely to be at 
leisure in the evening than during the earlier part of 
the day. 

Saturday, 27th January, 184Q, — A number of 
persons, members of Congress and others, called this 
morning. Among them was Senator Sturgeon of 
Pennsylvania, with whom I held a conversation on 
the importance of admitting California into the 
Union as a State. I expressed to him the same views 
which [I] have communicated to others within the 
last few days (see this Diary). The Cabinet as- 
sembled at the usual hour; all the members present 
except the Secretary of State, who was detained at 
his house by indisposition. No subject of general 



312 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 Jan. 

importance was considered. Several matters of de- 
tail were disposed of. I attended to business on my 
table after the Cabinet adjourned. 

Sunday, 28th January, l84g. — I attended Divine 
Service at the First Presbyterian church to-day. 
Mrs. Polk and our two nieces, Miss Hays and Miss 
Rucker, accompanied us. 

It is four years ago this day since I left my resi- 
dence at Columbia, Tennessee, for Washington. I 
arrived in Washington on the 13th of February fol- 
lowing. 

Monday, 2gth January, 184Q, — This was an ex- 
ceedingly busy day with me. My office was thronged 
with visitors from the time I entered it until near i 
O'clock. A few of them called to pay their re- 
spects, but most of them were seeking offices for 
themselves or their friends. I sent messages to each 
House of Congress to-day in answer to Resolutions 
calling for information. The message ^ to the House 
contained a detailed Statement of the amt. of mil- 
itary contributions collected and disbursed in Mex- 
ico. The Secretaries of State, War, and Navy called 
in the course of the day on business. I disposed of 
business on my table as usual. I learn to-night that 
the select committee of the Senate reported a Bill to- 
day providing for the admission of California and 
New Mexico into the Union as two States. Senator 
Douglass called and informed me that 5 out of the 
7 members of the committee, two from the non- 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IV, 678. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 313 

Slave-holding and three from the Slave-holding 
States, concurred in the Bill. Mr. Douglass [said] 
it was favourably received by the Senate, and has 
strong hope that it may pass. I am myself anxious, 
from what I learn of its provisions, that it may pass. 
Mr. Elisha Whittlesey of Ohio called shortly after 
Mr. Douglass retired (see this Diary of the 25th 
& 26th Instant) and informed me that Senator Clay- 
ton of Delaware would call to see me to-morrow 
evening. At a still later hour the Hon. James 
Bouldin ^ of Va., with whom I served several years 
in Congress, called. He is a sound Republican. I 
had not met him since I seperated with [from] him 
in Congress, & was glad to see him. 

Tuesday, 30th January, 184Q. — A number of 
persons, members of Congress and others, called this 
morning. The Cabinet met at" the usual hour; all 
the members present except the Atto. Gen'l, who was 
engaged officially in the Supreme Court of the U. 
States. Several matters of minor importance were 
considered and disposed of. The Secretary of War 
read a letter which he had received from Gen'l Persi- 
fer F. Smith, U. S. army, dated at Panama on the 
7th Instant. Gen'l Smith was waiting at that point 
for a passage to California and Oregon to assume the 
command of the army in these territories. Among 
other things he gives a description of the bad con- 
dition of the road across the Istmus & the difficulty 
of obtaining transportation. Some of the Cabinet 
engaged in a conversation, in which Mr. Buchanan 

^ James W. Bouldin, Representative from Virginia 1833-1839. 



314 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [30 Jan. 

led, about the practicability of making a road across 
the Istmus or at some other point, and seemed to 
treat the subject as though it was within the consti- 
tutional competency of the Government of the U. S. 
to apply the public money in the form of a contract 
with a company to make the road. I listened to the 
conversation for some time, when I arrested it by 
expressing a decided opinion that no such power ex- 
isted. And in relation to the Bill ^ now before 
Congress, which proposed to pay to Aspinwall, Steph- 
ens, and others $250,000 per annum for 20 years, 
to enable them to construct a road & for transport- 
ing the mails & public property across the Istmus, I 
informed the Cabinet that if it passed I should veto it. 
I consider that the Government possesses no consti- 
tutional power to apply the public money either 
within or without the U. S. for any such purpose. 
I stated that I considered the proposition of that 
Bill as but little better than a proposition to plunder 
the Treasury, & that it should never pass with my 
approval. I then stated that this bill was but one 
of many measures proposing enormous expenditures 
of public money, which I understood was pressed on 
Congress by a lobby influence, consisting of leading 
men out of Congress whose special business it was to 
induce members of Congress to vote for and support 
them. It is said that there are persons now in Wash- 
ington, ex-members of Congress and others, who 
make this their special business. Some member of 
the Cabinet intimated, indeed expressed, the con- 
viction that some members of Congress were feed 

^ Globe, 30 Cong. 2 Sess. 382. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 315 

attornies to get some of these large claims through 
Congress. It is hoped for the honour of the country 
that this may not be so. Such a thing as an organ- 
ized lobby influence, such as there is every reason to 
believe now exists, was wholly unknown while I was 
in Congress. The Cabinet adjourned between 2 and 
3 O'clock, and shortly afterwards the atto. Gen'l 
came in. He informed me that he had just finished 
the argument of a cause in the Supreme Court of 
the U. S. 

I disposed of business on my table as usual after 
the Cabinet adjourned. 

This being the regular evening for receiving com- 
pany, the parlour was filled with visitors, ladies and 
gentlemen, members of Congress, citizens, and 
strangers. 

Wednesday, 31st January, 184Q. — A large num- 
ber of persons called this morning. Among them 
were several strangers who wished to pay their re- 
spects, but the large majority were on the business of 
seeking office. The passion for office remains un- 
abated. The importunities for office which I have 
to endure daily is [are] exceedingly annoying to me. 
I was heartily glad when the hour for closing my 
office arrived to-day. I attended to much business 
on my table. The Secretary of State called on busi- 
ness. Nothing of special interest occurred during 
the day. After night Senators Atchison and Cam- 
eron called & urged me to appoint Senator Hanne- 
gan of Indiana an Envoy abroad. I had no such 
place to fill. Senator Hannegan has been defeated 



3i6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Feb. 

in his election to the Senate & is said to be very- 
poor. These were the reasons assigned in his 
behalf. 

Thursday, Ist February, l84g, — I saw company 
as usual this morning. Among others I saw the 
Hon. Mr. Venable of N. C, and after he retired 
Senator Johnson of Georgia, to each of whom I as- 
signed my reasons for desiring to see the Bill in- 
troduced into the Senate to admit California & New 
Mexico as two States into the Union. This Bill I 
consider the only practicable means of providing 
Governments for these Territories at the present ses- 
sion of Congress, and of thereby allaying the geo- 
graphical excitement on the subject of slavery. I 
had invited these two gentlemen to call because I had 
been informed they were among the most impracti- 
cable of the Democratic members of Congress from 
the South. I have ascertained that a number of 
Northern Democrats will vote against attaching the 
Wilmot Proviso to a Bill to provide for admitting 
[them] as States, who would feel constrained by 
public sentiment among their constituents to vote 
for it as a condition on any Bill to establish a Terri- 
torial Government. Neither of the gentlemen gave 
a decided opinion as to their votes, but both after 
hearing my reasons promised me to examine the sub- 
ject more fully than they had done. 

The Secretary of State & the Secretary of War 
called at different periods of the day & transacted 
business with me. I disposed of business on my 
table as usual. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 317 

Friday, 2nd February, l84g. — Saw company as 
usual this morning. Many persons, members of 
Congress and others, called. At 12 O'Clock the 
Secretary of War & the commissioner of Indian 
Affairs, in pursuance of a previous arrangement, 
called and presented a Delegation from the Menom- 
onee Tribe of Indians. There were 14 of them of 
whom 2 were young females. Three of them made 
speeches setting forth their grievances and the object 
of their visit. A half-breed Indian who accom- 
panied them interpreted what they said. Their 
speeches occupied about an hour & a half. They 
had previously presented to the Secretary of War 
a statement in writing of their grievances & wishes. 
They handed to me a pipe with a long stem curiously 
wrought & with a long strand of beads. They pro- 
fessed great friendship for thein *' Great Father." 
I responded to them through their Interpreter, and 
informed them that I would examine the paper they 
had given to the Secretary of War, and that the Sec- 
retary would let them know in a day or two what 
could be done for them. A number of persons came 
into my ofRce during the interview, and among 
others the Hon. Ely Moon of the City of N. York. 
After they retired the Secretary of the Navy called 
on business. I addressed a letter to-day to the Gov- 
ernor of N. Carolina and transmitted to him a bound 
volume of manuscript copies of Documents found 
in the Brittish archives, illustrative of the Revolu- 
tionary history of N. C, which had been sent to me 
by Mr. Bancroft (see my letter Book). I disposed 
of business on my table as usual to-day. 



3i8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Feb. 

Saturday, 3rd February, i84g, — Saw company 
as usual this morning. Among those who called 
were the usual proportion of office-seekers. The 
Cabinet met at the usual hour; all the members pres- 
ent. Mr. Buchanan presented a difficulty which had 
arisen, and which he had before brought to my no- 
tice. It was to what Power of Government Mr. 
Cass, lately appointed charge d'afifaires to the Papal 
States, should be accredited. A Revolution ^ has 
broken out at Rome and Pope Pius IX. has fled 
from that Capitol, & when last heard of was at Goeta 
in the Dominions of the King of the Two Cicilies. 
On the other hand the Revolutionary Government 
which has succeeded him at Rome has not been so 
firmly established as to justify its recognition. If, 
therefore, Mr. Cass be accredited to the Pope, he 
will be accredited to a sovereign who has fled from 
his temporal Dominions; and if to the Revolution- 
ary Government, there is no sufficient evidence that 
it has stability or can maintain itself. Mr. Buch- 
anan proposed to send Mr. Cass to Rome without 
accrediting him to either, with instructions to Report 
to his Government the exact condition of things on 

^ Pope Pius IX sympathized In the beginning with the liberal 
Italian movement of the year 1848. When it became evident, 
however, that the result of the movement would be to involve 
the Italians in a war with Austria, the Pope took counsel of his 
interests as the head of Catholicism and withdrew from it. The 
consequence of this withdrawal was the revolution referred to, 
in his own temporal dominion (the States of the Church). The 
Pope fled to the King of Naples for refuge on November 24, 1848, 
whereupon the Revolutionists, under the lead of Mazzini, pro- 
claimed the establishment of a republic. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 319 

his arrival there, and that his credentials could be 
sent to him on receiving this information. After 
some discussion the Cabinet concurred in this view, 
and Mr. Buchanan's proposition v^as adopted ac- 
cordingly. Mr. Buchanan read a despatch of the 
1 2th of January last from Mr. Bancroft in w^hich 
among other things Mr. Bancroft assigns the rea- 
sons which had induced him not to execute his in- 
structions to protest against the order of the Brittish 
Government to the officers of the Crown in Ireland 
to arrest American citizens found there, on mere sus- 
picion during the period of the late troubles in Ire- 
land. Mr. Buchanan expressed the opinion that the 
protest of this Government ought still to be made, 
to guard against a similar exercise of despotic power 
for the future. He thought Mr. Bancroft's reasons 
were not sufficient. I intimated^ the opinion that 
the protest ought to be made, when Mr. Buchanan 
remarked that he would like to hear the opinions of 
the Cabinet. I then took their opinions individu- 
ally. Mr. Marcy at first doubted. All the other 
members of the Cabinet concurred with Mr. Buch- 
anan that Mr. Bancroft should be again instructed to 
make the protest, so that it might be on record in 
both Governments; and this course was resolved on. 
Some other matters of minor importance were con- 
sidered and disposed of. I attended to business on 
my table in the morning as usual. 

While the Cabinet were in Session my Private 
Secretary came in and informed me that some of the 
Whig members of Congress had found in a newspa- 
per a Protocol signed by Messrs. Clifford & Sevier, 



320 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [4 Feb. 

Commissioners, &C., in relation to the meaning and 
construction of the amendments of the Senate to the 
Mexican Treaty, and that they intended to call for 
it by a Resolution. Mr. Buchanan immediately 
went to the State Dept. & brought the Protocol & in- 
structions, &C., on the subject & read them in the 
Cabinet. The Whigs may make the call if they 
choose. They can make nothing out of the informa- 
tion when they get it. 

Sunday, 4th February, 184Q. — I attended Di- 
vine worship to-day at the First Presbyterian church. 
Mrs. Polk and our two nieces. Miss Rucker and 
Miss Hays, accompanied me. I spent the day 
quietly in my chamber until about sunset, when 
a servant informed me that the P. M. Gen'l and two 
or three other gentlemen were in my office. On 
repairing to my office I found the P. M. Gen'l, Mr. 
Houston of Alabama, Mr. Boyd of Ky., and Mr. 
McKay of N. Carolina. Mr. Houston said they had 
called to know something about the Protocol be- 
tween our Commissioners, Messrs. Sevier and Clif- 
ford, and the Mexican minister, in relation to the 
interpretation of the amendments of our Senate, to 
the Mexican Treaty which the Whigs had found in 
a newspaper, and in relation to which they had 
moved a Resolution calling for information in the 
House on yesterday. I proceeded in a strain of 
familiar conversation with them to give the explana- 
tions of it, telling them that there was nothing in it 
and that the Whigs could make no political capital 
out of it. Whilst I was doing this Judge Catron of 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 321 

the Supreme Court of the U. S. came in. I pro- 
ceeded with my explanation and remarked to Mr. 
Houston that I desired the Resolution which had 
been offered on the subject by Mr. Stephens of 
Georgia to pass, but that I wished it enlarged in its 
terms, as I had seen it published in the Union this 
morning, so as to embrace a call for all the corre- 
spondence and for the instructions to our commis- 
sioners, and jocosely and in a pleasant mood re- 
marked to him, you will, of course, embrace in the 
call the usual reservation " if not incompatable with 
the public interests," for, I said, you know if the 
House shall make an absolute call, that involves 
a principle, and I may refuse to send you the infor- 
mation you ask, when you command it, though I 
would voluntarily do it the next day; alluding to 
my refusal at the last session of Congress to respond 
to an unqualified call of the House" for the Instruc- 
tions to Mr. Slidell. Mr. Houston remarked 
jocosely that he had an unfinished speech on the sub- 
ject of the Resolution last year, that he believed he 
would make on this call. The conversation was in 
perfect good humour and very pleasant; when Mr. 
McKay in a grave and stern and, as I thought, 
an offensive manner, spoke and said, I will vote for 
an unqualified call on you. Sir; and rose to his feet 
and said to the other gentlemen, come, let us go. I 
knew he was a man of peculiar temperament and 
manner, and said to him in a pleasant manner, don't 
be in a hurry. General, come take your seat, I have 
not done my explanation. He moved out of my 
office, and as he left it said, *^ I have heard enough." 



322 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [5 Feb. 

I was vexed and remarked to Mr. Houston that I 
considered Gen'l McKay's conduct very rude, and 
that, unexplained, I would never speak to him again, 
& that I desired him to tell him that I said so. Mr. 
Houston said it was only his manner & habit, that he 
treated everybody so. I replied that I did not choose 
to be treated so. Judge Catron remarked that it was 
very rude conduct certainly. The P. M. Gen'l, Mr. 
Houston, and Mr. Boyd left & I retired to the par- 
lour with Judge Catron. 

Monday, ^th February, 184Q. — A number of 
persons called this morning. I wrote a note to Mr. 
Houston of Al. & Mr. Boyd of Ky. requesting them 
to call this morning. I had a conversation with 
them seperately about the strange and very rude 
conduct of Gen'l McKay of N. C. yesterday. They 
both agreed it was rude (see this Diary of yester- 
day). Mr. Houston said he had seen Gen'l McKay 
last night & told him it was so, and that he ought 
to be ashamed of it, and that Mr. McKay had as- 
sured him he did not mean to be rude, that he was 
in a good humour, & that he thought my explanation 
about the Mexican Protocol was satisfactory. I 
wrote a note to Senator Turney of Tennessee, who 
called & I explained to him the facts in relation to 
the protocol, as I did to Senator Breese and several 
other members of Congress who happened to call, 
and requested all of them to suffer any Resolutions 
calling for information on the subject which the 
Whigs might oflfer in either House to pass, as the 
information when communicated would be entirely 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 323 

satisfactory and they could make nothing prejudicial 
to the administration out of it. After 12 O'Clock 
in anticipation that a call would be made I reduced 
to writing a part of an answer which, in that event, 
I would give in a message. In the evening my 
Private Secretary informed me that such a Resolu- 
tion had passed the House, & that it had given rise 
to a violent party debate. Mr. Buchanan called and 
saw me on the subject in the course of the day. I 
disposed of business on my table as usual to-day. 

Tuesday, 6th February, 184Q, — Saw company as 
usual this morning. About 10 O'Clock Mr. Camp- 
bell, the clerk of the Ho. Repts., called and delivered 
to me the Resolutions passed by the Ho. Repts. on 
yesterday, calling for information in relation to the 
Protocol signed by Messrs. Sevier ^ Clifford with 
the Mexican Minister for Foreign affairs in rela- 
tion to their understanding of the intent and mean- 
ing of certain articles of the Treaty of peace with 
Mexico. (See this Diary for the last three days.) 
The Cabinet met at the usual hour. I laid before 
them the Resolution of enquiry which I had received 
from the House, and it was the subject of full con- 
versation. I read the paragraphs which I had writ- 
ten on yesterday. Mr. Mason at my table wrote a 
paragraph in pencil. Mr. Buchanan stepped into 
the adjoining room & made some notes of the points 
which in conversation it had been agreed should be 
discussed in the message. I requested Mr. Buch- 
anan to compare the Protocol with the original and 
the amended articles of the Treaty and prepare that 



324 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY • [7 Feb. 

part of the message which will show that the Pro- 
tocol is not inconsistent with the amended Treaty, 
but that the construction it places on the amended 
articles is the true construction. The atto. Gen'l, 
Mr. Toucy, gave it as his opinion that this is 
true. The main body of the message I will write 
myself. The Cabinet adjourned about 3 O'Clock, 
no other subject of interest having been considered. 
After night Mr. Mason called at my request, and 
with his assistance I proceeded to prepare my mes- 
sage. I was suffering from cold & was not well. 
Mr. Mason did the writing, while I lay on the sofa 
and conferred with him as he proceeded. It was 
near 12 O'Clock at night before he retired. 

Wednesday, 7th February, l84g. — I gave orders 
to my porter to admit no visitors to-day. Mr. 
Mason called about 10 O'Clock & proceeded with 
me in the further preparation of my message, he 
doing the writing (see this Diary of yesterday). 
Mr. Buchanan called and handed to me the part of 
the message which he had agreed on yesterday to 
prepare. About i O'Clock Mr. Walker and Mr. 
Marcy, as I had previously requested them to do, 
called. Having with the assistance of Mr. Mason 
finished the main body of the paper and made some 
slight modifications of the passages prepared by Mr. 
Buchanan, the whole was read over in presence of 
the four Secretaries, Messrs. Buchanan, Walker, 
Marcy, & Mason. It was modified in some imma- 
terial respects, and was approved by them. About 
3 O'clock P. M. my Private Secretary took [it] to 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 32s 

have a fair copy of it made. He was assisted by two 
confidential clerks (Williams and Loving). Mr. 
Ritchie, desiring to have a copy of it for publica- 
tion, sent his assistant editor (Mr. Overton) to make 
a copy. He occupied the room with my Private 
Secretary and clerks. Late in the afternoon Mr. 
Buchanan called and brought with him a translated 
copy of the Mexican ratification of the Treaty, 
which I deemed important. At my request he pre- 
pared a paragraph embodying it, which with a 
slight modification I determined to make a part of 
the message. About dark Senator Rusk of Texas 
called at my request, and I read to him parts of the 
message & explained the whole subject to him. He 
was not only satisfied, but thought the message was 
not only conclusive but overwhelming. I remained 
in my office, occasionally passing into the room 
where the clerks were making the copy & modifying 
and revising parts of it, until after 8 O'Clock P. M., 
when I repaired to the parlour, leaving the clerks 
at work. General notice had been given in the City 
papers that the President's mansion would be open 
for the reception of visitors this evening. All the 
parlours including the East Room were lighted up. 
The Marine band of musicians occupied the outer 
Hall. Many hundreds of persons, ladies & gentle- 
men, attended. It was what would be called in the 
Society of Washington a very fashionable levee. 
Foreign Ministers, their families & suites, Judges, 
members of both Houses of Congress, and many 
citizens and strangers were of the company present. 
I stood and shook hands with them for over three 



2,26 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [8 Feb. 

* 

hours. Towards the close of the evening I passed 
through the crowded rooms with the venerable Mrs. 
Madison on my arm. It was near 12 O'Clock when 
the company retired. I was much fatigued with my 
labours in my office during the day, and in the par- 
lour during the evening. I omitted to state in yes- 
terday's Diary that the Senate passed a Resolution, 
which I received late in the evening, making a simi- 
lar call to that of the House for information in re- 
lation to the Protocol connected with the Mexican 
Treaty. The Whigs seem to be resolved to make 
some party capital out of it if possible. I am greatly 
mistaken if, when they receive my answer, they are 
not disappointed. 

Thursday, 8th February, 184Q. — I rose early, 
as is usual with me, this morning, and being very 
desirous to send my message ^ in relation to the Mex- 
ican Treaty to the Ho. Repts. to-day, in answer to 
their Resolutions, I omitted my usual morning walk 
& went to my office. The Clerks had finished mak- 
ing the copy. I read, revised, and corrected it, 
making some slight modifications in it, before break- 
fast. Messrs. Meade and Bayley of Va., Mr. Chase 
of Tennessee, Mr. Kaufman of Texas, Mr. Johnson 
of Arkansas, and Mr. Rhett of S. C, all of the Ho. 
Repts., called, all of them at my request, except Mr. 
Rhett, and I read to them my message to the House 
and explained the facts & principles involved to 

^ Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, IV, 679- 
687. For both message and accompanying documents, see H. Ex, 
Doc. 50, 30 Cong. 2 Sess. V. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 327 

them. They were not all present at the same time. 
They expressed a united opinion that the expose was 
satisfactory and conclusive. I deemed it proper that 
a few of my political friends in the House should 
understand the subject and be prepared for any sud- 
den discussion which might arise on sending it to 
the House. Although I had not requested him to 
do so, I was glad that Mr. Rhett happened to call. 
Mr. Mason called & read the whole paper, as re- 
vised, early in the day. Mr. Buchanan & Mr. 
Walker called and read over the whole paper care- 
fully. It was after 12 O'Clock when I received the 
Documents which were to accompany it, and near i 
O'clock before my Private Secretary left to take the 
Message to the House. I was occupied during the 
balance of the day in disposing of the business on 
my table. My Private Secretary iniormed me in 
the evening that my message was read in the House 
and ordered to be printed without discussion. He 
informed me that the Democratic members as far 
as he discerned were well pleased, while the Whigs 
were silent. 

Friday, gth February, i84g. — I saw company 
this morning. I had kept my office closed for two 
or three days while preparing my message to the Ho. 
Repts., and this morning the number of office-seekers 
was unusually great and their importunities for place 
exceedingly annoying to me. I gave them audience 
for about an hour, and considering it time uselessly 
spent I directed [my porter] to admit none others. I 
prepared a short message to the Senate in answer to 



328 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [lo Feb. 

a Resolution of that body on the subject of the Pro- 
tocol connected with the Treaty of peace with Mex- 
ico. I consulted Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Marcy, and 
Mr. Mason in drawing it. I received the documents 
to accompany the Message from the State Dept. about 
i>4 O'clock, and my Private Secretary took them 
with the message to the senate. I disposed of much 
business on my table to-day. 

Saturday, lOth February, l84g. — A few mem- 
bers of Congress and others called this morning. I 
disposed of two or three applications for pardon and 
some other business before the hour of the meeting 
of the Cabinet. All the members of the Cabinet 
attended at the usual hour. Nothing of importance 
was considered to-day. Several minor subjects were 
disposed of, and the Cabinet dispersed between i and 
2 O'clock P. M. Since my messages of the 8th 
Inst, to the Ho. Repts., and of the 9th Inst, to the 
Senate, on the subject of the Protocol to the Mexican 
Treaty, no debate upon the subject has taken place 
in either House. My message to the House, I learn 
from several members of Congress, is considered by 
all as not only satisfactory, but overwhelming to the 
Whig leaders who raised the false clamour about 
the Protocol and the effect which they falsely as- 
sumed it had of abrogating the Mexican Treaty. 
The calls upon me on the subject must have been 
caused by mere partisan rancour, & the hope on the 
part of the movers that some political capital could 
be made of it. When the matter was first moved 



i849] JAMES K. POLK*S DIARY 329 

on Saturday last in the House, and for three or four 
days afterwards, some of the Whig leaders in Con- 
gress were bold in the [their] assumptions and pub- 
licly threatened me with impeachment. The Na- 
tional Intelligencer came out with a silly article, it is 
difficult to say whether it is to be attributed to igno- 
rance or to unprincipled party malignity. Since 
my message communicating a plain statement of facts 
has gone in, they are all quit [quiet] and seem to have 
dropped the subject. This has several times happened 
during my administration. Party assaults have been 
made by Resolutions calling for information, ac- 
companied by violent speeches, and when my answer 
was received that was the last that was heard of 
them. In this case Mr. Stephens of Georgia was 
put forward to make the call. From what I have 
since heard I have reason to believe that others, who 
have some character to loose, were his prompters 
behind the scene, but were unwilling to risk a pub- 
lic exposure by moving in the matter publicly them- 
selves. From what I learn there can be little doubt 
the [that] Senators Benton of Mo. and Clayton of 
Delaware were of this number. I have not seen 
either Senators Foote of Miss, or King of Alabama, 
but I am informed that they have information which 
leaves but little doubt of the fact that Mr. Benton 
& Mr. Clayton, and perhaps Mr. Berrien of Geor- 
gia, were active in agitating the matter in the first 
instance, and I have no doubt Mr. Stephens made 
his movement at the instance of Mr. Clayton. Mr. 
Benton has been malignantly hostile to me ever since 



330 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [ii Feb. 

Col. Fremont's trial, and this wholly without cause. 
He has not visited me & I have had no communica- 
tion with him for more than a year. There is every 
indication now that he will join the Whigs in the 
support of Gen'l Taylor, at all events until he can 
get oiSices for his three sons-in-law. If I had failed 
to do my duty in Col. Fremont's case, and given an 
office which he sought for his Whig son-in-law 
(Jones) he would never have quarrelled with me. 
His course towards me and my administration for 
more than a year past has been selfish and wholly 
unprincipled. Fortunately I fear nothing he can 
do & am at his defiance. I should have added that 
I learned from Senator Hannegan of Indiana some 
days ago that Senators Benton & Clayton were the 
first to agitate in relation to the Protocol. The facts 
communicated in my message will render impotent 
their unprincipled malignity. 

Sunday, nth February, 184Q. — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day. Mrs. Polk and 
Miss Hays and Miss Rucker accompanied me. On 
yesterday an exciting debate took place in the Sen- 
ate on a motion to print my message to that body in 
answer to their resolution calling for the Protocol 
and other papers connected with the Treaty of peace 
with Mexico. In this debate Senator Foote of Miss. 
and others participated. A sketch of the debate is 
published in the Union of this morning. From Mr. 
Foote's remarks as published the origin of the agita- 
tion on the subject is pretty distinctly traced to its 
true authors (see this Diary of yesterday). 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 331 

Monday, 12th February, l84g. — Many persons, 
members of Congress and others, called this morn- 
ing. Most of them were seeking office. Mr. Buch- 
anan, who had handed to me last night a despatch 
from the Mexican Minister of the loth Inst, on the 
subject of the Protocol to the Mexican Treaty of 
peace, called and held a conversation with me on 
the subject to-day. He is to prepare an answer and 
submit it to the Cabinet on to-morrow. The Secre- 
tary of War called on business. Brev't Col. Bliss, ^ 
U. S. army, and son-in-law of Gen'l Taylor, the 
President-elect of the U. S., called to pay his respects 
today. Maj'r R. B. Reynolds, Paymaster of [the] 
U. S. army, and Col. Frank Cheatham,^ late of the 
army, both of Tennessee, dined with me to-day. I 
disposed of much business on my table in the course 
of the day. After night Messrs. Cobb & Lumpkin 
of Georgia called. 

Tuesday, 13th February, 184Q, — It is four years 
ago this day since I arrived in Washington, prepara- 
tory to entering on my duties as President of the 
U. S. on the 4th of March following. They have 
been four years of incessant labour and anxiety and 
of great responsibility. I am heartily rejoiced that 
my term is so near its close. I will soon cease to 
be a servant and will become a sovereign. As a 

^ William Wallace Smith Bliss, Chief of Staff of General 
Taylor. 

^ Benjamin Franklin Cheatham, 1 820-1 866, Colonel of 3rd 
Tennessee regiment in Mexican War, became Major General in 
Confederate army. 



332 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [13 Feb. 

private citizen I will have no one but myself to 
serve, and v^ill exercise a part of the sovereign power 
of my country. I am sure I will be happier in this 
condition than in the exalted station I now hold. A 
few persons, members of Congress and others, called 
before the meeting of the Cabinet this morning. All 
the members of the Cabinet except the Secretary of 
the Treasury attended at the usual [hour]. De- 
spatches received last night from Commodore Jones, 
commanding the Pacific squadron on the California 
coast, were read hy Judge Mason. Letters received 
from Mr. Parrot, consul at Mazatlan and bearer of 
despatches to the army and Naval officers on the Pa- 
cific, and from an officer of the Quarter Masters 
Dept., were read by Mr. Marcy. They show a de- 
plorable state of things in California, where the in- 
habitants are left without law or Government, but 
notwithstanding this I fear that Congress will pro- 
vide no Government for them at the present Session. 
Mr. Buchanan read a despatch ^ which he had pre- 
pared to Mr. Bancroft in answer to one received 
from the latter, re-iterating the instructions which 
had been previously given to Mr. B. to protest in 
the name of his Government against the arbitrary 
order given by the Brittish Government in August 
last for the arrest upon mere suspicion [of] all 
American citizens found in or visiting Ireland. 
Thou[gh] the American citizens who were arrested 
have all been released, it was deemed proper to place 
on record in the most solemn form the protest of the 
U. S., so that the order of August last may not herc- 

^ Moore, Buchanan, VIII, 319-321. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 333 

after be drawn in question as a precedent in which 
we had acquiesced to justify a similar exercise of 
power. Mr. Buchanan read also instructions which 
he had prepared to Lewis Cass, Jr., charge d'affaires 
to the Papal states. Mr. Cass will proceed at once 
to Rome, but will not be accredited either to the 
Pope or to the Revolutionary Government now exist- 
ing in the Papal states. Mr. Cass is instructed to 
Report to his Government the exact condition of the 
Government as he may find it after his arrival at 
Rome. When he shall do this, this government will 
be better able to determine to whom he shall be ac- 
credited. Mr. Buchanan read a despatch which 
he received on the night of the loth Inst, from the 
Mexican Minister (Rosa) on the subject of the Pro- 
tocol connected with the Mexican Treaty, lately 
called for by Congress. The proper answer to be 
given was the subject of conversation and was agreed 
upon. Several other subject[s], chiefly of detail and 
of minor importance, were considered and disposed 
of. This was reception evening. A number of per- 
sons, ladies & gentlemen, members of Congress, & 
others called. 

Wednesday, 14th February, l84g. — The num- 
ber of persons, male and female, who called this 
morning was unusually great, and the importunate 
applications for office were exceedingly annoying. 
The impression has obtained that Gen'l Taylor may 
possibly not be proscriptive, and the herd of persons 
who are without political principle and who are will- 
ing to profess to belong to either party to obtain or 



334 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [15 Feb. 

hold office, are anxious to get in before I retire, in 
the hope that they will not be turned out after I 
retire. I have great contempt for such persons, and 
dispose of their applications very summarily. They 
take up much of my time every day. I yielded to 
the request of an artist named Brady, of N. Y., by 
sitting for my Degueryotype likeness to-day. I sat 
in the large dining room. I disposed of business on 
my table as usual. Mr. Buchanan called & read to 
me the draft of his answer to the note of the Mexican 
Minister on the subject of the Protocol to the Mexi- 
can Treaty (see this Diary of yesterday). I ap- 
proved its general tenor, but thought it a subject of 
sufficient importance to consult the Cabinet about, 
and appointed to-morrow at i O'Clock P. M. for a 
meeting of the Cabinet. Mr. Josylin of HoUey 
Springs & Mr. Duncan of Grenada, Mississippi 
took a family Dinner with me to-day. In pursu- 
ance of law, this being the 2nd Wednesday in Feb- 
ruary, the electoral votes for President & Vice Presi- 
dent of the U. S. were counted in Congress to-day. 

Thursday, 15th February, l84g. — Many per- 
sons called this morning, a majority of whom were 
annoying me by their importunities for office. As 
I am making no removals, and, as Mr. Jefferson once 
said " few die and none resign," I have no offices to 
fill, and I promptly answered all who applied sternly, 
^^ no." I convened a special meeting of the Cabinet 
at I O'clock to-day. All the members attended. 
Mr. Buchanan read the answer ^ which he had pre- 

^ Moore, Buchanan, VIII, 328-332. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK*S DIARY 335 

pared to the note of the Mexican Minister on the 
subject of the Protocol to the Mexican Treaty (see 
this Diary of the 13th Inst.). The answer as drawn 
was slightly modified and unanimously agreed to. 
Some other minor matters were considered and dis- 
posed of, and the Cabinet adjourned after being to- 
gether about an hour. I disposed of business in my 
office in the afternoon as usual. 

Friday, l6th February, l84g. — A great number 
of persons called this morning, most of them seeking 
office as usual. Others, female as well as male, were 
begging money. I am thankful that I am so soon 
to be relieved from such annoyances. Among the 
beggars was a sturdy, impudent fellow, upon whose 
face and nose the effects of brandy wer.e visible. He 
professed to want money to aid him in building an 
academy or school house. From his appearance I 
think it likely that he wished to get it to spend for 
drink. I gave him a prompt and stern refusal. 
Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Mason called in the course 
of the day on business. Mr. Brady, an artist, took 
several of my deguerrotype likenesses to-day, and 
also the likenesses of Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Mason. 
We set [sat] for him in the large dining room below 
stairs. I transacted business in my office as usual. 
After night Mr. Thomas of the Ho. Repts. of 
Tennessee called. He returned last evening from a 
visit to his sick family at Columbia, Tennessee. 
After he retired Mr. Cobb and Mr. Lumpkin of 
Georgia called and spent two hours or more with 
me. In the course of the evening the Oregon ques- 



336 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 Feb. 

tion and my course in relation to it became the sub- 
ject of conversation. Mr. Lumpkin detailed a con- 
versation between Senator Allen of Ohio & himself 
which he stated took place when that subject was 
pending before Congress, which I deem worthy to 
be noted in this Diary. Mr. Lumpkin stated that 
in conversation with Mr. Allen at that time he en- 
quired of Mr. Allen what the President should do 
if the Brittish Government should offer the parallel 
of 49° as the boundary, which the President had 
offered and subsequently withdrawn. Mr. Allen, 
he stated, replied that that was all understood, that 
if such offer was made the President should submit 
it to the Senate, and that two thirds of that body 
would never advise its acceptance. Mr. Lumpkin 
said that when the contingency happened & I took 
the very course indicated he was surprised to find 
that Mr. Allen disapproved it, and, in consequence 
of it, resigned his post as chairman of the committee 
of Foreign Relations of the Senate. My notes in 
this Diary in relation to Senator Allen's course were 
very full at the time, and although I have not re- 
ferred to them since, they will be found to accord 
fully with Mr. Lumpkin's statement. Before my 
annual message of December, 1845, was sent to Con- 
gress I submitted it to Mr. Allen, and he advised me 
in the event [Great Britain] returned my offer of 
49° upon me to take the very course I did, and with 
which, when I did it, he found fault. By referring 
to this Diary a few days before the meeting of Con- 
gress in Deer., 1845, and in the early part of June, 
1846, what occurred between Mr. Allen and myself 



i849] JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY 337 

will be found recorded. I note Mr. Lumpkin's 
statement to-night for reference if the subject should 
ever be brought before the public by Mr. Allen. 
Mr. Buchanan sent to me this evening a despatch re- 
ceived from Mr. Bancroft transmitting one to Lord 
Palmerston on the subject of ex-patriation. 

Saturday, 17th February, l84g, — A number of 
members of Congress and others called this morn- 
ing. Their business vs^as to importune me about ap- 
pointments to office. The Cabinet met at the usual 
hour; all the members present except the Secretary 
of War, v^ho was detained at his house, as I learned, 
in consequence of indisposition. Before entering on 
any business the members of the Cabinet at my re- 
quest accompanied me to the large dining room be- 
low stairs & set [sat] for their Degue'rrotype like- 
nesses. Mr. Brady, the artist, desired to take the 
Cabinet & myself in a group, and did so. Return- 
ing to my office the business before the Cabinet was 
considered and disposed of. The despatch received 
from Mr. Bancroft, sent to me by Mr. Buchanan 
last evening, was considered. I had read it care- 
fully and stated its substance and purport. It was 
not read, but Mr. Buchanan gave his views in rela- 
tion to it. The Cabinet were unanimous in adhering 
to their opinion that Mr. Bancroft should make a 
formal protest to the Brittish Government, as he had 
been instructed to do, against the arbitrary & des- 
potic order of that Government issued in August 
last for the arrest of all American citizens, whether 
native-born or adopted, who were found in Ireland, 



338 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Feb. 

and under which Mr. Bergen and Mr. Ryan, two 
American citizens, had actually been arrested and 
imprisoned. True, they were afterwards released, 
but the protest which Mr. Bancroft had been in- 
structed to make was designed to guard against a 
similar arbitrary exercise of power for the future. 
Mr. Bancroft in his despatch to Lord Palmerston 
has ably discussed the question of the right of Brit- 
tish subjects to ex-patriate themselves & to become 
American citizens, but this question did not neces- 
sarily arise. The order of the Brittish Government 
complained of applied alike to Native-born and to 
Naturalized citizens. The Cabinet were of opinion 
that Mr. Bancroft should still make the Protest, as 
he had been heretofore instructed to do, and I di- 
rected Mr. Buchanan so to inform him. 

Mr. Buchanan read a despatch reed, from Mr. Don- 
elson, U. S. Minister to the German Empire, in which 
he repeats his desire to be empowered to negotiate 
a commercial Treaty. The successful establishment 
of the German confederacy is as yet deemed to be 
too uncertain to justify instructions to negotiate such 
a Treaty. I disposed of business on my table as 
usual after the adjournment of the Cabinet. 

After night the Hon. Hugh J. Anderson of Maine, 
with whom I served several years in Congress, and 
who has since been Governor of Maine, called and 
spent about an hour with me. He is a sound Demo- 
crat and an excellent man. He agreed with me fully 
in my views in regard to the importance of Con- 
gress providing at the present session for the admis- 
sion of California and New Mexico into the Union 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 339 

as states, and thus settling the agitating question of 
the Wilmot Proviso or slavery restriction which 
would be insisted on in [a] Territorial Bill. I have 
omitted to state in the proper place in this day's 
Diary that Mr. Mason and Mr. Johnson remained 
a few minutes after the other members of the Cab- 
inet retired. Mr. Mason said he felt it to be his 
duty to inform me of a matter of some delicacy which 
had come to his knowledge, which I ought to know, 
but not desiring to stand in the attitude of an in- 
former, he desired that I would not use his name. 
He then informed me that he had learned from Mr. 
Collins, the ist Auditor, that Mr. Fletcher Webster, 
who was ch. clerk in the State Dept. during the 
period his father (Hon. Daniel Webster) was Sec- 
retary of State, had presented an account for eight- 
een or nineteen hundred dollars for salary as acting 
Secretary of State during his father's temporary ab- 
sence from the seat of Government. He informed 
me that Mr. Collins, the auditor, had refused to 
allow the account, and that Mr. Collins informed 
[him] that he had been overruled by Mr. McCul- 
loch, the ist Comptroller. Mr. Mason expressed 
the apprehension that Mr. McCuUoch was making 
this and similar payments very loosely if not ille- 
gally. I immediately sent for the Secretary of the 
Treasury and gave him the information, but without 
giving the source from which I had obtained [it]. 
I expressed to him my astonishment. He expressed 
the opinion that such payments were legal, and that 
similar payments had been made. I replied this 
could not be, for Congress had appropriated but 



340 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i8 Fes. 

one salary for a Secretary of State, & that having 
been drawn by Daniel Webster, it could not be again 
legally paid to his son. I told him I must have the 
opinion of the atto. Gen'l on the legal question, as 
I was strongly impressed that such payments were 
illegal, and was very sure that they were improper. 
Mr. Walker said he would take the opinion of the 
atto. Gen'l and enquire further into the matter. 

Sunday, l8th February, 184Q. — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day accompanied by 
Mrs. Polk and Maria Polk Walker, the little daugh- 
ter of my Private Secretary, J. Knox Walker. Mrs. 
Walker and our two nieces, Miss Rucker and Miss 
Hays, attended service at one of the Catholic 
churches. I spent the day quietly in my chamber. 
After night, reflecting on the near approach of the 
termination of my Presidential term and on the un- 
certainty of life, I executed a purpose which I have 
some time contemplated by writing and signing my 
last Will and Testament. I left a written Will with 
my valuable papers in Tennessee, but as the situation 
of my property has been materially changed since it 
was written I deemed it proper to make another. 
There are no persons present to attest it as witnesses, 
but I will hereafter cause this to be done. Mrs. 
Polk knew nothing of my intention to write it. It 
was made chiefly for her benefit, if she should sur- 
vive me, and I will read it to her. I took it with 
me from my office to my chamber and read it to her. 
It was unexpected to her and she expressed some 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 341 

surprise, but was entirely satisfied with its provis- 
ions. 

Mr. Buchanan called in after night and informed 
me that he had been informed at a party last evening 
that Mr. Stephens of Georgia and Mr. Wilmot of 
Penn. had made a violent assault upon me in the Ho. 
Repts. the day before, in which the effort was made 
to prove that I had at one time been in favour of 
the Wilmot Proviso. Such an allegation is false, 
come from what quarter it may. 

Monday, igth February, 184Q. — My office was 
crowded with visitors this morning. Among them 
were some genteel looking strangers who called to 
pay their respects, but a majority of them were seek- 
ing office. One man of good appearange was beg- 
ging money for a church for sailors in Norfolk. 
My Private Secretary by my direction contributed 
to him. He may be an imposter, but his appear- 
ance would indicate otherwise. These are annoy- 
ances which a President must endure. 

I was surprised on opening the National Intelli- 
gencer of this morning to discover that the Ho. 
Repts. had continued its session on Saturday until 
after 10 O'Clock at night. My Private Secretary 
had not been at the House, and had made no Report 
of its proceedings to me. I learned from several 
members of the House, who called this morning on 
other business, the character of the attack ^ made on 
me in the House by Mr. Stephens and Mr. Wilmot 

^ Globe, 30 Cong. 2 Sess. A pp. 139, and 145-150. 



342 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [19 Feb. 

on Saturday (see this Diary of yesterday). Its sub- 
stance is that Mr. Stephens charged that in conver- 
sation ^ with Mr. Wilmot, at what time I could not 
learn, that I had urged him not [to] urge his Pro- 
viso on the Three Million appropriation Bill, but 
to offer it in a distinct form, and that I would have 
no objection to it. Wilmot had given the informa- 
tion to Stephens. Stephens makes the charge, and 
Wilmot is a willing witness on the floor of the House 
to prove it. It is wickedly and basely false. Among 
the members who detailed the debate to me was 
Gen'l Bayley of Va. Mr. Buchanan was present, 
who at once said that he knew that the President & 
every member of the Cabinet had been opposed to 
the Wilmot Proviso from the time it was first offered, 
and that I had uniformly so expressed myself. Mr. 
McLane of M. called, and said to me that he knew 
that in conversation with him I had expressed my 
opposition to the Proviso in strong terms, and had 
expressed the opinion that if any territory was ac- 
quired by Treaty from Mexico the slavery question 
should be adjusted by the Missouri compromise line. 
I told these gentlemen, as the truth is, that I had 
recommended to Congress to make an appropria- 
tion to enable me to make a Treaty of peace with 
Mexico. The appropriation was not made at the 
first session it was recommended. When the Bill 
for that purpose was before the House, at a night 
sitting near the close of the session of 1846, Mr. 
Wilmot had offered his Proviso. I was at the Capi- 

^ For Polk's account of the conversation referred to, see Diary 
entry for December 23, 1846. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 343 

tol in the Vice President's Room, as is usual at the 
close of a session, receiving & signing Bills, when 
I heard of it. My Private Secretary remembers dis- 
tinctly that I expressed my strong disapprobation of 
it, & requested Mr. Buchanan to go to the House 
and see if he could arrest it. The Bill failed to pass 
at that session, & I repeated the recommendation at 
the next session. In many conversations with many 
members I remember that I urged them not to em- 
barrass the appropriation by the Proviso. I remem- 
ber to have urged upon some who were disposed 
to vote for it not [to] embarrass a foreign negotia- 
tion for Peace by it, that such a privision [provision] 
could not be inserted in any Treaty, and if it was 
it could not be ratified by two thirds of the Senate 
or by me, and I may have said, to[o], that if they 
must insist upon it, why not do it in a seperate or 
distinct form and not on the three million appro- 
priation Bill. I may have said also, that if we 
should acquire territory by a Treaty of peace with 
Mexico they would have an opportunity to offer it 
when Congress came to establish a Territorial Gov- 
ernment over the acquired territory. These were 
arguments addressed to the advocates of the Proviso 
to induce them not to embarrass an appropriation 
which was deemed an important means of* obtaining 
peace by it. But that I ever expressed to any 
human being, Mr. Wilmot or any one else, that I 
would favour the Proviso in any shape, or any thing 
from which such an inference could be drawn, is, 
I repeat, false. The baseness of Wilmott in this 
matter cannot be adequately discribed. He remains 



344 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Feb. 

silent for two years and more, then goes to Stephens, 
a bitter & unscrupulous partisan Whig, induces him 
to make the charge, & then meanly seeks to place 
himself in the attitude of a witness to sustain it. 
The debate has not yet been published in the news- 
papers. As soon as it is I [shall] cause an author- 
ized contradiction of it to be made. The Whigs & 
abolitionists in Congress pursue me with a malignity 
and a bitterness which can only be accounted for 
because of their chagrin at the success of Democratic 
measures during my administration. Contributions 
levied in Mexico & the ridiculous farce of the 
Protocol have constituted their latest subjects of at- 
tack. These have failed them and now this story of 
Wilmot's is gotten up. 

I visited to-day the model of the statue of Gen'l 
Jackson on horseback now being prepared in this 
City. I disposed of much business on my table. 
After night Mr. Venable of N. C. and Mr. Stanton 
of Tennessee, members of the Select committee of 
the Ho. Repts. to which [my] message on the sub- 
ject of military contributions levied in Mexico was 
referred, called at my request, and I had a conver- 
sation with them on that subject. 

Tuesday, 20th February, l84g, — I was exces- 
sively annoyed by a crowd of persons this morning, 
most of whom were seeking office. The Cabinet 
met at the usual hour; the members all present ex- 
cept the Secretary of War and the Atto. Gen'l. The 
former was detained at his house by indisposition 
and the latter was attending the Supreme Court of 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 345 

the U. S. The Secretary of the Treasury read a 
Report to Congress on the Ware-Housing system 
established by the act of 1846. It had been printed 
and he read from a proof-sheet copy. It is an inter- 
esting and able Report, & demonstrates clearly the 
advantages of the system. Some other subjects of 
minor importance were considered and disposed of. 
A conversation took place on the subject of the 
attack made on me in the Ho. Repts. on Saturday 
last by Stephens & Wilmot (see this Diary of yes- 
terday). The members present w^ere indignant at 
the charge and remembered distinctly my repeated 
expressions of hostility to the Wilmot Proviso, and 
my determination to veto it if it extended beyond 
the Missouri compromise. Mr. Walker stated a 
conversation he had held with Wilmot, 'which may 
hereafter become important, in which he had argued 
with Wilmot to prove that without the Proviso 
slavery could never exist in California, and that Wil- 
mot had declared to him that if the views he pre- 
sented had occurred to him before he offered the 
Proviso he never would have offered it. I disposed 
of business on my table as usual to-day. This was 
reception evening. The usual number of persons, 
ladies and gentlemen, called. My nephew, Capt. 
James H. Walker of Tennessee, arrived to-night. 

Wednesday, 21st February, i84g. — As soon as 
my office was opened this morning persons began to 
call. For three hours and more I was importuned by 
office seekers. At no period since I have been Presi- 
dent has the pressure for place been greater than 



346 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [22 Feb. 

to-day. The large majority of those who apply I 
have reason to believe are worthless, without char- 
acter & too lazy to pursue an honest calling for a 
livelihood. I am stern & almost abrupt with them, 
and yet I cannot drive them from my office, but 
am compelled daily to endure them. I would ex- 
clude them altogether but am compelled to keep my 
office open to receive members of Congress in the 
morning, and can make no distinction. Until they 
come in I never can tell who is without. It is in 
this way that they gain admittance. The Secretary 
of War being indisposed, I sent for Mr. Campbell, 
the ch. clerk, and gave him direction about several 
matters of business connected with the War Depart- 
ment. The Secretary of the Navy called on busi- 
ness. I disposed of the other business on my table 
as usual. The Hon. T. Butler King of Georgia and 
a Captain of the army in his military dress, whose 
name I did not hear, called to-day and informed 
me that they were deputed as a committee by the 
managers to invite myself and the ladies of my house- 
hold to attend the Inauguration Ball to be given in 
honor of the President elect on monday evening, the 
5th of March next. 

Thursday, 22nd February, i84g, — There was a 
snow-storm this morning and fewer persons than 
usual called. All who did call, with one or two ex- 
ceptions, were seeking office. Hon. Mr. Venable of 
the Ho. Repts. of N. C. called, as he informed me, 
to let me know of an effort that was making to place 
me in a false position. He stated that Senator 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 347 

Walker of Wisconsin had offered an amendment to 
the civil and Diplomatic appropriation Bill to au- 
thorize the President to provide a temporary civil 
Government for California and New Mexico, and 
that it was a proposition which he (Mr. Venable) 
was willing to vote for; but he said that if it was 
voted on in the Senate the plan of the free-soil men 
& Whigs was to attach the Wilmot Proviso to it in 
the House, and that if the Senate should give way 
(as there was reason to apprehend they might) the 
civil and Diplomatic appropriation Bill would be 
sent to me for my approval with the Wilmot Pro- 
viso on it, and that the Free-soilers and Whigs hoped 
to force me to sign it rather than loose the appro- 
priation Bill. He said he could not inform me of 
the source from which he had traced this because he 
had received it confidentially, but he was satisfied 
this was their plan. I told Mr. Venable that I had 
not read Senator Walker's amendment, but of one 
thing he might rest 'assured, and that was that if 
the Wilmot Proviso was engrafted on the appro- 
priation or any other Bill and was made to apply 
to any portion of the acquired territory lying South 
of 36° 30', the Missouri compromise line, I would 
certainly veto it, be the consequences what they 
might. I told him I would not be forced to abandon 
a principle by any such maneuvre. I told him I 
had signed the Oregon Bill only because all the ter- 
ritory lay North of that line, and its provisions did 
not conflict with the Missouri compromise. This 
being the anniversary of the birth of Washington, 
two uniformed military companies of this District 



348 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [23 Feb. 

called about i O'Clock P. M. to pay their respects. 
I received them in the East Room. Senators Dodge 
and Jones of Iowa happened to be in my office when 
they called and accompanied me to the East Room 
where I received them. I was busily engaged dur- 
ing the day in disposing of the business on my table. 
The Secretary of State and the Secretary of the 
Navy called and I transacted business with them. 
Mr. Campbell, ch. clerk of the War Department 
(the Secretary being still indisposed) called & I 
transacted business with him connected with that 
Department. 

Friday, 2Jrd February, 184Q. — Saw company as 
usual this morning. Many persons called, and 
among them a goodly number of the herd of office- 
seekers who so constantly annoy me by their impor- 
tunities. The Union of this morning contained an 
article denying the ridiculous absurd charge made 
by Stephens and Wilmot in th*e Ho. Repts. on Sat- 
urday last in relation to my opinion on the Wilmot 
Proviso or slavery question (see this Diary of the 
19th Inst, and two following days). I was engaged 
during the day as usual in transacting business. In 
my evening walk I met Hon. Henry Horn of Phil., 
who returned with me to my office and remained 
with me an hour or two. While he was with me 
Senator Turney and Mr. Thomas of Tennessee 
called. Senator Hannegan also called. I fear after 
all my efforts to induce Congress to provide some 
Government for California and New Mexico they 
will adjourn without doing so. Should this be the 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 349 

result theirs and not mine will be the responsibility 
of doing so. Senator Soule was among the number 
who called this morning. 

About 8 O'clock at night Gen'l Taylor, the Presi- 
dent elect of the United States, arrived in this City 
and took lodgings at Willard's Hotel. 

Saturday, 24th February, 184Q. — Several per- 
sons called this morning. Among them was Genl 
Shields, U. S. Senator Elect from Illinois. The 
Cabinet met at the usual hour, all the members pres- 
ent. There being no business of much importance 
to be presented the members engaged in a conversa- 
tion among themselves as to the proper time to tender 
their resignations. They all agreed that they should 
be tendered to me and be accepted on the last day 
of my term, and not be withheld and tendered to my 
successor. Some of them expressed their willing- 
ness to hold over a day or two to prevent embarrass- 
ment to the public business, provided it should be 
desired by my successor. After this conversation 
Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Marcy engaged in conver- 
sation between themselves while the other members 
,of the Cabinet conversed with me. One of them 
enquired of me at what time it would be proper for 
them to call and pay their respects to Gen'l Taylor, 
the President Elect. I answered to that that was a 
matter for their own decision, but that it occurred 
to me that until the President elect had called on 
the President in office, as it was his duty to do under 
the established etiquette (if he desired to have any 
intercourse with him) a proper self-respect should 



350 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [24 Fm 

prevent the Cabinet of the latter from calling on him. 
As soon as this suggestion was made they assented to 
its correctness. Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Marcy be- 
ing still engaged in their conversation and not attend- 
ing to the conversation with me, I requested Mr. 
Toucy to mention it to them, and he replied he 
would do so. Before he had time to do so, my porter 
came in and informed Mr. Buchanan that his mes- 
senger from the State Department had brought a 
message to him that Gen'l Shields was waiting for 
him at the Department to meet him on an appoint- 
ment he had made with him. Mr. Buchanan on re- 
ceiving this message immediately enquired if the 
members of the Cabinet should not call on the Presi- 
dent elect in a body, addressing himself to me. I 
then informed him of the conversation which I had 
just had while he and Mr. Marcy were engaged, & 
which they had not heard, and added that if my Cab- 
inet called on Gen'l Taylor before he called on me, I 
should feel that I had been deserted by my own po- 
litical family. I stated that it might be that Gen'l 
Taylor would not call at all, and in that event if my 
Cabinet called on him it would place me in a posi- 
tion which it would be unpleasant to occupy. Mr. 
Marcy at once said it would not be proper for them to 
call on Gen'l Taylor until he had called on me. Mr. 
Buchanan made no reply, and soon after left. Mr. 
Mason, after the Cabinet had dispersed, remarked 
in the presence of Mr. Marcy that he had no doubt 
Gen'l Shields' appointment with Mr. Buchanan was 
to accompany him to wait on Gen'l Taylor. I have 
not heard whether Mr. Buchanan called on him or 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 3Si 

not Before the foregoing conversations with Mr. 
Buchanan occurred, Mr. B. read a despatch which 
he had received from the Mexican Minister on the 
subject of the Protocol to the Mexican Treaty. 
There was not much in it and I doubt whether it re- 
quires an answer. I disposed of business on my table 
as usual, & retired from my office at a late hour at 
night. 

My Private Secretary informed me to-night that 
he had received a note from Senator Davis of Mis- 
sissippi, informing him that Gen'l Taylor was too 
much indisposed to call to-day, but that it was his in- 
tention, if his health permitted, to call on me on mon- 
day next. Senator Davis married a daughter ^ of 
Gen'l Taylor. His wife is dead and he is married a 
second time. " 

Sunday, 2Sth February^, l84g. — I attended the 
First Presbyterian church to-day accompanied by 
Mrs. Polk, my niece Miss Hays, and Miss Josephine 
Davis of Baltimore, who is spending a few days in 
my family. Miss Davis was for some time a student 
at the Female Institute at Columbia, Tennessee, 
where she made the acquaintance of my niece, Miss 
Hays. She came from Baltimore during the past 
week to visit Miss Hays. After night Judge and 
Mrs. Catron called. A heavy rain storm came on. 
My coachman was absent, and it being Sunday night 

^ Jefferson Davis was married to Sarah Knox, daughter of 
Zachary Taylor, at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1835. Mrs. Davis 
died within three months; in 1845 Mr. Davis married Varina 
Howell, daughter of William B. Howell of Natchez, Mississippi. 



3S2 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 Feb. 

no hack or carriage could be procured, and Mrs. 
Catron remained with us all night. Judge Catron 
returned to his lodgings. 

Monday, 26th February, l84g. — Many persons 
called this morning and among them several Whig 
members of Congress with whom I had served. 
They are doubtless congregating at Washington to 
importune Gen'l Taylor for offices. Several Demo- 
cratic members of Congress and others called, and 
it was gratifying to receive from them expressions of 
their warm approbation of my public conduct 
and of the policy of my administration. I re- 
ceived to-day a letter from the Mayor of Charleston, 
S. C, inviting me on behalf of the City Council 
to visit Charleston on my way home as the ** gUest 
of the City." I answered the letter & accepted 
the invitation (see my letter Book). I had pre- 
viously received similar invitations from Augusta, 
Georgia, and Wilmington, N. C. The former I de- 
clined and the latter I accepted (see my letter Book). 
Between 12 and i O'Clock my messenger announced 
to me that Gen'l Taylor, the President elect of the 
U. S., had called to pay his respects, and that he was 
in the parlour below. I immediately repaired to the 
parlour and was introduced to him, for I had never 
before seen him. He was accompanied by a number 
of friends, among whom were Senator Clayton of 
Delaware, who, it is understood, is to be his Secre- 
tary of State, Senator Davis of Mississippi, Mr. Hall 
of N. Y., and Mr. Barrow of Tenn. of the Ho. Repts., 
Cols. Bliss and Garnett of the U. S. army. Shortly 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 353 

after I entered the parlour, Mrs. Polk, my two nieces, 
Miss Davis of Baltimore, and Mrs. Judge Catron 
came into the parlour. I received Gen'l Taylor with 
courtesy and cordiality. He remained some 20 or 
30 minutes. I invited him to dine with me on thurs- 
day next. He replied that he would do so if his 
health would permit it. After he retired I requested 
my Private Secretary to issue tickets of invitation to 
my Cabinet, Vice President Dallas, and others to 
meet him at Dinner on thursday next. During his 
visit Mr. Ward of Boston and Mr. W. W. Corchoran 
(the Banker of Washington) came into the parlour. 
I was engaged during the remainder of the day in 
transacting business in my office. The Secretary of 
War called and I transacted business with him. 

Tuesday, 2yth February, l84g. — I 'saw visitors 
this morning as usual. Members of Congress and 
others called. On reaching my office immediately 
after breakfast my porter informed me that a man 
was in waiting (who had called on yesterday and was 
unable to see me) who said he had important busi- 
ness with me. I directed him to be shown in. His 
important business was to importune me for an office 
before I retired. He was willing to accept a chap- 
laincy in the Navy, or any other office I had to give 
before I retired. I gave him a very short answer by 
telling him that I had but four days more of my Pres- 
idential term remaining and that all the places un- 
der the Government were filled. I am thoroughly 
disgusted with the herd of hunters after places who 
infest the seat of Government. The Cabinet met at 



354 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [27 Feb. 

the usual hour; all the members present except the 
Secretary of the Treasury, the cause of whose absence 
I did not learn. Several despatches from Mr. Ban- 
croft, Mr. Donelson, and others of our ministers 
abroad, received by the last steamer from Europe, 
were read. Though interesting, none of them were 
of such importance as to require an immediate an- 
swer, and it was thought best to leave them for the 
action of my successor. Many other matters of some 
importance but of no general interest were consid- 
ered and disposed of. Mr. Buchanan stated that he 
had been informed by Mr. Clayton, who is to be 
Gen'l Taylor's Secretary of State, that it was Gen'l 
Taylor's request that the present members of the Cab- 
inet should continue in their respective positions un- 
til their successors were appointed. Mr. Buchanan 
said he had informed him that he was willing to hold 
on until a day certain [certain day], say Wednesday 
next, by which time a successor could be ready to take 
his place, but he was unwilling to remain indefinitely 
until his successor was appointed. I took occasion 
to remark that the period of the resignation of the 
Cabinet was with themselves; but that I desired to 
say that I hoped no suggestion which had been made 
about their accompanying me a short distance on my 
departure from Washington would be permitted to 
interfere with their sense of duty or propriety. I 
desired to relieve them from all embarrassment on 
my account. I had learned this morning that Mr. 
Buchanan had taken exception to my remark on Sat- 
urday last (see this Diary of that day) that I should 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 355 

feel that I was deserted by my political family if the 
members of my Cabinet should call on the President 
elect before he called on me. The remark was made 
because it might have happened that if my Cabinet 
called on Gen'l Taylor he might not afterwards have 
chosen to call on me at all. As Gen'l Taylor belongs 
to a different political party from myself, & as it was 
his duty to call on me, if he desired to exchange 
civilities, I thought it was due to their own self-re- 
spect as well as to me that my Cabinet should wait 
until Gen'l Taylor paid his respects to me before 
they paid their respects to him. In this view all the 
members of the Cabinet expressed their concurrence 
on Saturday, except Mr. Buchanan. I learned this 
morning that Mr. Buchanan had said to a member 
of the Cabinet that notwithstanding my remark on 
Saturday he had left the Cabinet room resolved to call 
on Gen'l Taylor on that day, as Gen'l Shields by ap- 
pointment had called at the State Department to ac- 
company him. He did not, however, do so; but 
called on Gen'l Taylor on yesterday, immediately 
after Gen'l Taylor had called on me. Mr. Buchanan 
is an able man, but is in small matters without judg- 
ment and sometimes acts like an old maid. When 
the Cabinet adjourned to-day the other members of 
the Cabinet left with the intention, as they said, to 
call on Gen'l Taylor. He having called on me on 
yesterday, this was proper. Commodore Parker of 
the U. S. Navy, who has just returned from a visit 
to the authorities of the German Empire on a leave 
of absence for that purpose, called with the Secretary 



356 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 Feb. 

of the Navy this morning. After he retired the Sec- 
retary of the Navy read his official Report. I dis- 
posed of much business in my office to-day. 

Wednesday, 28th February, i84g. — At this 
point of my administration, and until its close, I 
found my time so constantly occupied by business 
and the numerous calls made upon me by the crowd 
of persons who had congregated at Washington to 
witness the Inauguration of my successor, that I 
found it impossible to record in this Diary the daily 
events as they occurred. After I reached Tennessee 
on this 13th of April, 1849, I resumed the record 
from my general recollection. The record of this 
day (the 28th of Feb'y) and the succeeding days of 
my term must necessarily, therefore, be very general 
& many incidents must be omitted. I was busy in 
my office during the day (the 28th of Feb'y) saw 
many members of Congress and many strangers, and 
transacted much business. At different periods of 
the day most of the members of my Cabinet called 
on business. 

This evening in pursuance of previous Notice the 
parlours of the President's Mansion ^ were thrown 
[open] and the last drawing room or levee of my ad- 
ministration was held. It was the most brilliant and 
crowded room of my term. The House was bril- 
liantly lighted up [and] the fine Marine band of 
music was stationed in the entrance Hall. About 8 

^ In the manuscript the words *' in pursuance of p«blic notice 
previously given " follow after " Mansion.'* 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 357 

O'clock P. M. the company commenced assembling. 
Among those who attended early in the evening, were 
many officers of the army and Navy, who called in a 
body in full uniform. The Foreign Ministers and 
their families & legations resident at Washington 
were present in their Court dresses. The members 
of my Cabinet and their families, members of Con- 
gress, citizens, and a vast number of strangers made 
up the large number of visitors. I received them in 
the Circular parlour, standing with my back against 
the Marble centre table and Mrs. Polk standing a 
few feet to my right. The Marble centre table 
proved to be an important protection to me. All the 
parlours and outer halls soon became crowded with 
human beings, ladies & gentlemen, so that it became 
very difficult for them to make their way to the place 
where Mrs. Polk and myself stood. I remained 
stationary and shook hands with several thousand 
persons of both sexes. I learned afterwards that 
many persons came to the door & the jam was so great 
that they could not make their way to me, and re- 
tired without entering. The line of carriages ap- 
proaching the President's House, I was afterwards 
informed, extended several hundred yards. About 
12 O'clock at night the last of the company retired. 
I had remained on my feet continuously for several 
hours and was exceedingly fatigued. 

Thursday, Ist March, 184Q. — (See commence- 
ment of this Diary of yesterday.) Many persons 
called to-day and I transacted business with the mem- 



358 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i Mar. 

bers of my Cabinet and other public officers. Sev- 
eral persons annoyed me about offices, but I gave 
them very summary and short answers. 

Gen'l Taylor, the President of the U. S. elect, hav- 
ing called and paid his respects to me on the 26th 
ultimo, I have invited him to dine with me to-day. 
I invited a large party of both political parties to 
meet him at Dinner. He attended the Dinner ac- 
cordingly. Among others who composed the Din- 
ner party were Gen'l Cass, who was the Democratic 
candidate for the Presidency at the last election, Mr. 
Fillmore, the Vice President elect, Col. Bliss and 
his wife (Mrs. Bliss is the daughter of Gen'l Tay- 
lor) Gen'l Taylor's suite who called on me, consist- 
ing of Mr. Benjamin,^ Judge Winchester, Col. 
Hodge of New Orleans, Dr. McCormick, U. S. 
army, and Brevet Col. Garnett, U. S. army. Sen- 
ator Davis of Miss. & Pierce^ of Maryland, Sen- 
ator Bell of Tennessee & his wife, Gen'l Barrow of 
Tennessee & his wife, Mr. Seaton, the Mayor of 
Washington, and his wife, and Mr. Ritchie, Editor 
of the Union, were of the party. All the members 
of my Cabinet and the wives of Secretaries Walker, 
Marcy, & Toucey attended the dinner. Vice Pres- 
ident Dallas was invited but was prevented from 
attending by a night sitting of the Senate; Mrs. Dal- 
las was present. Judge Catron of the Supreme Court 

^ Judah Philip Benjamin, 1811-1884, Senator from Louisiana 
1 852-1 86 1, Attorney General and (successively) Secretary of War 
and Secretary of State of the Southern Confederacy. 

^ James Alfred Pearce, Senator from Maryland 1841-1862. 



\ 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 359 

of the U. S. and his wife were of the party. The 
whole number consisted of about 40 persons, in- 
cluding my Private Secretary, Col. Walker, & 
his wife, and my two nieces. Miss Rucker & 
Miss Hays. Gen'l Taylor, the President elect, 
waited on Mrs. Polk to the table. He sat on 
one side of Mrs. Polk and Gen'l Cass on the other. 
I waited on Mrs. Dallas to the table. The Dinner 
was finely gotten up in Julian's (the French cook) 
best style. It passed off well. Not the slightest al- 
lusion was made to any political subject. The whole 
company seemed to enjoy themselves. After Din- 
ner & between 9 & 10 O'Clock P. M. the company 
dispersed. 

I have omitted to note that this morning Mr. Sea- 
ton, the Mayor, and the Aldermen & the City council 
called in a body to pay their respects to me before 
my retirement from the Presidential office. I re- 
ceived them in the Circular Parlour below stairs. 
The Mayor made a very gratifying & complimentary 
address to me on behalf of the authorities & citizens 
of Washington, in which he expressed their great 
satisfaction at the interest I had taken during my 
Presidency for the City of Washington & the Dis- 
trict of Columbia. It was an address conceived in 
the kindest spirit. I responded in a short address. 
Such a manifestation of respect voluntarily tendered 
on the eve of my retirement from the Presidency is 
most gratifying to me. It in some degree compen- 
sates for the violence of party assault of which I 
have been the subject during my term. The Mayor 



36o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [2 Mar. 

& a large majority of the City authorities who paid 
me this mark of their respect are Whigs, who differ 
with me widely in politics. 

Friday, 2nd March, l84g. — (See commencement 
of this Diary of the 28th ultimo.) This was a very 
busy day with me. Many members of Congress and 
an unusual number of strangers called. The City 
was much crowded with strangers, chiefly of the 
Whig party, who have come to witness the Inaugura- 
tion of Gen'l Taylor. A large number of them have 
called on me during the last week, & to-day a 
greater number than on any one day previously. 
Many officers of the Government, civil & military, 
who have been stationed in Washington during my 
Presidential term called at different periods of the 
day to pay their respects & take leave of me before 
I left. Many citizens of the City also called for 
the same purpose. Many Whigs whom I had re- 
tained in office were among those who called. 
Though many removals & new appointments to fill 
vacancies have been made by me, my administration 
has not been proscriptive, and the Whigs who were 
faithful & good officers, whom I have retained in 
their places, seemed tp appreciate my liberality 
towards them and many of them have called to ex- 
press their gratitude & to take leave of me. In the 
course of the day I saw and transacted business with 
different members of my Cabinet & with many sub- 
ordinate officers. 

An interesting ceremony took place in the Circular 
Parlour about 11 O'Clock this morning. It was the 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 361 

presentation of the fine swords voted by Congress to 
Maj'r Generals Worth, Butler, Twiggs, & Quitman, 
and to the eldest male representative of the late gal- 
lant and lamented Brigadier Gen'l Hamer, who fell 
a victim to the diseases of the climate of Mexico. 
He had escaped unhurt, though in the thickest of 
the fight at Monter[e]y, and shortly afterwards 
sickened and died. I was accompanied by the Sec- 
retary of War. A large number of officers of the 
army were present, as were also Mrs. Marcy and a 
large number of ladies of the families of the officers 
of the army. Gen'l Tomson, as the friend & early 
companion in arms of Gen'l Worth, made an address 
to me and I presented to Gen'l Tomson the sword 
of Gen'l Worth, accompanied by a letter to Gen'l 
W., & made a short address. I presented the sword 
of Gen'l Butler accompanied with a letter to that 
officer of the Hon. Lynn Boyd of the Ho. Repts., 
to be conveyed by him to Gen'l Butler. Mr. Boyd 
made a short response. I read my letter to Gen'l 
Twiggs & Gen'l Quitman & delivered them with 
the swords of these officers to the Secretary of War 
with instructions to have them conveyed to them 
through some officer of the army. I delivered the 
sword designed for the representative of the late 
Gen'l Hamer (his eldest son) accompanied with a 
letter, to the Hon. Mr. Morris of the Ho. Repts. 
from Ohio, to be conveyed by him to the son. Mr. 
Morris made a short response. On presenting each 
of the swords I made a short address. The whole 
ceremony was an interesting & impressive one. I 
retired to rest late at night, worn down by the ex- 



362 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Mar. 

cessive fatigue of the day. Many incidents which 
occurred during the day are necessarily omitted. 

Saturday, 3rd March, 184Q. — (See this Diary 
of the 28th ultimo.) I was in my office at an earlier 
hour than usual this morning, and was constantly 
and incessantly occupied throughout the day. A 
large number of persons, members of Congress & 
strangers, called in the course of the forenoon. 
This was the regular day for the meeting of the Cab- 
inet, but no formal meeting was held. All the mem- 
bers of the Cabinet tendered to me their respective 
resignations, which I accepted. The resignations of 
the Secretary of the Treasury & the Post Master 
Gen'l were to take effect from and after this day. 
The resignations of the other members of the Cab- 
inet were to take effect from and after the 6th or 
7th Inst. They were made to take effect at that time 
at the special request of GenU Taylor, made through 
Mr. Clayton, whom he had designated as his Secre- 
tary of State. He made this request in order to 
avoid any public inconvenience until the new Cab- 
inet could be appointed. I am not certain whether 
the resignation of the attorney Gen'l was to take 
effect from & after this day, or whether he held on 
until the 6th or 7th Inst. The Cabinet dispersed 
and I disposed of all the business on my table down 
to the minutest detail and at the close of the day left 
a clean table for my successor. I signed my name 
to the several hundred commissions for military, 
naval, and civil officers, and to other official papers. 
The Senate had within the last few days confirmed 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 363 

numerous nominations which I had made in the 
course of the session of Congress, commissions for 
whom I signed. Many of these nominations were 
for Brevet promotions of officers of the army. 
Others were for regular promotions in the army 
and navy. I resolved to leave nothing undone, & 
therefore spent several hours in signing them. I 
saw in the course of the day many public officers & 
transacted business with them. About sunset, hav- 
ing cleared my table of all the business upon it, I 
left the President's mansion with my family, and 
went to the Quarters previously engaged for me at 
Willard's Hotel. We were accompanied by the 
members of my Cabinet. My Private Secretary 
had gone with his family to Willard's and taken 
lodgings on yesterday evening. I left Mrs. Polk 
& our two nieces. Miss Rucker & Miss Hays, with 
our servants at the Hotel, and proceeded, accom- 
panied by my Cabinet, to the Capitol, as is usual on 
the last night of the Session of Congress so that the 
President may be convenient to Congress to receive 
such Bills as may be passed and presented to him 
for his signature. I reached the Capitol about dark 
and occupied the Vice President's room. I took 
with me to the Capitol a long and elaborate veto 
message which I had prepared in the last recess of 
Congress, which I intended to use in the event any 
Bill appropriating money or land for Internal Im- 
provements (roads, rivers, & harbours) should be 
presented to me for my approval and signature. 
There were many Bills of this character before Con- 
gress, some of which had passed one House & were 



364 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Mar. 

pending in the other. In the last recess of Congress 
I had caused an estimate to be made by the Com- 
missioner of the General Land Office of the quantity 
of public lands proposed to be appropriated for such 
objects by Bills Reported to the two Houses at the 
First Session of the last Congress. The Report of 
the Commissioner, estimating the lands at $1.25 per 
acre (the minimum price of the Government) 
showed the amount to be upwards of one hundred 
and sixty three millions of dollars ($163,000,000). 
In addition [to] this vast sum, many Bills making 
further appropriations of like character had been 
reported at the last session. My mind was fully 
made up to arrest them by a veto, had any one of the 
Bills been presented. This determination was com- 
municated to my Cabinet and to many members of 
Congress. No Bill of the kind, however, passed, 
and the veto message which I had prepared was not 
used. I will preserve it with my other valuable 
papers. I regard it as one of the ablest papers I 
have ever prepared. I took with me also to the 
Capitol a veto message of the Wilmot Proviso, should 
any Bill containing it be presented to me for my 
approval and signature. The Civil & Diplomatic 
appropriation Bill had been amended in the Senate, 
on Motion of Senator Walker of Wisconsin, by in- 
serting in it a provision for the temporary Govern- 
ment of California & New Mexico. This amend- 
ment was pending in the Ho. Repts., and it was 
threatened that the Wilmot Proviso would be at- 
tached to it by that House, and it was uncertain 
whether a majority of the Senate might not give way 



1849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 365 

& yield to the Proviso. In that event the alternative 
would be presented to me of defeating the whole ap- 
propriation Bill by a veto, or of yielding my assent 
to the Wilmot Proviso. I did not hesitate for a 
moment in my course. I was prepared to veto the 
Bill though the consequence would have been to con- 
voke an extra session of Congress. My Cabinet 
concurred with me in my determination. At a late 
hour of the night I learned that the Ho. Repts. had 
by a vote adopted an amendment to Walker's pro- 
vision for the Government of California and New 
Mexico, the substance of which was to declare all 
the laws of Mexico in force in these territories 
before their acquisition by the U. S. to con- 
tinue in force until altered or changed by Con- 
gress. I did not see the amendment, but this 
was its substance as reported to me. Many of the 
Southern members of Congress of both Houses came 
into my room in great excitement about it. The 
effect of the amendment was to sanction the law of 
Mexico abolishing slavery in that Republic and to 
sanction other very obnoxious laws. I caused my 
room to be cleared of all but my Cabinet that I might 
consult them. Messrs. Buchanan, Walker, Marcy, 
& Toucey advised me to sign the Bill if it came in 
this form. They drew a distinction, which I did not 
perceive, between the amendment in this form and 
the Wilmot Proviso. Mr. Mason advised me to 
veto it. Mr. Johnson thought I ought not to sign 
it, because, among other reasons, it was now past 12 
O'clock at night, and he was of opinion that my 
Presidential term had expired. I opened the doors 



366 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Mar. 

without announcing to my Cabinet what I would do. 
As soon as the doors were opened many members 
came in & urged me to veto the Bill if it came to me. 
Among others Gen'l Bayley of Va. & Gen'l George 
S. Houston of Alabama, Lynn Boyd of Ky., [and] 
Cobb of Georgia came in & earnestly urged me to 
veto the Bill. My mind was made up, but I did not 
communicate my decision to them. Some minutes 
after they retired Mr. Houston returned and in- 
formed me that the excitement among the Southern 
men of the Ho. Repts. was intense, and that they were 
signing a paper addressed to me requesting me to 
veto the Bill. I at once told him to return to the 
House and stop the signatures to the paper, for 
the President could not perform a high Constitu- 
tional duty of this kind upon a petition. I then told 
him he might rest easy, that I was prepared with a 
veto message in my pocket, and that I should veto the 
Bill if it came to me. He was greatly rejoiced, im- 
mediately left my room, & I heard nothing more of 
the petition. I informed the members of my Cabi- 
net of my determination. It was fixed & settled, al- 
though four members of the Cabinet had advised 
against it. I sat down at my table and wrote a 
paragraph modifying the introductory part of the 
prepared message on the Wilmot Proviso which I 
had in my pocket, so as to meet the new form in 
which the amendment of the House had presented 
the question. Mr. Stanton of Tennessee was present 
when I wrote this paragraph, though I did not in- 
form him what I was writing. It was a moment of 
high responsibility, perhaps the highest of my offi- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 367 

cial term. I felt its weight most sensibly, but re- 
solved to pursue the dictates of my own best 
judgement and to do my duty. I had gone to the 
Capitol this evening under the impression that, with- 
out a critical examination of the subject, my official 
term as President of the U. S. would expire at mid- 
night on the night of this the 3rd day of March. 
The correctness of this impression was shaken by 
the views presented by some members of my Cabinet 
and by many members of Congress, Whigs & Demo- 
crats, who called on me as the hour of 12 O'Clock 
at night approached and insisted that as by the Con- 
stitution the President shall hold his office for the 
term of four years, and as I had not taken the oath 
of office until between the hours of 12 & i O'Clock 
on the 4th of March, 1845, my term of office would 
not expire until the same hour on the 4th of March, 
1849. It was certain, too, that if my term as Presi- 
dent had expired that of the Ho. Repts. and of one 
third of the Senators had also expired. The two 
Houses of Congress were still in Session, the general 
appropriation Bill without which the Government 
could not get on remained to be passed. On the 
other hand several Senators and Representatives, and 
among them Senators Cass, Allen, & otHers, I 
learned, were of opinion that the term of the Con- 
gress and of the President had expired, and declined 
to vote. In the state of doubt upon the question 
which had been produced in my mind by the con- 
flicting views which were presented I had remained 
at the Capitol until between i & 2 O'Clock by the 
timepiece in the Vice President's Room. Great con- 



368 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Mar. 

fusion, I learned, prevailed in the two Houses, as 
well as great excitement upon the slave-question. 
After 2 O'clock I proposed to retire from the Capi- 
tol to my lodgings. This was strongly opposed by 
Messrs. Buchanan, Walker, Marcy, & Toucy. Mr. 
Mason and Mr. Johnson thought I ought to retire. 
Mr. Charles A. Wicklifife of Kentucky, formerly 
Post Master Gen'l, came into the room and I asked 
his opinion confidentially, & he advised me not to 
retire. I remained until between 3 & 4 O'Clock 
A. M. of the 4th of March, when I informed the 
Cabinet of my determination to retire to my lodg- 
ings. Messrs. Buchanan, Walker, Marcy, & Toucy 
still opposed it. I informed them that I would re- 
tire to my quarters at Willard's Hotel, where I could 
be found if Congress should have any communica- 
tion to make to me, but informed them at the same 
time that I would hold myself uncommitted as to my 
course if Congress should send me any Bill for my 
action. I said the same thing to some members of 
Congress. I retired accordingly, accompanied by 
Mr. Mason & Mr. Johnson. The other members of 
the Cabinet remained at the Capitol. My Private 
Secretary also remained at my request. When Mr. 
Johnson, Mr. Mason, & myself reached Willard's 
Hotel we had some refreshments, for I was exceed- 
ingly fatigued and exhausted. Mr. Johnson went to 
his House, Mr. Mason lay on a sofa in my parlour, 
& I retired to an adjoining chamber where Mrs. Polk 
was. About 6 O'Clock A. M. I was called and in- 
formed that a committee of Congress were in my 
parlour waiting to see me. I repaired immediately 



i849] JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY 369 

to the parlour, for I had not undressed. The Joint 
committee on enrolled Bills of the two Houses of 
Congress presented to me for my approval and signa- 
ture two Bills, one being the Civil & Diplomatic 
appropriation Bill & the other a Bill to extend the 
Revenue laws of the U. S. over California. The 
Civil & Diplomatic Bill did not contain the ob- 
noxious amendment of the Ho. Repts. which I had 
resolved to veto. The Bill had been amended so as 
to strike out not only the House amendment in rela- 
tion to slavery, but to strike out also Senator Walker's 
provision for the Government of California and New 
Mexico, so as to leave the Bill the ordinary annual 
appropriation Bill for the support of [the] Govern- 
ment. I approved & signed the two Bills, being 
unwilling to defeat so indispensible a measure as the 
Civil & Diplomatic Bill, the failure to pass which 
would have produced vast public inconvenience. I 
had been brought to the opinion that my first im- 
pression as to the duration of my term might be 
erroneous. Having signed the two Bills, one of 
which made provision for an Independent Diplo- 
matic Mission to Prussia and the other for the ap- 
pointment of a collector of the Customs at the Bay 
of San Francisco in California, I directed my Private 
Secretary to prepare a message to the Senate nomi- 
nating Senator Hannegan of Indiana as Envoy Ex- 
traordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Prussia, 
& Daniel Turner of N. Carolina as collector at San 
Francisco. I signed this message and directed my 
Private Secretary to deliver it to the Senate at the 
same time that he announced to Congress my ap- 



370 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 Mar. 

proval and signature of the two Bills. Another 
Committee of Congress announced to me that the 
two Houses of Congress were ready to adjourn unless 
I had some further communication to make to them. 
I replied that I had no further communication to 
make except the Message which my Private Secre- 
tary would deliver to the Senate and the Message 
anouncing my approval & signature of the two 
Bills just presented to me. Thus closed my official 
duties as President of the U. States. The Senate 
confirmed the nomination of Mr. Hannegan, and 
there being objection made by a Senator to act upon 
the nomination of Mr. Turner, it was not confirmed. 
I declined to make many nominations for offices cre- 
ated by acts of Congress passed during the last night, 
deeming it proper to leave these offices to be filled 
by my successor. Mr. Hannegan's and Mr. Turn- 
er's cases were exceptions to this rule. In anticipa- 
tion that Congress would make an appropriation for 
seperate Missions to Berlin and another to the Ger- 
man Empire, both of which were filled by Mr. 
Donelson, I had been urged by many Senators, 
Whigs & Democrats, some days ago to nominate Mr. 
Hannegan. During the last night's session several 
Senators called on me in the Vice President's room 
and requested me to nominate him. Among the 
Whig Senators who did so were Messrs. Mangum of 
N. C, Johnson of Md., and Greene & Clark of R. 
Island. I made the nomination as soon as the Bill 
authorizing a seperate Mission to Berlin was ap- 
proved & signed. I nominated Mr. Turner because 
I knew him to be an exceedingly worthy & competent 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 371 

man, and because I supposed his nomination would 
not be opposed by the Whig Senators, as Mr. Mason, 
the Sec. of the Navy, informed me that the Whig 
Senator Badger of N. C. was anxious that I should 
nominate Mr. Turner. Mr. Badger, I learn, is the 
brother-in-law of Mr. Turner, but was unfortunately 
not in his seat when the nomination went to the 
Senate. By the rules of the Senate no nomination 
can be acted on on the same day it is received, if any 
one Senator objects. In Mr. Hannegan's case no 
Senator objected, but in Mr. Turner's case a Senator 
did object. 

Note I. The Diary of this day's proceedings I 
reduced to writing from my recollection of the events 
recorded, on this 23rd day of April, 1849. I reduced 
it to writing at Murfreesborough, while, on a visit 
with Mrs. Polk to her relatives at that place. 

Note 2. On reading over the foregoing I find 
that I have omitted to notice the passage by Congress, 
after night of this day's proceedings, of a Bill ^ to 
establish the Department of the Interior, or home 
Department. It was presented to me for my ap- 
proval late at night and [I] was much occupied with 
other duties. It was a long Bill containing many 
sections, and I had but little time to examine it. I 
had serious objections to it, but they were not of a 
constitutional character and I signed it with re- 
luctance. I fear its consolidating tendency. I ap- 
prehend its practical operation will be to draw 
power from the states, where the Constitution has 
reserved it, & to extend the jurisdiction and power 

^ 17. S. Stat, at Large, IX, 395. 



372 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [4 Mar. 

of the U. S. by construction to an unwarrantable ex- 
tent. Had I been a member of Congress I would 
have voted against it. Many Bills pass Congress 
every year against which the President would vote 
were he a member of that body, and which he yet 
approves & signs. This he cannot do in cases 
in which he entertains constitutional objections. 
Though my objections to this Bill were very strong 
on the ground of expediency, there were no con- 
stitutional objections to it. Had I refused to sign it 
there was no time to prepare my objections. Had 
it been presented to me at an earlier period of the 
session, I would have examined it very deliberately 
before making up my mind to sign it. I deem it 
proper to leave this record of my doubts as to the 
expediency of creating a Department of the In- 
terior or home Department, to the end that my sig- 
nature of the Bill may not hereafter be regarded 
as conclusive evidence that I was in favour of the 
measure. 

Sunday, 4th March, l84g. — Having closed my 
official term as President of the U. S. at 6>4 O'Clock 
this morning, that being about the hour at which Con- 
gress adjourned, I attended Divine service with my 
family, consisting of Mrs. Polk and our two nieces. 
Miss Hays and Miss Rucker, at the First Presby- 
terian church. An excellent sermon was preached 
by the Rev. Mr. Ballentine, the Pastor. At the 
close of the service the minister and elder members 
of the church, male and female, approached and 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 373 

shook hands with Mrs. Polk and myself on taking 
leave of us, accompanied with many expressions of 
their friendship and affectionate Regard. The 
scene was an interesting and a gratifying one. We 
had attended worship regularly and with few ex- 
ceptions almost every sabbath during the term of 
my Presidency, and the congregation to-day seemed 
to realize that they were about to part with us, 
and that in all probability we would never wor- 
ship with them again. The affectionate manner in 
which they took leave [of] us made the scene a very 
impressive one. We returned to our lodgings at 
the Irving Hotel and from thence I rode in my car- 
riage to the President's House to collect some let- 
ters and manuscripts which I had left in my office 
on leaving it last evening. In the afternoon I rested 
at the Hotel, being much fatigued by the very severe 
duties of the past weeks. A few friends called in 
the evening and we saw them in our parlour. I feel 
exceedingly relieved that I am now free from all 
public cares. I am sure I shall be a happier man 
in my retirement than I have been during the four 
years I have filled the highest office in the gift of 
my countrymen. 

About lo O'clock at night a military company 
from Baltimore with a fine band of music appeared 
before my lodgings at the Hotel & played. I saw 
the officers, who informed me they had called to 
pay their respects to me. As it was Sunday evening 
I did not invite them in, but made my appearance 
at the window, and bowed to them. I informed the 



374 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [5 Mar. 

officers that I would see them on to-morrow. 
After 12 O'clock two other companies appeared and 
played. They had fine bands of music. 

Monday, ^th March, l84g, — Soon after break- 
fast this morning many of my friends called to see 
me and many strangers called to pay their respects. 
Among them were all the members of my late Cab- 
inet & the ladies of their families. Between 11 & 12 
O'clock a procession of military companies and cit- 
izens, conducted by many marshalls on horseback, 
moved from Willard's Hotel as an escort to Gen'l 
Taylor, the President elect of the U. S. On reach- 
ing the Irving Hotel, where I had my quarters, the 
procession halted and the open carriage in which 
Gen'l Taylor was seated stopped immediately op- 
posite to the Hotel. In pursuance of the arrange- 
ments made by the committee of the Senate, I was 
conducted to the same carriage and seated on the 
right of Gen'l Taylor. Mr. Seaton, the Mayor of 
Washington, & Mr. Winthrop, the late Speaker of 
the Ho. Repts., were seated in the same carriage. 
The procession moved to the Capitol. On arriving 
there we were met by the committee of the Senate, 
consisting of Senators Davis of Miss., Johnson of 
Maryland, and Davis of Mass., and were conducted 
to the Senate chamber, where the Senate were in 
Session. Gen'l Taylor and myself walked in to- 
gether and were seated, I being on his right. My 
late Cabinet were seated on the floor of the Senate. 
After remaining a few minutes the whole body of 
persons proceeded to the Eastern front of the Cap- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 375 

itol, Gen'l Taylor and myself walking out together 
in the same manner we had entered the Senate 
chamber. After being there a few minutes Gen'l 
Taylor read his Inaugural Address. He read it in 
a very low voice and very badly as to his pronunci- 
ation and manner. The oath of office was admin- 
istered to him by the chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court of the U. S. As soon as this was over I ad- 
vanced to him and shook him by the hand, saying to 
him, '^ I hope. Sir, the country may be prosperous 
under your administration.'' We were then con- 
ducted to the carriage in which we had come to the 
Capitol, and proceeded along Pennsylvania Avenue, 
Mr. Seaton and Mr. Winthrop being in the carriage 
with Gen'l, now President, Taylor and myself, to- 
wards the President's mansion. On arriving at my 
lodgings at the Irving Hotel the procession halted 
and I took leave of the President. He proceeded 
to the President's mansion. On proceeding to the 
Capitol and returning I remained covered. Gen'l 
Taylor occasionally took off his hat & bowed to the 
people. When not making his respects to the peo- 
ple he was free in conversation. On going up to the 
Capitol California was alluded to, in conversation 
between Mr. Seaton & Mr. Winthrop and myself. 
Something was said which drew from Gen'l Taylor 
the expression of views & opinions which greatly 
surprised me. They were to the effect that Cali- 
fornia and Oregon were too distant to become mem- 
bers of the Union, and that it would be better for 
them to be an Independant Gov[ern]ment. He said 
that our people would inhabit them, and repeated 



2,7^ JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [s Mas, 

that it would be better for them to form an Inde- 
pendant Gov[ern]ment for themselves. These are 
alarming opinions to be entertained by the President 
of the U. S. I made no response, nor did Mr. Sea- 
ton or Mr. Winthrop. I have entertained serious 
apprehensions, and have expressed them in this 
diary, that if no Gov[ern]ment was provided for 
California at the late Session of Congress there was 
danger that that fine territory would be lost to the 
Union by the establishment of an Independant Gov- 
ernment. Gen'l Taylor's opinions as expressed, I 
hope, have not been well considered. Gen'l Taylor 
is, I have no doubt, a well meaning old man. He 
is, however, uneducated, exceedingly ignorant of 
public affairs, and, I should judge, of very ordinary 
capacity. He will be in the hands of others, and 
must rely wholly upon his Cabinet to administer the 
Government. Upon reaching my quarters at the 
Irving Hotel, hundreds of persons called, and 
among others the military company from Baltimore, 
who called last night, came in and I shook hands 
with them. I continued to receive company until 
lo & II O'clock at night, when I went with Mrs. 
Polk to the Steam-Boat to take my departure by the 
Southern route to my residence in Tennessee. All 
the members of my Cabinet with the females of their 
families called in the course of the afternoon. The 
demonstrations of kindness and respect paid to me 
on the eve of my departure from Washington were 
highly gratifying, and all that I could have desired. 
Mr. Buchanan, Mr. & Mrs. Marcy, & Mr. & Mrs. 
Mason accompanied us to the Boat, though it was a 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 377 

wet night, where they took leave of us. Mr. & Mrs. 
Walker came after us. Mrs. Walker took leave of 
us & returned. Mr. Walker will accompany me as 
far as New Orleans. My late Private Se[c]retary, J. 
Knox Walker, and his wife came to the boat about 
12 O'clock & brought with them our two nieces, 
Miss Rucker & Miss Hays, who had been to the 
Inauguration Ball. J. Knox Walker and his wife 
took leave of us & returned. Daniel Graham & his 
wife accompany us. We found the Boat much 
crowded with members of Congress and others go- 
ing South. I was much fatigued, but had but little 
rest. The Boat left at the usual hour, 3 O'Clock in 
the morning. I take with me Henry Bowman, my 
late steward, to pay bills, take care of the baggage, 
&C. I take with me also my servant (Henry) & 
Milly, a maid servant belonging to J. Knox Walker. 

Tuesday, 6th March, 184Q. — This morning at 
3 O'clock the Steam-Boat left, and I was on my 
journey homeward. The Rail Road cars stopped a 
few minutes at Fredericksburg. A crowd was as- 
sembled to see me. I stepped to the end of the cars 
& bowed to them, shaking hands with some of them. 
At a place called the Junction, 20 miles from Rich- 
mond, I was met by a committee from that City, 
consisting of Robert G. Scott, James A. Seddon, and 
Mr. Casker, who insisted that I should spend a day 
at Richmond, but I declined to do so. They informed 
me that the General assembly of Virginia, now 
in Session, had passed a Resolution, without distinc- 
tion of party and unanimously, to receive me in their 



378 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [6 Mar. 

Legislative capacity. On arriving at the Depot at 
Richmond I found a large crowd of people assem- 
bled. I was met at this point by a committee of the 
Legislature, who informed me officially of the Res- 
olution which the Legislature had passed and invited 
me to visit that body, then in Session. I did so. On 
being conducted into the Hall of the House of 
Delegates, where both Houses were assembled, and 
where a vast crowd of citizens were collected, I was 
addressed by the Speaker of the House in a very elo- 
quent & complimentary speech, to which I re- 
sponded, and after being introduced individually to 
the members, proceeded on my journey, having 
spent about an hour in going through the impos- 
ing ceremony. The Speaker also addressed Mr. 
Walker, who responded. During these ceremonies 
Mrs. Polk & the ladies of my party were entertained 
at the hospitable mansion of the Hon. James A. 
Seddon, where, as they informed me, they met many 
of the ladies of the City and partook of a splendid 
collation. 

On arriving at Petersburg we found a large crowd 
assembled at the Depot, and on reaching the Hotel 
where we dined I was addressed, and made a very 
short response, being much fatigued and suffering 
from the effects of a severe cold. Mr. Walker was 
also addressed and responded at some length. After 
Dinner we were conducted to the Rail Road cars, 
accompanied by many hundreds of people, and pro- 
ceeded on our journey. We arrived at Weldon, N. 
Carolina in the night and found the principal Hotel 
and other buildings of the place brilliantly illumi- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 379 

nated. This is a region of tar & turpentine, and 
bon-fires (turpentine & tar barrels) were blazing in 
the streets. I met and shook hands with a crowd of 
people who had collected from the surrounding 
country to meet me. We took supper and proceeded 
on our journey. 

Wednesday, yth March, i84g. — About lo 
O'clock this morning the Rail Road cars arrived at 
Wilmington, N. C, at which place I had accepted 
an invitation to spend a day. I was met at the Rail 
Road Depot by the authorities of the town & a large 
number of citizens; and was conducted through the 
town in an open [carriage] to the Hotel where quar- 
ters had been provided for me. On reaching the 
Hotel and alighting from the carriage I was ad- 
dressed in a very complimentary manner by Mr. Hill 
(a young man) in an eloquent manner. In the 
course of his address he alluded to the fact that I was 
a native of N. C, and that the people of Wilming- 
ton welcomed me not only as a retired public serv- 
ice [servant] but as a son of their own State. I re- 
sponded at some length to his address; and after- 
wards received and shook hands with many persons, 
ladies and gentlemen. In the course of an hour 
after my arrival a committee of gentlemen from 
Charleston, S. C, who had been deputed to escort 
me to that City, were presented to me. I was then 
conducted to the Masonic Hall, where I received & 
was presented to many citizens of the town. Among 
them was an old friend, a class mate at College (Mr. 
Arthur Hill) whom I had not seen since we grad- 



38o JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [8 Mar. 

uated at the University of N. C, in June, 1818. 
Our meeting was mutually gratifying. On retiring 
from the masonic Hall, Mr. Andre of the Charles- 
ton committee, addressed me at the Door of the Hall 
on the street in presence of a large crowd of people, 
and informed me that the City authorities of Charles- 
ton had deputed himself and his associates to wait 
on me at this place to tender me a cordial welcome 
to S. Carolina and to accompany me to that City. 
His address was highly complimentary to my ad- 
ministration. I responded in suitable terms, and 
then returned to the Hotel. My party dined with 
the town authorities of Wilmington, the Charleston 
committee, and several citizens. It was a sumptuous 
dinner, but not a formal one. There were no toasts 
or speeches. In the course of the afternoon & even- 
ing I received & was presented to many ladies & gen- 
tlemen of the town. My reception at Wilmington 
was all I could have desired & was very gratifying. 

Thursday, 8th March, l84g. — I proceeded on 
my journey from Wilmington between lo & ii 
O'clock this morning. During the morning we 
were visited by many persons, male and female. I 
was escorted by the authorities of Wilmington & 
many people of both sexes from the Hotel to the 
Boat in an open carriage. On reaching the Boat the 
Charleston committee took charge of me and the 
Boat left her wharf for Charleston in the midst of 
the firing of a salute from the shore. Arriving at 
Smithville, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, 
in the afternoon, the Boat stopped for a short time. 



I849J JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 381 

There is a garrison, occupied by a few soldiers, at 
Fort Johnson at this point. Fort Johnson was 
erected before the American Revolution and the re- 
mains of the old building are still standing, but are 
in a dilapidated condition, other buildings having 
been erected for the accommodation of troops. Fort 
Johnson was the place in which the Colonial Gov- 
ernor of N. C. took refuge, and where he was when, 
in June, 1775, he reported to the home Government 
in England the rebellious proceedings (as he termed 
them) of his majesty's subjects in the County of 
Mecklenburg, a fact recently brought to light by the 
researches of Mr. Bancroft, the eminent historian 
and now U. S. minister at London. Being a native 
of the County of Mecklenburg, I took a peculiar in- 
terest in viewing the remains of this old Fortress. 
I was warmly and courteously received by Maj'r 
Marchant,^ U. S. army, in command of the post, and 
his officers, as well as by the citizens, many of whom 
called and were presented to me, male and female. 
After spending an hour at this point the Boat pro- 
ceeded on the voyage and we were very soon in the 
open sea. This evening was calm and the sea 
smooth. None of the passengers suffered from sea- 
sickness, a thing very unusual at this season of the 
year. We retired at the usual hour, and had a com- 
fortable night's rest. 

Friday, gth March, 184Q. — Early in the morn- 
ing the Steamer reached Charleston, but we did not 
go on shore until between 8 & 9 O'Clock, this being 

^ Charles Spencer Merchant, Major of the 3rd Artillery, 



382 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [9 Mar. 

the arrangement of the Committees & City author- 
ities. A large concourse of Citizens were assembled 
on the wharf, and on being conducted on shore I 
was received by a committee of citizens, and wel- 
comed to their City by Henry W. Conner, their 
chairman, in a strong and very complimentary ad- 
dress, to which I responded. Mr. Conner & myself 
are natives of the same County (Mecklenburg) in 
North Carolina, and our families for several gener- 
ations past had been intimate acquaintances and 
friends. This circumstance gave additional interest 
to the occasion. The ceremony of reception being 
over, myself, Mr. Walker, and others of my suite 
were placed in open carriages and escorted through 
the principal streets of the City, accompanied by a 
large number of Citizens on foot. The windows 
and porches of the buildings on the whole long line 
of the procession were filled by ladies. I was 
struck with the large number and magnificent dis- 
play of the military. I had never before witnessed 
a military procession of more imposing appearance. 
South Carolina is remarkable for the attention paid 
to the discipline of her militia. Arriving at the 
Hotel to which I was conducted, I was waited on by 
many of the distinguished citizens of the place. 
About 12 O'clock Mr. Walker and myself were con- 
ducted by the committee headed by their chairman 
(Mr. Conner) when I was presented to the Mayor 
(Mr. Hutchinson) who delivered to me an eloquent 
address and bid [bade] me a cordial welcome on be- 
half of the City authorities, to which I responded. I 
was then presented to the members of the City Coun- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 383 

cils individually. I was conducted from the open 
Hall by the Mayor to the Council chamber, where 
Mr. Walker and myself were presented to many citi- 
zens. From the Council chamber we were conduct- 
ed to an adjoining apartment, and were presented to 
the Governor of South Carolina (Scab rook) and his 
military staff and other officers, all in full military 
dress. After spending a short time, engaged chiefly 
in conversation with the Governor, we were con- 
ducted back to the Hotel. About 4 O'Clock we were 
waited on and taken in open carriages to another 
part of the City to partake of a Public Dinner. The 
Mayor presided, assisted by many Vice Presidents. 
It was a spacious Hall, very tastefully arranged. A 
very large party of gentlemen were in attendance 
and among others a committee of gentLemen from 
Savannah, Georgia, who had previously waited on 
me and informed me that they had been deputed to 
wait on me and conduct me to that City. I was 
seated on the right of the Mayor, and on my right 
was the Governor of the State, in full military dress. 
After the cloth was removed a number of sentiments 
were read by the Mayor, one of which was compli- 
mentary to myself. After it was read & had been 
warmly received by the company, I returned my ac- 
knowledgments in a short speech, and concluded by 
a sentiment complimentary to the City of Charles- 
ton. Among the sentiments was also one compli- 
mentary to Mr. Walker, to which he responded in a 
speech. The Governor and many others of the 
company responded in speeches to other sentiments. 
The Dinner was sumptuous, and the whole affair 



384 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [lo Mar. 

passed off harmoniously and pleasantly. We were 
conducted from the Dinner table back to the Hotel 
where by the arrangement of the committees & City 
authorities Mrs. Polk and myself received & were 
presented to a very large number of ladies & gentle- 
men. My reception in Charleston was most bril- 
liant and everything connected with it was conducted 
with order and good taste. It was not only a warm, 
but an enthusiastic welcome, and every mark of dis- 
tinction and respect, without regard to political 
divisions, was paid to me. We retired to rest at a 
late hour. The weather during the day had been 
unusually warm for Charleston for this season of the 
year. I had left snow and ice at Washington not 
four days ago, and now I found myself in the midst 
of summer heat. This sudden transition from cold 
to heat, and the great fatigue I had endured during 
the day made the rest of the night very acceptable 
to me. 

On arriving at Charleston this morning, Mr. & 
Mrs. Daniel Graham of Tennessee, who had been of 
my suite, left me and proceeded by way of the 
Georgia Railroad on their journey homeward. Hon. 
Mr. Cobb and Mr. Lumpkin of Georgia and several 
other friends left me at this point. 

I have omitted to mention that on arriving at 
Charleston this morning a salute was fired from the 
forts and every demonstration of respect manifested 
by the shipping in port. 

Saturday, lOth March, i84g, — About 7 O'clock 
this morning I left the Hotel and went on board the 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 385 

Steamboat for Savannah, Geo. We were taken to 
the Boat in open carriages, escorted by the commit- 
tees, Mayor & City authorities of Charleston, Gov- 
ernor Seabrook, & many citizens. On taking leave 
of Charleston w^e passed under a beautiful canopy, 
erected on cotton bales tastefully arranged and with 
the inscription " The Old Palmetto State bids thee 
farewell." I proceeded on my journey in charge 
of the committee of gentlemen from Savannah, un- 
der a jfire of a salute from the forts. Gov. Seabrook 
was on board until we reached Beaufort, where he 
left. At this place during the few minutes the Boat 
touched at the mark [wharf?] I made my respects 
from the Deck to a crowd of citizens on shore. A 
few of the principal persons of the place came on 
board and were introduced to me. The weather was 
calm and the sea smooth during the day and the pas- 
sage to Savannah was pleasant, no one on board hav- 
ing suffered from sea sickness. It was near 9 O'Clock 
at night before the Boat reached Savannah. On our 
approach a salute was fired from the town. On ar- 
riving at the wharf the Mayor & Aldermen and a 
committee of the City came on board & were intro- 
duced to me. Myself and suite were conducted on 
shore and placed in open carriages. Though in the 
night, the military and a large concourse of citizens 
were out, and escorted us to the Hotel where our 
quarters had been provided. After alighting from 
the carriages & remaining a short time at the Hotel, 
Mr. Walker and myself were conducted to a spa- 
cious Hall in another part of the City. It was bril- 
liantly lighted and was crowded with people, ladies 



386 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [n Mar. 

& gentlemen. We spent an hour in being introduced 
to them and shaking hands with them. We re- 
turned to the Hotel, and after partaking of a sup- 
per with the Mayor & City authorities retired to rest. 

Sunday, nth March, i84g. — I did not see the 
public generally to-day, but received a few friends 
who called in a quiet way. Mrs. Polk, Mr. Walker, 
and others of my suite, accompanied by the Mayor, 
attended a Presbyterian church in the forenoon and 
an Episcopal church in the afternoon. Mr. Walker, 
Mr. Duncan of Miss., & myself took a family din- 
ner with the Hon. George W. Owen,^ who resides 
here and whom I knew intimately during the period 
he was in Congress. No person was present at din- 
ner except Mr. Owens's family and three or four of 
his intimate friends. We returned from dinner to 
the Hotel, and being fatigued by the journey and 
considerably prostrated by the unusually warm 
weather for this season of the year, I retired to rest 
at an early hour. 

Monday, 12th March, 184Q, — At an early hour 
this morning (before 7 O'Clock) after taking a cup 
of coffee I left the Hotel in Savannah and, under a 
military escort and [with] a crowd of citizens who 
had assembled at this early hour of the day, I left the 
Hotel (being conveyed in an open carriage & accom- 
panied by the Mayor) and proceeded to the Rail 
Road depot, where we took leave of the Mayor, au- 
thorities, & people of Savannah. Every manifesta- 

^ George W. Owens, Representative from Georgia 1 835-1 839. 



1849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 387 

tion of public respect was paid to me by all political 
parties at Savannah. On the departure of the cars a 
salute was fired. I was accompanied by a committee 
of gentlemen from Savannah to the 90 mile station on 
the Rail Road to Macon. At this place we dined 
and met of [a] committee from Macon, who had 
been deputed to receive and accompany me to that 
City. After dinner I took leave of the Savannah 
committee, who returned, & proceeded on my jour- 
ney. A large number of persons had collected at 
the 90 mile station, where we dined, to meet me. I 
was presented to them and shook hands with many 
of them, ladies & gentlemen, old persons & little 
children. At all the depots or stopping places on 
the route from Savannah to Macon persons were col- 
lected from the surrounding country, to all of whom 
I made my respects, and shook hands with many of 
them, during the short period the cars stopped at 
each place. About sun-set we reached Macon, [a] 
distance of 180 miles from Savannah. I was re- 
ceived at the Depot by the authorities of the town 
and many hundred persons who had assembled. We 
were placed in open carriages and proceeded about a 
mile, under a military escort, to a Hotel where quar- 
ters had been provided for me. We had a dusty and 
fatiguing ride on the Rail-Road, and after retiring 
to my room for a short time I came to the parlour 
and was introduced to many persons, ladies & gen- 
tlemen. Having taken supper and continued to re- 
ceive company until about 10 O'Clock, I retired. I 
had previously accepted an invitation to spend a day 
in Macon, and to-morrow the authorities & citizens 



388 JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY [13 Mar. 

have made arrangements to give me a public and 
more formal reception. 

Tuesday, 13th March, i84g. — In pursuance of 
arrangements previously made I spent this day at 
Macon, Georgia. During the morning I received 
the visits of many of the citizens at the Hotel. 
About II O'clock Mr. Walker and myself were 
w^aited on by the authorities of the town, who con- 
ducted us to a balcony or porch on the second floor 
of the Hotel fronting the open square or street. An 
immense concourse of people (considering the pop- 
ulation of the place and the surrounding country) 
were assembled in the street below, forming a dense 
mass, surrounding which were many carriages con- 
taining ladies. From a platform erected in the 
street and surrounded by the crowd, the Hon. Mr. 
Chappell delivered an address to me and also to Mr. 
Walker. I responded in a short speech as did Mr. 
Walker. This ceremony being over we were con- 
ducted to a spacious parlour in the Hotel where I 
received hundreds of the Citizens, ladies & gentle- 
men, & shook hands with them. We dined at the 
Hotel with the Mayor and public authorities and 
many citizens, but the dinner was not a formal one. 
In the evening there was a public Ball at the Hotel 
and a tasteful and magnificent supper. My two 
nieces. Miss Hays and Miss Rucker, and myself at- 
tended. Mrs. Polk was so much fatigued by the 
journey and by receiving visits during the day that 
she declined attending the Ball. Mr. Walker was 
taken ill shortly after the ceremony of the public re- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 389 

ception to-day was over. He had retired to his 
chamber, had sent for a physician, & taken medicine, 
& did not attend the Ball. I have omitted to men- 
tion that during the afternoon I took a ride through 
the town in an open carriage, accompanied by the 
Mayor, Col. H. G. Lamar,^ formerly a member of 
Congress, with whom I was intimately acquainted 
many years ago, and some other gentlemen. We 
visited & spent half an hour at a flourishing Female 
college, which, I believe, is under the management 
of the methodist Episcopal church. On retiring 
from the Ball, near 12 O'Clock at night, I visited 
Mr. Walker at his chamber. He did not consider 
himself seriously indisposed, & thought he would be 
able to proceed with me on the journey on to-morrow. 
I retired much fatigued, but gratified at the warm 
and cordial manner in which I had been received 
by the people of Macon. 

Wednesday, 14th March, i84g. — To my great 
regret I found on visiting Mr. Walker at his 
chamber this morning that he thought himself too 
much prostrated from the effects of medicine to pro- 
ceed with me on the journey to-day. I proposed to 
remain with him, but he insisted I should not, as, if 
I did, I would disappoint the people of Columbus, 
who had made preparations to give me a public re- 
ception on to-morrow. He thought there would be 
no doubt that he would be able to travel on to-mor- 
row, insisted I should go on, and said he would 
overtake me at Columbus, where I had accepted an 

^ Henry G. Lamar, Representative from Georgia 1 829-1 833. 



390 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [14 Mar. 

invitation to stop a day. I determined to proceed, 
leaving Mr. Duncan of Mississippi with him. After 
taking a cup of coffee, wg were escorted by a com- 
mittee and the authorities of the place to the Rail 
Road depot. Many citizens were assembled at the 
depot. We proceeded on the Rail-Road to a village 
called Barnesville, a distance of 30 miles from 
Macon. I was accompanied by a committee of gen- 
tlemen from Macon. On reaching Barnsville ^ I 
found several hundred persons, male and female, as- 
sembled from the surrounding country. At this 
point we left the Rail Road. I was introduced to 
the people and shook hands with many of them. A 
plain, substantial, and respectable looking planter 
produced some merriment by stating in an audible 
voice that he had a son born that morning & had 
named him James K. Polk and that he had come to 
Barnsville in some uncertainty, whether James K. 
Polk, Ex President of the U. S., would be there; 
and in that event he had determined that his neigh- 
bours should not be disappointed, for he had in- 
tended to invite them all to his House where they 
could see James K. Polk. I had some playful con- 
versation with him and thanked him for the compli- 
ment he had paid by naming his boy for me. After 
breakfast I took leave of the Macon committee and 
proceeded on my journey towards Columbus in an 
extra coach engaged for the purpose, with no other 
persons in it but my own family. At Thomaston, 
about 20 miles from Barnsville, 500 or more persons 
had assembled. I was received by a committee in 

^ Barnesville. 



i849] JAMES K. POLKAS DIARY 391 

the edge of the village who conducted the coach, 
preceded by a band of music, to the Hotel. I was 
conducted to a portico above stairs in the Hotel and 
addressed by a member of the committee, to which 
I responded. After dinner I proceeded on my 
journey, stopping at several houses on the road side 
to speak to persons who had collected to see me. In 
the afternoon there was a violent thunderstorm and 
heavy rain, which produced some delay and impeded 
the speed with which we would otherwise have 
travelled. At dark we had several miles to travel 
before reaching Gen'l Lowe['s], where, by arrange- 
ment of the people of Columbus, I was to lodge that 
night. There came on another thunder storm, more 
violent than that of the afternoon, accompanied by 
hail & heavy rain. The horses became frightened; 
the driver stopped the coach, and my two men-serv- 
ants got hold of the horses and held them until the 
storm was over. The night was dark but the driver 
thought he could still reach Gen'l Lowe's. He pro- 
ceeded, driving slowly and cautiously, and arrived at 
Gen'l Lowe's between 8 & 9 O'Clock. Here we 
found a committee of 20 gentlemen from Columbus, 
headed by the Hon. Seaborn Jones, ^ their chairman, 
and whom I had known many years in Congress, 
waiting to receive me. Four or five hundred people 
from the surrounding country were also assembled, 
and among them a large number of ladies. On ap- 
proaching Gen'l Lowe's we found his dwelling and 
other houses brilliantly illuminated. They had a 

^ Seaborn Jones, Representative from Georgia 1833-1835, and 
1845-1847. 



392 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [15 Mar. 

cannon and fired a salute. I was very warmly & 
cordially received. All expressed regrets that Mr. 
Walker was not with me. I was introduced to many 
of the people and shook hands with them. A fine 
supper had been prepared of which we partook. 
After supper there was a Ball. Mrs. Polk and my- 
self were conducted into the Ball room & introduced 
to all the ladies, and near 2 O'Clock retired to rest. 
I had become somewhat wet in the storm through 
which we had passed in the evening, was fatigued, 
and needed rest. Gen'l Lowe is a wea[l]thy planter, 
and a Democrat in his politics. Mrs. Lowe and him- 
self treated us most hospitably. 

Thursday, i^th March, 184Q, — After breakfast 
this morning we proceeded on our journey towards 
Columbus, a distance of about 20 miles, accompanied 
by the committee who had met us at Gen'l Lowe's 
last evening. On arriving within about a mile of 
the town we were met by the Mayor (who was a 
Whig in politics) and aldermen, and a large num- 
ber of citizens in carriages and on horseback. I 
alighted from the carriage & was received by the 
Mayor, who made a short address to me to which I 
made a short reply. I was then introduced to the 
aldermen, and proceeded in an open carriage to the 
town. The procession passed through the principal 
streets, which were crowded with people, to the 
Court House, which is situated in a large open 
square. I was conducted to the upper porch of the 
Court House, on the 2nd floor, and in full view of 
several thousand persons who were assembled in the 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 393 

Court Yard below. I was addressed by the Hon. 
Seaborn Jones and responded to him. I was then 
conducted into a large Court room where hundreds 
of the people, male and female, were presented to me 
& with whom I shook hands. From this place I was 
conducted back to the carriage and was taken to the 
residence of the Hon. Walter T. Colquitt, late a 
Senator in Congress, who had invited me & my fam- 
ily to take lodgings at his hospitable mansion. About 
4 O'clock, accompanied by Mr. Colquitt [and] the 
several members of the Committee, I attended a 
public Dinner prepared at a Hotel, of which a large 
company partook. After the cloth was removed a 
sentiment complimentary to me was given to which 
I replied in a short speech. After Dinner I returned 
to the House of Judge Colquitt where I was intro- 
duced to a number of ladies & gentlemen of the City. 
About 9 O'clock I was conducted by a committee to 
a splendid public Ball, and after partaking of a very 
fine supper returned to Judge Colquitt's House about 
12 O'clock at night. Mrs. Polk, Miss Hays, & Miss 
Rucker, accompanied by Mrs. Colquitt, attended the 
Ball. The rain fell in torrents during the afternoon 
and night, and in going to and returning from the 
Ball the ladies & myself in carriages were exposed 
and became somewhat wet. My reception at Co- 
lumbus was warm and cordial and every possible 
mark of respect was paid to me which I could de- 
sire. At the close of the labours of the day I was 
greatly wearied and worn down, and was heartily 
rejoiced when I had an opportunity to retire to 
rest. 



394 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i6 Mar. 

Friday, idth March, 184Q.— I had confidently 
expected that the Hon. Robert J. Walker, whom I 
left sick at Macon, would have overtaken me at this 
place, and regretted to learn this morning that the 
mail coach in which he was expected had not ar- 
rived. The heavy rains which have fallen within 
the last two days have probably been the cause of the 
detention. My arrangements ahead had been made 
and it was necessary for me to proceed, though I re- 
gretted to leave Mr. Walker still behind. After 
taking an early cup of coffee at Judge Colquitt's we 
took leave of him & his interesting family and pro- 
ceeded about 6 O'clock in the morning in an extra 
Coach. It was necessary to leave at this early hour 
to enable me to reach Opelika at the head of the Ala- 
bama Rail Road, a distance of 28 miles from Colum- 
bus, by the time the train of Rail Road cars would 
leave that place for Montgomery, Alabama. The 
rain continued to fall, but notwithstanding this we 
set out. I found myself much prostrated by the 
fatigues of the journey and was somewhat indisposed. 
On reaching the Rail Road at Opelika I was met 
by a committee of a dozen or more gentlemen from 
Montgomery, who had been deputed to meet and 
conduct me to that City. At this point many people 
from the surrounding country had assembled, to 
whom I was introduced and with whom I shook 
hands. The committee had engaged an extra train 
of cars for my special accommodation. The regular 
mail-train proceeded in advance, and about 12 
O'clock we proceeded in the special train provided 
for the occasion. We dined on the way, and stopped 



1849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 395 

at several points on the way where numbers of the 
people had collected to see me. On arriving at the 
Depot at Montgomery I found a very large number 
of persons collected. I was conveyed to the town 
in a splendid open carriage drawn by six fine horses 
richly caparisoned. On arriving at the Hotel I was 
addressed & welcomed to Montgomery, to which I 
made a response. Though much fatigued and suf- 
fering from violent cold & cough, the effect of the 
exposure to which I had been subjected for the last 
two days, I was presented to several hundred ladies 
and gentlemen during the evening. The Citizens 
of Montgomery had had very short notice of the 
precise day I would probably reach that place, and 
as I was desirous of proceeding on my journey on 
which I had been more delayed than I h^d antici- 
pated, and had on that account declined an invitation 
to remain with them on to-morrow, the committee 
had ordered a public supper or collation for to-night. 
It was near ii O'Clock before the supper was ready 
and we sat down to the day [table]. Regular toasts 
had been prepared and were drank, one of which as 
a matter of course had reference to myself. It was 
highly complimentary, and I responded to it in a 
short speech. All political parties were present on 
the occasion. Many sentiments were given and 
speeches made, and among others one by the Hon. 
Mr. Yancy,^ late a member of Congress. I retired 
at a late hour, greatly fatigued and quite unwell. 

^William Lowndes Yancey, 1814-1863, Representative from 
Alabama 1843- 1846, noted for his radical advocacy of the pro- 
slavery cause. 



396 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 Mar. 

Saturday, 17th March, l84g, — I was still un- 
well this morning but found it was impossible, if I 
saw company at all, to have any rest. I was not so 
ill as to make it proper for me to decline receiving 
company altogether, and from the hour of breakfast 
until about 11 or 12 O'Clock I had a round of com- 
pany in the Hotel, ladies & gentlemen. At the hour 
of 12 O'clock I left the Hotel in Montgomery, and 
was conveyed in the same splendid carriage and 
equipage in which I had been received on yesterday 
to the Steam Boat landing, attended by a committee 
and a large number of citizens of the town. I went 
on Board the Steamer Emperor & proceeding [pro- 
ceeded] down the Alabama River on my way to 
Mobile. I was accompanied down the River by a 
committee from Montgomery. I had consulted a 
physician at Montgomery and procured some med- 
icine from him, which I took shortly after the Boat 
left the wharf. My reception at the Capital of 
Alabama was very cordial, and I hoped during the 
passage on the Steamer to Mobile to have some rest 
and to recover from the great fatigue which I have 
had to undergo thus far on my journey. The boat 
stopped at several points on the River, at all of which 
a number of the people came on board to see me. I 
retired to my state room at [an] early hour. 

Sunday, l8th March, l84g, — We spent this day 
on Board the Steamer descending the Alabama 
River. Wherever the Boat stopped to take in wood, 
or for any other purpose, a number of people came 
on board to see me. I continued to be somewhat in- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 397 

disposed, but enjoyed the rest. At ii O'Clock 
A. M. the passengers assembled in the Cabin and 
heard a sermon from a clergyman who happened to 
be on board. He was represented to be poor, and 
to be on his way to California. He was not very in- 
telligent, but seemed to be humble and pious. A 
collection was taken up for his benefit. Mrs. Polk 
and myself contributed $5.00 each. After night a 
deck passenger died on board, it was said of cholera, 
and was buried on the bank of the River. I learned 
at Montgomery that the cholera had again broken 
out at New Orleans, and since coming on the Boat 
that there were some cases at Mobile, but I was too 
far on my journey to change my route. I retired to 
my State room at an early hour. 

Monday, igth March, i84g. — About 10 O'Clock 
this morning we reached Mobile. About 10 or 15 
miles before arriving at that City we were met by 
two steamers crowded with passengers, ladies & gen- 
tlemen, who had come to meet me. A committee of 
citizens and authorities of that City were on board. 
The two Boats were soon lashed, one on each side of 
the Emperor, on which I was. The committee came 
on board of the Emperor and welcomed me on my 
approach to Mobile. They were soon followed by 
a large number of ladies & gentlemen from the other 
Boates, who were introduced to Mrs. Polk and my- 
self. I was then requested by the committee to ac- 
company them on board the two boats which were 
lashed to the Emperor, and I did so. All three of 
the Boats were much crowded. After having been 



39S JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [19 Mar. 

introduced to many ladies & gentlemen I returned to 
the Emperor, where Mrs. Polk was receiving the 
ladies. Before arriving in sight of Mobile, another 
boat (the James L. Day) crowded with passengers, 
ladies & gentlemen, met us & lashed to the other 
boats. On approaching Mobile, four large Steam- 
ers were abreast, their decks covered with human be- 
ings, male and female. Before reaching the landing 
the Steamer James L. Day cut loose and proceeded 
in advance of the other three, which were still lashed 
together & proceeding abreast. The Shipping in 
port was covered with people and a large concourse 
of people of both sexes were on shore. As we passed 
a U. S. Revenue cutter, she fired a salute. A salute 
was also fired from shore. On landing I was con- 
ducted to the platform erected for the occasion, and 
was addressed by Col. Philips ^ on behalf of the cit- 
izens, in an eloquent manner, and was welcomed to 
the hospitalities of the City. A dense crowd of peo- 
ple filled the open space on the wharf, and every win- 
dow in the vicinity was filled with ladies. After 
this reception was over I was placed in an open car- 
riage & conducted by the committee, escorted by the 
military, through the principal streets to the Hotel 
where quarters had been provided for me. I was 
conducted into the Hotel & was there received by the 
Mayor who [was] stationed in an upper Hall of the 
Hotel with the City authorities around him. A 
large number of ladies were also assembled to wit- 
ness the ceremony. The Mayor, who was a Whig 
(Childers) addressed me, to which I responded, and 

1 Colonel P. Phillips. 



i849l JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 399 

was then presented to the City councils and to the 
ladies, with whom I shook hands. A few minutes 
before the Dinner hour I was relieved & retired to 
my chamber. We dined with the Mayor, City 
authorities, & a number of citizens. I met here my 
old college friend. Walker Anderson of Florida, 
who had come to Mobile with his two daughters ex- 
pressly to meet me. My friend, James E. Saunders, 
EsqV, and his family were constantly with us and 
were particularly attentive. After dinner there was 
still a round of visitors. Late in the afternoon we 
took a ride of three or four miles up the shore of 
Mobile Bay to the Hospitable mansion of Col. 
Philips. On returning to the Hotel I found myself 
still in the midst of a crowd of visitors. After tea, 
yielding to importunate solicitations, I attended the 
Theater, to which I had been invited. I was accom- 
panied by Col. Philips & his wife, some members of 
the committee, and my two nieces. Miss Rucker and 
Miss Hays. Mrs. Polk did not accompany me. On 
entering the Theater I found a crowded audience & 
was received with great applause & every demonstra- 
tion of respect. I remained at the Theater but 
half an hour, when I returned to the Hotel ex- 
ceedingly fatigued and exhausted. My reception at 
Mobile, & particularly the approach to the City 
& the landing, was most imposing and magnifi- 
cent. The hospitality and warm cordiality of the 
Southern character was displayed in an eminent 
degree. On reaching the Hotel I was heartily 
rejoiced at the opportunity of retiring for the 
night. 



400 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [20 Mar. 

Tuesday, 20th March, i84g, — I rose this 
morning much exhausted from my fatigue, and the 
excessively warm weather for this season of the year, 
even in this climate. In addition to this I was still 
somewhat indisposed. From the moment breakfast 
was over I was occupied in receiving visitors, ladies 
and gentlemen. The cholera, I learned, was prevail- 
ing to some extent at Mobile, but was not epidemic. 
I consulted Dr. Knott, an eminent physician of the 
place, who prescribed for me & gave me medicines 
to be used in case of an attack of cholera with any of 
my party. He informed me that the disease was 
prevailing at New Orleans, and advised me in my 
state of health to spend as little time as possible in 
that City; and I resolved that when I reached New 
Orleans I would take the first Boat bound for Nash- 
ville. About I O'clock we left the Hotel. I was 
conveyed in an open carriage to the Boat bound for 
New Orleans, escorted by the committee & author- 
ities of the City and a crowd of persons in the Streets. 
The Boat left the wharf between i & 2 O'Clock. 
We had a smooth sea & a pleasant afternoon, though 
unusually warm for the season. Col. Watson & two 
or three other members of the Montgomery commit- 
tee continued to accompany me. Nothing of interest 
occurred during the afternoon and night. I was re- 
lieved by having some opportunity to rest. 

Wednesday, 21st March, 184Q, — At daylight 

this morning the Boat from Mobile reaching 
[reached] the landing on Lake Ponchartrain, a few 
miles below New Orleans. I was soon called by a 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 401 

servant and informed that a committee from New 
Orleans were on board & desired to see me. I went 
into the cabin as soon as I could dress, &c. Two or 
three gentlemen met me & informed me that they 
had been deputed by the City authorities at New 
Orleans to receive me on landing at this point, and 
conduct me to the Hotel on shore where I would be 
detained until 9 O'Clock, at which time the author- 
ities of the City would be prepared to receive me. 
I informed them that my purpose was to proceed 
with the least possible delay up. They said that 
learning by letters & Telegraphic despatches of my 
approach, the City authorities & citizens of New Or- 
leans had made extensive preparations to give me a 
public reception to-day ; that the military had been or- 
dered out, and that the Governor of the State would 
participate in the ceremonies of the' occasion. 
They assured me that the City was healthy, and that 
there was no danger from cholera. A few cases of 
the disease, they said, were occurring, but they were 
confined to indigent & imprudent persons, and no epi- 
demic was prevailing. Perceiving that I could not 
carry out my resolution to pass immediately through 
the City without seeming to act rudely, I yielded to 
their wishes. They conducted us from the Boat to 
the Hotel, distant about a fourth of a mile. After an 
hour or two breakfast was announced. It was, I 
supposed, a sumptuous breakfast. All the dishes 
were prepared in the French style of cooking, and 
to one unaccustomed to it it was difficult to tell of 
what they were composed. Fish of every variety & 
prepared in various ways constituted a large part 



402 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [21 Mar. 

of the repast. The table was covered, too, with every 
variety of light wines. I could see nothing before 
me that I had been accustomed [to], or that I should 
have deemed it safe to eat in my state of health & 
in a cholera atmosphere. I took a cup of coffee and 
something on my plate to save appearances, but was 
careful to eat none of it. As soon as an opportunity 
offered I asked a servant in a low tone if he could 
give me a piece of corn-bread & broiled ham. He 
dashed off in great haste and in an incredibly short 
time he brought me the bread and ham. Before we 
sat down to breakfast an additional number of the 
members of the committee had arrived. About 9 
O'clock we took the cars to the City. On arriving 
at the depot I found an imposing array of the mili- 
tary drawn up. On alighting from the cars I was 
met and welcomed to the City by the Mayor (Cross- 
man) in a few words. I was glad he made no formal 
speech. In a few words of reply I thanked him for 
the honour done me. A long procession of citizens 
in carriages and on foot, preceded by an imposing 
array of the military, moved through the City. Gov- 
ernor Johnson, Maj'r Gen'l Gaines, U. S. army, and 
many other persons of Official distinction joined in 
the procession. I was seated in an open carriage 
with the Mayor & Recorders, Genois & Baldwin. 
The day was warm, & the streets dusty. Though I 
had taken the precaution to take my umbrella in my 
hand I was often exposed to the rays of the sun. The 
procession moved slowly, frequently halting for a 
few minutes, through several of the principal streets 
of the City. I bowed constantly on the right and 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 403 

left to the ladies in the windows and on the balconies 
of the Houses. I did not note the precise time, but 
should guess it was between 3 & 4 hours from the 
time the procession moved from the Rail Road 
Depot until I was taken to the quarters provided for 
me at the St. Louis Hotel. I was covered with dust 
& perspiration. I retired to my room for an hour 
and changed my dress. I feared the effects of the 
exposure to the sun & the excessive fatigue I had en- 
dured. I dined with the Mayor & other author- 
ities at the hotel. After night, as well as throughout 
the afternoon, I was called on by many acquaintances 
and friends, as well as many strangers, ladies and 
gentlemen. In the evening I informed the Mayor 
and some members of the committees of the state of 
my health, of my great fatigue, and of rpy wish to 
proceed up the River in a Boat which was to leave 
that night. The Mayor and the other gentlemen ex- 
pressed great solicitude that I should not do so. The 
Mayor said they had sent out invitations to more 
than 250 gentlemen to attend a Public Dinner, which 
they proposed to give me on to-morrow, and that if 
I left it would be a source of deep regret and morti- 
fication to the citizens of New Orleans. He as- 
sured me further that if there was the slightest dan- 
ger from cholera they would at once have informed 
me of it; for they would not on any account put 
my life in hazard by causing me to remain. I found 
myself compelled to yield, and agreed to remain & 
partake of the Dinner on to-morrow, though I did 
so reluctantly and against my own wishes and judg- 
ment. I retired to rest as soon as I could do so with 



404 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [22 Mar. 

propriety, though it was at a late hour. Though 
more fatigued I do not discover that my health is 
worse than it was when I left Mobile. 

Thursday, 22nd March, i84g, — ^ Early this 
morning, Mr. Duncan of Mississippi, who was [a 
member] of [my] suite from Washington and who 
remained with Mr. Walker w^ho was taken ill at 
Macon, overtook me. I regretted exceedingly to 
learn from him that the Hon. Robert J. Walker had, 
in consequence of his continued indisposition, stopped 
at Columbus, Georgia, where Mr. D. left him, and 
that he had determined to return from that place to 
Washington. I had until Mr. Dun[c]an's arrival 
hoped that he would overtake me, & proceed on his 
visit to Mississippi. Breakfast was scarcely over 
this morning, when my parlour began to be crowded 
with visitors, ladies & gentlemen, who called on Mrs. 
Polk and myself. As the day advanced and the 
number of visitors increased I occupied a large par- 
lour & Mrs. Polk another, both of which were 
crowded for several successive hours. In the course 
of the day I was waited on by the Judges, Federal 
and State, and by the bar of the City in a body. 
There were a large number of these gentlemen, and 
I regarded it as a very high honour they paid me. 
About 4 O'clock P. M. I took a ride with the Mayor, 
Mr. Dun[c]an, and Mr. John M. Bell in an open 
carriage, passed up on the levee, and viewed the 
shipping and the immense amount of produce and 
merchandise on the wharf. After a ride of an hour 
we returned to the Hotel. At 6 O'Clock I was con- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 405 

ducted by the Mayor and other authorities to the 
Dinner table. It was set in the St. Louis Hotel and 
was a sumptuous and magnificent Dinner. About 
300 gentlemen were present. The Mayor presided, 
assisted by many vice presidents. The Governor of 
Louisiana (Johnson), Maj'r Gen'l Gaines, U. S. 
army, the city authorities, and many distinguished 
citizens & strangers composed the party. After the 
cloth was removed Regular toasts were proposed 
and drank. To one of these, having reference to my- 
self, I responded in a short speech. Shortly after- 
wards I retired from the table accompanied by the 
Mayor and other gentlemen and proceeded in an 
open carriage to the wharf of the Steamer Caroline 
E. Watkins, and took passage on that fine boat for 
Nashville, Tennessee. Though it was in .the night 
when I left the Hotel, I was accompanied by an im- 
mense mass of people in the streets and cheered as I 
passed to the Boat, and when I took leave of the 
Mayor and other gentlemen and the boat shoved off, 
I left an immense mass on the Bank of the River who 
rent the air with their vociferous cheers. I was most 
happy that I was now on my way to Nashville and 
with the prospect of quiet and rest. My return 
journey homeward after having laid down the cares 
of office, been divested of power and patronage, and 
become a private citizen, has been thus far a tri- 
umphal march. The warmth of enthusiasm with 
which I have been received everywhere and the cor- 
dial welcome which has been extended to me by 
thousands of my fellow-citizens, without distinction 
of political party, far exceeds anything I had antici- 



4o6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [23 Mar. 

pated, and I regard it as the most distinguished honor 
ever conferred upon me by men. The demonstra- 
tions of the public respect on my way to Washington 
as the President elect four years [ago], were nothing 
to be compared to the distinguished consideration I 
have met after I have laid down power. I am most 
grateful to my fellow-citizens for it. It will be a 
consoling reflection to me in my retirement that I 
have, through the arduous duties I have performed 
and the high responsibilities I was compelled to as- 
sume, retained the respect of my countrymen. 
Shortly after the Boat left New Orleans I retired to 
rest for the night. 

Friday, 23rd March, 184Q. — I rose this morning 
without being so much refreshed by a night's sleep as 
I had hoped to be. I was still indisposed and felt the 
effects of the severe fatigue which I had endured. 
Early in the morning an incident of thrilling inter- 
est occurred. Four or five persons in a small skiff 
approached the Boat from the shore, and in endeav- 
ouring to come on board the Boat upset & turned bot- 
tom upwards, precipitating those unfortunate per- 
sons into the angry current of the Mississippi. Great 
anxiety prevailed to save their lives. The Boat 
stopped, the small boat was quickly manned & sent 
to their relief, and luckily they were all saved. One 
or two of them were white men & [the] others 
negroes. About 11 O'Clock the Boat reached Baton 
Rouge, where I was received by the firing of a salute, 
and by a large number of persons who had assembled 
on the shore. I was waited on by a committee and 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 407 

conducted by them to a Hotel in the town where in 
the presence of a large number of ladies and gentle- 
men, I was addressed by the chairman of the com- 
mittee, and to which I responded. I remained on 
shore about an hour, when I returned on Board. A 
collation had been prepared in anticipation of my ar- 
rival, but I had not time to partake of it; and indeed 
was glad to avoid the fatigue which I must have un- 
dergone to have done so. While I was on shore, 
many persons, ladies & gentlemen, visited the boat 
and paid their respects to Mrs. Polk. A man died 
on board of the Boat of cholera to-day. His body 
was put into a coarse, rough box, hastily nailed to- 
gether & was entrusted to some wood choppers at a 
wood yard to be buried. The Boat proceeded up the 
River. In the night she stopped several hours in con- 
sequence of a dense fog in the River rendering it un- 
safe for her to run. 

Saturday, 24th March, 184Q. — About 10 O'- 
clock this morning we reached Natchez, Missis- 
sippi. Our approach was announced by the firing 
of Cannon from the shore. The Boat touched at the 
wharf, w[h]ere a large number of persons were as- 
sembled. I was suffering so much from my exces- 
sive fatigue in New Orleans and was so much indis- 
posed, that I declined going on shore, though I was 
urgently pressed by a number of citizens, who came 
on board, to do so. Extensive preparations, as I 
learned, had been made to receive me, and I regretted 
the necessity which the state of my health imposed on 
me to decline the proffered honor. The Boat, after 



4o8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [25 Mar. 

remaining a few minutes at the wharf, proceeded on 
her voyage up the River. The River was very full 
and the water was in many places over the banks, 
flooding whole plantations. In the course of the 
afternoon we learned that [there were] three more 
cases of cholera on Board, among the deck passen- 
gers below, but no panic or alarm was produced. 
Nothing of interest occurred during the remainder 
of the day and at the usual hour I retired to my state 
room, but did not rest well. At Natchez Mr. Dun- 
can of Miss., who had been of my suite, left me. Col. 
Watson, one of the committee from Montgomery, 
Al., who had accompanied me to Mobile & New 
Orleans, continued on board. Maj'r DashieL/ a 
Paymaster of the U. S. army, was also on board. 
Maj'r D. subsequently left the Boat at Lake Provi- 
dence. 

Sunday, 25th March, l84g. — My disease (a de- 
rangement of stomach & bowels) which had from its 
commencement assumed a bilious type, was no bet- 
ter this morning. I was quiet during the day, except 
at a few points where the Boat stopped on the River, 
at several of which a number of persons came on 
board to see me. After night a steamer from Vicks- 
burg with a large number of persons, ladies and gen- 
tlemen, on Board met our Boat, and rounding to was 
lashed to our Boat. Two committees, the one from 
Vicksburg and the other from Jackson, Mississippi, 
were among the persons who came to meet me. 
They [were] urgent in their solicitations that I should 

^ Jeremiah Y. Dashiell oi Louisiana. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 409 

accept the hospitalities of these towns & spend a day 
at each. The same reasons which compelled me to 
decline accepting the hospitalities of the people of 
Natchez compelled me to decline accepting their re- 
quest. I was introduced to the whole party, ladies 
& gentlemen, who met me & [I] shook hands with 
them. Arriving at Vicksburg our boat remained 
but a few minutes, when we proceeded on our jour- 
ney. I learned from the persons I met that Sen- 
ator Houston of Texas had passed down the River, 
and the Hon. Henry Clay of Ky. had passed up the 
River this afternoon, each stopping a short time at 
Memphis. They told me that when the Boat on 
which Mr. Clay was, approached Vicksburg from 
below, a salute which had been prepared for my re- 
ception was fired, supposing I was on board. Mr. 
Clay, they told me, on learning the fact humorously 
observed '^ I hope, gentlemen, I am not stealing Mr. 
Polk's thunder." To which the committee replied 
that they had a plenty of powder for both. A salute 
was fired when I reached Vicksburg. The Boat re- 
mained but a short time and proceeded on her voy- 
age. I retired to rest quite unwell and still more 
fatigued by the scene through which I had been com- 
pelled to pass. 

Monday, 26th March, 184Q. — I was no better 
this morning, and though I had no symptoms of 
cholera I began to be more concerned for my sit- 
uation. It was manifest that I required rest, if not 
medical treatment, before I could be restored to 
health. The Boat touched at Helena and some other 



410 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [27 Mar. 

points on the River in the course of the day where 
I was compelled [to receive] some persons who 
came on board. I rested chiefly in my state-room 
during the day & night, but had no refreshing 
sleep. 

Tuesday, 27th March, 184Q.— The Boat arrived 
at Memphis about daylight this morning. My two 
nephews, Samuel P. Walker & Samuel P. Caldwell, 
who reside at Memphis and who were expecting me, 
sodn came on board. They informed me that an- 
ticipating my arrival on yesterday evening a Steamer 
had been chartered and a large party, ladies & gen- 
tlemen, had proceeded many miles down the River, 
but not meeting me had returned in the night. A 
committee of citizens soon came on board. I en- 
deavoured to excuse myself for declining to go on 
shore by pleading my state of health. As, however, 
I was able to receive my friends in the Cabin of the 
Boat, they insisted I was able to go on shore, and 
pressed me very much to do so. They insisted that 
as Memphis was the first point in my own state 
which I had touched after an absence of more than 
four years, and that as extensive preperations had 
been made to receive me, that I should go on shore 
if it was even for a short time. In the mean-time 
many of my old acquaintances and friends came on 
board, and their importunities were so great that 
finally against my own judgement I yielded & went 
on shore with the promise that I would be detained 
there but a short time. I was seated in an open car- 
riage with Judge Dunlap and Col. Watson, who had 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 4" 

accompanied me from Montgomery, Alabama, to this 
place, and was conducted in procession into the town, 
and around & through the Navy yard, occupying 
more than an hour. I was then conducted to a Hotel 
where a large crowd of people, ladies and gentlemen, 
had assembled. Before I alighted from the carriage 
I was addressed in front of the Hotel by the Hon. 
Spencer Jarnegan, to which I responded from the 
carriage. Mr. Jarnegan was lately a Whig Senator 
in Congress from Tennessee. His address was lib- 
eral and kind in its tone and could not fail to be grati- 
fying. The leading men of both political parties 
were present and participated in the ceremony of 
bidding me welcome back to my own State. I was 
conducted from the carriage into the Hotel, where I 
was most cordially received by hundreds 'of old ac- 
quaintances and friends. I met also many ladies 
and many of my relations who reside at Memphis. I 
felt highly honored and gratified at the enthusiastic 
reception given to me, but felt exhausted and much 
fatigued, and as soon as I could with propriety I 
returned to the Boat. I declined to remain and par- 
take of a collation which had been prepared for the 
occasion. The Boat left, and I very soon felt the 
ill effects of the exertion through which I had im- 
prudently gone. I found that the indisposition 
which had afflicted me for several days was increased. 
Nothing of interest occurred during the remainder 
of this day and night. Before reaching Memphis 
three deaths of cholera had occurred on our Boat and 
there were other cases which had not proved fatal. 
I rested badly to-night. 



412 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [28 Mar. 

Wednesday, 28th March, 184Q.— I found my- 
self no better this morning. Towards noon I was 
much worse and remained constantly in my State- 
room. There was no physician on board. The 
type of my disease continued to be bilious, a circum- 
stance which was perhaps fortunate while I was in 
a cholera atmosphere. I took medicine prepared 
for me by Dr. Nott at Mobile, but not being certain 
that it was the proper prescription for my case, on 
reaching Paducka [Paducah] on the Ohio River 
after night, I sent on shore for a physician. A Dr. 
Jones came on board. He examined my case and 
said it was not cholera, but that all diseases of the 
bowels had a tendency to run into cholera when that 
disease prevailed, and he advised me to leave the 
boat. He was a man in appearance of more than 
fifty years of age and appeared to be discreet and sen- 
sible. I requested him to accompany me on the boat 
to Smithland, which was only 12 miles up the River. 
He agreed to do so, and after going on shore to pro- 
cure medicines he returned and accompanied me. 
He gave me some medicine. On arriving at Smith- 
land late at night I left the Boat and went to a Hotel. 
As soon as I was conducted to a room, I sent for Dr. 
Saunders, a physician of the place of some eminence. 
He examined my case and gave me the same opinion 
of it which Dr. Jones had done, and concurred with 
him in opinion that it was prudent for me to stop. 
Dr. Jones and Dr. Saunders, after a consultation, ad- 
ministered more medicine to me. I spent, of course, 
an uncomfortable night, but my situation was much 
better than it could have been on the Boat. My 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 413 

bowels were affected and the shaking of the Boat had 
become inconvenient to me. When I left the Boat 
a cabin passenger from Missouri was in a dying 
condition from cholera. He died in a short time 
and, I learned, was buried on the bank of the 
Cumberland that night. Our servant maid (Milly) 
was taken ill after leaving Memphis on yesterday, 
but was not considered seriously so by Mrs. Polk. 
Dr. Jones & Dr. Saunders saw her and adminis- 
tered to her. They informed me that she had 
all the premonitory symptoms of cholera, and that 
in a few hours it would, if her illness had not 
been arrested, have been a confirmed case of cholera. 
The cholera, I learned from these physicians and 
from others, is prevailing with great mortality in 
all the Boats from New Orleans. Ori one Boat 
which came up a few hours in advance of ours 
there had been 14 deaths of cholera before reach- 
ing Memphis and 6 deaths between Memphis and 
Smithland. I felt well satisfied that I had left the 
Boat. 

Thursday, 2Qth March, i84g. — I was in a com- 
fortable Hotel at Smithland this morning with every 
attention from the obliging landlord which it was 
possible for him to bestow. I was confined to my 
bed throughout the day. Dr. Jones and Dr. Saun- 
ders visited me repeatedly during the day. The 
medicine which I took on yesterday had not pro- 
duced the desired effect, and in the afternoon they 
gave me more. Dr. Jones returned to Paduka to- 
night. I saw no company during the day. 



414 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [30 IVUr. 

Friday, 30th March, l84g. — Early this morning 
Dr. Saunders called and administered more med- 
icine. Shortly afterwards the medicine I had taken 
on yesterday and the night preceding produced a 
favourable effect. I was confined to my bed during 
the day until near night when I sat up a short time. I 
saw no company during the day. Our servant girl 
was still ill, but had been saved from an attack of 
cholera by timely treatment. After night a Boat ar- 
rived from Louisville with Senator Turney and the 
Hon. Cave Johnson on Board. They immediately 
called to see me. They were on their return from 
Washington. Mr. Johnson had his family with him. 
They stopped for the night. 

Saturday, 31 st March, 184Q, — I was better this 
morning and sat up a part of the day. I saw no 
company except Mr. Senator Turney and Mr. Cave 
Johnson. They left in the afternoon on a Boat 
bound to Nashville. Early in the morning a Boat 
arrived from Nashville, and to my surprise and great 
gratification my brother-in-law, Dr. Wm. R. Rucker 
of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was on board of her. 
He had come to Nashville to meet his daughter who 
had spent the winter at Washington in our family, 
and hearing that I was ill had come down to meet 
me. I spent a more comfortable night than I [had] 
done for several days. 

Sunday, 1st April, i84g, — Though not yet well 
and still very feeble, I determined to take a Boat 
which was bound for Nashville this morning. A 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 415 

sofa was taken on board and placed in the Ladies' 
cabin on which I lay. Dr. Rucker was constantly 
with me, and in [the] course of the day gave 
me some medicine. I found myself as comfortable 
as I could be in my situation on a Boat, and had a tol- 
erably good night's rest. 

Monday, 2nd April, l84g, — I was much better 
this morning, but was quite feeble from the effects 
of medicine & my indisposition. A few miles below 
Nashville we met a Steamer having on board a com- 
mittee of gentlemen and a number of my old ac- 
quaintances & friends. Among them was my brother- 
in-law. Dr. John B. Hays of Columbia, who, hear- 
ing of my illness and detention at Smithland, had set 
out to meet me. He [his] daughter had spent the 
past winter in my family and was with me on her re- 
turn home. On arriving in sight of the Boat land- 
ing at Nashville, I discovered that the wharf was 
covered with people. I stood on the deck of the 
Boat as she approached, and was enthusiastically 
cheered by the crowd on shore. As soon as the Boat 
touched the shore many of my old acquaintances and 
friends came on board. After a few minutes I was 
conducted on shore and in passing from the Boat to 
the carriage prepared to receive me I was met by 
the dense crowd and warmly greeted by many old ac- 
quaintances and friends, with whom I shook hands. 
I was seated in an open carriage with Ex-Governor 
A. V. Brown and two other persons, and conveyed 
up Broad & Cherry streets and thence to the public 
square in front of the Nashville Inn, where I was ad- 



4i6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 April 

dressed by Gov. A. V. Brown, who warmly wel- 
comed me back to my old State and to my home. A 
very large number of people had turned out on the 
occasion ; and standing in the open carriage, though 
feeling scarcely able to do so, I responded to his ad- 
dress. When I had done I was exceedingly feeble 
& exhausted. I was then conducted to the Verandah 
House where quarters had been prepared for me. 
Here again I met and shook hands with many of my 
friends, who were in waiting at the Hotel or called 
to see me. I was compelled very soon to retire to 
my room where I remained during the balance of the 
day. A few old & intimate friends saw me in my 
room. The meeting of my old friends had produced 
an excitement which contributed to sustain me during 
the day and to enable me to bear the fatigue. I 
rested comfortably during the night. 

Tuesday, 3rd April, i84g, — I spent this day at 
Nashville and was most of the time in my room, but 
walked occasionally to the parlour of the Hotel, 
which was near my room, to see old friends who 
called. In the afternoon I rode in a carriage with 
Mrs. Polk to see our new house and our future resi- 
dence. It is yet in an unfinished state. I was 
pleased with its general appearance. Returning to 
the Hotel I retired to my room where I saw a few in- 
timate friends who called during the evening. I re- 
tired to rest at night at an early hour. To-morrow 
we will proceed to Columbia to visit my mother and 
other relations. I will leave my faithful steward, 
Henry Bowman, to take charge of my house and 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 417 

boxes of furniture, &C. I have directed him to lodge 
in the House. 

Wednesday, 4th April, i84g, — This morning, 
though still very feeble, I set out with Mrs. Polk in 
a private carriage to pay a visit to my mother and 
other relatives and friends at my old residence at 
Columbia. We dined at Franklin where a number 
of people called to see me. They had not been ad- 
vised that I would pass Franklin that day, and there 
was no formal reception. After dinner we rode as 
far as Cartwright's Inn on the road, near the village 
of Spring Hill, where I stopped for the night. Mr. 
Kelley and Mr. Gouth, from Columbia, met me at 
Cartwright's. They informed me that there would 
be a public reception at Columbia on to-morrow. 

Thursday, 5/A April, i84g. — I set out after 
breakfast this morning, three or four of my old 
friends having met me at Cartwright's before I left. 
At the village of Spring Hill I stopped for half an 
hour, where I saw and shook hands with a number of 
my old neighbours & friends, male and female. On 
reaching my father's residence where I was a youth, 
which is on the roadside six miles from Columbia, I 
stopped a few minutes to see and shake hands with a 
number of the old neighbours and their descendants, 
who had collected to see me as I passed. Three or 
four miles before reaching Columbia I was met by 
a committee of the place and by several hundred per- 
sons, ladies & gentlemen, in carriages & on horseback, 
who came out to meet me. I had here the inex- 



4i8 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [5 April 

pressible gratification to meet my old neighbours of 
both political parties, whom I had not seen for more 
than four years, when I left to proceed to Washing- 
ton to enter on my duties as President of the U. S. 
I was here placed, by the request of the [committee], 
in an open barouche and the procession moved to- 
wards the town, increasing in its numbers as we pro- 
ceeded. On approaching near the town we met a 
band of music & some military, who wheeled and 
preceded us. I was conducted through the public 
square of the town to the Branch of the State Bank, 
from the steps of which I was addressed in behalf of 
my old neighbours by Maj'r Gen'l Gideon J. Pillow, 
to whom I responded from the carriage in which I 
was. Several hundred persons of both political par- 
ties were present, and I was greeted and received by 
all with a warmth and cordiality which could not 
be otherwise than highly gratifying. As soon as the 
reception was over I proceeded to my mother's House 
and embraced her. Our meeting was most gratify- 
ing. I can perceive that time has made its impres- 
sion on her since I saw her, though I was glad to find 
her in good health. She is now in the 73rd year of 
her age. I am the eldest of her children. I was 
born on the 2nd of November, 1795, and on the 15th 
of the same month she was 19 years old, so that she 
wants a few days of being 19 years older than I am. 
All my relations, old and young, who are residing 
at Columbia were assembled at her house. A large 
number of my old friends followed me to her house, 
with all of whom I shook hands. They continued to 
call during the remainder of the afternoon and even- 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 419 

ing. My Jou[r]ney on my return from the seat of 
Government is now over and I am again at my home, 
in the midst of the friends of my youth & of my riper 
years. My political career has been run & is now 
closed. Henceforth I shall be a private citizen. I 
cannot now undertake to review the past and to com- 
pare my present contented and happy condition with 
it. I have been much honoured by my countrymen 
and am deeply grateful to them. I may say that I re- 
gard the distinguished marks of respect everywhere 
shown me by the people, without distinction of po- 
litical party, on my journey homeward, as the most 
gratifying and highest honour ever paid me by any 
portion of my fellow-citizens. Though fatigued & 
feeble I spent a delightful evening with my relatives 
& friends. 

Friday, 6th April, 184Q, — I felt too feeble to go 
out to-day and remained during the day at my moth- 
er's House, where I saw many of my friends, ladies 
& gentlemen, who called. 

Saturday, 7th April, 184Q, — I remained at my 
mother's house to-day and saw many friends who 
called. We dined at Mr. James Walker's (my 
brother-in-law) with many of our relations. It was 
a family dinner, and though the state of my health 
was such as to prevent me from partaking of the din- 
ner I was present. In the afternoon I walked into 
the lawn and remained a few minutes. 

Sunday, 8th April, 184Q, — Mrs. Polk and my- 
self accompanied by my mother and [ ?] at- 



420 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [9 April 

tended the Presbyterian church to-day. In the even- 
ing I was not so well as I had been, and under the ad- 
vice of Dr. Hays I took medicine. 

Monday, gth April, 184Q. — The medicine I took 
on yesterday had produced the desired effect. I re- 
mained quietly at my mother's House during the day. 
Several of my old friends called to see me. 

Tuesday, loth April, i84g. — I was still in 
feeble health to-day and remained at my mother's 
House, where many of my friends called to see me. 
About 2 O'clock P. M. the Rector (Smith) of the 
Female Institute at this place with his assistant teach- 
ers and near 200 young ladies & little girls made a 
formal call in procession, and arranging themselves 
in form at my mother's door Miss Brown (the 
daughter of Ex Governor A. V. Brown) made a 
beautiful complimentary address to Mrs. Polk. .Mrs. 
Polk thanked her and requested me to respond to 
the address on her behalf, and I did so. The teach- 
ers & young ladies were then presented individually 
to Mrs. Polk and myself and shook hands with us. 
It was an imposing & interesting ceremony. 

Wednesday, nth April, i84g, — We had been 
invited to dine to-day with Mr. Patrick Maguire, 
one of the oldest inhabitants of Columbia (a Whig 
in politics but always my personal friend) and 
though I scarcely felt able to attend I did so, but re- 
tired from the dinner table before dinner was over. 
My friends from the town and the country continued 
to call on me at my mother's House. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 421 

Thursday, 12th April, l84g, — We were invited 
to dine to-day with Gen'l Gideon J. Pillow, who re- 
sides five miles in the country, and did so. It was a 
large dinner party and a very pleasant one. It was 
composed chiefly of my family relatives and Gen'l 
Pillow's. Maj'r Ripley ^ of the U. S. army was one 
of the guests. We returned to my mother's house 
late in the evening. 

Friday, 13th April, i84g. — I walked into the 
town to-day and spent some time with my friends. 
In the course of the day some of my old friends from 
the country called to see me at my mother's House. 
This evening there was company, chiefly young per- 
sons, at my brother-in-law's. Dr. Hays's. I was pres- 
ent for a short time. 

Saturday, 14th April, i84g. — I spent some time 
in the village to-day, but remained most of my time 
at my mother's House where I saw a number of my 
old friends who called. 

Sunday, l^th April, l84g. — Mrs. Polk and my- 
self accompanied by my mother and [ ?] at- 
tended the Presbyterian church this morning; and in 
the afternoon we attended divine service at the Epis- 
copal church. 

Monday, 16th April, l84g. — The weather had 
been unusually cool for the season for the last two or 
three days, and this morning there was a killing frost. 

^ Roswell Sabin Ripley, author of History of the War with 
Mexico. 



422 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [17 April 

After breakfast Mrs. Polk and myself left my moth- 
er's house on our return to Nashville. We travelled 
in a private carriage and spent the night, in pursuance 
of a previous engagement, at the House of Ex Gov- 
ernor A. V. Brown, three miles from Nashville. The 
Governor w^as absent from home on a visit to his 
plantation in Mississippi. 

Tuesday, 17th April, 184Q, — From Governor 
Brown's we rode to Nashville this morning, stop- 
ping a few minutes at my own [home] to see what 
progress had been made in completing it, and went 
from thence to the Verandah House where we spent 
the remainder of the day. I transacted some busi- 
ness and gave some directions to Henry Bowman, my 
faithful German steward whom I had brought with 
me from Washington, relative to the fitting up of the 
House. When we went to Columbia we had left 
Bowman in charge of our boxes of furniture and 
other articles which were removed to the House. We 
will still leave him in charge during a visit to Mrs. 
Polk's relatives at Murfreesbo rough which we pro- 
pose making on to-morrow. 

Wednesday, i8th April, i84g. — We went from 
Nashville to Murfreesborough to-day. We reached 
my brother-in-law. Dr. Rucker's, about 3 O'Clock, 
where we met Mrs. Childress (Mrs. Polk's mother) 
and her brother, Maj'r Childress, & his wife, and 
others of her younger relatives. It was a delightful 
meeting. During the evening a number of my 
friends called in to see me. 



1849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 423 

Thursday, /9/A April, i84g. — Mrs. Polk and 
myself remained at my brother-in-law's (Dr. Ruck- 
er's) during our stay at Murfreesborough. We 
dined at his house to-day. In the course of the day a 
number of persons, ladies & gentlemen, called to see 
us. In the afternoon we rode out to my brother-in- 
law's (Maj'r Childress) and spent the night with 
him. Mrs. Childress (Mrs. Polk's mother) also 
went to Maj'r Childress's & remained with us. There 
was an unusually severe frost for this season of the 
year last night. It killed not only vegetables in the 
gardens but the leaves on most of the forest trees. 

Friday, 20th April, i84g, — I took a ride on 
horseback with Maj'r Childress and viewed his farm 
this morning. It was the first time I had been on 
horseback for many months. I was so constantly 
occupied with my official duties at Washington that 
I do not remember to have had time to ride on horse- 
back more than two or three times during the last 
year. Maj'r Childress had a family dinner to-day 
at which Mrs. Childress (Mrs. P.'s mother) Dr. & 
Mrs. Rucker, the Misses Rucker, Mr. Rob't B. Jet- 
ton, and several of the children of the family, all the 
relations of Mrs. Polk, were present. Mr. Elisha 
Williams (the father-in-law of Maj'r Childress) and 
his wife were also present. 

Saturday, 21st April, 184Q. — Mrs. Polk and 
myself rode to Murfreesborough to-day and spent 
the day at Dr. Rucker's house. Most of the family 
relations dined at Dr. Rucker's to-day. In the after- 



424 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [22 April 

noon we returned to Maj'r Childress's. A number 
of persons called to see me at Dr. Rucker's in the 
course of the day. On reaching Maj'r Childress's 
I met my old acquaintance and friend, Judge Joseph 
Philips, his wife and daughter. We took tea at the 
house of Mr. Elisha Williams, and returned to the 
house of Maj'r Childress where I spent a pleasant 
evening in conversation with Judge Philips. He is 
an intelligent man, a true Democrat, & an old friend 
of mine, and I was glad to meet him. 

Sunday, 22nd April, l84g, — We returned from 
Maj'r Childress's to Dr. Rucker's House in Mur- 
f reesborough this morning and attended divine wor- 
ship at the methodist church. The methodist clergy- 
man being absent a Baptist minister (the Rev. Mr. 
Eaton) preached. 

Monday, 23rd April, l84g. — We spent this day 
at Murf reesborough and I saw quite a number of old 
friends who called on me at Dr. Rucker's House. 
We took tea with Mrs. Polk['s] mother (Mrs Chil- 
dress) and afterwards returned to Dr. Rucker's 
House where I saw a number of friends who called. 
During my visit to Murfreesborough my health has 
not been good. I have not yet entirely recovered 
from my late illness, but have been able to see my 
friends & to take some exercise. 

Tuesday, 24th April, 184Q, — After breakfast 
this morning, having made our visit to Mrs. Polk's 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 425 

relations, we left Murfreesborough and returned to 
Nashville, where we arrived about 3 O'Clock. We 
stopped at our own house. The workmen had not 
finished it, but two or three rooms had been fitted up 
so that we could occupy them. Numerous boxes of 
furniture, books, groceries, and other articles, for- 
warded from New York, New Orleans, and Co- 
lumbia, Tenn., was piled up in the Halls and rooms, 
and the whole establishment, except two or three 
apartments, presented the appearance of great dis- 
order and confusion. Our faithful steward, Henry 
Bowm[an], had in our absence to Columbia & Mur- 
freesborough caused the carpets to be made and put 
down in some of the rooms and caused our furniture 
to be opened. Our servants had arrived from Co- 
lumbia and were comfortably settled in the servant's 
House. We thought it best to take possession of the 
house at once and superintend the arrangements nec- 
essary to put it in order. On this day therefore may 
be dated our first occupation of our new home in 
Nashville. 

Wednesday, 2Sth April, 184Q. — Mrs. Polk and 
myself with our servants were quite busy to-day in 
opening boxes and arranging our house. A number 
of mechanics and other persons were employed to 
do particular jobs connected with the establishment. 
A Gard[e]ner named Whaton [?] was employed 
with a number of men under him in clearing the 
rubbish from the yard and putting them [it] in or- 
der. He had been employed since we passed Nash- 



4^6 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 April 

ville on our way to Murf reesborough, but had done 
but little. A few citizens called to see us to-day. 

Thursday, 26th April, i84g, — We were occu- 
pied to-day as we were on yesterday. Mr. Hughes, 
the builder of my house, promises to complete the 
work soon. The whole establishment was by the 
contract to have been completed on the ist of January 
last, but it is yet unfinished, and we are subjected to 
great inconvenience in consequence of it. A num- 
ber of citizens called to-day. My health continues 
to improve & the exercise which I take in superin- 
tending the work about the house and grounds is 
favourable to me. 

Friday, 2yth April, 184Q, — Nothing of impor- 
tance occurred to-day. We were employed as we 
have been for the last two days. A number of per- 
sons called to-day. 

Saturday, 28th April, 184Q, — We continued to 
be employed in arranging our household to-day. 
Nothing worthy to be noted occurred. 

Sunday, 2gth April, i84g. — Mrs. Polk and my- 
self attended the Presbyterian church to-day of 
which the Rev. Dr. Edgar is pastor. The regular 
building in which his congregation had been in the 
habit of worshipping was destroyed by fire last year, 
and he now preaches in the Cumberland Presbyterian 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 427 

church. Dr. Edgar did not preach to-day. A ser- 
mon was delivered by an itinerant clergyman who is 
an agent of the Foreign Missionary Society con- 
nected with the Old Presbyterian church. 

Monday, 30th April, 184Q. — We were busily oc- 
cupied to-day as we were during the last week in ar- 
ranging our new house & preparing it for our 
permanent residence. We had a number of me- 
chanics and others doing various things necessary to 
be done to make it convenient & comfortable. A 
number of persons called, and among others some 
ladies. 

Tuesday, Ist May, 184Q. — We were occupied to- 
day as we were on yesterday. I wrote some letters & 
attended [to] some of my private business. Noth- 
ing of interest oc[c]urred. 

Wednesday, 2nd May, 184Q, — This morning my 
good and faithful steward, Henry Bowman, who had 
acted in that capacity for more than three years at 
Washington and who had accompanied me on my re- 
turn to Tennessee, left for Washington. I had no 
longer any employment for him. I made him a do- 
nation of an extra month's wages and of the addi- 
tional sum of $50. to bear his expenses back to Wash- 
ington. I gave a strong paper recommending him 
for his good character, honesty, and capacity; He is, 
I believe, the most faithful man I have ever known. 
We were occupied as usual to-day, and nothing of 



428 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [3 May 

special interest occurred. A number of ladies & 
gentlemen of the City called. 

Thursday, 3rd May, i84g.— Nothing worthy of 
notice occurred to-day. We were engaged as usual. 
A number of persons called. 

Friday, 4th May, 184Q, — We have made consid- 
erable progress in arranging our house and it is now 
in good condition below stairs. The workmen pro- 
ceed tardily in completing it, which is somewhat an- 
noyed [annoying]. A number of persons, ladies & 
gentlemen, called as usual. 

Saturday, 5/A May, 184Q, — We were occupied 
as usual to-day, nothing of special interest having oc- 
curred. 

Sunday, 6th May, 184Q. — Mrs. Polk and my- 
self attended divine service at the Cumberland Pres- 
byterian church to-day. We expected to hear the 
Rev. Dr. Edgar, but he did not preach. The ser- 
mon was delivered by a clergyman whose name I do 
not rem[em]ber. Mr. Daniel Graham & his wife 
came with us from church and took a family dinner 
with us. 

Monday, 7th May, l84g. — I was occupied in at- 
tending to private [business], and in arranging my 
papers and books to-day. In the afternoon Mr. V. K. 
Stevenson and myself rode 7 miles to the residence of 
Mr. Daniel Graham. My object was two-fold, to pay 



1849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 429 

a visit to Mr. Graham and to try a pair of carriage 
horses which I had a thought of purchased [pur- 
chasing], I need a pair of carriage horses, but was 
not pleased with this pair. Company called as 
usual to-day. 

Tuesday, 8th May, i84g. — Company called at 
different periods of the day. I was engaged for 
several hours in arranging my books and papers. 
This evening Mrs. Polk and myself attended the mar- 
riage of Mrs. Franklin, a wealthy widow of this City. 
She was married at her own house to Mr. Acklin of 
Huntsville, Alabama. The supper and whole enter- 
tainment was upon a magnificent scale. I met at the 
wedding many leading Whigs & democrats, and was 
courteously and kindly treated by all. 

Wednesday, gth May, i84g. — I attended to 
private business as usual to-day; was engaged in ar- 
ranging my books and papers, and in receiving the 
visits of several persons who called. 

Thursday, loth May, i84g,— Nothing of inter- 
est oc[c]urred to-day. A number of visitors, ladies 
and gentlemen, called as usual. 

Friday, nth May, i84g. — Much work has been 
done on our house and premises since we took posses- 
sion of it. Our furniture has been arranged, and the 
establishment is more convenient & comfortable than 
it was. I am daily engaged with my papers & books. 
The House is not yet quite completed by the work- 



430 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [12 May 

men. A number of persons, ladies & gentlemen, 
called to-day. In the afternoon Mrs. Polk's two 
nieces, the Misses Ruckers of Murfreesborough, ar- 
rived on a visit. They were the first of our relatives 
who visited us since we took possession of our new 
House. 

Saturday, 12th May, i84g. — I was occupied as 
usual to-day. In the afternoon in walking down into 
the town, as I frequently do, I called in at Macomb's 
cabinet shop to examine some furniture. His shop 
stands on the corner of Spring and Cherry Streets. 
As I stepped out of the Shop and turned down Cherry 
Street walking towards the Post Office a person on 
horseback turned the same corner going in the same 
direction. On casting my eye towards him from the 
pavement on which I was, I discovered it was Col. M. 
P. Gentry of the Ho. Repts. in Congress. He spoke 
to me & I returned the salutation. He turned his 
horse near the pavement & shook hands with me, and 
the usual interchange of civilities [took place]. He 
then remarked in substance & I think very nearly lit- 
erally as follows : *^ Now that you are a private citizen 
I will say what I have intended to say if a suitable op- 
portunity occu[rr]ed, that whatever I may have said 
of you, Sir, which might seem to be harsh was po- 
litical and not personal." To which I replied, it 
was, I suppose, professional, to which he responded, 
it was altogether so. He bid me good afternoon & 
rode on. Mr. Gentry made a bitter and abusing 
[abusive] party speech ^ in Congress a year or two 

^ December i6, 1846; Globe, 29 Cong. 2 Sess. App, 56-61. 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 431 

ago, in which I understand he had spoken very 
harshly of me as President. It was reported to me 
at the time by some who heard it that he was drunk 
when he delivered it. He never afterwards called 
at the President's House, as he had before done: but 
after the lapse of some weeks his wife did call. I 
suppose he is ashamed of his speech, and hence his 
remarks to me this evening. He is a very bitter & 
unscrupulous Whig in politics. 

Sunday, 13th May, 184Q.— Mrs, Polk was in- 
disposed to-day and did not attend church. Her 
niece, Miss Joanna Rucker, remained at home with 
her. Her niece. Miss Sarah Polk Rucker, and my- 
self attended Divine Service at the methodist Episco- 
pal church. After night my nephew, Samuel P. 
Caldwell of Memphis, called. He arrived from 
Memphis today. 

Monday, 14th May, 184Q. — Nothing worthy of 
notice occurred to-day. I was engaged as usual. A 
number of visitors called. 

Tuesday, /5/A May, 184Q, — Mrs. Polk's two 
nieces, the Miss Ruckers, who had paid us a short 
visit, returned to Murfreesborough today. A num- 
ber of visitors called as is usual. 

Wednesday, i6th May, 184Q. — I have nothing 
of interest to record to-day. 

Thursday^ 17th May, i84g. — My house is not 
yet quite completed. There is but little to do, but 



432 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [i8 May 

the workmen are very slow. I spent the day as is 
usual with me. After night my neighbour, John M. 
Bass, called, and I held a conversation with him 
about the suit now pending in the Supreme Court of 
this State between him and myself in relation to the 
title of an Avenue of 50 feet wide fronting my house, 
which I claim as a part of the property which I pur- 
chased from him as Executor of Felix Grundy dec'd, 
& which he controverts. We talked the matter over, 
& I think it probable we may agree upon a compro- 
mise and thus avoid a trial of the case. 

Friday, l8th May, l84g. — This day has passed 
without the occurrence of any incident worthy of 
notice. 

Saturday, igth May, 184Q, — I have nothing of 
interest to record to-day. 

Sunday, 20th May, i84g, — Mrs. Polk & myself 
attended the Presbyterian church to-day. The Rev. 
Dr. Edgar preached. Mr. Daniel Graham & his 
wife and also his brother, who resides near Mont- 
gomery, Alabama, and who is here on business, came 
home with us from church and took a family dinner 
with us. 

Monday, 2Isf May, 184Q, — Though the work on 
my house and grounds is not yet quite done, I made 
a settlement to-day with Mr. James M. Hughes, the 
contractor, and paid the full amount due him, ex- 
pressing in the receipt that he was to complete the 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY . 433 

work according to his contract. Mr. V. K. Steven- 
son, who acted as my agent in making the contract 
with Mr. Hughes, was present and assisted in making 
the settlement. The settlement made was satisfac- 
tory to Mr. Hughes, as he expressed himself: and 
though I might have insisted on more than I did, I 
agreed to the settlement and told him I also was sat- 
isfied. 

Mr. John M. Bass called after night and had a 
further conversation with me in relation to the title 
to the avenue fronting my House, and the right of 
way through the same. We agreed upon the terms 
of a compromise, which was to be reduced to form & 
recorded in the Supreme Court where the case is 
now pending. 

Tuesday, 22nd May, i84g, — Nothing out of 
the usual course of things transpired to-day. I at- 
tended to some private business & saw company as 
usual. 

Wednesday, 23rd May, i84g, — I rode out with 
Judge Catron in my Carriage to-day and paid a visit 
to George W. Martin and Mr. Putman who reside 
two or three miles in the country. Several deaths 
from cholera are reported to have occurred in the 
City last night, and some alarm on the subject pre- 
vails among the citizens to-day. My nephew, Sam- 
uel P. Caldwell, who has been at my house for a few 
[days] left to-night & went to a hotel, intending to 
set [out] in the stage of tomorrow morning for Louis- 
ville, Ky. He proposes to make a visit to the Eastern 



434 • JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [24 May 

Cities with a view to secure collecting business at 
Memphis, and thus to promote his professional pros- 
pects. I furnished him with several letters of intro- 
duction to my friends in Boston, Albany, New York, 
Philadelphia, & Baltimore. 

Thursday, 24th May, i84g.— ^2.% at home as 
usual to-day. Nothing of interest occurred. I hear 
this afternoon that my nephew, Samuel P. Caldwell, 
was taken with a chill after he left my house last 
night, & did not proceed in the stage to Louisville, 
Ky. this morning as he had intended to do. I sent a 
servant to the Sewannee Hotel, where he is, to see 
how he was, and to tell him he must return to my 
house. The servant reported that he was in bed & 
had a physician with him, but that he was not seri- 
ously ill. He thought [it] most prudent not to 
change his lodgings by coming to my house this 
evening. 

Friday, 2Sth May, i84g. — I called to see my 
nephew, Samuel P. Caldwell, at the Sewannee Hotel 
this morning. I found him in bed, and though not 
very ill I insisted on him to return to my house and 
remain there until he was entirely well. In the 
afternoon I sent a servant with a carriage & brought 
him to my house. I met Edwin Ewing, Es'qr., on 
the street this morning. He is one of the attos. of 
John M. Bass in my suit with him pending in Su- 
preme Court, now in Session, relative to the title to 
the 50 feet avenue in front of my house. Mr. Ewing 
introduced the subject by inquiring if Mr. Bass & 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 435 

myself could not settle the matter by a compromise. 
I told him I was entirely willing to do so, and with 
that view had held several conferences with Mr. Bass. 
Mr. Ewing expressed the opinion that we could set- 
tle the dispute, and at his suggestion I agreed to meet 
Mr. Bass & himself at the law office of Mess[rs]. 
Nicholson & Houston at 3 O'Clock P. M. to-day. I 
attended accordingly & found Mr. Bass there. 
Neither Mr. Ewing nor either of my attorneys were 
present. Mr. Bass & myself after a long conference 
agreed upon the terms of a compromise as contained 
in a paper drawn up by Mr. Nicholson, with certain 
modifications in its phraseology & terms, upon which 
we agreed: with the exception of a paragraph which 
Mr. Bass wished inserted, the object of which was 
to save his personal honor against the imputation of 
fraud or unfairness on his part, in the representa- 
tions at the time of the sale of the Grundy property 
to my agent. Gov. A. V. Brown. Gov. Brown & 
Judge Catron, whose testimony had been taken in 
the case, differed from Mr. Bass in their understand- 
ing of the property sold. They both understood that 
the avenue of 50 feet was purchased, as much as the 
House and other grounds. Mr. Bass insisted that he 
intended to sell the right of way only in the Avenue, 
and not the fee simple title, & this was the point of 
difference. I understood that I was buying the 
avenue as a part of the property: otherwise I would 
not have authorized Gov. Brown to make the pur- 
chase for me. The terms of compromise agreed 
upon were, in substance, that the fee-simple title 
should be conveyed to me, and that Mr. Bass & other 



436 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY [26 May 

adjoining property holders should enjoy the right of 
passage or of way through the same. The only point 
still open was the personal paragraph which Mr. 
Bass wished inserted. I objected to it in the form 
in which he had drawn it, because it left an implied 
imputation injurious to Gov. Brown & Judge 
Catron. I told him that the personal honour of 
these gentlemen as his own must be guarded & pro- 
tected in any paragraph of the sort which was in- 
serted: & with this view I proposed that his attos. & 
mine should draw such a paragraph. Towards the 
close of the interview Mr. West H. Humphreys, one 
of my attos., came in. Mr. Bass agreed to this sug- 
gestion & the paper was handed to Mr. Humphreys, 
and we agreed to meet again at 8 O'Clock to-morrow 
morning. A few more cases of cholera occur[re]d 
today. 

Saturday, 26th May, 184Q. — I met Mr. Bass at 
the law office of Messrs. Nicholson & Houston at 8 
O'clock this morning according to appointment (see 
this Diary of yesterday). The paragraph deferred 
on yesterday had not been drawn up. Mr. Bass pro- 
posed other modifications of the paper containing 
the terms of compromise upon which we had agreed 
on yesterday. I became impatient, and remarked 
that we had agreed upon the terms on yesterday, that 
I was ready on my part to abide by them : that if Mr. 
Bass was the matter would be settled, but if he was 
not the case must be decided by the Court. The law- 
yers on both sides proposed that we should meet 
again at 12 O'Clock. We did so, and the lawyers 



i849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 437 

having agreed upon the personal paragraph desired, 
saving alike the personal honour of all concerned, 
the compromise was signed by Mr. Bass & Mr. Jacob 
McGavock as executors of Felix Grundy & by my- 
self, and so the matter vv^as settled. The Supreme 
Court entered a decree in the afternoon conformably 
to the compromise, and a Deed was Executed to me 
by the Clerk & Master. When the compromise was 
signed all present were in a pleasant humour. I 
was so because I had obtained substantially all I had 
ever claimed, which was the legal title. When it 
was all settled by the signing of the paper, Mr. Ed- 
win Ewing in a humurous vein remarked that this 
case reminded him of one which had occurred in the 
Court here many years ago. In that case, he said, 
one of the parties had gone to his lawyer & gave him 
a numerous list of witnesses which he wished to have 
summoned. Among them were the names of Col. 
Weakley, Col. Ward, Jessee Wharton, Robt. C. Fos- 
ter, Gen'l Coffee, & Gen'l Jackson. The lawyer in 
some surprise asked his client what he expected to 
prove by this array of distinguished witnesses. The 
client replied that he did not expect to prove any- 
thing by them, but he wished to give dignity to the 
case. In the present case, Mr. Ewing said, there 
had certainly been dignity enough. The President 
of a Bank (Mr. Bass) and the Executors of a very 
distinguished Senator in Congress (Mr. Grundy) 
dec'd, were the parties on one side, and an Ex Presi- 
dent of the U. S. was the party on the other side; & 
that the only witnesses in the case were an Ex Gov- 
ernor of Tennessee (A. V. Brown) and a Justice of 



438 . JAMES K. POLK'S DJARY [27 May 

the Supreme Court of the U. S. (Judge Catron) : 
and he might have added that one of the lawyers on 
our side (Mr. Ewing himself) was late a Repre- 
sentative in Congress : and one of the lawyers on the 
other side (Mr. Nicholson) was late a Senator in 
Congress. All present were amused at the story and 
dispersed in good humour. I never entertained a 
doubt of what the decision of the Supreme [Court] 
would be, but in consequence of my long & intimate 
friendship for Mr. Grundy in his life time (having 
been his law-student in 18 19) and for his family 
after his death, and the fact that Mr. Bass had mar- 
ried his daughter & was my near neighbour, I pre- 
ferred to settle it by a compromise rather than have 
a public discussion of the legal points involved in 
Court. A few more cases of cholera occurred to-' 
day, and the excitement in the City in consequence 
of it continues. My nephew, Samuel P. Caldwell, 
is confined to his room at my house, but is better. 
He is attended by Dr. Buchanan. 

Sunday, 2yth May, l84g. — Mrs. Polk and my- 
self attended the Presbyterian church to-day. The 
Rev. Dr. Edgar preached a good sermon. 

Monday, 28th May, l84g, — There are still some 
cases of cholera & a few deaths occurring in the City. 
I was somewhat indisposed from the effects of cold 
& did not go down into the City. 

Tuesday, 2Qth May, 184Q,— I remained at home 
to-day. Nothing of interest occurred. 



1849] JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 439 

Wednesday, 30th May, i84g, — I remained at 
home until late in the afternoon to-day, when Mrs. 
Polk and myself took a walk and paid a visit to a few 
of our neighbours. Nothing of special interest oc- 
curred to-day. 

Thursday, 31st May, 184Q,— I bought a pair of 
bay carriage horses to-day from Capt. Thomas A. 
Leftwich of Maury County. I paid him $400. for 
them. In the afternoon Mrs. Polk and myself drove 
them out to Gov. A. V. Brown's three miles in the 
country. The Governor and his wife were absent 
from home. I heard at noon today that Mr. V. K. 
Stevenson had been taken ill suddenly and the symp- 
toms were those of cholera. On returning from 
Gov. Brown's in the evening we learned .that Gen'l 
Harding, who resides a few miles in the country, 
had been suddenly seized with cholera, and that he 
was lying at his father's house on the opposite side 
of the street from our house. My nephew, Samuel 
P. Caldwell, who had been several days ill at 
my house, left tonight, and will take the stage for 
Louisville & the Eastern Cities on to-morrow 
morning. 

Friday, Ist June, l84g, — Mr. V. K. Stevenson 
& Gen'l Harding, who were taken ill of cholera on 
yesterday, are both better this morning. I was occu- 
pied during most of the day among my papers & 
books at my own house. During the prevalence of 
cholera I deem it prudent to remain as much as pos- 
sible at my own house. 



440 JAMES K. POLK'S DIARY 

Saturday, 2nd June, l84g, — Immediately after 
breakfast this morning Mrs. Polk & myself took a 
ride in our carriage, and paid a visit to Mr. Daniel 
Graham & his family residing eight miles in the 
country. After our return I remained the balance 
of the day at my house and was engaged in private 
business, devoting a part of my time to arranging my 
library of books in presses which I had caused to be 
made to hold them. 



INDEX 



INDEX 



Aberdeen, Lord, I, 62. 

Abernathy, George, Governor of Ore- 
gon, IV, 80. 

Adams, Charles Francis, IV, 67. 

Adams, John Quincy, I, 128, 130, 215; 
II, 493; illness of, III, 350, 351; 
death, 356; funeral, 362, 363. 

Address, of Calhoun to Southern 
people, IV, 280, 283, 285, 306. 

Alien, William, Senator, I, 96, 108, 
139, 246, 2 9, 262; III, 324; IV, 
262, 336; Presidential aspirations 
of, I, 265, 280; favors 54° 40' 
proposition on Oregon, I, 248; 
anger over Haywood's speech on 
Oregon, I, 274-278; proposes to 
refute it, I, 279; approves appro- 
priation for adjusting Mexican 
boundary, I, 309, 310; dissatisfied 
with Washington Union, I, 356; 



Appleton, John, clerk in Navy Depart- 
ment, II, 122; III, 158, 206, 412, 

423. 

Appropriation, for French Spoliations 
Bill, II, 67-69; for adjustment of 
boundary with Mexico, II, 50, 56, 
57, 60, 70-73, 75-78, 276, 281, 283, 
287, 291, 292. 

Arbitration, of Oregon question, I, 
149, 208-210. 

Archer, William S., Senator, 1, 115,116, 
258, 416, 417; II, 57, 288; approves 
military preparations against Mex- 
ico, I, 13; urges peaceable settle- 
ment of Oregon' question, I, 255, 
256. 

Arista, Mariano, I, 229, 230. 

Armistice, agreed upon by Scott with 
Mexicans, III, 171, 172. 

Armstrong, Robert, III, 28. 



plans to start new Democratic paper. Army, contest over lineal and brevet 



I> 361, 377; views on asking advice 
of Senate on Oregon, I, 300, 462; 
resigns as chairman of Senate Com- 
mittee on Foreign Affairs, I, 471; 
election of successor, I, 474, 481; 
death of wife, II, 422, 423. 

Almonte, I, 229. 

American Colonization Society, III, 
305, 306. 

"American System," IV, 167, 182. 

Anderson, Hugh J,, Governor of 
Maine, I, 266; IV, 338. 

Anderson, John, Representative, III, 

431. 
Andrews, Timothy Patrick, Colonel 
of Voltigeurs, II, 429; III, 251. 



rank in, I, 284, 285; opposition of 
officers of, to the administration, I, 
4i8;inefficiencyof officers of, II, 117, 
150; rifle regiment for Oregon ser- 
vice authorized, I, 404; appoint- 
ments in, I, 405, 407, 410, 412, 413; 
bill authorizing additional Major 
Generals, I, 415, 418; increase of 
army and navy considered, I, 295; 
estimates of forces required for war, 
II, 220, 221; proposed increase of 
regular army, II, 294, 295, 297, 304, 
318; Hamlin speaks against bill for, 
II, 304, 305; fate of bill doubtful, 
II, 308; plan to create a Lieutenant 
General, II, 227, 231, 273, 275-277, 



443 



444 



INDEX 



Army (Continued) 

281-283, 286, 293-295, 297, 304, 310; 
mismanagement of quartermaster's 
department, II, 429-431; organ- 
ization of forces called into service, 

11, 491; nomination of officers, I, 
492, 493; III, 30-33; IV, 5, 6, 8, 9; 
promotions of, for gallant conduct, 
III, 424; quarrels between officers 
of Scott's, III, 266, 267; trial of, 
III, 272, 274, 27s, 279-281, 28s, 
286, 288, 292-296, 388, 427; peace 
establishment of, III, 495-497; IV, 
48. 

Arthur, Timothy Shay, Editor, III, 

203. 
Ashley, Chester, Senator, I, 184; 

death of. III, 438, 439; funeral of, 

III, 441. 
Aspinwall, William H., IV, 236. 
Atchison, David R., Senator, I, 154, 

271, 434; n, 78, 315; IV, 239. 
Atocha, Alexander, agent of Santa 

Anna, interview of, with President 

Polk, I, 223-225, 227-230, 233; 

peace negotiations with, II, 323, 

325-327, 331-333, 336-339; pro- 
poses to bribe Mexican Congress, 
III, 329. 

Badger, George Edmond, Senator, 

ni, 43, SO, 51- 
Bagby, Arthur Pendleton, Senator, I, 

12, 13; III, 456, 473, 478. 
Baker, Edward Dickinson, Represen- 
tative, I, 388, 389. 

Baldwin, Henry, Judge, I, 45. 

Ball, Eighth of January, I, 157; 
II, 316, 317. 

Bancroft, George, I, 8, 47; IV, 252, 
271; retires from Navy Depart- 
ment, II, 60, 65, 66; appointed 
minister to England, II, 61, 62, 
65, 125; cabinet services of, com- 
mended, II, 121, 122. 



Bankhead, James, III, 27. 
Baptists, "Old Side," III, 25, 27, 28. 
Baring Bros, and Co., I, 73-75. 
Barnburner, paper, selection of, to 

print laws, IV, 228, 234-238, 241- 

243. 
Barnburners, course of, in Presidential 

election. III, 480, 481; convention 

of, at Utica, III, 502; removal of, 

from office, IV, 9-1 1, 36, 37, 57, 58. 
Barrow, Alexander, Senator, II, 74, 

296, 299. 
Bartley, Mordecai, Governor, III, 312. 
Bass, John M., Ill, 233, 235, 240; 

IV, 432, 434-437- 
Bates, James, I, 394. 
Beach, Moses Y., Editor, II, 341, 476, 

477; III, 22. 
Bedford Springs, visit of Polk to, IV, 

79, 85-97. 
Beggars, II, 28, 129, 153; IV, 294, 

295- 

Bell, John, reconciliation of, with 
Polk, III, 258-260, 264, 265, 284, 
285. 

Benjamin, Judah Philip, Senator, IV, 
358. 

Benton, Eliza, marriage of, II, 427, 
428. 

Benton, John Randolph, III, 201-203. 

Benton, Thomas Hart, Senator, I, 116, 
141, 188, 246, 254, 265; II, 32, 102, 
219, 258, 259, 418; III, 121-123, 129, 
197, 198, 228, 367, 442; arrogance 
of. III, 203, 204; advice of, on cam- 
paign against California, I, 438-440; 
letter of, to people of California, IV, 
136,137; hostility of, to Polk ad- 
ministration, I, 140-142; IV, 227, 
329, 330; opposition of, to promo- 
tion of Kearny, IV, 59, 60; appoint- 
ment of, as Lieutenant General, II, 
227, 261, 262, 268, 270, 277, 286, 
410, 413, 419; appointment of, as 
Major General, II, 352, 406, 407, 



INDEX 



445 



Benton, Thomas Hart {Continued) 
409, 412, 414-416, 424; aversion of, 
to war with Mexico, I, 375; views of, 
on war message, I, 390; opposition 
of, to War Bill, I, 391, 392; favors 
appropriation to adjust boundary 
with Mexico, I, 308; views of, on 
conduct of the war, II, 5, 222, 223, 
239; approves peace negotiations, 

II, 333 » 334; views of, on Oregon 
question, I, 287, 324, 325, 376; con- 
sulted by Buchanan on Oregon, I, 55; 
interview of, with Polk on Oregon, 
I, 68-72; approves Polk's course on 
Oregon, I, 339; letter of, to people 
of Oregon, II, 444, 445, 447-449- 

Berkeley Springs, visit of Polk to, IV, 

98-102. 
Bernard, Simon, French engineer, IV, 

54; 

Berrien, James Macpherson, Senator, 

III, 341. 

Bidlack, Benjamin A., I, 220; II, 373. 

Bingham, Kingsley S., Representa- 
tive, IV, 28. 

Black, James A., Representative, I, 
III, 342; views of, on Oregon ques- 
tion, I, 154-156; death and funeral 
of. III, 417, 418. 

Black, Jeremiah Sullivan, IV, 93. 

Black, John, I, 33, 34, 36. 

Blair, Francis P., I, 47, 87, 88, 351, 
357; II, 84; hostility of, toward 
Polk, I, 87, 357, 358; letter of, on 
annexation of Texas, IV, 38-47, 

SI, 52. 

Blair, Montgomery, I, 347. 

Blind children, visit of, I, 366, 367. 

Bliss, William Wallace Smith, II, 236; 

IV, 331. 

Borland, Solon, Senator, III, 35; IV, 

230. 
Bradbury, James Ware, Senator, III, 

244, 501-503. 
Branch, John, I, 65, 431. 



Brazil, negotiations with, over Rio 
Janeiro riot, II, 351; III, 53, 66, 
124, 151. 

Breese, Sidney, Senator, I, 206, 475; 
11,310-313,426; III, 501-503; IV, 
229. 

Bridgeman, Laura Dewey, I, 367. 

Bright, Jesse D., Senator, I, 163; II, 
339; III, 504, 505. 

Brinkerhoff, Jacob, requests office in 
army, I, 466; attacks Polk, I, 497. 

Brockenbrough, William H., Repre- 
sentative, I, 371. 

Brown, Aaron Venable, defeat of, in 
Tennessee election. III, 119, 120. 

Brown, Jacob, II, 343. 

Brownlow, William G. ("Parson"), 
II, 40. 

Buchanan, James, I, 65, 121, 189; IV, 
185-187, 350, 354, 355; dissatis- 
faction of, with Polk, I, 136, 143- 
146, 190, 234, 235; discord between, 
and W. L. Marcy, II, 177; favors 
extension of Missouri Compromise 
line, II, 309; favors ratification of 
treaty with Prussia, IV, 18, 19; 
relations of, with Nugent, III, 353- 
355, 400-402, 405-410; views of, on 
terms of peace with Mexico, III, 
276,277,348-350; favors holding of 
California and New Mexico as 
indemnity, II, 308; wishes to go to 
Mexico as peace commissioner, II, 
338; views of, on Oregon question, 
I, 2-6, 64, 81, 99; fears war with 
Great Britain over Oregon, I, 102; 
favors preparation for war with 
Great Britain, I, 133, 258; favors 
settlement of Oregon question at 
49°, I, y6, 107, 119; favors conces- 
sions over Oregon question, I, 244; 
change of attitude of, on Oregon 
question, I, 297, 299, 453-45^; 
articles of, in Pennsylvanian, on 
Oregon, II, 170, 178; Presidential 



446 



INDEX 



Buchanan, James (Continued) 

aspirations of, I, 98, 104, 201, 297, 
299; III, 209, 256, 257, 350, 355, 
359, 362, 402-404; responsibility of, 
for Slidell's appointment to Mexi- 
can mission, I, 231-233; responsi- 
bility of, for Judge Woodward's 
rejection, I, 153, 185, 194-196, 200, 
262; selects Barnburner news- 
paper to publish laws, IV, 234-238, 
241-243; selfishness of. III, 403; 
appointment of, to Supreme Court, 

I, 39, 45-47, 97, 183, 194, 464, 492; 

II, I, 2, 4-7, 21-24; decides to 
remain in cabinet, II, 60, 61; views 
of, on acquisition of territory from 
Mexico, I, 495-497; H, 15, 16, 255, 
256; views of, on Internal Improve- 
ment question, III, 247, 248; views 
of, on purchase of Cuba, III, 477- 
479, 482, 483; views of, on tariff 
question, II, 106, 107, 182, 183; 
views of, on conduct of the war, I, 
396-399; 11, 229, 234, 240, 300, 
301, 432. 

Buena Vista, battle of, II, 433, 451; 

in, 34- 

Buffalo, appointment of deputy post- 
master at, II, 79. 

Buffalo Convention, IV, 65, 6y. 

"Buffalo hunters," proposed expedi- 
tion of, IV, 103-105, 109. 

Butler, Andrew Pickens, Senator, II, 
372; IV, 253-255. 

Butler, Anthony, III, 87, 88. 

Butler, Benjamin Franklin, III, 71; 
removal of, from office, IV, 57, 58, 
83, 106, 114, 115. 

Butler, Edward G. W., Ill, 296, 297, 
301. 

Butler, Pierce M., I, 16, 26. 

Butler, William Orlando, II, 245, 441, 
453, 455; III, 112, 426, 427; ap- 
pointment of, to command Scott's 
army, III, 270-272, 274-276, 278, 



293, 294, 296; nomination of, to 
Vice-Presidency, III, 463; presen- 
tation of sword to, IV, 361. 

Cabinet, resignation of members of, 
IV, 277, 278, 349, 354, 362. 

Caldwell, George A., IV, 58. 

Calhoun, John C, I, 381, 436, 443; 
appointment of, to English mission 
urged, II, 6-10; lack of political 
principle of, II, 470, 471; opposition 
of, to Polk's administration, I, 140, 
344, 378, 441, 442; opposition of, 
to War Bill, I, 392, 393; opposition 
of, to plan to appoint Lieutenant 
General, II, 282, 283; views of, on 
Oregon question, I, 131, 154, 156, 
159-162, 246, 248, 250-253, 313, 
337, 338; opposes Oregon Terri- 
torial Bill, IV, 72, 73; Presidential 
aspirations of, I, 265, 280, 344, 371; 
II, 458, 459; address of, on slavery, 
II, 457-459; IV, 280, 283, 306; 
views of, on adjustment of bound- 
ary with Mexico, I, 312, 313; II, 
283 ; views of, on slavery, IV, 20, 21, 
285-288. 

California, acquisition of, 1, 34, 35, 307, 
397,438; 11,15,16,56,76,115; III, 
194; bill for admission of, IV, 228, 
232, 233, 236, 237, 254, 255, 257, 
302, 303, 307, 312, 316; danger of 
loss of, IV, 231-233, 293, 294, 375, 
376; extension of revenue laws over, 
IV, 146, 148, 369; establishment of 
government over, II, 322; IV, 140- 
143, 238, 239, 297-301; letter of 
Benton to people of, IV, 136, 137; 
military department of, united to 
Oregon, IV, 149; military expedi- 
tion against, 1, 16, 427, 429, 436-440, 
443, 473; II, 84, 104, 117, 147; 
expedition of Fremont to, II, 219; 
views of seizure of, by Americans, 
II, 108; permanent retention of, 



INDEX 



447 



California {Continued) 
favored by cabinet, III, 190; slav- 
ery in, II, 308, 309. 

Cameron, Simon, Senator, I, no; 
opposition of, to Polk's measures, 
I, ISI-I53> 202, 203, 216-218, 426, 

435. 

Carr, Dabney, I, 90, 91, 282. 

Carson, Christopher ("Kit"), III, 52, 
54, 61. 

Cass, Lewis, I, 109, no, 211, 267, 268, 
310, 390; II, 56, 271, 321; III, 309, 
310, 334, 335; favors purchase of 
Cuba, III, 477, 479; opposes Lieu- 
tenant Generalship project, II, 273, 
276; Presidential aspirations of, I, 
265, 280; nomination of, for Presi- 
dency, III, 254, 255, 462; letter of, 
accepting Presidential nomination, 
III, 466, 47«>-474- 

Cass, Mrs. Lewis, asks for office for 
son, I, 372. 

Cass, Lewis, Jr., IV, 134, 188, 238, 

239, 333- 
Catholic priests, employment of, in 

army, I, 408-410; II, 188, 189; 

III, 103-105. 
Catron, John, Judge, I, 153. 
Cerro Gordo, news of battle of, III, 

17, 29; illumination in honor of 

victory of, III, 18, 19. 
Chalmers, Joseph W., Senator, course 

of, on nomination of James H. Tate, 

I, 132, 175, 180. 
Chapman, John Gadsby, artist, I, 222. 
Charleston, visit of Polk to, IV, 382- 

385- 
Cherubusco, news of battle of, III, 

171. 
Chihuahua, expedition against, II, 
199, 200; capture of, II, 482; III, 

450- 
Choate, Rufus, II, 124. 
Cholera, IV, 400, 407, 411-413, 433» 

438, 439. 



Clay, Henry, III, 305; IV, 409; 

visits Polk, III, 325, 326; dinner in 

honor of, III, 341, 342. 
Clay, John Randolph, I, 39, 43. 
Clayton, John M., Senator, I, 204; 

IV, 309, 311, 313, 329, 330, 352. 
Clayton Compromise Committee, IV, 

15, 17, 20-23. 
Clifford, Nathan, Attorney General, 

II, 159, 160, 167, 191, 193, 274, 275; 

III, 135, 165, 358, 359, 389-391; 

IV, 27, 208, 246, 247. 
Clingman, Thomas Lanier, Represen- 
tative, III, 212, 394. 

Cobb, Howell, Representative, II, 

275- 
Coffee and tea, war tax on, II, 307, 

308. 
Colquitt, Walter T., Senator, I, 249, 

252, 253, 260, 434; IV, 393. 
Columbia College, commencement of, 

II, 176, 177. 

Columbia River, the, free navigation 
of, I, II, 117, 118, 162, 252, 254, 
256, 287, 447, 448. 

Columbus, Ga., visit of Polk to, IV, 

392, 394- 
Congress, appointment of members 
to office, I, 483, 486, 491; II, 329; 

III, 330, 331, 333; discord in, over 
slavery question, II, 308; failure of, 
to support the administration, II, 

328, 334, 339-341, 347, 348, 366, 
371, 372, 380, 381; selfishness of 
members of, I, 497, 498; II, 20, 
278, 279, 296, 314, 315, 318-320, 

329, 330- 

Conner, David, Commodore, instruc- 
tions to, in anticipation of hostili- 
ties, I, 9, 10, 12. 

Contreras, news of battle of. III, 
171. 

Contributions, military, levied in 
Mexico, III, 156, 157; IV, 246, 247, 
312, 



448 



INDEX 



Convention, Democratic National, 

III, 446, 449, 457-464; Whig Nat- 
ional, III, 488. 

Corcoran, William Wilson, banker, I, 

153; III, IS, 16; IV, 353. 
Coxe, Richard S., lawyer. III, 432. 
Crane, Commodore, suicide of, I, 292. 
Crane, Ichabod B., Colonel, III, 296, 

297. 
Crawford, William H., II, 342. 
Crittenden, John J., Senator, I, 286, 

288; II, 270, 349, 350; III, 489; 

court martial of son of, IV, 268, 269. 
Cross, Colonel, funeral of, II, 223, 224. 
Croswell, Edwin, Editor, III, 440. 
Cuba, purchase of, III, 446, 469, 475- 

479, 482, 483, 486-488, 493; IV, 4, 

5; revolution in. III, 476, 485, 486, 

499, 500. 
Cullom, Alvan, Representative, I, 248, 

340, 341- 
Cushing, Caleb, III, 296, 297, 460; 

IV, 9. 

Cutts, Madison, II, 126, 127. 

Dallas, George Mifflin, I, 106, 264, 
456, 457; attitude of, on tariif 
question, II, 47; favors purchase of 
Cuba, IV, 5; Presidential ambition 
of. III, 209. 

Daniel, Peter Vivian, Judge, IV, 98. 

Davis, Jefferson, III, 29, 269, 270, 499; 
IV, 351. 

Davis, John W., Representative, I, 
108,109,373; 11,233,234; 111,212. 

Davis, John, Senator, defeats Two 
Million Bill, II, 75, 77. 

Debt, public, payment of, IV, 162, 
163, 165, 175, 176, 195, 196. 

De La Rosa, Mexican minister to 
U. S., IV, 208, 219. 

Democratic party, divisions in, I, 154, 
246, 248, 263, 265, 266, 280, 345, 
361, 436; II, 305-307, 318, 319, 
329, 330, 334, 335, 340, 341, 346- 



348, 368; caucus to restore har- 
mony in, II, 391; division of, in 
New York, II, 144, 399-405; III, 
440, 441; defeat of, in New York, 
II, 217, 218; III, 214, 215; defeat 
of, in Pennsylvania, III, 214, 215; 
defeat of, in Tennessee, III, 119, 
120; attitude of members of, on 
Oregon question, I, 160. 

Dempster, William Richardson, musi- 
cian, I, 277. 

Denmark, collection of Sound duties 
by, IV, 152-154- 

Derrick, William S., clerk, II, 468, 
484, 486, 487. 

De Russy, Rene Edward, Colonel, II, 
88, 89. 

Diary, origin of President's, II, loi. 

Dickins, Ashbury, clerk of Senate, I, 

173, 174. 
Dickinson, Daniel S., Senator, I, 184; 

II, 10, 20; IV, 237. 
Dimond, F. M., I, 34; II, 180, 195. 
Diving bell, experiment with, I, 126. 
Dix, John A., Senator, I, 260; II, 

68, 69, 261, 262, 320; III, 214, 215; 

IV, 212; offered mission to England, 

II, 19; opposes Polk's nomination, 

II, 279. 
Dodge, Augustus Caesar, Senator, IV, 

259. 

Dodge, Henry, I, 25, 58; III, 498, 502. 

Donelson, Andrew Jackson, I, 37, 40, 
44, 340; appointed minister to Ger- 
man Confederation, IV, 56. 

Douglas, Stephen A., I, 294, 478; II, 

284; III, 211; IV, 81-83, 192, 193; 

bill of, to admit California and New 
Mexico, IV, 228, 232, 233, 236, 237, 
254, 255, 257, 302, 303; applies for 
office in army, I, 482; withdraws 
application, I, 484; misconduct of, 
11,310-313. 
Duelling, Polk condemns practice of, 
II, 297. 



INDEX 



449 



Duties, levied in ports of Mexico, III, 

213, 324, 331- 
Duty, export, on specie in Mexican 
ports, III, 159, 163: 

Eastman, E. G., Ill, 451. 

Eaton, John H., IV, 199. 

Elliott, Stephen, Bishop, III, 182. 

Ellis, Powhatan, II, 345. 

Ellis, Vespasian, interview of, with 

Polk, I, 59, 60. 
Elmore, Franklin Harper, I, 434, 440- 

442; IV, 17, 18. 
Emory, William Helmsley, II, 493; 

III, 153, 198. 
Evans, George, Senator, II, 124. 

Fairfield, John, Senator, I, 133; III, 
244; death of, III, 257, 258. 

Ficklin, Orlando B., Representative, 
11,27,312,313,319. 

Fillmore, Millard, nomination of, for 
Vice-President, III, 488. 

Fisher, Emanuel, office seeker, I, 15, 
16, 84. 

Foote, Henry Stuart, Senator, III, 
232, 504; IV, 249, 252. 

Force, Peter, III, 323. 

Fortress Monroe, visit of Polk to, II, 
88, 89; description of, II, 89, 90. 

Fox, Henry Stephen, death of, II, 
192. 

France, revolution in. III, 413-415; 
celebration over. III, 425, 433; 
joint resolution of Congress on, III, 
426. 

Eraser's River, the, title to, I, 71, 117, 
161. 

Fremont, John C, court martial of, 
III, 121-123, 176, 177, 181, 197, 
198, 204-206, 324, 327, 328, 335- 
338, 340; collision of, with Kearny, 
III, II, 52-54; collision of, with 
French consul. III, 91; skirmish of, 
with Castro, II, 108; false state- 



ments of Castro about, II, 219; 

promotion of, I, 412. 
Fremont, Mrs. Jessie Benton, III, 52, 

61. 
French, B. B., clerk of House, III, 2, 

242. 
French Spoliations Bill, II, 67-69; 

IV, 63. 
Friends, members of society of, visit 

Polk, I, 302. 

Gaines, Edmund Pendleton, General, 
calls out militia forces I, 450; Sen- 
ate calls for correspondence of, I, 
451; court of inquiry on, I, 480; 

II, 82, 83, 97, 98. 

Gales, Joseph, Editor, III, 368. 

Galviensis, New York Herald cor- 
respondent. See Nugent. 

Gentry, Meredith, P., Representative, 
IV, 430, 431. 

German Confederayon, appointment 
of minister to, IV, 47, 56; loan of 
naval officers to, IV, 169-171; com- 
mercial treaty with, IV, 178, 179. 

Gerolt, Baron, Prussian minister, in- 
fluence of, IV, 19; recall of, IV, 
179, 180. 

Gibson, George, General, I, 100, 484; 

III, 80, 81. 

Gillet, Ransom H., II, 324. 

Goff, Marvin H., Lieutenant, IV, 202. 

Gold, discovery of, in California, IV, 
296. 

Governments, temporary, over con- 
quered territory, II, 281, 282, 286- 
288, 322. 

Graham, William Alexander, Gover- 
nor, III, 42, 43. 

Graham, William M., funeral of, III, 

309- 

Gray, Cyril V., I, 43, 44- 

Great Britain, danger of war with, I, 
3-S» 397, 398; preparations of, for 
war, I, 213, 242, 243; preparations 



450 



IN.DEX 



Great Britain (Continued) 

of U. S. for war with, I, i8o, i8l, 
257, 258; attitude of, toward Mexi- 
can War, I, 337; proffers media- 
tion in Mexican War, 129, 130; 
rejection of proffered mediation by 
U. S., II, 131-133; proposition of, 
for settlement of Oregon question, I, 

451, 452. 
Green, William Mercer, Professor, 

III, 41. 

Greene, Charles Gordon, Editor, II, 

391- 
Greenhow, Washington, I, 254, 281, 

282, 290, 330. 
Grier, Robert Cooper, Judge, I, 138; 

11,61,63. 
Grundy, Felix, election of, to Senate, I, 

320. 
Gun cotton, II, 225, 226, 230. 

Hallet, Benjamin F., Ill, 480. 
Hamer, Thomas L., General, II, 245; 

IV, 361. 

Hamilton, Mrs. Alexander, I, 226. 

Hamilton, James, Governor, II, 160, 
161. 

Hamlin, Hannibal, II, 304-306. 

Hannegan, Edward A., Senator, I, 38, 
262, 268, 271, 474; II, 348; III, 
300, 301, 407, 408; defeat of, for 
reelection, IV, 240; nomination of, 
as minister to Prussia, IV, 369, 370. 

Hanover, treaty with, I, 205, 304. 

Haralson, Hugh A., Representative, 
I, 143, 388, 389, 491, 493. 

Harbor and River Bill, veto message 
on, II, 54, 56, 58, 62, 63, 171; III, 
116, 166, 169, 179, 244, 247-249; 
IV, 52, 53, 60, 61, 64, 65, 128; 
attempt to pass over President's 
veto, II, 65, 66. Sef Internal 
Improvements, and Message. 

Harney, William Selby, II, 384-386; 
III, 260. 



Harris, Jeremiah George, I, 362, 364, 

365. 

Hawkins, John D., Ill, 39, 93. 

Haywood, William Henry, Senator, I, 
152, 168-170, 177-179, 377, 378, 
476; speech of, on Oregon, I, 246, 
253, 262, 263, 271, 272, 274-276, 
278, 283; vote of, on tariff bill, II, 
26, 29, 30, 32, 33, 35, 43-46, 84; 
resignation of seat of, in Senate, II, 

48, 51- 

Healy, G. P. A., artist, I, 165, 182, 
318. 

Herald, New York, publication of con- 
fidential documents in, III, 396- 

403- 
Hoge, Joseph P., Representative, II, 

311, 319- 

Holmes, Isaac Edward, Representa- 
tive, I, no, 401. 

Hopping, Enos D., appointment of, 
to office, II, 402. 

Horn, Henry, nomination of, to office, 

I, 136, 152, 218-220, 264, 426, 429, 

430, 432-437, 468, 469, 485-487- 

Houston, Samuel, I, 309; Presidential 
ambition of, II, 364; offered office 
of Major General, II, 416. 

Hudson's Bay Company, I, 71; sale 
of rights of, in Oregon, III, 404; 
IV, 301, 302. 

Hughes, John, Bishop, I, 408, 409. 

Hunter, Robert M. T., Senator, I, in. 

Hurst, William Decatur, court mar- 
tial of, I, 162, 163; case considered 
in cabinet, I, 355. 

Indians, delegations of, at Washing- 
ton, I, 22, 23, 25, 26, 83, 302, 318; 

II, 3, 4, 27, 46, 80, 162, 163, 169, 
178, 186, 187; III, 409, 472; IV, 
317; commissioners to visit, I, 26, 
323; fraudulent Chickasaw claim, 
II, 126-129; ownership of slaves 
by. III, 504. 



INDEX 



451 



Ingersoll, Charles J., I, 303, 457; II, 
321; 111,437,438; appointment of, 
as minister to Russia, II, 18, 63, 64, 
74; appointment of, as minister to 
France, II, 18, 207, 208, 290, 405, 
459-461, 488, 489; III 2-9, 339; 
controversy of, with Polk, III, 2- 
9, 182, 183; reconciliation of, with 
Polk, III, 303, 304; resolutions 
of, on secret service fund, I, 328, 

331-334. 
Ingersoll, Ralph Isaac, II, 152; re- 
quests recall from Russian mission, 

III, 479, 480. 

Interior Department, bill creating, IV, 

371, 372. 
Internal Improvements, I, 289; IV, 

35, 140, 190, 363, 364. Se^ Harbor 

and River Bill, and Message. 
Ireland, arrest of American citizens 

in, IV, 165, 251, 252; protest 

against, 319, 332, 337, 338; revolt 

in, IV, 105, 106, 110-113. 
Irish Relief Bill, opposition of Polk 

to, II, 396, 397; veto message on, 

11, 398. 
Isle Royale, title to leases on, I, 

381. 
Iturbide, Madame, III, 342, 343. 
Ives, Levi Silliman, Bishop, III, 45. 

Jackson, Andrew, last letter of, I, 6y; 

monument to, planned, I, 23-25; 

papers of, I, 47; portrait of, I, 165. 
Jarnagin, Spencer, Senator, I, 163- 

165, 281, 300, 318, 479; vote of, on 

tariff bill, II, 25, 47, 49-52. 
Jefferson, birthday dinner, III, 268. 
Jesup, General, I, 164, 485; II, 117, 

118, 158; III, 80, 81, 127-129, 131- 

134, 136-141, 219, 220. 
Jewett, A. G., I, 342, 343- 
Johnson, Andrew, I, 328; II, 35-41; 

IV, 265. 

Johnson, Cave, III, 421. 



Johnson, Reverdy, Senator, I, 434; 

II, 13, 14. 

Johnson, Richard M., I, 129, 402; 

111,318. 
Jones, George W., Representative, I, 

328; 11,36-41. 
Jones, George W., Senator, IV, 260. 
Jones, John Paul, act for relief of heirs 

of, II, 407. 
Jones, William Carey, II, 428, 445; 

HI, 13. 

KamEHAMEHA III, I, 22. 

Kane, John K., I, 49, 463; II, 260, 
261; IV, 259. 

Kaufman, David Spangler, Represen- 
tative, I, 40; II, 64. 

Kearny, Stephen Watts, General, I, 
396, 443, 473, 493; n, 31, 169, 282, 
493; III, 10, 12, 52-56, 94, 168, 175, 
198; IV, 59, 60. 

Kellogg, artist. III, 225, 396, 420. 

Kendall, Amos, I, 105, 445, 449. 

Kendall, George Wilkins, Editor, II, 
236. 

King, Preston, II, 304. 

King, William Rufus, I, 419; II, 
109. 

Kusick, Indian chief, I, 22, 23, 26. 

Lands, public, sale of, II, 450. 

Lane, Harriet, II, 353. 

Lane, Joseph, General, II, 248; III, 

112; IV, 92, 97. 
Larkin, Thomas O., Ill, 395, 399. 
Leake, Shelton F., Representative, 

III, 115. 

Lee, W. D., I, 17-20. 

Levy, David, Senator. See Yulee. 

Lewis, Dixon Hall, Senator, I, 262, 

263, 289, 367-371; n, 440; death 

of, IV, 168. 
Lewis, M. G., I, 26; II, 3, 29. 
Liberia, recognition of independence 

of. III, 306, 307. 



452 



iNDEX 



Lisboa, Caspar Jose de, I, 27, 238; 

III, 6s, 95. 
Loan, III, 222. 

Loan, bill, II, 345, 357, 358; III, 312, 

313, 415,420. 
Louis Philippe, dethronement of, III, 

413. 
Loyall, George, II, 94, 96. 

Macomb, Alexander, appointment of, 
to command of army, II, 343, 344. 
Macon, visit of Polk to, IV, 387-390. 
Macon, Nathaniel, III, 39. 
Mangum, Willie P., Senator, III, 381, 

382. 
Manufacturers' Fair, the, I, 405, 416, 

421, 422, 444. 
Marcy, William L., I, 57; III, 119; 

discord between Buchanan and, II, 

177; threatened resignation of, from 

cabinet, II, 404. 
Marque, Letters of, I, 15. 
Martin," Barclay, Representative, I, 

321. 
Martin, Jacob L., Ill, 411; death of, 

IV, 132. 

Mason, James Murray, Senator, II, 

358. 
Mason, John Y., I, 99, 443; III, 126; 

IV, 210, 211, 226; appointment of, 

as Secretary of Navy, II, 61, 66, 125. 
Mason, Richard B., Colonel, II, 209, 

214. 
Maury, Sarah Mytton Hughes, II, 

6-10; III, 182. 
McCalla, William Latta, Reverend, 

II, 187-189; III, 103-105. 
McClernand, John A., Representative, 

1,490; 11,312,313,319. 
McConnell, Felix C, Representative, 

borrows money of Polk, II, 213; 

suicide of, II, 130, 131; funeral of, 

II, 133. 
McCrate, John D., I, 50; IV, 8. 
McDowell, James, Covernor, I, 284. 



McDuffie, Ceorge, Senator, I, no, 
111,249, 269,348,481. 

McCafHn, Colonel, I, 472, 474. 

McGuffy, William Holmes, teacher, 
IV, 121. 

McKay, James J., Representative, I, 
267; IV, 26; rude conduct of, IV, 
320-322. 

McKenzie, Alexander Slidell, II, 326; 
mission of, to Santa Anna, III, 
290-292. 

McKeon, John, appointment of, to 
office, IV, 83-85, 93, 94, 110-114. 

McLane, Louis, I, 17, 62, 432; 
II, 134; address of, before New 
York Chamber of Commerce, II, 
136, 137; 172, 173, choice of, as 
Secretary of State discussed, II, 
2, 7, 21-24; choice of, as peace 
commissioner to Mexico, III, 373, 

375- 
McLane, Robert M., II, 267; IV, 304; 

conversation of, with John Van 
Buren, I, 103, 104; sent as messen- 
ger to the army, II, 200. 

McVean, Charles, lawyer, IV, 113, 114. 

Medary, Colonel, I, 358. 

Melville, Gansevoort, I, 432. 

Memphis, navy yard at, I, 54, 303, 
304; visit of Polk to, IV, 410, 411. 

Message, annual, of Polk, I, loi, 102, 
106, 108-111, 115, 116, 132; II, 
165, 171, 209, 212, 217, 246, 251, 
253, 254, 258, 263, 265-267; III, 
206, 208, 210, 211, 225-229, 232, 
234-236, 238-241; IV, 182, 183, 
202, 204-207, 213, 214, 216-218, 
220-222, 225; President's author- 
ship of, I, 123, 124; of Polk, submit- 
ting British proposition on Oregon, 
I, 454, 458-463; on expenditure of 
secret service fund, I, 336, 339; 
veto, of French Spoliation Bill, II, 
68, 69; on French Revolution, III, 
416, 417; veto, of Harbor and River 



INDEX 



453 



Message (^Continued) 

bills, II, 54, 56, 58, 63, 64; III, 116, 
166, 169, 179, 244, 247-249; IV, 
52, 53» 60, 61, 64-66, 157, 158, 167, 
363, 364; on increase of military 
establishment, I, 297, 301; II, 304; 
of Polk, on Mexican affairs, I, 375- 
377; on military contributions lev- 
ied in Mexico, IV, 256-258, 260-262, 
265, 269, 270, 312; on military 
operations in Mexico, II, 393; III, 
192, 193; on Two Million appropria- 
tion, II, 60; on treaty of peace with 
Mexico, III, 447; IV, 3, 4, 323- 
328; on Yucatan, III, 435-438. 

Mexico, appointment of minister to, 
I, 91, 92; instructions to minister 
to, I, 125; appropriation for ad- 
justment of boundary with, I, 303, 
305-308; civil war in, IV, 56; de- 
clines peace overtures, II, 144, 145; 
disaffection of northern provinces 
of, II, 255; relations with, dis- 
cussed, I, 257, 326, 327; war with, 
orders issued in anticipation of, I, 
9, 10; war with, favored by cabinet, 
I, 384-386; war with, bill for prose- 
cution of, I, 388, 389; war with, 
manner of conducting, II, 16, 20, 
21, 233. 

Mexico City, expedition against, II, 
226; news of capture of, III, 113, 

195. 
Militia, calling out of, by General 

Gaines, I, 450, 451. 
Minor, Virginia Maury, III, 177. 
Missouri Compromise line, extension 

of, to Pacific, II, 309, 335; III, 

142, 143, 501, 504, 505; IV, 12, 13, 

21, 65, 66, 207. 
Missouri Mounted Volunteers, I, 

396, 439, 440, 443- 
Mitchell, Elisha, teacher, III, 45. 
Mobile, visit of Polk to, IV, 397- 

400. 



Monroe Doctrine, application of, to 

California, I, 70, 71. 
Monterey, battle at, II, 181. 
Montgomery, visit of Polk to, IV, 

395, 396. 

Morehead, John Motley, Governor, 
III, 42. 

Mormons, migration of, I, 205; policy 
of government toward, I, 445; pro- 
posal of, to take service with 
Kearny, I, 444, 446, 449, 450. 

Morris, Robert H., I, 379, 405, 406. 

Morton, Marcus, I, 206. 

Muhlenberg, Heister, I, 267. 

Muhlenberg, Henry A., I, 266. 

Nashville, reception of Polk at, IV, 

415,416. 
National Era, threatened destruction 

of office of. III, 428. 
New Granada, treaty with. III, 363, 

373, 381. 

New Mexico, taker! possession of by 
Kearny, II, 170; cession of, desired 
by Polk, II, 331. See California. 

New Orleans, visit of Polk to, IV, 401- 

405- 
New Year reception, II, 299, 300. 
New York, defeat of Democratic 

party in, II, 218; III, 214, 215. 

See Barnburners. 
Nicholson, A. O. P., and Tennessee 

Senatorial election, I, 114, 115; 

attempt of, to defeat Felix Grundy, 

I, 320, 321. 

Niles, John Milton, Senator, I, 188; 

II, 281. 

Noland, William, I, 87; removal of, 
from office, II, 113-115. 

Non-interference, with slavery in ter- 
ritories, IV, 20, 206. 

Nootka Sound Treaty, I, 161. 

Norfolk, visit of Polk to, II, 91-93. 

Notice of termination of joint occupa- 
tion of Oregon. See Oregon. 



454 



INDEX 



Nugent, New York Herald corre- 
spondent, abusive letters of, III, 333, 
353-355; IV, 95, 96; relations of, 
with Buchanan, III, 400-402, 405- 
410; investigation of publication of 
public documents by, III, 400, 407- 
409,411-414. 

O' Conor, Charles, lawyer, IV, 84. 

Office seekers, I, 15, 16, 261; II, 85, 
los, 314, 328, 329, 360, 361, 379, 
380, 382, 383; III, 69, 136, 330, 331, 
386, 418, 419, 422, 423, 505; IV, 
49-51, 160, 161, 193, 194, 240, 241, 
246, 274, 276, 277. See Patronage. 

"Old Defenders of Baltimore," visit 
of, at White House, I, 28, 29. 

Oregon, negotiation, action of Con- 
gress on, I, 121; arbitration of, pro- 
posed by Pakenham, I, 147; arbi- 
tration of, rejected by cabinet, I, 
149; Benton informed of course of 
administration on, I, 55; Benton's 
views on, I, 68-72, 117, 118, 286, 
287, 376; letters of Buchanan on, 
I, 10, II, 148, 151; Buchanan 
favors milder tone on, I, 99, 102; 
Buchanan's changed attitude on, I, 
453-456; discussed in cabinet, I, 
1-8, 62-65, 75, 76, 78-80, 106, 107, 
119, 120, 122, 123, 133, 191, 192, 
207-209, 244-246, 253, 257, 451- 
455; Calhoun urges settlement of, 
I, 246-248, 250-252, 313, 337, 338; 
Calhoun's views on, I, 131, 159-162; 
Convention with Great Britain over, 
I, 470, 473, 479; Convention of 
1828, purpose of, II, 167, 168; 
debate in Senate over, I, 267, 268; 
Democrats favor line of 54° 40', I, 
248; danger of war with Great 
Britain over, I, 73-75; Jurisdiction 
Bill, I, 376, 378; notice of termina- 
tion of joint occupancy of, I, 70, 
IS4, IS5, 253, 260, 263-265, 286, 



288, 289, 324, 325, 334-336, 340, 
343, 347, 353, 363, 418, 419; sub- 
mission of British proposition to 
Senate for previous advice, I, 64, 
67, 120, 122, 13s, 141, 147, 244, 245, 
251, 256, 258, 300, 324, 349, 376, 
452-454, 465; Senate advises ac- 
ceptance of British proposition, I, 
467; proposition of Great Britain 
for settlement of, I, 444, 445, 447, 
448; rifle regiment for protection of 
emigrants to, I, 70, 404, 414, 416, 
424; Spanish title to, I, 161; views 
of Polk on question, I, 271-274, 
294, 336; delimitation of boundary 
of, II, 254; Indian war in. III, 463- 
465; IV, 154; protection of people 
of, against Indians, IV, 155-157; 
letter of Benton to people of, II, 
447-449; purchase of rights of 
Hudson Bay Company in, IV, 301, 
302; territorial government for, 
recommended, II, 67; bill for ter- 
ritorial government for. III, 501; 
IV, 15, 61, 62, 65, 67, 68, 70-74, 76. 
Osma, Don Joaquin Jose, II, 285; III, 

369. 
O'Sullivan, John L., I, 23; III, 446, 

476, 480, 481. 
Otey, James Hervey, Bishop, III, 

177, 178. 
Owen, Robert Dale, I, 335- 

Page, James, Colonel, I, 488-490; 
III, 2; abuse of Buchanan by. III, 
209-211. 

Pageot, Alphonse, I, 350; III, 308. 

Pakenham, Richard, I, 117, 119, 120; 
conference of, with Buchanan over 
Oregon, I, 65, 66, 121; note of, on 
Oregon, I, 1-6; offer of British 
mediation by, in Mexican War, II, 
129, 131-133. 

Panama, road across Isthmus of, IV, 

313,314. 



INDEX 



455 



Panama Mission, Polk's course upon, 
I, 204; III, 306, 307. 

Papal States, revolution in, IV, 318. 

Paraguay, recognition of independence 
of, urged, I, 238. 

Parades, Mariano, I, 33, 229; III, 152. 

Parrott, William S., I, 33, 93, 100. ' 

Patronage, II, 201, 202, 339, 382; 
attitude of Northern and Southern 
men toward, I, 369; desire of 
Buchanan to control, I, 200, 234; 
disposal of, in Florida, I, 382, 383; 
disposal of. New York, I, 104; 
disposal of, in Pennsylvania, I, 190; 
evil effect of control of, I, 446; II, 
278, 314, 315; III, 14, 120, 249, 490; 
interest of members of Congress in, 
IV, 29, 30; removal of Whig clerks, 

I, 345, 346. See Office seekers. 
Patterson, Robert, General, II, 149, 

247; III, IS, 57, 64, 118. 
Payne, Nathan Mountjoy, II, 30. 
Peace Commissioners, appointment of, 

II, 262, 268-271, 273, 465-467; 

III, 276, 280, 378; desire of Santa 
Anna and Almonte for, II, 325, 
326; efforts of Moses Beach to 
secure, II, 476, 477; means of 
securing, discussed, III, 269, 270; 
mission of Trist, II, 477-479; 
negotiations for, II, 156-158; III, 
171; negotiations with Atocha, II, 
331-333* 336-338; overtures of 
U. S. for, declined, II, 144, 145, 
432; III, 186; party, in Mexico, III, 
257; proclamation of Polk announ- 
cing, IV, 2; terms of treaty of, II, 
471-475; III, 160, 161, 163-165, 275- 
277; treaty of, received, III, 345. 

Pearly schooner, attempted flight of 

slaves on, III, 428, 429. 
Pefia y Peiia, III, 195. 
Pennybacker, Isaac S., Senator, I, 

189, 330; death of, II, 322; funeral 

of, II, 323, 324. 



Perote, trial of army officers at. III, 

281, 284, 286. 
Peru, complaint of government of, 

against A. G. Jewett, I, 342; treaty 

with, I, 419; III, 326. 
Perry, Matthew C, Commodore, II, 

392. 
Petersburg, reception of Polk at. III, 

38. 
Peyton, Bailie, I, 31, 32, 191; II, 236. 
Pierce, Franklin, II, 102, 138; III, 

287. 
Pillow, Gideon J., General, II, 149, 

211, 469; III, 88, 112, 246, 251- 

253, 261, 262, 267, 340, 434, 499; 

abuse of, by A. H. Stephens, IV, 13; 

appointment of, as Major General, 

III, 29; IV, 5-7, 9, 22; court of 
inquiry on. III, 491; acquittal of, by 
court of inquiry, III, 507; IV, 16, 
17; Polk's decision on proceedings 
of court of inquiry on, IV, 7; 
wounded. III, 196. 

Piper, James H., I, 330; II, 108, 109. 

Poor, resolution for relief of, in Ireland 
and Scotland, II, 408. 

Powers, Hiram, sculptor, I, 90. 

Powers' Greek Slave, III, 408. 

Polk, Ezekiel, Revolutionary services 
of. III, 43. 

Polk, James K., answer of, to letter of 
C. J. Ingersoll, II, 488, 489, 491; 
attitude of, toward Presidential 
succession, III, 254-257, 334; de- 
clares purpose to acquire California, 

I, 438; views of, on organization of 
government for, and New Mexico, 

IV, 254, 255, 297-301; Cincinnati 
letter of, I, 129, 130; course of, on 
Panama Mission, III, 306, 307; 
course of, in Tennessee Senatorial 
election, I, 112, 113; course of, on 
annexation of Texas, IV, 41-45, 
126, 127; disapproves of duelling, 

II, 297; draws will, IV, 340; favors 



456 



INDEX 



Polk, James K. (Continued) 

purchase of Cuba, III, 446; home- 
ward journey of, IV, 376-419; 
illness of, II, 93, 94; III, 1 81-187, 
484, 488, 489, 492, 494, 506; desires 
peace with Mexico, II, 339; views 
of, on prosecution of war with 
Mexico, II, 349, 350; III, 189, 190, 
216; message of, on war with Mex- 
ico, I, 384-386, 388-390; not a can- 
didate for reelection, I, 141, 142, 
201, 248, 249, 265, 266, 280, 402; 
III, 298, 320, 321, 420-422; letter 
of, declining renomination, III, 448, 
452, 454-458, 463; objections of, to 
establishment of Interior Depart- 
ment, IV, 371, 372; objections of, to 
appointment of Taylor to command 
Scott's army. III, 281, 282; pro- 
poses compromise on Oregon, I, 
191; favors notice of termination 
of joint occupation of Oregon, I, 
155, 338, 341, 342; opposes Cal- 
houn's project for compromise on 
Oregon, I, 250-253; political con- 
sistency of, attacked, I, 204; por- 
trait of, begun, III, 32; New Year's 
reception of, IV, 263, 264; last 
Presidential reception of, IV, 356, 
357; reconciliation of, with John 
Bell, III, 258-260, 264, 265, 284, 
285; reflections of, on fiftieth birth- 
day, I, 86; relations of, with Cal- 
houn, II, 160; sectarian prefer- 
ences of, I, 86; tour of, of Northern 
States, III, 67, 70-73; views of, on 
appointment of Congressmen to 
office, I, 466; views of, on appoint- 
ments to Supreme Court, I, 137, 
138; views of, on slavery question, 
II, 289, 350; IV, 289-291. 

Polk, Mrs. James K., illness of. III, 
3, 9, 13, 15, 19, 187-191. 

Polk, Marshall T., I, 26; II, 62; III, 
IIS, 187, 43S, 481, 482, 507, 508. 



Polk, William H., I, 193; marriage 
of, III, 74, 75; appointed Major in 
army, III, 153, 154, 157; returns 
from Mexico, IV, 14. 

Presidential succession, attitude of 
Polk toward. III, 254-257, 334. 

Price, Sterling, General, I, 440; II, 
481; III, 450; IV, 9. 

Prisoners, Mexican, to be brought to 
U. S., Ill, 35. 

Privateers, Mexican, in Mediterra- 
nean, III, 53, 54; protest against 
course of Spanish Government 
toward, III, 60, 61. 

Proclamation of peace with Mexico, 
IV, 2. 

Prussia, extradition treaty with, IV, 
18, 19, 28, 33. 

Public Lands, preemption rights of 
settlers on, III, 3 19. 

Quartermaster's Department, 
abuses in, II, 86; III, 80, 125-129, 
131-134, 136-139. 

Queen of Spain, marriage of, II, 367. 

Quitman, John A., General, II, 248, 
469; III, 267, 269; IV, 6, 7, 9, 361. 

Raleigh, reception of Polk at. III, 

40-42. 
Ramsey, James G. M., Dr., Ill, 448. 
Rathbun, George, Representative, 

amendment of, to Ten Regiment 

Bill, II, 318. 
Rayner, Kenneth, Representative, 

III, 49. 
Read, John Meredith, I, 137, 144, 464. 
Revolution, progress of, in Europe, 

III, 423; in France, 413-415, 425, 

433; in Papal States, IV, 318. 

See Cuba. 
Rhett, Robert Barnwell, I, 17; III, 

236, 458; IV, 309. 
Rice, rough, question, I, 21, 121, 291, 

431. 



INDEX 



457 



Richmond, reception of Polk at, III, 

37, 38. 
Riot, of American sailors at Rio 

Janeiro, II, 351, 360, 361, 365, 367; 

threatened, over schooner Pearly 

III, 428, 429. 
Ripley, Roswell Sabin, IV, 421. 
Risque, F. W., I, 413-415, 424- 
Ritchie, Thomas, Editor, I, 39, 106; 

III, 237, 238, 461, 474; IV, 21S, 

216; dissatisfaction with conduct of 

Union, I, 3SO-353, 35^-359, 361; 

expulsion of, from privileged seat 

in Senate, II, 375-378. 
River and Harbor bills. See Harbor 

and River bills. 
Rives, Francis Robert, III, 38. 
Ross, John, I, 301; II, 81. 
Rush, Richard, I, 372; II, 34^-344; 

III, 12, 13; appointed minister to 

France, II, 405; letters of, on 

Oregon, II, 167, 168. 
Rusk, Thomas Jefferson, Senator, I, 

305; II, 406. 

Saffrons, Daniel, III, 258, 259, 264, 
265. 

St. Lawrence River, right to navigate, 
by U. S. proposed, I, 117. 

Santa Anna, attitude of, toward U. S., 
I, 224; project to send confidential 
agent to, I, 226; payment of secret 
money to, III, 245, 246, 251-253, 
262, 263; views of, on relations 
between Mexico and U. S., I, 228- 
230; House resolution on return of, 
III, 286, 287, 289, 290; answer of 
Polk to. III, 295, 299. 

Santa Anna, Indian chief, II, 3, 4. 

Santa Cruz, news of battle of. III, 

450. 
Santa Fe, expedition against, I, 439, 

443; capture of, II, 169. 
Saunders, Romulus M., I, 247, 255, 

281, 282, 290, 381. 



Savannah, visit of Polk to, IV, 385- 
387. 

Scott, Winfield, General, I, 407, 408; 
II, 205, 232, 246-248; II, 468; III, 
167, 199; appointment of, to com- 
mand Vera Cruz expedition, II, 
241; charges of, against officers of 
army, III, 266; charges against, by 
General Worth, III, 272, 275, 279; 
correspondence of, I, 451; II, 351, 
352; III, 393; expenditures of, in 
Mexico, III, 245, 246, 251-253, 
262, 263, 341, 346, 384; IV, 196; 
hostility of, to the administration, 
I, 413-415, 417, 419-421; incompe- 
tence of, II, 151, 327, 393, 394; III, 
84; insubordination of, I, 309; III, 
57, 58, 62, 63, 89, 90, 312, 324; 
letter of, on Captain Hutter, I, 
413-415, 417; movements of. III, 
118; offered command of army, I, 
396; excused from command of 
army, I, 424; relations of, with 
Trist, III, 57-59, 76-79; recall of, 
from army, III, 269, 270, 274, 276, 
278; reinforcement of, III, 22-24, 
89; removes Colonel Harney from 
command, II, 384-387; complains 
against removal of self from com- 
mand, III, 411. 

Seaton, William W., Editor, I., 416; 
IV, 125, 126. 

Sebastian, William King, Senator, III, 

475- ^ 

Secret Service fund, expenditure of, 
under Webster, I, 328, 331-334, 

336. 

Seddon, James Alexander, Represen- 
tative, I, III, 288. 

Semple, James, Senator, I, 154, 482, 
490, 491, 493; vote of, on tariff, II, 
20, 24-28. 

Sevier, Ambrose H., Senator, I, 184, 
231; II, 277; III, 250, 309, 310, 
364; IV, 16, 241; appointment of, 



458 



INDEX 



Servler, Ambrose H. (Continued) 
as peace commissioner, III, 378- 
383; instructions of, as peace com- 
missioner, III, 383, 387; IV, 27; 
illness of. III, 389, 390; IV, 2; death 
of, IV, 275. 

Shields, Benjamin F., I, 60; IV, 55. 

Shields, James, General, I, 183, 427; 
II, 31; III, 261-263, 283; IV, 91, 
350; dinner in honor of, III, 267, 
269; wounded, III, 196. 

Shunk, Francis Rawn, Governor, I, 
266; II, 260. 

Sicilies, Two, treaty with, I, 193, 197, 

329,331. 
Sigourney, Lydia Huntley, authoress, 

II, 391- 

Slavery, address of Calhoun to people 
of U. S. on, II, 457-459; dangers 
of agitation of slavery question, II, 
304, 305, 308; IV, 33-35; discus- 
sion of, in Congress, II, 334, 348; 

III, 500, 501; views of Polk on 
question, II, 350; IV, 206, 207; 
meeting of Southern members of 
Congress on, IV, 249-253, 280-285, 
304-306. See Missouri Compro- 
mise, Wilmot Proviso. 

Slaves, attempted escape of, on 
schooner Pearl, III, 428. 

Slidell, John, I, loi, 231, 232; ap- 
pointment of, as minister to Mexico, 
I, 34, 35, 93; Mexican government 
refuses to receive, I, 319, 322, 327; 
opposition of Benton to, as peace 
commissioner, II, 262, 263, 268-270; 
instructions to, 1, 97, 233, 238; com- 
munication of instructions to, to 
Congress, III, 286, 287, 289, 295, 
299, 302, 303, 309, 310; IV, 4; 
instructions to, published in New 
York Herald, III, 398. 

Smith, Henry K., II, 279. 

Smith, Persifor F., I, 413; IV, 149, 
ISO. 



Smith, Robert, Representative, 312, 
313, 319; IV, 80, 81. 

Smithsonian Institution, laying of 
corner stone of, III, i, 2; organiza- 
tion of regents of, II, 120; selection 
of site for, II, 123-125, 264, 265, 
272, 284. 

Soule, Pierre, Senator, III, 78. 

Spain, marriage of Queen of, II, 367. 

Specie, duty on, exported from Mex- 
ico, III, 222, 223. 

Speight, Jesse, Senator, I, 132, 175, 
261, 262. 

Stanton, Frederick P., Representative, 

I, 248; III, 250; IV, 289-291. 
Stephens, Alexander H., Representa- 
tive, IV, 300, 341; speech of, 
abusing General Pillow, IV, 13; 
speech of, abusing Polk, IV, 14. 

Stevenson, Andrew, III, 284, 474. 
Stevenson, Jonathan, Colonel, I, 16; 

II, 84, 104, 117, 147. 

Stockton, Commodore, quarrel of, 
with Kearny, II, 493; III, 11, 52, 

53. 
Strange, Robert, Senator, III, 466, 467. 
Stuart, Charles E., Representative, 

IV, 28, 29. 
Sully, Daniel, artist. III, 32. 
Sun, Baltimore, news service of, III, 

35, 36. 
Sunday School children, visit of, at 

White House, II, 11, 12, 17, 18. 
Swain, David Lowry, II, 44. 
Swartwout, Samuel, defalcation of, 

III, 145. 

Tallmadge, Nathaniel Pitcher, re- 
moval of, from office, I, 56-59. 
Tampico, expedition against, ordered, 

II, 150; news of capture of, II, 257. 
Taney, Roger Brooks, IV, 221. 
Tappan, Benjamin, Senator, I, 45; 

III, 440; letter of, on annexation 
of Texas, IV, 38-47, 51, 185-188. 



INDEX 



459 



Tariff, I, 54, 85, no, 123, 124, 291, 
368-371, 441; II, 20, 26-28, 30, 32, 
40, 217, 253, 263; bill to modify, 
urged by Polk, II, 10; passes House, 
II, 11; modification of, opposed by 
Buchanan, I, 261; compromise on, 
attempted, II, 33-3S» 4^, 47; bill 
passes Senate, II, 52; passes House, 
n, 53-55; signed, II, 56; levy of, 
in Mexican ports, II, 416, 420, 422, 
431, 437, 438, 440, 442, 443, 446, 
450, 451, 454, 463; HI, 56; Manu- 
facturers' Fair, held to influence, I, 
421, 422; report of R, J. Walker on, 

I, 84; III, 229; retention of ad 
valorem principle urged by Polk, I, 
267; views of Buchanan on, II, 106, 
107; views of Calhoun on, I, 132. 

Tate, James H., I, 127, 132, 166-170, 
181, 239, 240, 329. 

Taylor, George W., experiment with 
diving bell of, I, 126. 

Taylor, William, Representative, death 
of, I, 171; funeral of, I, 178. 

Taylor, Zachary, II, 211, 351, 352, 
462, 470; III, 14, 84, 119, 120, 278, 
393; IV, 349-352; apprehension of 
danger to army of, II, 434-436, 444; 
armistice of, with Mexicans after 
Monterey disapproved, II, 181-184; 
dissatisfaction of cabinet with, II, 
236; dines with Polk, IV, 358, 
359; election of, to Presidency, IV, 
184; hostility of, to Polk's admin- 
istration, II, 229, 249, 250; inaugu- 
ration of, as President, IV, 374, 375; 
incompetence of, II, 119, 139, 3^7, 
327, 328; instructions to, I, 9, 12; 

II, 16, 198-200, 204; measures for 
relief of army of, II, 434, 435, 437, 
438; mistakes of, II, 452, 453, 479, 
480; nomination of, as Major Gen- 
eral, I, 428; nomination of, as 
President, III, 488; objectionable 
letter of, in New York papers, II, 



353-359, 362, 363, 366, 369, 370; 
objections to appointment of, to 
command Scott's army. III, 281, 
282; resignation of, from army, IV, 
266; troops of, ordered to join 
Scott, III, 160; victories of, I, 422. 

Tazewell, Littleton Waller, approves 
Polk's administration, II, 94-96. 

Tehuantepec, Isthmus of, free pas- 
sage across, II, 473-475. 

Temple, Robert Emmet, II, 402. 

Ten Eyck, Anthony, I, 22. 

Ten Regiment Bill, II, 346, 347, 366, 
369, 371, 375, 436; pressure for 
offices under, II, 379, 380, 399-405. 

Ten regiments, organization of. III, 
20, 

Territorial Bill, IV, 31, 33. 

Territory, acquisition of, from Mexico, 
II, 15, 16, 255-257, 283. 

Texas, I, 17-20, 41, 148; annexation 
of, passage of resolution for, IV, 38- 
47, 49, 51, 52; defence of, against 
Mexican invasion , I, i, 8-10; exten- 
sion of laws of U. S. over, I, 148; 
IV, 150, 151. 

Thanksgiving day, III, 231. 

Thomas, Francis, Governor, I, 51-53. 

Thomas, James H., Representative, I, 
437, 440; III, 234, 324, 463. 

Thompson, Jacob, Representative, I, 
132, 176, 240. 

Thompson, James, Representative, 

I, 432; II, 284. 

Thompson, Waddy, General, I, 302. 
Thornton, J. Quinn, payment of, for 

journey from Oregon to Washington, 

IV, 80-83. 
Thumb, Tom, II, 474. 
Tibbatts, John W., Representative, I, 

294, 496. 
Times, Washington, purchase of, 

rumored, I, 377. 
Tod, David, minister to Brazil, I, 242; 

II, 456, 464; III, 66. 



460 



INDEX 



Todd, Charles S,, recall of, from Rus- 
sian mission, I, 38, 40, 43. 

Totten, Joseph Gilbert, Colonel, II, 
88, 469. 

Toucey, Isaac, Attorney General, III, 
431,455,468,484, 505. 

Treasury, Constitutional, Bill, I, 
368-371. 

Treasury Department, administra- 
tion of funds of, III, 143-15 1 ; 
estimates of expenditure for, IV, 
189, 190; funds of, in hands of 
bankers, III, 140-142; loans, II, 
163, 192, 194, 195, 200, 213, 237; 

III, 376; notes, issue of, II, 205, 
213. 

Treaty, with German Confederation, 

IV, 178, 179; with Hanover, I, 205, 
304; with Menomonee Indians, IV, 
230; with Mexico, discussed, I, 306, 
307; II, 156-158, 471-475, 477, 
478; III, 313, 314, 346-350, 352, 
353; with Mexico, protocol to, IV, 
319-328, 334, 335; with Mexico, 
ratification of, III, 361, 364-372, 
376, 377, 385, 386, 447, 465, 485, 
492, 498; IV, 2; with Mexico, re- 
ceived, III, 345; with New Gra- 
nada, II, 363, 373; 111,481; with 
Peru, I, 419; Postal, with Great 
Britain, IV, 267, 271, 272; with 
Prussia, I, 231; IV, 18, 19, 28, 33; 
with Two Sicilies, I, 193, 329. 

Tripoli, clash between U. S. and 
French consuls at, II, 174, 175. 

Trist, Nicholas Philip, I, 92; III, 62, 
63, 89, 90, 196, 251-253, 263, 267, 
286, 344, 384; correspondence of, 
III, 322, 367, 393; disclosure of 
facts concerning mission of, II, 482- 
487; insubordinate conduct of. III, 
199-201, 310, 311, 324, 329, 330, 
357, 358; modification of instruc- 
tions to. III, 160, 161, 163-165, 168; 
peace mission of, II, 466, 467, 477- 



479; quarrel of, with Scott, III, 
76-79; recall of, decided upon. III, 
185; renewal of negotiations by, 
III, 283, 300, 301; treaty negoti- 
ated by, attitude of administration 
toward, III, 313, 317; treaty nego- 
tiated by, received. III, 352, 353. 

Turner, Daniel, IV, 369-371. 

Turney, Hopkins L., Senator, I, 165, 
214, 269, 270, 362, 364, 365; III, 
369; attempt to bribe, II, 49; 
course of, in Tennessee Senatorial 
election, I, 112, 113; interview of, 
with Polk on Oregon, I, 140, 141. 

Twiggs, David, E., General, I, 493; 
III, 430, 437; presentation of sword 
to, IV, 361. 

Tyler, John, I, 430, 431, 440. 

Union, Washington, dissatisfaction 
with Ritchie's conduct of, I, 356- 
359; objectionable articles in, I, 

350-353; 11, 170, 172, 173. 
University of North Carolina, visit of 

Polk to. III, 37-51. 
Upshur, Abel Parker, IV, 199. 

Van Buren, John, calls on Polk, I, 
105; opinion of, of Polk's adminis- 
tration, I, 103, 104; relations of, 
with Polk, IV, 245, 246. 

Van Buren, Martin, attitude of, 
toward Polk's administration, I, 
104; hostility of, toward Polk, III, 
74; nomination of, for Presidency, 
III, 502; IV, 65, 67; Texas letter 
of, I, 142. 

Vanderpool, Aaron, I, 316. 

Van Ness, Cornelius P., I, 95, 226. 

Venable, Abraham Watkins, III, 458. 

Vera Cruz, attack on, II, 388; dis- 
agreement among surgeons at. III, 
181; expedition against, discussed, 
II, 104, 179, 180, 195-197, 240, 241; 
flags captured at, III, 27; proposed 



INDEX 



461 



Vera Cruz (Continued) 

as place of trial of army officers, 
III, 279; raising of blockade of, 
objected to by Polk, II, 332; sur- 
render of, II, 465, 468, 469. 

Victoria, Queen, birth of daughter to, 
11,43; 111,456,457. 

Volunteers, I, 399, 400, 435, 480; 
call for, II, 234-236, 475, 480; 
III, 123-126, 135, 139; call for, 
from Massachusetts, II, 237-239; 
distribution of, among the States, 

I, 404; construction of act authori- 
zing enlistment of. III, 207, 208; 
officers of. III, 23, 107, 154-156, 
166; organization of, of D. C, III, 
170, 172-174; requisitions for. III, 
147. 

Vomito, the, II, 416, 421. 
Voorhies, Philip F., Captain, court 
martial of, discussed in cabinet, I, 

41-43. 
Vroom, Peter D., Governor, I, 138; 
111,431,468,478,483,484. 

Walker, Isaac P., Senator, IV, 347, 

364-367. 

Walker, James H., Captain, IV, 12, 52. 

Walker, J. Knox, I, 290; II, 345, 346, 
486; III, 244. 

Walker, Robert J., I, 6, 43, 44, 171, 
239; III, 241, 242; IV, 186; attack 
of Jacob Thompson upon, I, 175, 
176; desires appointment as minis- 
ter to England, I, 432; favors pur- 
chase of Cuba, III, 475; illness of, 
III, 10, 12, 18, 26, 27, 35, 95, 96, 
244, 245; negotiation of, for loan, 

II, 166; Presidential aspirations of, 
I, 104, 176; report of, on tariff", III, 
229; report of, on levying duties in 
ports of Mexico, II, 442, 443, 446, 
450, 451; views of, on acquisition 
of territory from Mexico, I, 495- 
497; III, 229. 



Walsh, Robert M., Ill, 382, 383. 

War, bill for prosecution of, with 
Mexico, I, 388, 389; bill signed, I, 
395; danger of, with Great Britain 
and France, I, 397, 398; declaration 
of, against Mexico, I, 391-394; 
department, estimate of expenditure 
by, II, 220; III, 213, 215, 216, 218, 
219, 221; with Mexico, discussed 
in cabinet, I, 384-386, 403, 49S-497; 
II, 234-236; III, 207; munitions, 
sent to Pacific, I, 443; preparations 
for, with Great Britain, I, 133, 134, 
143, 180, 181, 256, 257, 270; prepa- 
ration of Great Britain for, I, 213; 
preparation for, with Mexico, I, 270; 
proclamation of, I, 396; plan of 
prosecuting, I, 429, 436, 437; II, 
104, 145, 146, 198-200, 221-223, 
225, 233, 300-303, 453, 454; III, 
160, 161, 189, 190, 251; objects of, 
I> 396, 397; «teamers, construction 
of. III, 68; views of Polk on prose- 
cution of, II, 349, 350. 

Ward, T. W., interview of, with Polk, 

I, 73-75- 

Warehouse Bill, II, 19, 20. 
Warrington, Lewis, Commodore, I, 

304. 
Washington, birthnight ball, I, 243; 

II, 389. 

Washington monument, IV, 307; 
selection of site of, III, 323; laying 
of corner-stone of, IV, 1-3. 

Wayne, James Moore, IV, 221. 

Webb, James Watson, II, 463. 

Webster, Daniel, I, 292; II, 74; III, 
273, 365, 366; expenditure of secret 
service money under, I, 328, 331- 

334- 
Webster, Fletcher, IV, 339. 
Wee-no-shick, Indian chief, II, 162, 

163. 
Wentworth, John, Representative, II, 

347- 



462 



INDEX 



West, Benjamin, painting of, viewed 
by Polk, I, 292. 

Westcott, James D., Senator, I, 410, 
422; coarse remark of, about Polk, 
I, 199; dissatisfaction of, with 
Polk's appointments in Florida, I, 
381-383; presents cane to Polk, I, 
149. 

West Point, appointment of graduates 
of, to office in army. III, 31, 32. 

Wheaton, Henry, minister at Berlin, 

I, 39-41- 

Whig clerks, removal of, I, 345, 346; 
editors, treasonable articles of, II, 
479; papers, treasonable conduct 
of, II, 483, 484; party, attitude of, 
on Oregon question, I, 258; party, 
effprts of, to produce financial 
panic, III, 322. 

Whigs, appointment of, to army 
offices, I, 478; partisan attacks of, 
on Polk, IV, 329. 

White, Hugh Lawson, Senator, III, 
284. 

Whithorne, Washington Curran, III, 
60, 158, 227. 

Whittlesey, Elisha, III, 428; IV, 308. 

Wickliffe, Charles A., I, 207; III, 
20. 

Wilkes, Charles, Captain, exploring 
expedition of, I, 324. 

Wilkinson, Jesse, Commodore, II, 89. 

Wilmington, visit of Polk to, IV, 379, 
380. 

Wilmot, David, Representative, 1, 1 10, 
198, 202, 203, 342; II, 288-290, 299; 
IV, 166, 341. 

Wilmot Proviso, II, 75, 115, 283, 291, 
292, 334; IV, 23s, 254, 348; ref- 
utation of story of Polk's favoring. 



IV, 342-345; opposed by cabinet, 
II, 287; Polk's veto message on, IV, 
364-367. 
Wilson, Louis, Colonel, III, 84, 85, 

118; death of. III, 152. 
Winthrop, Robert Charles, Represen- 
tative, III, 240; IV, 2. 
Wirt, William, Attorney General, IV, 

SOS- 
Wise, Henry A., minister to Brazil, 

II, 15s; IV, 225, 226; British gov- 
ernment complains against. III, 152; 
correspondence of, called for. III, 
396; recall of, I, 458; relations of, 
with Polk, III, 191, 192. 

Woodbury, Levi, I, 37. 

Woodward, George W., nomination 

of, to Supreme Court, I, 138, 144, 

145, 183-185, 194-196. 
Wool, John Ellis, General, I, 435; II, 

307. 
Worth, William Jenkins, General, 

presentation of sword to, IV, 361. 
Wright, Silas, Governor, death of, 

III, 153; defeat of, in New York 
election, II, 218; treatment of, and 
friends, by Polk, I, 103. 

Yell, Archibald, Governor, I, 231, 

493; death of, II, 451. 
Young, Richard M., appointment of, 

as Commissioner of General Land 

Office, II, 310-313, 320. 
Yucatan, I, 10; II, 394, 425; III, 443, 

444, 467; race war in, III, 373, 374, 

430, 433, 434; message of Polk on 

race war in. III, 435, 436-438. 
Yulee, David Levy, Senator, I, 28, 

30-32, 149, 184, 211, 262, 263; III. 

194. 



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