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Polk this!
March 2, 2003 2:07 AM   Subscribe

James K. Polk has been made famous by They Might Be Giants, but what do we really know about the Napoleon of the Stump? You can check out a fact sheet or test your Polk IQ. If that's not enough you can always visit a museum devoted to Young Hickory. Or you can visit his memorial in Mecklenburg County, N.C. How about the man in his own words? Sure, we all know (pdf file) all the stuff he achieved from the recent song, but did you know that The Might Be Giants was not the first to put the 11th President in verse? Least you forget President Polk, link to Hall of Forgotten Presidents or remind your friends and loved ones with an e-card. It seems that there are those who will never forget him and will always give the first dark house president his props.
posted by Bag Man (16 comments total)

 
Oh, we are the mediocre presidents. You won't find our faces. On dollars or on cents!

There's Taylor, there's Tylor there's Fillimore and there's Hayes. There's William Henry Harrison "I died in thirty days!

We are the adequate, forgetable, occasionally regretable caretaker Presidents of the USA!
posted by Space Coyote at 6:37 AM on March 2, 2003


Thanks to that TMBG song, I passed the AP US History exam. Their song Mammal helped out on my AP Biology test, too. Listening to music sure beat real studying.
posted by katieinshoes at 9:15 AM on March 2, 2003


President Polk is one of the most relevant presidents of our time.

To start the Mexican War, he sent Zachary Taylor down to the border with with other patrols. They hung around disputed territory until they got shot at.

Then Polk was able to announce that "blood was shed on American soil," and he could get his war on.

Abraham Lincoln demanded to know where blood had been shed on American soil. It hadn't, it was Mexican soil.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:53 AM on March 2, 2003


Wasn't James K. Polk has been made famous by being the 11th President?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:56 AM on March 2, 2003


I was just thinking about that, katieinshoes. I'll never forget chuckling out loud (and seeing the other test-takers stare at me in utter confusion) when I saw the question posed. John and John saved the day.

(and later in college, I confused an art history professor when I gave her a cassette copy of "Meet James Ensor.")

gosh, I'm SUCH a geek.
posted by Vidiot at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2003


Polk went to school here, at UNC, and no one talks about him. He's got a quad named after him. No buildings.
posted by gsteff at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2003


All you Polk fans needn't feel too bad about all this. After all, the number of people who stare at a map of Turkey looking for Constantinople has been reduced more by TMBG than by any history or geography teacher.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:05 PM on March 2, 2003


Austere, severe, he held few people dear.
posted by y at 12:10 PM on March 2, 2003


I love that TMBG has changed the lyrics of the song to from "he built an independent treasury" (as in the linked page and the album version) to "rebuilt an independent treasury" (in more recent performances) after someone pointed out to them that there had been an indepdendent treasury department before Polk's administration.

katieinshoes, or vidiot, or someone: what was the AP question the song helped with? (Not like it would have been on the test when I took it years ago, but now I'm dying to know.)
posted by Zonker at 12:17 PM on March 2, 2003


katieinshoes, or vidiot, or someone: what was the AP question the song helped with?

I don't remember particulars, but the song mentions the year he was elected, which helped me keep timelines straight. It put a date on the Manifest Destiny concept, aquiring Oregon and the southwest, etc.
posted by katieinshoes at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2003


Does the song also mention why Polk never ran for a second term?

In terms of doing what he said he'd do, Polk was one of the most successful presidents America's ever had. But dysentery kept him from seeking a second term. That's right, Polk couldn't run because he had the runs.
posted by wrench at 2:55 PM on March 2, 2003


The question was something like katieinshoes mentioned -- though I seem to recall it asking something like "describe the major events in Polk's administration." It was '97 or '98. I just couldn't believe my good luck when I saw the question.

gsteff: Polk went to school here, at UNC, and no one talks about him. He's got a quad named after him. No buildings.

He also has a marble tablet in the lobby of Memorial Hall, I believe -- I want to say that it's about halfway up the left-side stairwell as you go in.
posted by Vidiot at 3:17 PM on March 2, 2003


Thanks katieinshoes & vidiot -- my curiosity is satisfied. (And I can just imagine half the people in the room humming the tune as they check off Polk's platform.)

wrench: the song runs through Polk's accomplishements and then says "having done all this, he sought no second term". No mention of dysentery; it was nice to think that he simply chose not to run because he didn't have anything left to do in office.
posted by Zonker at 3:44 PM on March 2, 2003


Another thing about the song: when They Might Be Giants play it in concert, they almost always have confetti canons that go off at some point in the song. Quite fun.

I always wondered why it is that they pick *this* song for the confetti.
posted by katieinshoes at 6:21 PM on March 2, 2003


Does the song also mention why Polk never ran for a second term?

I vaguely recall from my high school history classes that not running for a second term was one of Polk's campaign promises when he ran for his first term.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:23 PM on March 3, 2003


I saw TMBG perform this song Saturday night. If I remember correctly, the confetti canons fired several songs earlier in the show. I don't remember which song, though.
Damn, this was a pointless post.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:19 AM on March 4, 2003


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