June 03, 2010

double digits, family ties

technically we hit double digits with tyler, but we never celebrated it. so celebrate! we made it through the first 10 presidents! once we finish polk we'll be a quarter of the way through! and you doubted!

what you just listened to was a lovely song about james k polk by they might be giants (followed by some other songs which you didn't need to listen to but might have). although polk is not one of the more famous presidents, they touch on the two cornerstones of his legacy (can there be only 2 cornerstones? or does it have to be 4?)

regardless, those who know polk know this:

he made 4 campaign promises: assimilate texas, buy oregon, lower the tariffs, and establish an independent treasury.

he accomplished all 4 things, and did not run for re-election.

this has given him a reputation for being a combination of efficient, ruthless, genius, demanding, and uncompromising. some like to call him the most effective president in history. others think he pulled off a smash and grab job, and left future presidents to clean up the mess (then again, almost every president is accused of this in some way or the other).

but it's all so much more complicated than that! watch this space.

HOWEVER, a lesser known fact about james k polk is that his great-grandfather ezekiel came to america from scotland and settled in north carolina. many generations of polks lived in north carolina, including his great-grandson james, and his great-granddaughter mark polk petty, who is - drum roll - my great-great-great-great-grandmother. margaret and james were second cousins, making james k. polk and myself second cousins six times removed. so you'll forgive me if on this one i'm a little biased.