James K. Polk
James K. Polk
This chapter focuses on James K. Polk, a Jacksonian Democrat from Tennessee who was often called “Young Hickory.” His assertive philosophy of presidential power mirrored that of his colloquial namesake Andrew Jackson. Polk articulated a Jacksonian notion that had infused the unitary executive arguments of Jackson's protest message vis-a-vis the Bank of the United States. This was the argument that the president was the only true representative of the whole people of the United States, because he alone had been elected by the whole people. Clearly, Polk was committed to the Jacksonian notion that the president was uniquely a spokesman of the whole people of the United States. As one historian has noted, he “undertook to make reality of the principle sought to be established by Washington, that the executive branch of the government was one whole to be managed by the President alone.”
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