Archive, Opinion

James K. Polk


James K. Polk, the most important person in California history. The Place of Honor at the California State Capitol in Sacramento belongs to the statue of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, two historical figures with only a remote connection to California. Nowhere in the building is it mentioned that on July 7, 1846 the Pacific Fleet sailed into Monterey Bay and Admiral John Sloat announced that “California has been annexed to the United States of America by order of President James K Polk!” It seems to have been forgotten even by historical museums that the vision of an Intercontinental Empire from the Atlantic to the Pacific was solely the vision of President Polk. Congress had to be dragged kicking and screaming even to accept California as American territory. But Polk’s legacy speaks for itself. On March 4, 1845 when he took office the western boundary of the United States was the western boundary of Louisiana. On the day he left office March 4, 1849, the western boundary of the United States was San Miguel Island in the Pacific Ocean.
Robert DeVries
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Point Loma Democratic Club of which he is a member.