The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 478
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
to identify those not published, but I simply do not understand the un-
willingness of the obviously able editor and his staff to discuss their se-
Polk's correspondence charts the momentous shift occurring in the
Democratic party during the spring of 1844. From the beginning of the
year Polk and his lieutenants focused on the vice presidency. Their
every act in Tennessee and in Washington was aimed at securing the
second spot on a Van Buren-headed ticket for the twice-beaten guber-
natorial candidate but still enormously ambitious Polk. Polk hung
his political hopes on two powerful hooks-the patronage of Andrew
Jackson, yet a force among Democrats, and unswerving support for
Martin Van Buren, the heavy favorite to win the nomination. Because
the New Yorker recognized the shakiness of his southern base, he ap-
preciated Polk's steadfastness.
But in April the onslaught of Texas blitzed Polk's plans and over-
whelmed all other concerns among congressional Democrats. The re-
vealing letters to Polk from his confidants in Washington, Tennessee
congressmen Cave Johnson and Aaron V. Brown, detail and emphasize
the might of Texas. When Van Buren's public announcement against
immediate annexation doomed his candidacy, the Tennesseeans quickly
perceived another, and greater, opportunity. To save the party from a
fearfully destructive bloodletting, they talked about a man who could
appeal to all Democrats, including the unhappy Van Burenites. Even
before the Baltimore convention they began maneuvering to get Polk
first place. Their efforts and the negotiations in the convention receive
full coverage. I know of no comparable published source that so clari-
fies this momentous occurrence.
Realizing that he led a disparate party, Polk moved promptly to unify
it. Unity was the chief motive for his one-term pledge, which permitted
other major Democratic players to line up behind Polk while they set
their sights on 1848. Then in the famous Kane letter (p. 267; also see
p. 276 for Polk's explanation), Polk satisfied key elements of the party
on the difficult tariff issue. Through the nomination struggle and the
campaign Polk and his aides usually acted with a sure political touch.
Congratulating their success, Polk saw his own state "in a blaze" and
"the Whig leaders ... making desperate efforts" (p. 479). The tena-
cious Polk had come far since the despondent days following his second
gubernatorial defeat. From the fall of 1843 to the spring of 1844, Polk's
political fortunes underwent a remarkable transformation. Now, in the
summer of 1844 the greatest of all political prizes seemed within his
Louiszana State Unzverszty
WILLIAM J. COOPER, JR.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/542/: accessed April 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.