The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 131
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James K. Polk, Continentalist covers only three years. Logically so.
For, moving from the periphery of national prominence and signif-
icance into the spotlight of the White House, it continues with the
drama of momentous national and international events shaped in
substantial measure by Polk himself. Virtually everything is main-
current. The capturing of the 1844 Democratic presidential nomina-
tion, the victory over Henry Clay, and special problems of an unusual
but hardly lovable chief executive are set forth with comprehensive-
ness and skill. The annexation of Texas, the Oregon question, the
tariff, and the treasury are some of Sellers' subjects. Slidell is sent to
Mexico, Taylor to Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande, and the first
battles of the Mexican War are fought.
Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley, the
author is master of his material. His understanding of Polk is unex-
celled, and his grasp of the political parties and factions of the period
is at least as sure as any predecessor's. Such relatively little known
figures as Senators Hannegan of Indiana and Haywood of North
Carolina are brought into focus in a sensitively artistic way. The pros
and cons of debatable issues are analyzed objectively and firmly. David
E. Twiggs is misnamed "Daniel," and Alexander Slidell Mackenzie is
identified as John Slidell's nephew, whereas actually the men were
brothers-but such errors are infrequent. What impresses one abid-
ingly are the wonderful array of accuracies, the sweep and clarity of
narration, and Sellers' readiness to offer and support opinions on long-
If the third volume proves to be of the same quality as the two
published to date, Sellers' total Polk contribution will undoubtedly
be regarded as one of the finest biographies ever composed by an
American scholar. The research is prodigious, the pen portraiture
deft. Not only perspective but humor and brilliance sustain the
reader's interest and sharpen his curiosity. In the same breath, it should
be emphasized that Professor Sellers does not permit his obvious gifts to
degenerate into a melodramatic or otherwise cheapening presentation.
Indeed, James K. Polk, Continentalist may be considered a biograph-
University of Kentucky
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/m1/149/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.