FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA - PRESIDENT JAMES POLK AND MANIFEST DESTINY by Bob Short, 8 Sessions
"Go West Young Man," is a phrase often credited to American author and newspaper Horace Greeley. He promoted America's expansion westward following the concept of Manifest Destiny. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims followed his advice and made the perilous journey from the densely settled east coast to the Pacific Ocean. Manifest Destiny was a cult-like movement that assigned Americans a special mission, a sacred job given only to them. That task was to make America bigger so that America's "borders of freedom" would be open to even more emigres. In 1845 the effort got a big boost when Tennessee Senator James K. Polk was elected president. Like his mentor, former president Andrew Jackson, he believed strongly in the objectives of the movement. So strongly in fact that he oversaw the growth of the nation by more than a million square miles during his four years in the White House. Most notably, Polk brought the Republic of Texas into the Union; bluffed Britain out of the state of Oregon and took California and much of our present Southwestern states from Mexico. Not everyone agreed with Polk's frenzied desire to grab more and more land. Future president Abraham Lincoln, a congressman at the time, opposed his war with Mexico, but eventually voted for his request for a declaration. In this course, we will take a look at Polk's life and career that will reveal a portrait of an expansionist president and decisive statesman who refined the United States of America.
After retiring in 2001, Bob returned to his native north Georgia mountains to concentrate on preserving Georgia's political history. He became the creator of an oral history series entitled "Reflections on Georgia Politics" for Young Harris College's Zell and Shirley Miller Library and the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Studies and Research at the University of Georgia.