President James K. Polk State Historic Site
Backstory and Context
Born November 2, 1795 on a 150-acre farm worked by his parents, Jane and Samuel, James Knox Polk spent most of his childhood among the gently rolling hills of Mecklenburg County. A memorial to our nation's 11th president is located on part of these lands. The early 1800s-vintage log buildings and their furnishings are not original to the Polk homestead but are very similar to the structures the president's family lived in when he was a boy.
The oldest of ten, Polk was raised on tales of the American Revolution by his father, a prosperous farmer. A pious Presbyterian, Polk's mother was said to be descended from the fiery Scottish religious reformer John Knox. Both parents instilled in their son a fierce patriotism, a keen interest in politics, and a deep religious faith.
When James was 11, the family sold the homestead (by then it encompassed over 450 acres) and moved west to join his grandfather in Tennessee. The future president attended academies there, then returned to North Carolina, becoming an honor student at the University of North Carolina. After graduating in 1818, he went back to Tennessee, studied law, and established a practice