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A country of vast designs : James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the conquest of the American continent

by Merry, Robert W., 1946-

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Merry examines how, in a one-term presidency, James K. Polk completed the story of America's Manifest Destiny by expanding its territory across the continent. b&w photographs. Full description


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Table of Contents:
  • Introduction: Ritual of democracy: the emergence of an expansionist president
  • Young Hickory: the making of a Jackson protégé
  • Tennessee and Washington: the rise and fall of a presidential loyalist
  • The 1844 election: searching for a means of political recovery
  • Texas: dawn of a new era
  • Baltimore : America's first political dark horse
  • Polk vs. Clay: answering the question, "Who is James K. Polk?"
  • The victor: preparing for the mantle of leadership
  • Taking charge: America's zest for grand ambitions
  • Annexation complete: diplomacy, intrigue, and the force of politics
  • The United States and Oregon: "The people here are worn out by delay"
  • The United States and Mexico: divergent new world cultures on a path to war
  • Britain and Mexico: playing with prospects of a dual war
  • The Twenty-ninth Congress: Polk takes command of the national agenda
  • End of a treaty: diplomacy and politics at war with each other
  • War: "Every consideration of duty and patriotism"
  • Vagaries of war: "And may there be no recreant soul to fail or falter now"
  • Presidential temperament: "I prefer to supervise the whole operations of the government"
  • Wilmot's proviso: transformation of the war debate
  • The war in the West: patriotism, duty, adventure, and glory
  • The new face of war: "We are yet to have a long and wearisome struggle"
  • The politics of rancor: constitutional usurpation vs. moral treason
  • Dilatory Congress: the challenge of presidential leadership
  • Veracruz and beyond: grappling with Mexico's military defiance
  • Scott and Trist: a clash of policy and temperament
  • Mexico City: the pivot of personality
  • The specter of conquest: "Have we conquered peace? Have we obtained a treaty?"
  • Treaty: from Trist to Polk to the Senate
  • Peace: California, New Mexico, and the Union
  • Final months: "Solemnly impressed with the... emptiness of worldly honors"
  • Epilogue: Legacy: the price of presidential accomplishment.