Historic Markers Across Tennessee



James K. Polk House



Marker ID:  
Location: 301 W 7th St, Columbia, TN
County: Maury
Coordinates: N 35° 36.899    W 087° 2.242
  35.61498333    -87.03736666
Waymark: None
 



Text:

James K. Polk House
For the Union


This house, constructed in 1816, is the only surviving Tennessee residence associated with the nation's eleventh president. James Knox Polk (1795-1849) lived here from 1818 to 1824. When Polk's mother died in 1852, the house passed to his younger brother, William H. Polk.

As Tennesseans considered secession during the 1860 presidential election, William Polk supported Stephen H. Douglas, the northern Democrat, over John Breckinridge, the southern Democratic candidate. In 1861, Polk became a staunch Unionist. He chaired the Tennessee Unionist Convention, which selected him as its gubernatorial nominee to oppose secessionist Isham G. Harris for Tennessee governor. The Confederate press lambasted Polk's candidacy, and a Nashville paper proclaimed that he could "no more fill the place of Governor than Falstaff could play Hamlet." Harris handily defeated Polk, 74,973 to 43,342 votes.

After Federal troops occupied Columbia in March 1862, they established the Provost Marshal headquarters at St. Peter's Episcopal Church next door to the Polk house. In September, Polk joined Union Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden's staff in Nashville. The Nashville Daily Union proclaimed on September 9, "Blessed with all the comforts and luxuries of a delightful home, he has voluntarily left them all to fight for that flag which he loved, and which James K. Polk delighted to honor."

Polk became ill in Nashville and died there on December 16, 1862. His older brother's widow, Sarah K. Polk, arranged with Union General William S. Rosecrans to have his body transported to Columbia to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery.


Tennessee Civil War Trails