“THE MAGNITUDE OF POLK’S PRESIDENTIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS”: BOLDLY SIGNED BY PRESIDENT JAMES K. POLK, FROM HIS LIBRARY, FIRST EDITION OF VOLUME VIII OF LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES, 1835
(POLK, James K.) (UNITED STATES CONGRESS). Laws of the United States. From The 4th Of March 1827, To The 3d Of March, 1833…. Vol. VIII. Washington City: Printed by W.A. Davis, 1835. Thick octavo, contemporary full brown sheep, burgundy morocco spine label, uncut and partially unopened. $6500.
First edition of Volume VIII of the official ten-volume Laws of the United States (which would conclude in 1845), a very rare association copy from the library of President James K. Polk— boldly signed by him on the title page—ranked by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. as one of a select “category of ‘forceful and persuasive presidents’ that included Jefferson, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Reagan.” America’s eleventh president, Polk “bequeathed a legacy of a nation poised on the Pacific rim prepared to emerge as a superpower in future generations."
This massive Volume VIII of the official ten-volume Laws of the United States, the first edition containing laws and resolutions enacted by the 20th to 22nd Congresses, as well as printings of major treaties, is from the library of America's eleventh president, James K. Polk, and is signed by him on the title page. "A protégé of Andrew Jackson (hence the nickname Young Hickory), Polk was narrowly elected president as the first dark-horse candidate in 1844, and he limited himself from the outset to only one term in office. Yet those four years were pivotal, especially regarding the nation's territorial expansion, which enormously enlarged the national domain by more than one-third" (New York Times). In his inaugural address, "Polk presented a full-throated defense of Manifest Destiny, celebrated the impending admission of Texas to the Union, and called America's claims to Oregon 'clear and unquestionable" (Wilentz, 577). Polk thus "began his administration with a clearly defined program: to reduce the tariff, reestablish the independent treasury, settle the Oregon boundary, and acquire California" (ANB). In accomplishing these goals, "Polk was better than his word. Not only did he get his way on his four major measures; he… racked up one policy victory after another " (Wilentz, 579). While his presidential legacy is controversial, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. placed "Polk in a category of 'forceful and persuasive presidents' that included Jefferson, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt and Reagan. These were men, said Schlesinger, who, even in the absence of first-order crisis, were 'able to impose their own priorities on the county."
In 1948 when leading scholars were polled "on how they would rate the presidents, Polk ranked tenth— within the near-great category… By embracing the notion of acquiring not only Texas and Oregon but also California and New Mexico, Polk brought to his presidency imperatives of boldness, persistence, force of will, and guile that went beyond anything anyone had before seen in him… His legacy comes down to us in a number of forms, but particularly in the map outline of the continental United States, which is very close to what Polk bequeathed to his nation… To look at that map, and to take in the western and southwestern expanse included in it, is to see the magnitude of Polk's presidential accomplishments" (Merry, 473-7). Entering office at the age of 49, Polk was the country's youngest president up to that time; yet in his first and only term, he also "effected passage of the Walker Tariff, a sensible adjustment that ushered in years of prosperity, and the reestablishment of the independent treasury, which served as an element of federal fiscal policy until 1913. Above all, he… bequeathed a legacy of a nation poised on the Pacific rim prepared to emerge as a superpower in future generations. Physically exhausted by his four arduous years, he returned to his Nashville home, where two months later he died" (ANB). "Published by authority of an Act of Congress," this is Volume VIII of the official ten-volume Laws of the United States, which concluded in 1845. Containing over 1200 pages of congressional legislation, along with an extensive appendix and index. OCLC lists eleven copies, including the U.S. Senate Library. With library inkstamps to title page and occasional margins.
Interior generally fresh with light scattered foxing, early archival reinforcement to paper hinge; some rubbing, edge-wear to scarce contemporary boards. An extremely good association copy with a most important presidential signature.