James K. Polk

Political Offices

How did Polk fare as speaker of the House?

Polk consistently supported President Jackson and furthered the interests of the Democratic Party over the other major party—the Whigs. Polk presided over a deeply divided House—one that featured 108 Democrats, 107 Whigs, and 24 member of other parties. He tried to support President Van Buren’s mission of an independent Treasury Department that would place federal governmental money in governmental, rather than private, institutions. Unfortunately for Van Buren and Polk, Whig opposition was too much. He left the position as speaker in part because the Whig party was growing in popularity, to some extent due to the Panic of 1837, which harmed the Van Buren administration and, consequently, the Democratic Party.


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