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James K. Polk

Presidency

What was Polk’s position on slavery?

Polk said that slavery was an evil institution, but he was a slaveholder during his adult life. His political position was that it was up to individual states to determine whether slavery should exist within their borders. In his will, he called for all his slaves to go to Sarah and upon her death, to be freed. Sarah lived more than forty years after his death, so his will was trumped by the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.



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