Transcripts of James K. Polk’s Final Correspondence Now Online
May 24, 2019

Letters from the final year of James K. Polk’s presidency are now available online. UT Libraries staff designed the website for the XML-encoded transcriptions.

With online publication of this last portion of Polk’s correspondence, UT’s James K. Polk Project nears completion. The James K. Polk Project, based in UT’s Department of History, spent decades locating and publishing all extant letters written by or to the United States’ eleventh president (1845-1849).

Correspondence of James K. Polk: Transcriptions, April 1848–June 1849 includes 364 letters from Polk’s final year as president and his brief retirement. Many of these cover the aftermath of the Mexican War, with Polk pressing Congress to create state or territorial governments for the Western lands acquired from Mexico. Others discuss the presidential campaign of 1848, in which Zachary Taylor won election as the first president with no prior political experience. Still others address the European revolutions of 1848–1849, conflicts between whites and Indians in Oregon, and the California gold rush. Many concern African Americans’ enslavement in the South, in the West, in Cuba, and on Polk’s own plantation in Mississippi.

The Polk project has performed an immense service to historians by collecting, transcribing, and publishing virtually the entire correspondence of President Polk. Thirteen volumes of the Correspondence, covering 1817 through March 1848, are already available as hardcover editions from UT Press. The earlier volumes are also freely available as PDFs through Newfound Press, the UT Libraries’ online imprint. The edited volumes include annotations that provide historical context for the letters.

A hardcover edition of Volume 14 (April 1848-June 1849) will be available for purchase from UT Press in the not-too-distant future. This final volume will also include a calendar summarizing letters from earlier periods that were located too late to be published in the chronologically appropriate volumes of the Correspondence.