James K. Polk (1795–1849), the eleventh president, led the United States during the Mexican-American War. Polk began his career as a lawyer before being elected to the Tennessee legislature in 1823. In Tennessee Polk became a close associate of Andrew Jackson, and he went on to serve in the US House of Representatives from 1825 to 1839, and then as governor of Tennessee from 1839 to 1841. In 1844, Polk improbably beat out Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan, and Lewis Cass for the Democratic nomination for president. He won the election over Whig nominee Henry Clay. As president, Polk oversaw the Oregon Treaty of 1846, ending the boundary dispute between the US and Britain. As a presidential candidate, Polk had supported the annexation of Texas, and in office, he dealt with its outcome: the Mexican-American War. The war resulted in Mexico ceding the California and New Mexico territories to the United States, a huge territorial gain. Before the end of his single term and his death in 1849, Polk also managed to meet one of his major presidential goals in reducing the tariff with the Walker Tariff Act of 1846.

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