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“James K Polk Who?” An introduction

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
Two class periods
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
This activity includes whole group instruction, small group instruction and individual instruction. The instructor should prepare the pacing and depth of conversation based on the level of the students in the class.
Rationale (why are you doing this?)

.An introduction/overview to James K Polk (President 1845-1849) and the impact he had on the growth of our country. Although Polk accomplished almost everything that he promised during his run for presidency, he also had a lot of challenges.  Polk left office during a tumultuous time in the country’s growth and left unanswered questions regarding the future of our country. This lesson is important because Polk’s presidency seriously changed our nation and yet so many students don’t even recognize his name.  Building on Polk’s legacy, our nation continued to grow.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Define terms related to the context of James Polk
  • Examine and explore how James Polk acquired new land for our country.
  • Identify the states that were added during James Polk’s presidency.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met


College board A.P. U.S. History; Unit 5: 1844-1877

5.1 Contextualization

5.2 Manifest Destiny

5.3 The Mexican American War


Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed


  • Resource Book: Polk, The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America  by Walter R Borneman
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed