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Under James Knox Polk,11th US President (1845-1849), the United States grew by more than a million square miles, across Texas and New Mexico to California and even Oregon. More than any other President, Polk exercised "Manifest Destiny," a phrase coined by a magazine to express the conviction that the United States was entitled to rule as much of the continent as it could acquire. He successfully waged war against Mexico, and thereby obtained for the U.S. most of its present boundaries as a nation.

A man of firm personal principles, he kept his word to retire after a single term, although he could easily have won reelection. Yet he is regarded today by most historians not as a great President but as one who missed opportunities. He may have been the last chief executive with enough voter support to have addressed the moral issue of slavery, but he failed to understand the depth of popular emotion over the westward expansion of the South's "peculiar institution." This failure on his part left the issue of slavery unaddressed and thus unresolved at the end of his term in 1849....
 
 
Under James Knox Polk,11th US President (1845-1849), the United States grew by more than a million square miles, across Texas and New Mexico to California and even Oregon. More than any other President, Polk exercised "Manifest Destiny," a phrase coined by a magazine to express the conviction that the United States was entitled to rule as much of the continent as it could acquire. He successfully waged war against Mexico, and thereby obtained for the U.S. most of its present boundaries as a nation.

A man of firm personal principles, he kept his word to retire after a single term, although he could easily have won reelection. Yet he is regarded today by most historians not as a great President but as one who missed opportunities. He may have been the last chief executive with enough voter support to have addressed the moral issue of slavery, but he failed to understand the depth of popular emotion over the westward expansion of the South's "peculiar institution." This failure on his part left the issue of slavery unaddressed and thus unresolved at the end of his term in 1849....

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