Saturday, March 25, 2017

"Eternal rest, HAH!" said President James K. Polk

Polk and his wife are about to be dug up and moved for the fourth time.  This seems a bit excessive, don't you think?  Especially when perhaps as many as eight out of 20 people only know "James K. Polk, US President" and that's it. 

Presidents with libraries and museums seem to fare better as far as burial goes.  Right here in Southern California we have the Nixon and Reagan libraries and Reagan has an additional site in Santa Barbara to cover his old ranch.  All, I might add, are resting comfortable (although I can't really speak for Nixon - who knows with that one?) 

Polk only has a memorial building, built by his father, rather grandly called "The Ancestral Home" in Columbia, TN.    But then again, it could be argued that he's been moved around too often to be granted permanent status in any one building.    This Ancestral House is now the planned next spot for him and wife Sarah.

A brief history ... he was the oldest of 10 children.  His mother was a devout Presbyterian and his father was not.  When it came time to baptize Baby Polk, Daddy refused to affirm his religious faith so the minister refused to baptize the kid.  I would not have wanted to be a fly on the seat of the carriage trundling Mom and Dad home. 

Plagued by ill-health, Polk was home-schooled.  After some time, he was finally diagnosed with urinary tract stones and surgery was performed.  The anesthetic was copious lashings (one presumes) of brandy; nothing else was available let alone invented yet.  The surgery was a success.

On Andrew Jackson's prodding, Polk met and later married Sarah Childress who was 20 to his 28.  Their marriage would last only 25 years until he died of cholera at age 53.  She was a widow for the next 42 years, finally dying age 87.  It seems a pity that he did die "so young" because his last words to Sarah just before he died at 3:15 p.m. June 15, 1849, were, "I love you for all eternity, Sarah, I love you."

Love is strange because I can't see what's so lovable about her edicts in the White House during his one term (one term by his own choice.)  She decreed that there would be NO singing, nor dancing nor alcohol on the premises and refused to attend horse races or the theater. 

He was first buried in the Nashville City Cemetery.  He was then moved to a memorial site on the grounds of his old house Polk Place where Sarah joined him.  His next stop, along with the dour Sarah (she could only have been dour) on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol. 

And now comes the vote that will or won't dig them up for the fourth time.  If they are moved again, I think the appropriate music to be played should be the Beach Boys "I Get Around."

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