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U.S. presidential election, 1844

Presidential CandidateElectoral Vote Popular Vote Pct Party Running Mate
(Electoral Votes)
James K. Polk of Tennessee (W) 170 1,337,243 Democrat George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania (170)
Henry Clay of Kentucky 105 1,299,062 Whig Theodore Frelinghuysen of New Jersey (105)
Total 100.0%
Other elections: 1832, 1836, 1840, 1844, 1848, 1852, 1856
Source: U.S. Office of the Federal Register

Table of contents
1 Democratic Nomination
2 General Election
3 Other Candidates

Democratic Nomination

Democrats nominated dark horse candidate James Knox Polk on the ninth ballot of the Democratic National Convention after party favorite Martin Van Buren lost the bid because of his opposition to annexing Texas, a position deemed unacceptable by Southerners and by former president Andrew Jackson.

Told of his nomination in a letter, Polk penned the reply: "It has been well observed that the office of President of the United States should neither be sought nor declined. I have never sought it, nor should I feel at liberty to decline it, if conferred upon me by the voluntary suffrages of my fellow citizens."

General Election

Though a veteran politician, Polk entered the 1844 presidential campaign with little name recognition. Playing on his relative obscurity, the Whig opposition sniped "Who is James K. Polk?" An experienced and eloquent orator dubbed the "Napoleon of the Stump," Polk campaigned vigorously, surprising many with his stalwart support of westward expansion--a hotly-debated issue dodged by other candidates.

In the end, Polk's policies paid off. On November 5, 1844, Polk defeated Whig party candidate Henry Clay to become the eleventh president of the United States. He won 170 electoral votes to Clay's 105, with a margin of victory was just 38,000 popular votes.

Other Candidates

In January 1844, Joseph Smith, Jr, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced his candidacy. His running mate was Sidney Rigdon, a theologian influential in forming the Church. Mormon leaders began a nation-wide election campaign, but that effort dissolved when Smith was killed on 27 June 1844.

See also: President of the United States, U.S. presidential election, 1844, History of the United States (1776-1865)

Source: Library of Congress