Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Birthplace of James K. Polk

Back on the road for SummerTrip '11 and our next stop was on the south side of Charlotte, NC. Roadsigns helpfully guided us there, but the entrance isn't exactly huge so we drove past it and had to turn around.

This small plot is part of the original farm the parents of James K. Polk owned early in their marriage. A small museum shows some of what like was like at the time and has a few pieces of family furniture. Admission is free.

This amused and scared me at the same time. Those scissors are for umbilical cord cutting, the hook thing is for breaking a laboring woman's water, and the salad spoon things are forceps. Forceps are hardly used anymore, but they apparently haven't changed (Patrick was born with their assistance, so I can verify that). The little bubble thing is a 200+ year old glass breast pump.

Some of the more interesting articles were about Andrew Jackson (whom he admired) and Henry Clay (whom he defeated). James Polk is usually thought of as one of the no-name presidents, but historians have referred to him as the "least known consequential president" and at a time when many rested on their political laurels once they held the highest office of the land, he took the job very seriously and worked into the wee hours of the morning almost every night of his term. His major achievements include leading the nation into and out of the Mexican-American War and winning a staring contest with Britain over Oregon. He also was president when the U.S. Naval Academy was officially opened, though most of the work in creating it was done before he took office. He did not seek re-election and died of cholera 3 months after leaving the White House, likely worn out from the job.

Reconstructed homes on the property. They are only open to school groups and for special events. The land itself is less than 1/5th of the original homestead, it changed hands several times in the last 200 years and was divided over that time.

The family garden would have been fenced in to protect the vegetable from deer and other forest animals. The area also has some short and fairly gentle nature trails.

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