President James K. Polk's first time away from Washington was a day-trip down the Potomac to Mt. Vernon to visit the tomb and home of George Washington. The tomb had been designed by architect William Strickland, and Polk must have enjoyed the peaceful setting along the river as he pondered the legacy of America's first president. Polk didn't leave Washington again for another 18 months.
Pictured above is 1938 Mule Day Queen Norma Thomas with Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville.
Above: Byrd Cain, Tricia Beck, Mike Wolfe of American Pickers, and Anne Cain
The trip to Mt. Vernon may have had a big impact upon Polk because in 1847, he and his wife purchased a home in downtown Nashville which they called "Polk Place." That home, he hoped, would provide "comfort in my retirement" and beyond that serve as the place where he hoped his legacy would reside long after he was gone. Polk Place was to serve as the 11th President's version of Mt. Vernon.
Dixie Crossing played at the event on the side porch of the Polk Home
In his will, Polk wrote that at the time of his passing that he would be placed under a tomb at Polk Place, and there, like his mentor Andrew Jackson at the Hermitage and Washington at Mt. Vernon, he would repose, a stately and fitting monument to a man who had accomplished great things for his country.
Above: Polk Assoc. President Beth Gilbert, Sen. Joey Hensley and Polk Home Curator Tom Price
Sadly, it happened sooner than he hoped. Just three months after leaving the White House, Polk was dead. He was placed under a tomb, ironically designed by William Strickland, who by 1849 was building the Tennessee State Capitol just two blocks away. Sarah lived 42 more years, joining her illustrious husband in the side yard of "Polk Place" in 1891.
Above: Tom Price and Speaker of the House, Beth Harwell
Unfortunately, two years later, Polk's will was broken by 55 descendants who eventually sold the home outside the family. They split the proceeds, some of them receiving a mere 1/756th of the sale price. The Polks were moved by Sarah's heir to the capitol grounds in 1893 and have been at that site ever since.
Today, a project is underway to see the tomb moved from the capitol grounds -- where Polk never intended on being laid to rest -- to the place where his legacy has resided since 1929.
Above: Senator Lamar Alexander, Richard Courtney, Mayor Karl Dean and John Williams
The President James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia is the main historic site for the 11th President. Started by Sarah Polk's great-niece and heir, she brought the Polk collection to Columbia, recognizing it as the only home still standing where the President Polk ever lived.
It, along with the grounds are owned by the State of Tennessee. It is also a National Historic Landmark. It is a fitting place for President Polk and his beloved wife Sarah to repose.
Above: Beth Gilbert, Mary Hannah Gentry, Doug Jones, Martha Gentry, Tom Price & Brian McKelvy
The Polk Museum's Mule Day event "Bloodys and Biscuits" drew more than 400 visitors to the site, including many of those who represent Columbia in the state and national legislature. Among them were Senator Lamar Alexander, Congressman Scott DesJarlais and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.
Above: Rep. Michael Curcio with Julia West
Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell was in attendance, along with Sen. Joey Hensley and Rep. Michael Curcio. Many thanks go to each of them for their support of the President James K. Polk Home and Museum. This site is nationally significant and support to continue it's mission to perpetuate the memory and legacy of the 11th President of the United States.
To find out more about the petition to relocate President Polk to Columbia "Journey Home for James K. Polk," click HERE.
And stay tuned for more tons more photos tomorrow from the event!