John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Ten random things: August 27

Ten slaves purchased by James K. Polk while he was President of the United States:

  1. Agnes (13 years old when purchased)
  2. Rosetta (16 years old)
  3. Jason (11 years old)
  4. Caroline Henly (16 years old)
  5. William (About 17 years old)
  6. Jane (About 12 years old)
  7. Sally (About 12 years old)
  8. Anderson (11 years old)
  9. Calvin (Probably about 13 years old)
  10. Jerry (10 years old)

Apparently, I've decided that discovering how similar my favorite president is to George W. Bush isn't enough; I'm now reading Slavemaster President: The Double Career of James Polk by William Dusinberre, which goes into great detail about Polk's activities as a slave owner. Although Polk was unapologetic about his slave ownership, he nevertheless took pains to make his slave purchases on the downlow, using third parties to keep his own name off the official transactions. He told one agent "that as my private business does not concern the public you will keep [your purchases on my behalf] to yourself," explaining further that "[there] is a great disposition with many persons to parade everything connected with the President although private . . . before the public." He told another agent, "it should not be known to any one but [Polk's brother-in-law John Childress] and yourself that you are making the purchases for me. There is nothing wrong [in] it, but still the public have no interest in knowing it, and in my situation it is better they should not." Indeed.

Regarding the age of the slaves listed above: Polk asked his agents to purchase for him slaves between the age of 12 and 21, but on occasion they would end up buying slaves younger than that. There is no record of Polk objecting to this.


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