Polk, Exhausted, Says He's Feeling Better Now That He's Out of Office, Then Dies a Month Later

May 9, 1849

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Polk, Exhausted, Says He's Feeling Better Now That He's Out of Office, Then Dies a Month Later
Autograph Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 244

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      Background

      Polk, who rose in the White House at dawn and worked on through the night - and spent only forty-two of his fourteen hundred and sixty days in office away from his desk - may be said to have worked himself to death, dying less than four months after his presidency, at the age of fifty-three. This letter, however, finds him, briefly, feeling well, between the cholera he most likely picked up on his way home from Washington, in New Orleans, and the cholera that killed him one month later.
       
      Now that I am a private citizen - relieved from all public responsibilities - I am quietly at home enjoying the repose which I so much needed.  I was seriously indisposed during the latter part of my return journey from Washington - but my health is now entirely restored.
       
      Polk’s respite from severe diarrhea lasted roughly another three weeks, at which point, exhausted, he sickened one last time, and died on June 15th.


      Autograph Letter Signed, 1 page, quarto, Nashville, Tennessee, May 9, 1849. To John W. Forney in Philadelphia. 
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      Nashville Tennessee
      May 9th 1849:-

      My Dear Sir!
      [...] my arrival at my residence early in the last month, I received you note of the 12th of March, enclosing to me, as I had requested you to do, the news articles on the Oregon question, which originally appeared in the columns of The Pennsylvanian.  I thank you for them - and beg through you to make my acknowledgments - to the beautiful lady - by whom you inform me, one of them was copied from your files.  As you inform me, she is one of my best friends, I will be careful to preserve the copy. 

      Now that I am a private citizen - relieved from all public responsibilities - I am quietly at home enjoying the repose which I so much needed.  I was seriously indisposed during the latter part of my return journey from Washington - but my health is now entirely restored.

      I desire that you will consider me a subscriber to The Pennsylvanian - and have the paper forwarded to me.

      I am with great Respect
      Your friend & [...]

      James K. Polk

      John W. Forney, Esq.
      Philadelphia