President Polk, 1848 portrait, by George Healy
It can be argued that the U.S. President who most influenced Texas was not born here nor did he reside in the State. While two Presidents were born in Texas and two others claim to have gotten here as fast as they could (see below), James K. Polk, the eleventh President of the United States was from North Carolina. President Polk was the driving national political force behind events that permanently cemented Texas into the United States.
During a period of dramatic political instability south of the Rio Grande, the emergence of the Republic of Texas and it’s subsequently becoming a State (1845) was not accepted by any Mexican administration. President Polk sought to reach a peaceful solution to the Texas issue while continuing the national process of formally expanding the territory of the emerging United States. A U.S. offer of $5 million for part of Nuevo Mexico was rejected by Mexico. That and subsequent events led to Polk’s declaration of war with Mexico on May 13, 1846. Hostilities were formally concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1846. Under that agreement, the United States paid Mexico $15 million (about $370 million today) for 525,000 square miles of territory that included Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming and California. 389,166 square miles of Texas was also part of the purchase.
President Polk’s initiative and resolution brought political stability and formalized the geographic structure of the American West from north to south. Without his leadership, Texas would not have had the opportunity to begin growing into one of the best places to live on the planet.
Texas-born Presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson
Residential Presidents: George Bush (Massachusetts), George W. Bush (Connecticut)