No Justice Above the Earth

The youngest slave Polk ever bought was 2 years old, the oldest 37. He inherited 20 from his slave-owning father, and bought at least 30, including several while serving as president. He replaced the paid White House servants with the people he claimed to own, as a cost-saving measure, since presidential salaries were at the time intended to cover staff costs as well.

He sold a man to a slave trader for trying to escape, then bought the rest of the man’s family.

After leaving office, content but exhausted, he began a triumphal tour of the south before retiring to his plantation where he expected to live comfortably, supported by the forced labor of the people he had bought. A case of cholera on the riverboat spooked him, as did reports of the disease being endemic in New Orleans, but every white person he met was so hospitable, and the food so good, so he lingered.

He fell ill on the riverboat north, and spent four days ashore. The doctors assured him he did not have cholera.

He died six weeks later, shitting himself to death, attended by his wife and his captive valet. He was baptized a Methodist merely a week before, leaving the Presbyterianism of his youth and marriage.