James K. Polk defeated Henry Clay in the 1844 presidential election. This guide provides access to digital materials at the Library of Congress, links to external websites, and a print bibliography related to the election.
Ken Drexler, Reference Specialist, Researcher Engagement & General Collections Division
Created: December 5, 2023
Last Updated: January 17, 2024
Democrat candidate James K. Polk defeated Whig candidate Henry Clay in the presidential election of 1844. Polk, the first “dark horse” presidential candidate in U.S. history, received the Democratic nomination on the ninth ballot after former president and frontrunner Martin Van Buren lost his bid due to his opposition to the annexation of Texas. Vowing to serve only one term as president, Polk campaigned on the promise to annex Texas and to settle the Oregon Territory boundary dispute with Great Britain. Clay, a major political force in American politics during the first half of the nineteenth century, ran unsuccessfully for president on three occasions, losing the elections of 1824, 1832, and 1844.
The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with the presidential election of 1844, including government documents, broadsides, prints, political cartoons, sheet music, and newspaper articles. This guide compiles links to digital materials related to the presidential election of 1844 that are available throughout the Library of Congress website. In addition, it provides links to external websites focusing on the 1844 election and a selected bibliography.