Sarah Childress Polk

First Lady of the United States from 1845 to 1849

Sarah Childress Polk (September 4, 1803 – August 14, 1891) was the wife of the US President James K. Polk. She was the First Lady of the United States from 1845 to 1849.

Sarah Childress Polk
A copy of 1846 portrait by George Dury
First Lady of the United States
In role
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
PresidentJames K. Polk
Preceded byJulia Gardiner Tyler
Succeeded byMargaret Taylor
Personal details
Born(1803-09-04)September 4, 1803
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedAugust 14, 1891(1891-08-14) (aged 87)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Spouse(s)James K. Polk

Early life and education change

She was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She was the elder daughter of her parents, Captain Joel and Elizabeth Childress. As a child, she lived on a plantation near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She got a good education and studied at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Marriage and family change

On 1 January 1824, she married James K. Polk. At the time of her marriage, she was 20 years old. Polk was aged 28 years. At the time of this marriage, Polk had just begun his first year's service in the Tennessee legislature.

The Polk couple did not get any children of their own. They raised a nephew, Marshall Polk (1831-1884). After her husband’s death, Sarah Polk raised a niece, Sarah Polk Jetton (1847–1924).

First Lady tenure change

She also helped privately her husband in preparing his speeches and in his correspondence. During her term as the First Lady, the functions at the White House were famous for their calmness and soberness. One of the reasons being her young age when she became the First Lady. She became the First Lady when she was only 41. The other reason that she was having a good health.

After being First Lady change

Her husband died just after three months of her retirement as the President. At that time the couple was living at their new home named Polk Place in Nashville. After her husband’s death she always dressed in black. She lived in that house for about 42 years, the longest retirement and widowhood of any former US First Lady.

Living longer change

Only three other First Ladies, namely, Anna Harrison, Edith Bolling Wilson, Lady Bird Johnson and Bess Truman had lived longer than Sarah Polk. Sarah Polk, as the First Lady of the United States, even outlived several of her successors. She lived longer than Margaret Taylor, Abigail Fillmore, Jane Pierce, Mary Todd Lincoln, Eliza McCardle Johnson and Lucy Webb Hayes.

Death change

She died in Nashville, Tennessee just three weeks before her 88th birthday.

Legacy change

As the First Lady, and even after her retirement as the First Lady, she earned a lot of respect from all section of the society.