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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Photo Flop

Posted February 9, 2006

Who was the first president to have his picture taken at the White House? Hint. It was a North Carolinian. And he wasn’t really excited about it. 157 years ago this month James K. Polk allowed artist Matthew Brady to snap his likeness in the large dining room of the White House. During Brady’s visit Polk complained about having to deal with office seekers. In his diary he wrote: “I have great contempt for such persons and dispose of their applications very summarily. They take up much of my time. I yielded to the request of an artist named Brady of New York by sitting for my daguerreotype likeness today.”
That’s President Polk in the photograph with First Lady Sarah who was educated by the Moravians at Old Salem. President Polk had a nickname. Do you know what it is? Pundits called him “Young Hickory” because of his allegiance to another North Carolina native who made it to the White House – Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson. Polk followed Jackson’s lead by supporting the “common man” and lower taxes. Polk was educated at the University of North Carolina where he was an honors graduate.
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