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See the fact file below for more information on the Sarah Polk or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Sarah Polk worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
LIFE BEFORE BEING A FIRST LADY
- Sarah Childress Polk was born on September 4, 1803.
- Sarah Polk’s birthplace and hometown was Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- She was the third child of Elizabeth Whitsitt and Joel Childress.
- Joel Childress, Sarah’s father, was born on March 22, 1777, in North Carolina. He was a prominent man who ran a plantation.
- Joel’s plantation in Tennessee grew crops that were harvested by African-American slaves.
- In Joel’s will, it is mentioned that they had four slaves working at his home.
- Joel was also a known merchant. However, it is not specified what he sold.
- Sarah Polk came from Scottish, Irish, and English descent.
- However, she was unaware of this for most of her life.
- Sarah was named after her maternal grandmother, Sarah Thompson Whitsett.
- Sarah had five siblings.
- Anderson Childress (1799-1827)
- Susan Childress Rucker (1801-1888)
- Benjamin Whitsett Childress (Died in infancy, circa 1803-1807)
- John Whitsett Childress (June 1, 1807 – October 6, 1884)
- Elizabeth Childress (died in infancy, date unknown)
- The Polk family practiced the presbyterian faith.
- Sarah Polk received her basic education and literacy from Murfreesboro Common School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, from 1803-1813.
- Sarah Polk was an intelligent woman who was far ahead of her time.
- From 1814 to 1816, Sarah, with her sister Susan, attended Bradley Academy in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- Bradley Academy was a private school that was exclusively for boys.
- This was where Anderson, their brother, attended. The school’s principal, Samuel P. Black, privately tutored Sarah and Susan.
- From 1816 to 1817, Sarah and Susan boarded at the home of Colonel Butler and attended Abercrombie’s Boarding School in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Sarah and Susan were sent to Abercrombie’s Boarding School because their paternal cousins, Matilda and Elizabeth, were sent there, as well.
- In this school, Sarah Polk learned various activities, like playing the piano and sewing. This is also the institution where she was taught proper social etiquette.
- From 1817 to 1819, Sarah Polk attended an exclusive school, Moravians’ Salem Academy, which was located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
- In Sarah Polk’s time, the Moravians’ Salem Academy was one of the few institutions that offered higher education to women.
- The basic curriculum offered to women in Polk’s time included English grammar, Bible study, Greek and Roman literature, geography, music, drawing, and sewing.
- While studying here, Sarah Polk developed her interest and love for reading.
- Unfortunately, their education was interrupted when Joel suddenly died.
SARAH AND JAMES
- Sarah and James had already met from the time when Samuel P. Black was tutoring Sarah and her sister.
- Sarah was 12 back then, while James was 19.
- In the 1820’s, James and Sarah met formally when Polk was working as a State Legislator. Eventually, James courted Sarah.
- The couple became engaged in 1823.
- Sarah and James officially married on January 1, 1824. Sarah Childress was 20, while James Polk was 28.
- They were married at the Polk Plantation near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
- James Polk had surgery due to a bladder stone when he was younger.
- This made him sterile, so Sarah and James were the only presidential couple who did not have children.
- However, Marshall Tate Polk, James’s nephew, was raised by the couple as their ward. Eventually, Marshall was sent to study in Washington, D.C. Later on, he was sent to Georgetown University.
- Sarah Polk Fall, Sarah’s great niece, was fostered by her after James’s death.
- Sarah assisted James with his political speeches.
- Sarah also gave James advice on policy and helped in her husband’s campaign.
- During the Petticoat affair in 1830, Polk and Andrew Jackson, James’s mentor, almost had conflict between themselves.
- Sarah Polk became the 11th First Lady of the United States in 1845.
- Sarah Polk was known for her great conversational skills.
- President James Polk needed Sarah’s aid, and he discussed policy matters with her.
- Due to Sarah’s Presbyterian faith, she banned dancing, card games, and hard liquor at official receptions.
- Since the first lady practiced sober affairs, she received the nickname, “Sahara Sarah”.
LATER LIFE AND DEATH
- After James Polk’s presidency, the couple moved to their new home, Polk Place, which was located in Nashville, Tennessee.
- In June 1849, former President Polk died due to cholera, and Sarah remained at the Polk Place.
- After her husband’s death, Sarah seldom left her house and was considered a recluse.
- Sarah unofficially adopted Sarah Polk Jetton after her husband’s death.
- Sarah Polk died on August 14, 1891, at the age of 87.
- Sarah Polk was originally buried next to her husband at the Polk Place, but their remains were eventually moved to the Tennessee State Capitol.
Sarah Polk Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Sarah Polk across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Sarah Polk worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Sarah Polk who was the first lady of the United States from 1845 to 1848. She was the wife of the 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk. She was of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Sarah Polk Facts
- Getting to Know Sarah
- State of Tennessee
- Trip to Murfreesboro
- How James Met Sarah
- Timeline Completion
- President Polk
- Similarities and Differences
- What a Woman
- Her Life in Pictures
- Dear First Lady
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Link will appear as Sarah Polk Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 3, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.