Robinson joins efforts in moving the tomb of 11th president of the U.S.
By Bobby Lee McCulley | January 11, 2018 6:36 am
White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson recently joined the efforts of numerous elected officials across Tennessee in support of relocating the tomb of one of the nation’s president to his ancestral home, in Tennessee.
There has been widespread support across Tennessee for the organizers of “The Journey Home for President James K. Polk” campaign, with 72 of Tennessee’s county mayors, including Robinson, writing letters in favor of the tomb to be moved to the President James K. Polk Home and Museum. The tombs of President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah Polk are now located at the state capitol, where they were moved after the destruction of the Polk Place.
“The mission for this project has been to honor the legacy of our 11th president, and we are humbled by the overwhelming support to fulfill Polk’s wishes,” said Thomas Price, curator of the President James K. Polk Home and Museum. “There have been several attempts to try and fulfill Polk’s intent to be buried at home in the past, and we look to our elected officials to vote in favor of the resolution as the next step in the process to make this historical event a reality for President and Tennessee Governor James K. Polk, bringing him to rest in peace at home once and for all.”
Polk detailed his desired legacy in his will to be buried at home in the side yard of Polk Place, a precedent Polk took from several preceding presidents, including George Washington at Mt. Vernon and his mentor Andrew Jackson at The Hermitage. After Sarah Polk’s death, in 1891, legal problems ensued. Distant relatives sued the estate of the late president, arguing that a dead man did not have the legal authority to determine the future of a property in perpetuity, and the state judicial system agreed.
These 55 family members then sold the property and split the proceeds, and, despite some efforts to preserve Polk Place, the home was sold to a developer, in 1900, and torn down a year later for an apartment complex.
The tomb is now located at the Tennessee State Capitol, which is where the Polks were moved after the destruction of Polk Place. At the time, it was the best option available. However, in 1929, Sarah Polk’s great-great-niece and a group of Nashville women formed the James K. Polk Memorial Association with the purpose of honoring Polk’s legacy. The Association and the State of Tennessee purchased the Polk family’s Columbia home and furnished it with many of the inherited furnishings from Polk Place. These artifacts that now furnish the President James K. Polk Home and Museum.
Robinson wrote in his letter of support, “I am an advocate in relocating the tomb of the 11th President James K. Polk. It is my belief that relocating President Polk to the historic site in Columbia, TN, will complete the story and history of the site.
“It being his own wish, I find it unfortunate his wishes were not kept. As county executive of White County, Tennessee, I fully respect and support the wishes of former President of the United States James K. Polk. It is important he be at his chosen final resting place.”
The Tennessee State Senate has approved a joint resolution supporting the moving of the Polk tombs and is waiting the approval of the Tennessee House of Representatives. The approval from the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Tennessee Capitol Commission is also needed before moving the tombs can be authorized.