As a result of a deadlocked convention, James Polk emerged as the democratic nominee facing Henry Clay, of the Whig Party, in the general election. Polk won. His Presidency was overshadowed by the Mexican War of 1846-1848. During his tenure, Texas became a state, and the areas constituting California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona were ceded to the US. Missionaries flooded into these western areas, as European immigrants flooded into eastern harbors. The effects of the Second Great Awakening were still felt in some places, but were waning. Polk’s wife was a devout Presbyterian, and he deferred to her wishes and attended church with her. But an encounter with God in a Methodist camp meeting would forever mark him. After he left office and his wife died, he was baptized a Methodist. When he took office, here is the prayer he offered:
In assuming responsibilities so vast I fervently invoke the aid of that Almighty Ruler of the Universe in whose hands are the destinies of nations and of men to guard this Heaven-favored land…With a firm reliance upon the wisdom of Omnipotence to sustain and direct me in the path of duty … I stand in the presence of this assembled multitude of my countrymen to take upon myself the solemn obligation to the best of my ability to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
President Zachary Taylor
In the 1800’s, the entire globe was affected by repeated outbreaks of cholera. The US was the victim of an epidemic in 1932, and again in 1849. In these two sieges of the deadly disease, 150,000 American’s died. With the nation in fear, and reeling from lost lives and others with the sickness, President Zachary Taylor called a Day of Prayer for August 3, 1849:
A fearful pestilence…is spreading itself throughout the land…It is…recommended…a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer…to abstain…from secular occupations…to implore the Almighty in His own good time to stay the destroying hand.
Businesses all over the nation closed, and churches filled up for prayer. After the Proclamation of Fasting, a newspaper would report, “The number of deaths dropped suddenly in August.” Sadly, almost one year later, Zachery himself would die as a victim of the plague. He had been a war hero, and was an irregular church attender, but his wife, a semi-invalid, attended daily prayer services and organized her prayer life to support her husband.
This teaching will be included in the upcoming The Praying Church Handbook – Volume IV – Intercessory Prayer and Missions. Purchase the 4 volume set at: www.alivepublications.org.
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 The Inaugural Address (March 4, 1845) of President James Knox Polk. The Miller Center, University of Virginia. See – millercenter.org/president/speeches/detail/3550.
 See Bill Federer – archive.constantcontact.com/fs087/1108762609255/archive/1110431949561.html.
 Moore, One Nation Under God, 145-146.