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James K. Polk Statue

Statue #11: James K. Polk

Field review by the editors.

Rapid City, South Dakota

James K. Polk accomplished a lot during his four years as President (1845-1849) although he's mostly forgotten today. An effective public speaker, dubbed "Napoleon of the Stump," he's depicted in his bronze statue giving a speech next to a large cracker barrel hung with the banner, "Fifty-four Forty or Fight!" -- Polk's campaign slogan demanding that Britain give a large chunk of western Canada to the U.S. Britain didn't, but the catchy slogan helped win the presidency for Polk.

We first visited the Polk statue in 2008, when he was juxtaposed in front of an amusing business -- Mr. Nifty Cleaners. Returning nearly a decade later, we found Mr. Nifty's eclectic building had been demolished. After that the statue moved to a different corner. Mobility is rare for the Street Corner Presidents, so Polk and his barrel should be staying at Main and 4th Sts.

Amazing Arcana of the Presidents

A firm believer in America's "Manifest Destiny," Polk encouraged westward expansion and added 814,000 square miles to the nation -- 26 percent of the Lower 48 states -- during his one term in office.

Polk at Mr. Nifty Cleaners, 2008.
Polk at Mr. Nifty Cleaners, 2008.

[Discover more fascinating details in the Roadside Presidents iPhone app!]

City of Presidents

Since 2000, Rapid City has commissioned and installed bronze statues of every former U.S. President on its downtown street corners. Visitors are encouraged to take a walking tour of the City of Presidents and inspect the nation's metallic Commanders in Chief. Paper guides are available year-round at the city's main Visitor Center at 512 Main St.

Roadside Presidents
Roadside Presidents App for iPhone. Find this attraction and more: museums, birthplaces, graves of the Chief Execs, first ladies, pets, assassins and wannabes. Prez bios and oddball trivia. Available on the App Store.

Also see: America's Street Corner Presidents

Statue #11: James K. Polk

398 Main St., Rapid City, SD
Downtown. Northeast corner of Main and 4th Sts.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Statue #23: Benjamin HarrisonStatue #23: Benjamin Harrison, Rapid City, SD - < 1 mi.
Statue #18: Ulysses S. GrantStatue #18: Ulysses S. Grant, Rapid City, SD - < 1 mi.
Statue #25: William McKinleyStatue #25: William McKinley, Rapid City, SD - < 1 mi.
In the region:
South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Ellsworth AFB, SD - 8 mi.

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