County lends support for Polks’ ‘Journey Home’

Published 4:28 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A statewide initiative is underway to bring the Polks back home.
Being dubbed as the “The Journey Home For James K. Polk,” residents and leaders statewide are getting behind the plan to move the former president and his wife’s tomb to the President James K. Polk Home and Museum in Columbia, Tenn. The location is the only remaining home Polk lived in except the White House.
“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,” Thomas Price, curator of the museum, said in a statement issued to the Elizabethton Star. 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 J. Polk, bringing him to rest in peace at home once and for all.”
The State House of Representatives will have the opportunity to vote on the resolution to move the tomb in the coming weeks. Since the start of the project, widespread support has rolled in statewide with 72 county mayors from across the state writing letters in favor of the tomb being moved.
Knowing the importance of recognizing historical relevance of the state made supporting the initiative easy, according to Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey.
“At its most basic level, historical preservation requires the continuance of historical buildings, monuments and artifacts; all for the public benefit. There is no greater impact of historical preservation than when it is coupled with the clear passion the Columbia community has for advancing the legacy of President Polk,” Humphrey stated in the letter of support.
The tomb is currently located at the Tennessee State Capitol, which is where the Polks moved after the destruction of Polk Place.
According to information provided by the Andrews Agency, the momentum to the move the site started in the late 1920s.
“… 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. It is these artifacts that now furnish the President James K. Polk Home and Museum,” the agency stated in an email.
“It is of utmost importance that we do what we can to honor the history of our different regions all across the state,” Humphrey said Wednesday. “It is great to see everyone showing their support for this initiative. Each area across the state has their own story to tell, like Carter County. This is the birthplace of ‘Liberty’ and where the first articles were drafted. And I know if we needed the support, other regions would respond. I’ve also had the chance to speak with legislators who are in favor of having the tomb moved.”
To officially have the Polks’ tomb moved, the House will have to pass the resolution, along with having it signed off by the Tennessee Historical Commission and Tennessee Capitol Commission. Once those steps are completed, the Chancery Court of Davidson County will then determine if the Polks’ remains can be moved.

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