Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February 13, 1849:

Polk Longs for Private Life

The presidency has had a way of wearing men down. Often, the stresses of office are visible on their faces toward the end of their terms, and in some cases the presidency seems to have ruined the officeholder's health. Others have articulated their relief at leaving office, and a scattering of those thoughts have been preserved for posterity.

On February 13, 1849, James K. Polk wrote the following in his diary: "I am heartily rejoiced that my term is so near its close. I will soon cease to be a servant and become a sovereign. As a private citizen, I will have no one but myself to serve, and will exercise a part of the sovereign power of the country. I am sure I will be happier in this condition than in the exhalted station I now hold."

James Buchanan, after relinquishing his post to Abraham Lincoln, supposedly told him:"If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland [his home], you are a happy man indeed."

And US Grant, ever the succinct communicator, said this about leaving office: "I never wanted to get out of a place as much as I did to get out of the presidency."

No comments: