and the Conquest of the American Continent (2009)
MVB's right-hand man, Silas Wright, had also come to the same conclusion about Polk. Wright was even more assured when Polk let it be known that he would remain loyal to MVB as long as he remained a candidate for the nomination of the Democratic Party for President. But all was not well in the Democratic Party: Western and Southwestern delegates threatened to bolt the convention if MVB was a threat to Lewis Cass (Michigan, pictured), an avid expansionist. At the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, Southern delegations pushed for a 2/3's majority in order to determine a nominee . . . if that super-majority became a reality, MVB and his supporters knew they had no chance to win the nomination.
On 27 May 1844, the Democratic National Convention was called to order, and after a Chairman was selected, the motion for the 2/3's super-majority was made, and after extended debate was passed due to the unity of the Southern delegates. With that vote, MVB's chances at the nomination vanished; the results of the first ballot, with 177 being the 2/3's mark, were MVB 145, Cass 86, with three other candidates totaling 34 (including future President James Buchanan).
For Polk's name to be put in play, Pillow needed Northern delegates to convince other Northern delegates to support Polk; Polk's chances were nil of he was nominated by Southerners. Before the 8th ballot, Pillow worked the floor during the debate, pushing Polk as the only candidate that could defeat Cass. After the 8th ballot, Cass and MVB held firm, but Polk had 44 delegates (New Hampshire started him off w/ their 6 delegates). Before the 9th ballot, many pro-Polk testimonials were given, and as a result of the 9th ballot, not only did Polk win the nomination, but he was unbelievably unanimously selected. Clay, when he heard Polk was the Democratic nominee, publicly stated that he would have an easy path to the Presidency; privately, he knew that Polk would be tougher to defeat in the South & the West than MVB or Cass.
Polk knew he would get backing from powerful Democrats if he promised to serve only one term: he needed Benton, Calhoun, Cass, Buchanan, and many others to support his candidacy. In June 1844, the Texas Treaty, which would have made Texas a state not from a territory, but from a sovereign nation, died on the Senate floor (35-14). And, to complicate matters even further, Benton's and Calhoun's forces went to war as a result, tearing the Democratic Party further apart. Polk even heard reports that a Southern Convention of Democrats would be held in Nashville; South Carolina was the impetus behind the convention, but not Calhoun. Once Calhoun (who was Tyler's 2nd SecState) was persuaded that Polk wasn't a tool of MVB, he not only supported Polk, but also put a stop to the proposed Nashville convention . . . Polk's single-term promise was a motivating factor for Calhoun as well.
In the Election of 1844, Polk had .495 of the Popular Vote, while Clay had .481, and in the Electoral College, it was Polk with 170 Electoral votes to Clay's 105; Polk won 15 states, while Clay carried 11. Clay just may have defeated Polk, except the Liberty Party candidate, James G. Birney (MI), may have kept Clay from winning New York, Michigan, and Ohio; if Clay had carried those three states, he, not Polk, would have been the 11th President of the United States.