As one president was arriving in Nashville Monday, an effort was underway to remove another from the capitol with the full support of Greene County’s mayor.
When the Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes this week, after Donald Trump’s visit to Nashville Monday, one of the bills the state House of Representatives will take up will be the relocation of James K. and Sarah Polk’s tomb from the State Capitol to the James K. Polk Ancestral Home in Columbia, Tennessee.
The resolution would move the tomb to the President James K. Polk Home and Museum, the only remaining home Polk lived in besides the White House. The Tennessee Senate passed the resolution last year.
Greene County Mayor David Crum, along with 71 other county mayors, voiced his support of the move in a letter.
“We have learned that it was not his desire to be buried in Nashville,TN,” Crum said in the letter. “We respect his desire to be buried at home just as many Tennesseans would want.”
According to a press release, Polk detailed in his will his wish be buried at home in the side yard of Polk Place, similar to George Washington at Mt. Vernon and Andrew Jackson at The Hermitage. Jackson was Polk’s mentor.
When Sarah died in 1891, legal problems followed. Distant relatives sued Polk’s estate and argued a dead man did not have legal authority to determine the future of a property in perpetuity. The court agreed and the 55 family members sold the property and split the proceeds, according to the release.
But in 1929, Sarah’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 state and the association purchased the Columbia home and furnished it with inherited pieces from Polk Place.
It has served as the main historic site for the 11th President of the United States and has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors each year and is home to the largest collection of Polk artifacts.
State Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, Greeneville, said the issue has come up from time to time in the state’s history, but he did not recall the pros and cons of the arguments on each side.
“I really don’t have an opinion at the moment,” he said. “I’ll have to hear more debate and listen to folks on both sides to refresh my memory.”
Crum noted in his letter the move would cost state taxpayers no money. He said he hoped the effort was realized with strong support so the state could honor one of its great citiznes and one of three Tennesse presidents.
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