1844 Democratic National Convention
|1844 Presidential Election|
Polk and Dallas
|Date(s)||May 27–May 29, 1844|
|Venue||Odd Fellows Hall|
|Presidential nominee||James K. Polk of Tennessee|
|Vice Presidential nominee||George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania|
|‹ 1840 · 1848 ›|
In 1844, the Democratic Party held their National Convention in Baltimore. At first, the Democrats were split; the three nominees for the Presidential candidate were:
- Martin van Buren, former President of the United States and leader of the dominant Jacksonian faction
- James Buchanan, a moderate
- Lewis Cass, a general and expansionist
The annexation of Texas was the chief political issue of the day. Van Buren, initially the leading candidate, opposed immediate annexation because it might lead to a sectional crisis over the status of slavery in the West. This position cost Van Buren the support of southern and expansionist Democrats; as a result, he failed to win the nomination. The delegates likewise could not settle on Cass, whose credentials also included past service as a U.S. minister to France.
On the eighth ballot, the historian George Bancroft, a delegate from Massachusetts, proposed former House Speaker James K. Polk as a compromise candidate. Polk argued that Texas and Oregon had always belonged to the United States by right. He called for "the immediate reannexation of Texas" and for the "reoccupation" of the disputed Oregon territory.
On the next roll call, the convention unanimously accepted Polk, who became the first dark horse, or little-known, presidential candidate. The delegates selected Senator Silas Wright of New York for Vice President, but Wright, an admirer of Van Buren, declined the nomination, becoming the first person to decline a vice presidential nomination. The Democrats then nominated George M. Dallas, a Pennsylvania lawyer.
Silas Wright declined the Vice Presidential nomination
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