The presidential election of 1844 resulted in the annexation of Texas and the victory of the Democratic candidate James Knox Polk. The election raised the question of slavery in relation to the annexation.


The American presidential election of 1844 was held from November, 1, to December, 4. It became the 15th presidential election in the country. During the election, Whig Henry Clay was defeated by James Knox Polk. Clay received only 105 electoral votes, while Polk had 170 ones. This point is illustrated in the image below.

Notably, Polk was considered a “dark horse” during the election of 1844. Like his opponent, Clay, Polk was a slaveholder; both men initially agreed on the necessity of the annexation.

However, later, Clay changed his decision, for which he was called a vacillator and potentially lost the public’s trust. Polk, in his turn, wanted to reconcile the existing opposing positions on the issue and defined it as a states’ rights concern. As a result,the Democrats’ strategy and campaign was considered more persuasive and Polk won the election.

During the contest of the two candidates, several controversial issues were discussed. They included the problem of slavery and the annexation of the Republic of Texas.

The “Texas question” was a highly significant issue during the election of 1844. John Tyler, the president of that time, pursuited the annexation of the Republic. The annexation was a problematic issue because it could potentially expand American slavery. Moreover, it presented a war threat because Texas shared a border with Mexico.

The annexation also put the unity of the Democratic and the Whig parties at risk. The parties were present both in the North and in the South, but the expansion of slavery could result in a sectional split among each of them. President Tyler did not have a strong political base and hoped to use the annexation of the Republic of Texas as a strategy to win re-election. It is crucial to note that the annexation itself was not as important and problematic, as the problem of slavery associated with it.

During the election of 1844, James Polk supported annexation and embraced the idea of American territorial expansionism. During that period, the Democratic party aimed to support both Northern and Southern expansionists.

The victory of Polk inspired the former president Tyler to submit the resolution to the Congress, opting for annexation of the Republic of Texas. He did it because there had not been enough votes in the Senate, which meant that his treaty could not be satisfied at first. Tyler’s resolution was approved in 1845, and Texas became the 28th state of America.

The main outcome of the election was that Texas was annexed. However, there are several other results of the presidential election of 1844. For instance, the Democrats experienced a significant increase in voter turnout compared to the previous years.

The election was also significant because it confirmed that the United States wanted to expand to the west. The annexation of the Republic of Texas was finalized in the beginning of March, 1845, shortly after the election took place.

As mentioned above, there was a risk of war between America and Mexico as a result of the annexation. As feared, the Mexican-American war began in 1846 because Mexico did not accept the United States’ decision. Moreover, the Buchanan-Pakenham Treaty was established when the “Texas question” had been settled.