WASHINGTON, April 20, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said former President James K. Polk’s home in Columbia, Tenn., is “one step closer to being declared a national treasure.”
The Senate passed a broad, bipartisan energy bill that includes an amendment directing the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study for the James K. Polk Home as the next step in preserving the former president’s home as part of the National Park System. The energy bill passed the Senate today by a vote of 85 to 12. The legislation now awaits House consideration.
Alexander introduced the James K. Polk Presidential Home Study Act requesting the Secretary of Interior to conduct a special resource study and evaluate the suitability and feasibility of designating the site as a unit of the National Park System. If the House passes and the president signs the legislation into law, the National Park Service will conduct this special resource study. After the study is completed, the National Park Service will recommend to Congress whether the Polk Home should be included in the National Park System. If it does so, Congress would then need to pass legislation designating the Polk Home as a National Park System site.
“Tennessee is full of history, and the presidency of James K. Polk is one of our state’s great contributions to our nation’s history,” Alexander said. “Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for the presidential home of the president who created the Department of Interior, the home of the National Park Service, to be managed by the National Park Service? I sure think so.”
Alexander continued, “We talk a lot about the importance of science and math. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, most high school seniors in America score the worst in history. I cannot think of a better way to encourage the study of U.S. history and what it means to be an American than to make sure that our presidential homes are properly cared for. Columbia’s dedicated residents are making progress, and this special resource study is the next step in the process toward preserving President Polk’s home and belongings and elevating the site to the national treasure it deserves to be.”
The James K. Polk Home Presidential Study Act was included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, a bipartisan energy bill that would help fuel innovation in our free enterprise system to help lower energy costs and provide an abundance of clean, cheap, reliable energy.
In 2013, Alexander sent a letter to the director of the National Park Service requesting that the organization conduct a reconnaissance survey of the James K. Polk Home to determine its significance and sustainability as a unit of the National Park System. In April of 2015, the survey found that the James K. Polk Home is nationally significant and could meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Park System.
The James K. Polk Home is the only surviving home of the eleventh American president. President Polk is most notably remembered for his help in acquiring 800,000 square miles of territory during his administration and extending our country’s border west to the Pacific Ocean, which today makes up California and much of the Southwestern United States. His last act as president was to sign the bill that created the Department of the Interior, the agency that includes the National Park Service.
His childhood home is managed by dedicated members of the James K. Polk Memorial Association and contains more than 1,300 artifacts and original items from the president’s years in Tennessee and Washington, D.C, including furniture, White House artifacts, and political memorabilia.