In 1844 the key election issues were territorial expansion, especially the annexation of Texas. Thousands of Americans poured westward to create new lives for themselves and to fulfil the national ambition to own the continent. When the Democratic party held their convention in Baltimore on 27 May they nominated James K. Polk, a Tennessee slave-holder and ardent expansionist. The Whigs nominated their aging leader, the 67-year-old Henry Clay, one of the country’s most eminent politicians. The Whigs looked forward to an easy victory over the relatively obscure James Polk. However, their hopes were dashed with Polk’s victory. Both candidates showed even strength in all regions of the country. Clay managed to defeat Polk in his home state of Tennessee.
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