(NASHVILLE) – Legislation which supports the relocation of President James K. Polk’s tomb from the State Capitol grounds to the President James K. Polk Home and Museum State Historic Site in Columbia, Tennessee received final approval in the Senate today after state senators adopted a House amendment. Senate Joint Resolution 141, sponsored by Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), aims to bring better recognition to the 11th President of the U.S. who was one of only three Tennesseans ever to hold the nation’s highest office.
The action to move the tomb to the state-owned site in Columbia is supported by the James K. Polk Memorial Association.
During the floor debate Senator Hensley said, “I look out and see President Polk’s tomb from my office. I very seldom see anyone visiting it there. When you go, you just get to read the inscription on the tomb. There is no one to tell you about all the things President Polk did and the fact that he had a very significant Presidency.”
Both of Tennessee’s other presidents, President Andrew Johnson and President Andrew Jackson, are buried on land they owned. Polk had requested burial at his home, Polk Place, which no longer stands. The James K. Polk Home and Museum State Historic Site in Columbia was Polk’s only other residence, besides his residency at the White House.
“He’s not buried at the Capitol grounds because that’s where he wanted to be buried; that’s just the only place they had to bury him after he was moved from Polk Place because they sold it,” Hensley continued during the debate on the bill. “But, if he comes to Columbia, they can honor him. I think any President deserves more honor and more recognition than he gets here on the Capitol grounds.”
Hensley said the joint resolution supporting relocation was needed as the tomb was originally placed on the Capitol grounds through legislative action taken by the Tennessee General Assembly. The resolution is part of a multi-step process before relocation can occur with the next steps being approval by the Tennessee’s Historical Commission and Capitol Commission, before going to Chancery Court where Polk’s descendants would have an opportunity to weigh in on the matter.
“The current location of the tomb is difficult for some people to access,” added Hensley. “The relocation will provide new opportunities to educate the public on historically significant achievements of the Polk Presidency and will provide increased accessibility of the grave site,” he concluded.
The resolution now goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.