William Polk (colonel) - Life After The Revolution - Politician, Public Servant, and Prominent Citizen

Politician, Public Servant, and Prominent Citizen

In 1783 the North Carolina General Assembly appointed Polk Surveyor General of the Middle District, now a part of Tennessee. In this capacity Polk acquired large tracts of land in the area. Twice he was elected to the House of Commons before returning in 1786 to his native Mecklenburg County, where he was re-elected to the House of Commons in 1787, served a one-year term and was re-elected in 1790. He was a candidate for Speaker of the House in 1791, but was defeated by Stephen Cabarrus. That March President Washington appointed him Supervisor of Internal Revenue for the District of North Carolina, a position he held for seventeen years, or until the Internal Revenue Laws were repealed.

Polk was among the Continental Army officers who founded the North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati on October 23, 1783.

After the death of his first wife in 1799, he moved to property on Blount Street in Raleigh. In December of that year he was elected Grand Master of Masons of North Carolina and served in that office until December 1802.

Federalists in the state legislature nominated him for governor in 1802, but by a two-to-one margin he lost to John Baptista Ashe, a fellow officer in the Revolution. Ashe died before taking office.

Polk became the first president of the State Bank of North Carolina in 1811 and held that office for eight years.

In March 1812, as war with Britain seemed imminent, President Madison offered Polk a commission as brigadier in the U.S. Army. A Federalist and opponent of the war, he declined the offer. Not until August 1814 when the British sacked Washington did he recant his opposition to the war. Writing his brother-in-law William Hawkins, governor of North Carolina, he offered his services to the state in whatever capacity the governor saw fit. Inasmuch as North Carolina was not seriously threatened, he was not called upon.

In June 1818 Polk became one of the first vice presidents of Raleigh Auxiliary of the American Colonization Society and remained active in the group for many years.

The Federalists again nominated him for governor in 1814, and again he was defeated.

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