James K. Polk

In 1844, the Democrats were split
The three nominees for the presidential candidate
Were Martin Van Buren, a former president an an abolitionist
James Buchanan, a moderate
Lewis Cass, a general and expansionist
From Nashville came a dark horse riding up
He was James K. Polk, Napoleon of the Stump
Austere, severe, he held few people dear
His oratory filled his foes with fear
The factions soon agreed, "He's just the man we need to bring about victory,
Fulfill our manifest destiny,
And annex the land the Mexicans command"
And when the vote was cast the winner was
Mr. James K. Polk, Napoleon of the stump
In four short years he met his every goal
He seized the whole southwest from Mexico
Made sure the tariffs fell, and made the English sell the Oregon Territory
He built an independent treasury
Having done all this, he sought no second term
But precious few have mourned the passing of
Mr. James K. Polk, our eleventh President
Young Hickory, Napoleon of the Stump

Quoth the Johns:

This song was written with childhood friend Mr. Matthew Hill. ... The lyrics are as factual as we could make them with the reference books handy. James Knox Polk, the 11th President of the U.S., was a dark horse candidate who unexpectedly won the Democratic nomination and the election based on his popularity in the South with his stated goal of annexing Texas, the Southwest, and the Oregon Territories. Once in office he fanned the flames of dispute between the U.S. and Mexico to achieve part of this aim. (The Mexican War is still commemorated in the expression "Remember the Alamo!") Personally, we find his expansionist policies ruthless and unscrupulous, but the existence of the Western U.S. is largely due to him. The spooky sound halfway into this recording is a "singing saw," an actual metal saw stroked with a bow by Mr. Julian Koster.

—John Linnell and John Flansburgh
[source: "A Guided Tour of Factory Showroom," TMBG Info Club Newsletter, Holiday 1996 edition]

Corrections? Let me know.