On the Fact that James K. Polk Literally Thought (According to Historian, Brian DeLay) that Americans Were the Chosen Ones, that Manifest Destiny Was God's Plan, and that We Could Never Get Along with the Mexicans Until We Gave Them "a Drubbing"
How so many historians could consider this man a top ten President is beyond me; the fact that he knew that literally every Mexican citizen considered the Rio Grande to be the border and he still tried to move it (the Treaty of Velasco was never ratified by the Mexican authorities and they still considered the Rio Nueces to be the border), the fact that he maneuvered the Mexicans into firing the first shot, the fact that he tried to bully Mexico into selling what was then nearly 50% of their country, the fact that he demoted Zachary Taylor (probably because he wasn't ruthless enough; the fact that he didn't target noncombatants, etc.) in what was clearly a petty and political move, the fact that he demoted Nicholas Trist when it was Trist who ultimately secured the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and saved Polk more international embarrassment (Polk was already seen in a negative light by many for his bombardment of Vera Cruz; an act that killed many civilians, foreign-nationals, etc.), etc.. Yes, he did greatly expand the size of America and for that I suppose that some kudos are inevitable but the way that he did it and the fact that the American imperium really started to percolate under him certainly gives me some pause.