Though we have focused mainly on the Dark Horses of racing history there are many other Dark Horses that have overcome the odds in their fields. We thought we would highlight a few of the Dark Horses in America’s Political history!
The first Dark Horse candidate in America was James Knox Polk who got his start in Tennessee Legislature. Polk was the Democratic candidate for the 1844 presidential election. The two other nominees; Martin Van Buren and Lewis When could not get the two thirds majority vote to run so the party compromised on Polk. Making him the first Dark Horse candidate. Polk ran against Henry Clay from the Whig Party, and his campaign focused on western expansion. Polk became the 11th United States President and held office for one term. He was a very successful president; in his term he added three states. During this time there was also great prosperity for America; the sewing machine, gas lighting, and rotary printing press were invented and the Gold Rush began in 1949. Polk has some really interesting facts that many do not know, he was the first president under the age of 50, also the youngest to die (outside those who have been assassinated), and he did not start his education until he was 17 years old but still graduated first in his class at the University of North Carolina! That’s quite the Dark Horse if you ask me!
What about Abraham Lincoln? He too was a Dark Horse candidate but for the Republicans. He had two unsuccessful bids for the US Senate before running for president in 1860. Lincoln’s name did not even show up on 9 of the ballots in the Southern states. But he not only won that election, he won the next one too, no longer a Dark Horse though, he was a favorite! He would have served two terms and helped to end the Civil War. He also issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in the seceded states. He was assassinated in 1865 as we all know John Wilkes Booth. Some interesting facts about Lincoln: He was the first president with a beard, he never actually had a degree but practiced law, and he loved cats!