“From the mid- to late 18th century to the middle of the 19th century, high profile individuals were turning to tattoos. Andrew Jackson had a tattoo of a large tomahawk on his inner thigh, while James K. Polk had a Chinese symbol that translated to ‘eager.’ “
— From “Tattoos: An Illustrated History” by Tina Brown (2019)
Interesting, if true. (Old newsroom expression.)
Alas, despite the popularity of these claims in internet listicles and trivia quizzes, neither tattoo is mentioned by Jackson and Polk biographers or other historians.
From a self-described “Polk scholar”: “Not only is there absolutely no recorded evidence that he had a tattoo, but everything I know about the man suggests he would be the last man to get one.
“He didn’t drink and his wife banned dancing from the White House. Preoccupied with the Mexican-American war, Polk had very little Asian influence in his foreign policy in his 4 year term.”