Polk ‘yielded,’ let Mathew Brady take his picture

The first president to have his picture taken in the White House was Mecklenburg native James K. Polk. The photographer could have caught him on a better day.

In his diary for February 14, 1849, Polk complained about having to deal with office-seekers all morning: “I have great contempt for such persons and dispose of their applications very  summarily. They take up much of my time every day. I yielded to the request of an artist named Brady, of New York, by sitting for my daguerreotype likeness today. I sat in the large dining room.”

Mathew Brady, then 27, would later earn wide fame for his Civil War photos.