Personal charm, connections from college, and wealthy family connections.
Incompetent high ranking confederate army officer in civil war. Settling on a large sugar plantation in Louisiana, Polk divided his time between planting and service to the church. Though a failure as a planter, Polk was a success as a bishop because he was a charming conversationalist whose social graces won him considerable influence. In the 1850s he conceived the idea of creating a University of the South. He welcomed the break with the Union, and was able to become a high ranking officer with the Confederacy due to his friendship from West Point with Jefferson Davis, now president of the confederacy. His charm made him popular with his troops, but he was an incompetent officer who often disobeyed orders and tried to subvert his superiors. Killed by artillery fire in 1864.
Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of William Polk, a revolutionary war veteran and prosperous planter.
Entered the University of North Carolina in 1821 but left for West Point in 1823. Despite an alleged cheating incident, he graduated eighth in the class of 1827.
1830 he married Frances Ann Devereux, daughter of a wealthy North Carolina planter.