The 8th president of the United States of American Martin Van Buren was in office between March 4, 1837 and March 4, 1841.
He trained as a lawyer and served as the 1st attorney general of New York for 4 years, while being a member of the New York Senate an office he held for 7 years. Van Buren served as vice-president under Andrew Jackson from 1833, before trading roles with Jackson in 1837, taking over the presidency and Jackson becoming his vice-president. Van Buren died from bronchial asthma and heart failure at the age of 79, which was very old for someone who lived at that time.
Here are some interesting facts about Martin Van Buren.
Martin Van Buren Facts
1. He was the first president who was not born to British parents
Van Buren’s parents were descendants of immigrants from Holland. His first language was language was Dutch, making him the first and only president that had English as a second language, an interesting fact about Martin Van Buren. He only started learning English at school. His father owned an inn, where Van Buren learned to interact with people from different backgrounds and classes, this helped him later in life on the political stage.
2. Van Buren was the first president born in America
Before Van Buren, every other president had been born in Great Britain. He was born in Kinderhook, NY in 1782. In the modern era, the law states that for someone to be president they must be born in the United States of America, this law is known as the Natural Born Clause.
3. He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party
The modern Democratic Party, founded in 1828, is still today one of the two main parties in the USA. The party evolved from the Democratic-Republican Party. The party split into two factions in 1828 with the founders of the Democratic Party including Van Buren preferring the old principals of Thomas Jefferson 3rd President of the United States. Van Buren would go on to become the 2nd president that represented the Democratic party. Since 1828, the Democratic Party has won the presidential election 22 times.
4. He was a widower, so his daughter-in-law served as hostess in the White House
Van Buren married Hannah Hoes in 1807, and they had 5 children together before she died in 1819. After his son was wed in 1938, he asked his son’s wife to fulfill the First Ladies duties, an interesting fact about Martin Van Buren. She succeeded in making the parties in the White House a lot more fun for guests, after consulting her cousin, Dolley Madison, the widow of fourth president, James Madison.
5. In 1837 the stock market crashed
The main reason for Van Buren not being re-elected for a second term was the Panic of 1837. A number of banks were running out of money, and they refused to trade the paper money they had for gold and silver. The stock market crashed as a result of this. This caused a financial crisis known as the Panic of 1837, it meant that the country went through a very difficult period financially for around five years.
6. Van Buren avoided a war with the British over Canada
There was no official border between Maine and Canada near the Aroostook River. Lumberjacks from both Maine and Canada cut down trees in the area, and at one point in 1938, they got into a fight. There was almost a need to send soldiers there, but Van Buren used diplomatic negotiations to diffuse the situation.
7. Van Buren was Anti-Slavery
After being replaced as presidential candidate by James K. Polk in 1844, Van Buren became more and more anti-slavery. Due to this he was persuaded to help form the Free Soil Party and was their candidate for the 1948 election. The percentage of the vote that he won was 10.1% nationwide, this was more than any third party had received before in the presidential election in United States history.
8. He had several nicknames some good and some bad
Old Kinderhook, The Red Fox of Kinderhook, Martin van Ruin, The Mistletoe Politician, Little Van and The Little Magician were some of his nicknames. His main nickname was Little Van because he was short, only 5 feet 6 inches (1.68m) tall. Martin Van Ruin was a nickname given to him by his political opponents, because they blamed him for the stock market crash in 1837.
9. Van Buren didn’t mention his wife or his presidency in his autobiography
Van Buren wrote a book about his life, this book was published in 1920. Strangely, not once in all of the 820 pages did he write about his wife or his time as a President, an interesting fact about Martin Van Buren. He also never spoke about Mrs. Van Buren in a public speech, the White House website explains the reason for it by saying, “A gentleman of that day would not shame a lady by public references.”
10. In his retirement, he worked as a farmer
After failing to be re-elected as president for the second time in 1948, Van Buren decided not to try and get elected to public office again. In 1939, he bought an estate that he named Lindenwald, the estate was close to his hometown Kinderhook, NY. After retirement, he worked there as a farmer until his death in 1862. A number of counties in Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan and Tennessee are named after him, as well as three parks a mountain and a US navy ship. Lindenwald has now become the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site.
Historians praise him for his contribution to the development of the United State’s political system. Despite this he is generally ranked in polls among the least successful US presidents, mainly due to the economic troubles in the Panic of 1837 and his failure to be re-elected. Van Buren’s important role in the establishment of the Democratic party will forever be remembered as his greatest achievement.
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