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Martin Van Buren, the 8th President of the United States (1837-1841), was the first of the forgettable Presidents.  Born on December 5,1782, shortly after the United States declared its independence, Martin Van Buren “was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States and not a British subject.”  (Martin Van Buren)  And that’s pretty much it. 

He was born in Kinderhook, New York, to Dutch parents; after politics he returned to Kinderhook, New York; and in 1862, he died and was buried in Kinderhook, New York.  His father ran a tavern and farmed... in Kinderhook, New York.  And that’s where Van Buren got involved in politics, apprenticing to a local lawyer from 1796 to 1803, when he opened his law practice... in Kinderhook, New York.  In 1807, “he married his cousin and childhood sweetheart Hannah Hoes.”  The couple had four children, and after just 12 years of marriage, Hannah died of tuberculosis.  Van Buren never remarried. (Martin Van Buren)

Van Buren rose through New York state government from 1812-1820, and in 1821 he was elected to the US Senate.  Perhaps his most savvy political move, he was instrumental in forming a coalition government that eventually became the Democratic party, which eventually became the Republican party.  As such, he was instrumental in getting Andrew Jackson nominated for president in the 1828 election.  (American President)  As a reward for his loyalty, Jackson made Van Buren his secretary of state during his first term, and Vice President during his second.  In 1836, Van Buren defeated William Henry Harrison to become the 8th President.  (8. Martin Van Buren)

Shortly after Van Buren took office in 1837, the economy went down the crapper, and it stayed there for the rest of his presidency as “...the United States was wracked by the worst depression thus far in its history.” (8. Martin Van Buren)  And if that weren’t bad enough, Van Buren was saddled with a prolonged war with the Seminole Indians.  Following through with a policy of “removal” started by Andrew Jackson, in 1838 he sent 7000 soldiers to remove the last of the Cherokees, around 2,000, forcing them to walk all the way to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.  (Trail of Tears)

To Van Buren’s credit, though, he became increasingly opposed to slavery, especially the expansion of slave states, which is why he refused to endorse the annexation of Texas, that, and not wanting to go to war with Mexico. (8. Martin Van Buren)  That move alone lost him the Southern vote in his bid for a second term, the economy lost him the Northern vote, and Van Buren was easily defeated by William Henry Harrison in 1840.

In 1844, Van Buren once more tried for the presidency, but was unable to get the Democratic nomination.  And then again, in 1848, but since the Democrats still wanted nothing to do with him, he ran on his own ticket, the Free Soil party, whose main issue was slavery. (American President )  “In the end, Martin Van Buren failed to win a single state and received only 10 percent of the vote.” (Martin Van Buren)  That was the end of Van Buren’s political aspirations.  In 1862, “barely a year after he Civil War broke out,” Van Buren died. (Martin Van Buren)


Work Cited

“8. Martin Van Buren.”  2006.  The White House:  Presidents.  23 Dec. 2013.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/martinvanburen

“American President:  Martin Van Buren.”  Miller Center.  23 Dec. 2013.  http://millercenter.org/president/vanburen

“Heights of presidents and presidential candidates of the United States.”  21 Dec. 2013  Wikipedia.  23 Dec. 2013.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heights_of_presidents_and_presidential_candidates_of_the_United_States

“Martin Van Buren.”  2013.  History.  23 Dec. 2013.  http://www.history.com/topics/martin-van-buren

“Trail of Tears.”  History.  2013.  23 Dec. 2013.  http://www.history.com/topics/trail-of-tears