Presidents: Martin Van Buren

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Martin Van Buren was the first President that was not born a British subject, but under the newly formed United States of America. He was born of Dutch decent on December 5, 1782 in Kinderhook, New York.

a young Martin Van Buren

His father, Abraham Van Buren, had married a young widow with young children, named Maria Hoes Van Alen in 1776. The couple would have four children, including Martin.

Martin Van Buren was educated at a local schoolhouse in the area. When he grew older, he began to study law. He served as an apprentice to Peter Silvester and his family. He learned much about the law, politics and even his appearance from the Silvester’s. In 1803, Van Buren was admitted to the bar.

From a young age, Van Buren became involved in politics. He was a strong supporter of Aaron Burr.

On February 21, 1807 Van Buren married his childhood sweetheart, and first cousin Hannah Hoes. The couple would have five sons and a daughter together.

In 1813, Van Buren was elected to the New York State Senate. This was a position he would hold for the next seven years. He also served as the New York Attorney General during the majority of these years.

Due to his short stature of 5 foot, 6 inches tall Van Buren was often referred to as “Little Van”.

On February 5, 1819, after twelve years of marriage, Hannah Van Buren died of tuberculosis. Martin Van Buren would never remarry.

President Martin Van Buren

In 1821, Van Buren became a United States Senator from New York.

In 1828, he ran for and won the position of Governor of New York. He would hold the second shortest term in this office.

On March 5, 1829, two months and five days after he became Governor, President Andrew Jackso

n appointed Van Buren Secretary of State. Van Buren served as an adviser to the President and agreed with him on much of President Jackson’s policy.

Van Buren resigned his office as Secretary of State, to allow President Jackson to reorganize his cabinet due to the Petticoat Affair. After wards, he temporarily served as Minister to the Court of St. James in London, before returning to the United States and becoming Vice President during President Jackson’s second term.

Van Buren followed in President Jackson’s footsteps in the 1836 Election and won the office of President of the United States. He even went so far as to maintain the vast majority of President Jackson’s cabinet.

The Panic of 1837, greatly hurt him as the country was thurst into a five year depression.

picture of Martin Van Buren

Van Buren enforced President Jackson’s Indian removal policy, which we know today as the Trail of Tears.

Van Buren’s wife had died almost two decades earlier. His daughter-in-law, Angelica Singleton Van Buren, served in the role of hostess during his Presidency.

The harsh economic times led to his defeat in the Election of 1840 to William Henry Harrison. However, while he lost the 1840 election he’d gained 40,000 more votes than he had when he won the 1836 Election.

Upon leaving office, Van Buren returned to his estate, Linderwald in Kinderhook.

In 1855, his son, Martin Van Buren, Jr died from tuberculosis.

Van Buren died at his estate on July 24, 1862 at the age of 79. He is buried beside his wife and parents in the Kinderhook Reformed Dutch Church Cemetery.

Due to his Dutch roots, Martin Van Buren is the only President who spoke English as a second language.



8th President of the United States
(March 4, 1837 to March 3, 1841)Nicknames: “The Little Magician”; “The Red Fox of Kinderhook

Born: December 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York
Died: July 24, 1862, in Kinderhook, New York

Father: Abraham Van Buren
Mother: Maria Hoes Van Buren
Married: Hannah Hoes (1783-1819), on February 21, 1807
Children: Abraham Van Buren (1807-73)
John Van Buren (1810-66)
Martin Van Buren (1812-55)
Smith Thompson Van Buren (1817-76)


Religion: Dutch Reformed

Education: Graduated from Kinderhook Academy (1796)
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Democrat

  • New York State Senator, 1813-15
  • New York Attorney-General, 1815-19
  • United States Senator, 1821-29
  • Governor of New York, 1829
  • Secretary of State, 1829-1831
  • Minister to England, 1831
  • Vice President, 1833-1837

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

  • 1837
    • Banks closed in Philadelphia and New York City on May 10. This was the beginning of the Panic of 1837. The depression that followed would last throughout Van Buren’s term.
  • 1838
    • Trail of Tears. Thousands of Indians forced from their homes and die.
  • 1840
    •  William Henry Harrison defeated Van Buren.

1782 Born on December 5, 1782 in Kinderhook, New York

1807 Martin Van Buren married Hannah Hoes, who was his childhood sweetheart, on February 21, 1807. Martin Van Buren and his wife Hannah had 4 children.

1812 The War of 1812 which has also been called the second War for Independence, between the United States and Great Britain

1817 – 1818 The First Seminole War when American slave owners travelled to Spanish Florida in search of runaway African slaves and Seminole Indians who had been trading weapons with the British in the War of 1812.

1823 James Monroe implemented the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 which declared against foreign colonization or intervention in the Americas.

1813-15 New York State Senator, 1813-15

1815-19 New York Attorney-General, 1815-19

1821-29 United States Senator, 1821-29

1829 Governor of New York, 1829

1829-1831 Secretary of State, 1829-1831 (under Jackson)

1831 Minister to England, 1831

1833-1837 Vice President, 1833-1837 (under Jackson)

1835 – 1836 The Texas Revolution (October 2, 1835 – April 21, 1836) which included the famous Battle of the Alamo. Texas settlers from the United States to join the Texan Army which defeated the Mexican Army

1837 He became the 8th President of America in 1837 and served for 4 years until 1841

1837 Bank failures and food riots known as the “Panic of 1837.”

1838 More than 15,000 Cherokee Indians were forced to march from Georgia to Oklahoma Indian Territory. Approximately 4,000 died from starvation and disease along the “Trail of Tears.”

1846 Mexican-American War begins and ends in 1848
Texas admission to the US
Oregon Treaty signed

1847 Treaty of Cahuenga ends Mexican-American War

1859 Oregon admission to the US
Harper’s Ferry Raid

1860 Pony Express begins

1862 Martin Van Buren died of asthmatic suffocation on July 24, 1862 in New York


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