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Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

 Portrait, Martin Van Buren

 

Martin Van Buren

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
Other Government Positions:

  • 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 (under Jackson)
  • Minister to England, 1831
  • Vice President, 1833-1837 (under Jackson)

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Vice President: Richard M. Johnson (1837-41)

Cabinet:

Secretary of State
John Forsyth (1837-41)
Secretary of the Treasury
Levi Woodbury (1837-41)
Secretary of War
Joel R. Poinsett (1837-41)
Attorney General
Benjamin F. Butler (1837-38)
Felix Grundy (1838-39)
Henry D. Gilpin (1840-41)
Postmaster General
Amos Kendall (1837-40)
John M. Niles (1840-41)
Secretary of the Navy
Mahlon Dickerson (1837-38)
James K. Paulding (1838-41)

Notable Events:

  • 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.

Points of Interest:

  • Van Buren was the first president born in the United States. All previous presidents were born before the United States became country, although all were born in places that would later be a part of the United States.
  • His autobiography does not mention his wife once.
  • Van Buren took $100,000, the sum of his salary as president over four years, in a lump sum at the end of his term.
  • The term "O.K." was popularized because of Van Buren. Van Buren was from Kinderhook, New York, sometimes referred to as Old Kinderhook in speeches and print. O.K. Clubs soon formed to support Van Buren's campaign. "O.K." later came to mean all right.
  • Van Buren made three unsuccessful bids for reelection.

Biographies: