Martin Van Buren

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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 Van Buren (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 tiny U.S. flag Jackson)
  • Minister to England, 1831
  • Vice President, 1833-1837 (under tiny U.S. flag Jackson)

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Presidential Election Results:
Year Popular Votes Electoral Votes
1836 Martin Van Buren 765,483 170
tiny U.S. flag William H. Harrison 549,508 73
Hugh L. White 145,352 26
Daniel Webster 41,287 14
Willie P. Mangum 11
1840 tiny U.S. flag William H. Harrison 1,274,624 234
Martin Van Buren 1,127,781 60

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


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)

Supreme Court Appointments:

Associate Justice
John McKinley (1838-52)
Peter Vivian Daniel (1842-60)

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
    • Continuation of forced relocation of the Cherokee people, which started under tiny U.S. flag Andrew Jackson. 4,000 Native Americans die on the journey known as the Trail of Tears.
  • 1840

Internet Biographies:

Martin Van Buren — from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
Martin Van Buren — from American Presidents: Life Portraits — C-SPAN
Biographical information, trivia, key events, video, and other reference materials. Website created to accompany C-SPAN’s 20th Anniversary Television Series, American Presidents: Life Portraits.
Martin Van Buren — from U.S. Presidents
From the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, in addition to information on the Presidents themselves, they have first lady and cabinet member biographies, listings of presidential staff and advisers, and timelines detailing significant events in the lives of each administration.

Historical Documents:

Inaugural Address (1837)

Other Internet Resources:

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
Home of Van Buren from 1839, in Kinderhook, New York, which he named Lindenwald. Tourist information available.

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.

Previous President: tiny U.S. flag Andrew Jackson | Next President: tiny U.S. flag William Henry Harrison

©1996-2008. Robert S. Summers. All rights reserved.

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