Scramblin' thru... the U.S. Presidents
"The Little Magician"
"The Red Fox of Kinderhook"
"The Careful Dutchman"
"The Mistletoe Politician"
Level: Some college
(Studied at Kinderhook Academy and at Claverack College; never finished)
Biological Kids: 5
Career BEFORE Presidency: lawyer, U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, Vice President under Jackson
Career AFTER Presidency:
activist for Free Soil Party and ran for President in 1848 as their candidate
Election of 1836
Election of 1840
Election of 1848
A Presidential Life in Review
Unlike the seven men who preceded him in the White House, Martin Van Buren was the first President to be born a citizen of the United States and not a British subject. He rose quickly in New York politics, winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1821, where he helped form the new Democratic Party from a coalition of Jeffersonian Republicans who backed the military hero and President Andrew Jackson. A favorite of Jackson's, Van Buren won the White House and served as the 8th U.S. President from 1837 to 1841. However, he was plagued by a financial panic that gripped the nation the year he took office. After losing his bid for re-election in 1840, Van Buren ran again unsuccessfully in 1844 and 1848. Defeated, he retired to his Kinderhook estate in New York, where he watched the slavery issue tear the country apart. Van Buren died in 1862, barely a year after the Civil War (1861-1865) broke out. Source: The History Channel
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Martin Van Buren Fun Facts
Van Buren and his wife spoke Dutch at home.
Van Buren took his salary ($25,000/year) in one lump sum at the end of his term. This means, when he left office on March 4, 1841, he waltzed out of Washington, D.C. with a cool $100,000... which is over $2.2 million in today's money.
Van Buren was the first President to be born in the United States of America and after the writing of the Declaration of Independence. All previous Presidents were born before the United States became a country, although all were born in places that would later be a part of the United States.
Van Buren's autobiography does not mention his wife, Hannah, once. (But maybe that was because she was his third cousin, twice removed...)
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 in newspapers. O.K. Clubs soon formed to support Van Buren's campaign. People that were part of these clubs were "O.K." The term later came to mean "all right", as in, "Everything is O.K."
Van Buren liked to drink. A lot. In fact, he could drink for days and not show any signs of being intoxicated. As a result, many of his friends gave him the nickname "Blue Whiskey Van." (I'm not sure what the "blue" is a reference to. Is it the same "blue top" that Jamie Foxx references in "Blame It On the Al-Al-Al-Al-Al-Alcohol", which is another blue-related alcohol reference I don't get? Hmmmmmm...)
Seventeen U.S. Presidents did not have middle names. Van Buren was one of them. He was named after his grandfather, who had the same name.
Following the failed assassination of President Andrew Jackson, Vice President Van Buren attended all meetings in the Senate... with loaded pistols.
Van Buren's birth city of Kinderhook, New York is also home to the famous author, Washington Irving, who was born fourth months after Van Buren. Irving is remembered for writing Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Van Buren's family had six slaves. Slavery was legal in New York at that time. Later, Van Buren took a stand against slavery. When the State of New York was writing a new state constitution in 1821, Van Buren fought to extend the vote to all freedmen (white and black). However, the provision included that they had to own $250 of land or money (about $4,200 in today's money), which eliminated most blacks from voting.
Van Buren is related to President Theodore Roosevelt. He was his third cousin, twice removed.
A pair of tiger cubs were given to Van Buren by the Sultan of Oman. Congress begged him to send them to a local zoo. After one of the cubs ate his slipper, Van Buren agreed. (Never mind the six kids the thing ate... it crossed the line with his slipper...)
When asked about being President, Van Buren later commented, "The two happiest days of my life were those upon my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it."