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Martin Van Buren: 8th President: First Born in the United States

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.

Basic Facts about the Eighth President

Question Answer


December 5, 1782 - New York

President Number




Military Service


Wars Served


Age at Beginning of Presidency

55 years old

Term of Office

March 4, 1837 - March 3, 1841

How Long Served as President

4 years


Richard Mentor Johnson

Age and Year of Death

July 24, 1862 (aged 79)

Cause of Death

bronchial asthma and heart failure

Satirical Caption against Barnburner Democrat Van Buren

Satirical Caption against Barnburner Democrat Van Buren

The Little Magician

Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born after our country officially became the United States. Until Van Buren, all presidents were born when it was still considered Colonial America. On December 5, 1782, Abraham and Maria became parents to Martin. They lived in Kinderhook, New York, at the time. It was an old Dutch village where they spoke Dutch more often than English. His ancestors came from the Netherlands.

His first experience with politics was in the tavern his father owned. Many traveling politicians would stop there to rest on their way between New York City and Albany, which not only perked Martin's interest in politics but also in law. His father helped him get his first job as a law clerk at 14. By the time he was 20, he was running his own law practice.

Despite his success as a lawyer, he soon started working as a politician, where he got the nickname "Little Magician. "Magician" because he was very skilled at achieving his goals, and "Little" because he stood only 5 feet 6 inches. He was very friendly and often enjoyed making people laugh. He was also known for dressing impeccably.

In 1808, he moved to Hudson, New York, where he served as the Surrogate of Columbia County, which he served until 1813. He then was elected to the State Senate and served until 1820. While serving as a Senator, he became the New York Attorney General from 1816 to 1819.

In the 1820s, he became elected to the United States Senate from 1821 to 1828. One of his first successful political endeavors was the "Holy Alliance," known better as the "Albany Regency." It was created in New York state and received its nickname of the regency because when elected to the United States Senate in 1821, he often served out of state. The Holy Alliance continued to run by designated people, much like the government of a regency does when the king is not available. The Albany Regency successfully maintained party discipline, but many felt it was manipulating people and gaining control over party conventions.

Towards the end of his time in the Senate, his wife Hannah died, leaving behind him and his four children, which did not disrupt his success and was soon recognized by Andrew Jackson.

In 1827, Jackson appointed him Secretary of State, and Van Buren became one of his most trusted advisers. Jackson respected him deeply and was quoted calling him "a true man with no guile." While serving as Secretary of State, he became the Governor of New York in 1829. Then in 1832, during Jackson's second term, the president chose Van Buren to become the eighth Vice-President due to the conflict he had with John Calhoun, his previous Vice-President.

Exerpt from the History Channel on the 8th President

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His Presidency

Jackson was one of Martin's greatest supporters when he ran for Presidency in 1836. Van Buren won the election and served one term. Unfortunately, tragedy struck only two months after his inauguration. The financial panic of 1837 happened, which caused banks to close, many workers to lose their jobs, and thousands to lose their land. The financial panic became the worst depression thus far in the United States' history and lasted for about five years.

Van Buren, part of the Bucktail faction, a group that believed in the Jeffersonian concept of limited government, felt that the government should stay out of private business affairs. As a result, many thought he did little to help during this time. He continued Jackson's efforts with deflationary policies, but unfortunately, his efforts only caused the depression to worsen and become more persistent.

He believed that the panic resulted from the recklessness in business and overextension of credit. He was adamant against creating a new Bank of the United States and was unwilling to place any government funds in state banks. Instead, he felt that establishing an independent treasury system to handle government spending would be more successful. He also did not allow any federal expenditures for internal improvements during this time.

Unfortunately, due to the country's state at the end of his presidency, he was very unpopular. His opponents portrayed him as a rich man who drank out of silver goblets and ate off gold plates, which caused him not to win the next election since many felt he could not relate to the everyday person.

During the 1848 election, the democratic party no longer supported him; therefore, the Free Soil Party nominated him. They were a party that strongly opposed slavery, which was a cause he advocated during his presidency. While in office, he blocked the annexation of Texas because he knew if he did not, it would add to slave territory, plus it could have caused war against Mexico.

In his later years, he mostly traveled and wrote his memoirs. At 79, on July 24, 1862, he died in his hometown of Kinderhook.

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Fun Facts for the President

  • He spoke Dutch better than English, although he was fluent in both.
  • He is credited as the person who began the phrase, "OK." He was from Old Kinderhook, and somehow "OK," or "Okay," came to be known as "all right."
  • He is one of only two elected vice-presidents who became elected presidents. Although there were 14 vice-presidents to become presidents, some were not selected as a vice-president like Gerald R. Ford. In contrast, others were not elected as Presidents but became President due to the death of their predecessors, like Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • He was the first president born in the "new" United States. The first seven presidents were born in Colonial America.

List of American Presidents

1. George Washington

16. Abraham Lincoln

31. Herbert Hoover

2. John Adams

17. Andrew Johnson

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Thomas Jefferson

18. Ulysses S. Grant

33. Harry S. Truman

4. James Madison

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

5. James Monroe

20. James Garfield

35. John F. Kennedy

6. John Quincy Adams

21. Chester A. Arthur

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

7. Andrew Jackson

22. Grover Cleveland

37. Richard M. Nixon

8. Martin Van Buren

23. Benjamin Harrison

38. Gerald R. Ford

9. William Henry Harrison

24. Grover Cleveland

39. James Carter

10. John Tyler

25. William McKinley

40. Ronald Reagan

11. James K. Polk

26. Theodore Roosevelt

41. George H. W. Bush

12. Zachary Taylor

27. William Howard Taft

42. William J. Clinton

13. Millard Fillmore

28. Woodrow Wilson

43. George W. Bush

14. Franklin Pierce

29. Warren G. Harding

44. Barack Obama

15. James Buchanan

30. Calvin Coolidge

45. Donald Trump


  • "Albany Regency." Albany Regency. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
  • "Biographies of the Secretaries of State: Martin Van Buren (1782–1862)." U.S. Department of State. Accessed April 02, 2018.
  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2006). Theodore Roosevelt. Retrieved April 20, 2016, from
  • "Martin Van Buren." A&E Networks Television. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.
  • Sullivan, G. (2001). Mr. President: A book of U.S. presidents. New York: Scholastic.
  • U.S. Presidential Fun Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from

© 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz

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