Martin Van Buren

Van Buren was the natural successor to Jackson's variety of democracy. He was faced, however, with economic trouble that became known as the "Panic of 1837." Van Buren was never able to recover from their economic crisis. Elected 1836



The Early Years

Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York in 1782 , thus becoming the first President to be born an American. His parents spoke Dutch at home. His father owned a tavern, where he spent much of his childhood listening to the political arguments that took place there. Van Buren's formal education ended at the age of 14, when he began to study law under Francis Sylvester, a prominent Federalist attorney. Van Buren was admitted to the bar in 1803. From 1812-1820 Van Buren served as a New York State Senator.

He was a strong supporter of the War of 1812. He was also known as one of the first prominent politicians to advocate the elimination of debtor prisons. In 1821, Van Buren was elected to the US Senate, where he served for seven years. He was one of the architects of the democratic party as it stands today. During his tenure in the Senate, Van Buren became a close friend of Andrew Jackson. In 1828, he ran for, and obtained, the governorship of New York solely to improve Jackson's chances of winning that state. Van Buren later resigned the governorship to become Jackson's Secretary of State. He served in that job for two years, resigning to set in motion a resignation of all of Jackson's cabinet in an example of political maneuvering. Jackson tried to reward him with the Ambassadorship to Great Britain. For political reasons, the Senate turned down Van Buren's nomination by one vote, making him a martyr among Jackson supporters. In 1833 he became Vice President and the heir-apparent of Jackson.


Accomplishments in Office

Martin Van Buren, the first President to be born under the American flag, was known as a capable administrator. He spent most of his Presidency dealing with the problems left over from the Jackson Presidency.

The primary problem was the economic recession that struck soon after he entered office. Van Buren opposed any attempts at government intervention. He was committed to keeping the United States solvent, thus he cut back federal spending, which no doubt exacerbated the economic problems. Van Buren also had to face problems in the North and in the South. In the North, an insurrection in Canada almost led the United States in to hostilities. Van Buren successfully avoided war, proclaiming American neutrality.

In the South, Texas requested admission as a State. Van Buren delayed action on the request, fearing that it would exacerbate the already explosive issue of slavery.

The First Family

Father: Abraham Van Buren
Mother: Maria Hoes Van Allen
Wife: Hannah Hoes
Sons: Abraham, John Martin Jr., Smith Thimpson


Major Events

Panic of 1837
Caroline Affair
Aroostook War


The Cabinet

Secretary of State: John Forsyth
Secretary of Treasury: Levi Woodbury
Secretary of War: Joel Poinsett
Attorney Generals: Benjamin Butler, Felix Grundy, Henry Gilpin
Secretaries of the Navy: Mahlon Dickerson, James Paulding
Postmaster Generals: Amos Kendall, John Niles



US forces attacked the Fiji Islands


Did You Know?

First President to be born under the American Flag
First President to be born in New York

Inaugural Address