Born: December 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York... Martin Van Buren allied himself with President Andrew Jackson, who in turn rewarded Van Buren with cabinet positions and the vice presidency. As president, however, Van Buren maintained Jacksonian policies that magnified an economic downturn, leading to the Panic of 1837. "Martin Van Ruin" was not re-elected... Died: April 4, 1841, in Washington, D.C.
. Soon after Van Buren took office, the nation was gripped in a financial panic as citizens rushed to exchange their state-issued paper money for hard currency. The state banks had depleted their own reserves, interest rates rose above 20 percent, and runaway inflation was devaluing all liquid assets. No President could have done much to halt or reverse the situation, but Van Buren's insistence on doing nothing -- along with his tendency to live high and dress well (he had come from a poor family) -- infuriated many Americans. Not until late in his term did his bill to establish an independent treasury become law.
Martin Van Buren was the eighth president and the first to be born in the newly independent nation.
As the descendant of Dutch immigrants, he was also the first president whose ethnic background wasn't mostly from the British Isles.
Van Buren was also responsible for forcing 15,000 Cherokee from their Georgia homeland to what is now Oklahoma. Without adequate food and supplies, the Indians marched for 116 days, escorted by federal troops who did not allow them to rest or tend to the ill. As a result, some 4,000 Indians died on the treacherous journey known as "The Trail of Tears."
In the midst of Old Hickory's second term, while Van Buren was serving as vice president, the president's hot temper almost provoked conflict with France over spoliation claims arising out of depredations on American commerce during the Napoleonic Wars. The vice president, fortunately, helped moderate Jackson's belligerence and bring the dispute to an amicable settlement.
One historian, Major L. Wilson, has characterized Van Buren's inaugural address as "essentially a charter for inaction" (1984,39). It contained nothing more innovative than calls for "strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the Constitution" and for "friendship of all nations as the condition most compatible with our welfare and the principles of our Government"
Martin Van Buren's seminal role in restructuring the institutional framework of American popular politics. As Joel H. Silbey makes clear, the Sly Fox of Kinderhook "took the lead among his contemporaries in remolding the political order" from the civil culture of deference that existed before the American Revolution to the participatory democracy that emerged after 1815
Born in 1782 to a tavern keeper of modest means in New York's Hudson River valley, the future party leader and president received little formal schooling. Moreover, his Dutch ancestry placed him at odds with the economic elites of English extraction who had come to dominate New York. Ambitious, persistent, and just a little lucky, Van Buren advanced his station by taking advantage of changes in political culture brought about by the Revolution.
The domestic policies of the Van Buren presidency, however, did more than bequeath a superior financial regime. They also thwarted all attempts to use economic depression as an excuse for expanding government's role.
We have Van Buren to thank for the expression "OK." He was from Kinderhook, New York, which was sometimes referred to as "Old Kinderhook." "O.K. Clubs" were created to support Van Buren's political campaigns, and the expression "OK" came to mean "all right."