Martin Van Buren

8th President Martin Van Buren, 1837-18418th President Martin Van Buren, 1837-18418th President Martin Van Buren, 1837-18418th President Martin Van Buren, 1837-18418th President Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841

8th President Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841

8th President of the United States
(March 4, 1837 to March 3, 1841)

Full Name: Martin Van Buren
Nicknames: "The Little Magician"; "The Red Fox of Kinderhook"; "Old Kinderhook"

Born: December 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York
Died: July 24, 1862, in Kinderhook, New York

Father: Abraham Van Buren (1737-1817)
Mother: Maria Hoes Van Buren (1747-1818)
Married: Hannah Hoes (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 Jackson)
  • Minister to England, 1831
  • Vice President, 1833-1837 (under Jackson)

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year

Presidential Election Results:

YearCandidatePopular VotesElectoral Votes
1836Martin Van Buren765,483170
(map)William H. Harrison549,50873
Hugh L. White145,35226
Daniel Webster41,28714
Willie P. Mangum1

YearCandidatePopular VotesElectoral Votes
1840William H. Harrison1,274,624234
(map)Martin Van Buren1,127,78160

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 Justices:
John McKinley (1838-1852)
Peter Vivian Daniel (1842-1860)

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.
    • Van Buren denied Texas' request for annexation.
  • 1838
    • Thousands of Indians forced from their homes and died along the Trail of Tears.
  • 1839
    • In June, several recently-kidnapped Africans took control of La Amistad leading to a trial that highlighted the personal tragedies of slavery.
Internet Biographies:
Martin Van Buren -- from The Presidents of the United States of America
Compiled by the White House.
Martin Van Buren -- from The American President
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.
Martin Van Buren -- from Encyclopaedia Britannica
Facts about Van Buren and his presidency.
Martin Van Buren, 8th Vice President -- from The United States Senate
The Senate Historical Office presents a biographical article that examines his early years and his presidency.
Martin van Buren -- from New Netherland Institute
Brief biography that highlights his accomplishments.
Historical Documents:
Inaugural Address (1837)
Martin Van Buren Digital Collections - from the Library of Congress


Other Internet Resources:
The Best Biographies of Martin Van Buren
In 2012, Stephen Floyd started his search for the best biography of each president. He usually has reviews of multiple biographies for each president.
Health and Medical History of Martin Van Buren
Medical background of each president with references. Compiled by John Sotos, MD.
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:

2 Kindertree Drive, Kinderhook, New York

1013 Old Post Rd, Kinderhook, NY 12106

Additional Facts:
  • 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.
  • Van Buren resigned as Jackson's Secretary of State to quell a minor sex scandal.
  • 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.
  • Van Buren made three unsuccessful bids for reelection.

“It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.”

“As to the Presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.”

“The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for general prosperity.”

“The government should not be guided by Temporary Excitement, but by Sober Second Thought.”

Previous President: Andrew Jackson
Next President: William Henry Harrison