8th President of the United States

Born: December 5, 1782 in Kinderhook, New York
Served: March 4, 1837 - March 3, 1841
Died: July 24, 1862 in Kinderhook, New York
Buried: in the Kinderhook Cemetery in Kinderhook, New York
        Martin Van Buren was the 2nd DPOTUS that I picked up on a Columbus Day weekend trip through upstate New York and New England back in 1999. My wife and I had just left Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park and drove up the highway 9 to Kinderhook, NY. We stopped for lunch on the way. We had beautiful weather in the morning, but it became cloudy as we drove north. We first went to Van Buren's home called Lindenwald. they give tours every hour. We missed the 3:00 tour by 15 minutes and didn't want to stay around for the 4 o'clock one. We still had to get to Albany and Chet Arthur and eventually to Massachusetts for dinner. We walked around his home and took some pictures before we headed off to the cemetery. We drove north on Rt 9 to the traffic light in Kinderhook. We went west on Albany Road. The cemetery is on the left. Van Buren's grave is by far the biggest one in the cemetery, so it was easy to find.

        "The Red Fox of Kinderhook", as he was called, was the first president to born an American, the son of a Dutch tavern owner. He was friendly, sociable and always well dressed. His wife, Hannah, died when he was 37. Van Buren was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1921 and immediately set about politicking. He supported Andrew Jackson in the Election of 1828. When Jackson won, he named Van Buren his Secretary of State. Van Buren and Jackson became very close. One person at the time said, "when Jackson dances, it is Van Buren who plays the fiddle."

        In 1836, with Jackson's endorsement, Van Buren was elected president defeating Whig candidate William Henry Harrison by an over 2-1 margin. Unfortunately for Van Buren, he paid the price for his predecessor's financial policies. A financial panic became a depression which doomed Van Buren's presidency. He did, however, create the Treasury Department. He wasn't very good with humanitarian issues either. His continuation of Jackson's Indian removal policy caused the death of thousands of Indians (known as the Trail of Tears). When African slaves mutinied aboard the ship Amistad, he ordered them returned into slavery. He was easily defeated for re-election in 1840 by Harrison and he returned to Kinderhook.

        Considered Pro-Slavery while he was president, he re-invented himself to join the "Free-Soil" Party and ran as their presidential candidate in 1848. His comeback fell short as he received only 10% of the popular vote. Van Buren suffered from chronic asthma. He came down with pneumonia in 1861 and was bedridden. On Thursday, July 24, 1862, "The Little Magician" died of heart failure at Lindenwald. His funeral from the Reformed Dutch Church of Kinderhook was the following Monday. He was buried in a rosewood coffin next to his wife, Hannah.

Here are some webpages of interest:
Governors of New York
White House Biography of Martin van Buren
The Internet Public Library Biography
The American President Biography
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