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8th U.S. President: Martin Van Buren

About the eighth President of the United States Martin Van Buren, his birth, death, biography, description, facts and quotes.

8th President MARTIN VAN BUREN

Born: December 5, 1782, in the sleepy Dutch village of Kinderhook, N.Y.

Died: July 24, 1862, at his 200-acre estate "Lindenwald" near Kinderhook.

Career: Helper in his father's tavern, lawyer, county judge, State senator, organizer of "Albany Regency"-one of the 1st political machines in American history. U.S. senator at 38, governor of New York, Secretary of State, Minister to England, and Vice-President under Jackson. After leaving the White House, Van Buren tried unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1844; 4 years later, as the candidate of the "Free Soil" party, he drew only 10% of the vote.

Personal Life: Van Buren married a plain Dutch homebody who bore him 4 sons, but his political pursuits were always more important to him than his marriage. His wife died when he was 36, and Van Buren never remarried. In his autobiography, he included not even a single mention of his wife of 12 years.

His Person: Height 5'6"; slender, erect, and always dressed at the height of fashion. He had a high forehead, blue eyes, and curly red side-burns.

Election: As Jackson's heir apparent in 1836, Vice-President Van Buren had an easy time defeating his 4 different Whig opponents. Van Buren won 170 electoral votes, while his nearest rival polled 73. By the time Van Buren tried for reelection 4 years later, his popularity had been destroyed by the Depression of 1837, and he was swept from office by William Henry Harrison.

Term of Office: March 4, 1837-March 4, 1841 (4 years).

Little-Known Facts: No one in American history won so many colorful nicknames as Van Buren. To his friends, he was always "Matty Van," "Old Kinderhook," or "The Little Magician." Other titles included "The American Talleyrand," "The Red Fox of Kinderhook," or "Petticoat Pet" (an allusion to his dandylike dress). His Whig opponents blamed Van Buren for the Depression by branding him "Martin Van Ruin."

Quote from Van Buren:

"As to the Presidency, the 2 happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it."

Quotes about Him:

"He rowed to his object with muffled oars."

-John Randolph

"He is not of the race of the lion or of the tiger; he belongs to the lower order-the fox."

-John Calhoun.

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