Martin van Buren

Martin Van Buren (1782-1862)

Martin Van Buren, born in New York State as the son of Dutch immigrants, started his political commitment in 1800 when he joined the Democratic Party. In 1807 he married Hannah Hoes, with whom he had four children. After she died in 1819 he never re-married and remained a widower the rest of his life.

In 1821 he expanded his influence within the party as a US-senator and in 1829 he joined the cabinet around President Andrew Jackson after being the Governor of New York for a short term of office. Van Buren then became Jackson’s Secretary of State from 1829 until 1831 and his Vice President as well his closest advisor from 1832 until 1836.

In the election campaign of 1836 Van Buren was nominated as presidential candidate and then finally voted to be the 8th President of the United States of America (1837-1841) even though he was regarded as corrupt among the American population.

Already in the first year of his presidency it came to the first economic crisis, due to his predecessor’s failed economic policy - Jackson dissolved the US-National Bank after all.

By not changing anything and just continuing as Jackson had done before, the situation only got worse, which can be seen as the main reason for why van Buren was not re-elected. Absolute rock bottom was hit, however, when 10,000 Indians were forced to move from the west, where their home territory was, further west, traveling by foot and taking a whole year. This anticlimax is also known as the Trail of Tears, which over half of the traveling Indians did not survive.

After not being nominated as presidential candidate in 1844 he tried again four years later for the Free-Soil-Party, again without any success.

He resigned from his political engagement for the Democratic Party. When the Civil War started, van Buren supported slavery once again on the side of Abraham Lincoln.

"As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it." (Martin van Buren)