Facts and Events
Martin Van Buren (December 5, 1782July 24, 1862) was the eighth President of the United States (1837–1841). Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President (1833–1837) and the tenth Secretary of State (1829–1831), both under Andrew Jackson.
Van Buren was a key organizer of the Democratic Party, a dominant figure in the Second Party System, and the first president not of British or Scots-Irish descent—his family was Dutch. He was the first president to have been born a United States citizen, since all of his predecessors were born British subjects before the American Revolution. He is the only president not to have spoken English as his first language, having grown up speaking Dutch, and the first president from New York.
As Andrew Jackson's Secretary of State and then Vice President, Van Buren was a key figure in building the organizational structure for Jacksonian democracy, particularly in New York. As president, he did not want the United States to annex Texas, an act which John Tyler would achieve eight years after Van Buren's initial rejection. Between the bloodless Aroostook War and the Caroline Affair, relations with Britain and its colonies in Canada also proved to be strained.
His administration was largely characterized by the economic hardship of his time, the Panic of 1837. He was scapegoated for the depression and called "Martin Van Ruin" by political opponents. Van Buren was voted out of office after four years, losing to Whig candidate William Henry Harrison. In the 1848 election Van Buren ran unsuccessfully for president on a third-party ticket, the Free Soil Party. Van Buren died fourteen years later at the age of seventy-nine.
He married Hannah Hoes, a maternal cousin, and had four sons.