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 Martin Van Buren

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Martin Van Buren

8th United States President. Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York a Hudson River town totally comprised of people of Dutch descent. His mother had been widowed with three children before marrying his father who was a tavern-inn proprietor while owning slaves who worked at the enterprise. The tavern hosted political meetings, elections and entertained such guests as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Young Martin received a political education while ease dropping as a boy. He attended the one-room school house in town. At fifteen, his father was able to place him with a town lawyer as a clerk. A move to New York City resulted in acceptance to the state bar. He opened his own law practice on his return to Kinderhook. Van Buren married Hannah Hoes, a distant cousin whom he knew as a child, became her boyfriend and as townspeople surmised, would wed. After giving birth to five children, Hannah contracted tuberculosis which took her life at 36 leaving Martin with four sons. She was buried in the Dutch Reformed Church Cemetery beside her fourth child who died in infancy. Martin Van Buren had a very successful political career prior to reaching the Presidency: He was a State Senator, a U.S. Senator, then governor of New York, and one of the founders of the Democratic Party. Martin was Secretary of State under Andrew Jackson, Minister to England and Vice President. Van Buren never remarried and upon arrival at the White House was a widower with four bachelor sons. Dolley Madison on a visit acted as a matchmaker and introduced her cousin Angelica to the President's eldest son Abraham resulting in marriage. He became private secretary to his father and Angelica presided as the lady of the White House. His administration was a disaster triggering the worst depression thus far in American history. The panic of 1837 ensued, hundreds of banks and businesses failed and thousands lost their lands. Van Buren continued the policies of deflation which only deepened and prolonged the depression. Not only did he lose reelection but was unsuccessful in gaining the democratic nomination in the following election and unsuccessful again in a third attempt as a nominee of the Free Soil Party. He gave up public life and spent some years in Europe finally returning to Kinderhook living at his estate "Lindenwald." He remained politically active, endorsing candidates and writing about slavery-related issues. He wrote his highly regarded memoirs as well as a milestone study of the organization of American political parties posthumously published. He long suffered from bronchial asthma. Pneumonia relegated him to his bed and the first American born President was dead at 79 from heart failure. His funeral was held at the Reformed Dutch Church in Kinderhook with burial in the church cemetery where he joined his wife Hannah, his parents, and one son. His legacy has fared well in his hometown: His birth house was torn down but a state historical marker is located at the place of birth. "Lindenwald" was a fixer up home that the President purchased as a place where he could live out his post-White House years. It became a showplace with 220 acres of cropland, formal flower gardens, fish ponds, wooded paths and outbuildings of all types. Van Buren lived happily at his country estate until his death. It passed from family hands, became a private residence, a tea house, a nursing home and an antique shop and finally ended up in the hands of the National Park Service in 1970, restored and open to the public. A bit of legacy trivia: From Martin Van Buren's nickname "Old Kinderhook" leading to the formation of O.K. Clubs in support of the President for election came the much used saying "Okay."

Bio by: Donald Greyfield


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1054
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Martin Van Buren (5 Dec 1782–24 Jul 1862), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1054, citing Kinderhook Reformed Church Cemetery, Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .