Friday, March 22, 2013

Martin van Buren

English: Presidential $1 Coin Program coin for...
English: Presidential $1 Coin Program coin for Martin Van Buren. Obverse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Picture of Martin Van Buren
English: Picture of Martin Van Buren (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 8th presidential Friday brings us to Martin van Buren. Serving as president from 1837 to 1841, just one term, he had a variety of nicknames, such as "the Little Magician," "the Red Fox of Kinderhook," and "Martin van Ruin," the latter coming from his political opponents.

He became well known by the public as Andrew Jackson's secretary of state. As secretary, he helped Jackson gain the upper hand in the President's rift with his Vice President, Calhoun. van Buren was then elected as Jackson's Vice President and finally won the election to be President in 1836. 

Van Buren became the first US President to have been born a US citizen as well as the first and only US President for whom English was a not a first language (van Buren's first language was Dutch). He was a major founder of the Democratic party and the one to champion an "Independent Treasury," in which the Treasury would control all federal funds, though his 1837 proposal was not accepted by his party until 1840.

As President, he rejected the annexation of Texas, a territorial gain that would later come to pass under President John Tyler eight years later.During van Buren's term were both the bloodless Arostook War, straining tensions with the British and its colonies, and the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis for which many people blamed van Buren.

Also during his rule, van Buren further oversaw the Trail of Tears, or relocation of Native Americans, that his predecessor Jackson had started. During the 1838 Mormon War, in which Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs ordered his troops to exterminate or drive the Mormons from the state of Missouri, Latter-Day Saint Joseph Smith Jr. pleaded with the President for his assistance. However, van Buren, though claiming to have wished he could help, also stated that aiding the Mormons would make him lose Missouri.

Van Buren was generally viewed by his opponents as a man of the "golden spoon," or a privileged man that they could not relate to. Therefore, though the Democratic party unanimously renominated van Buren for the 1840 election, the Democrats lost to the Whig party's presidential candidate, William Henry Harrison.

"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

 Sources: Miller Center, White,  Wikipedia
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