That portrait from yesterday would be of our 8th President, Martin Van Buren, (1837-1841). I have never really known much about this guy, other than when I get to his spot in the line-up, I begin to stumble over which president comes next. So, I decided to do a little presidential research thinking that knowledge is power and now maybe I can keep reciting presidents…in order.
Yeah, we’ll see about that.
Anyway, Martin here has a rather interesting history. Martin Van Buren was the first president to actually be born an American citizen. He was also the first president to come from the state of New York and of Dutch ancestry no less. (All of his predecessors in office had been of British decent.) Dutch was also Van Buren’s first language and English his second, which I find rather interesting considering he was our first president to be BORN an American citizen.
Van Buren worked his way up the ladder in New York and national politics eventually serving as Secretary of State under Andrew Jackson. He became one of Jackson’s most trusted advisers and the vice presidential candidate on Jackson’s successful re-election ticket.
As president however, he presided over one of the worst economic recessions in our country’s history, the Panic of 1837, and his handling of the crisis earned him the nickname “Martin Van Ruin”. Consequently, Van Buren was unable to win re-election.
Van Buren, while not glorified in history books was widely recognized as a key political party operator of his time and a pivotal organizer of the Democratic Party and the two party system in place today.
Just a little back to school presidential history.
I found some of this information on the White House web site in a section for presidential history, but I think the University of Virginia has a much more interesting and detailed presidential history site. Just my personal opinion, though.