Key Dates

1832 Van Buren is elected Vice President.

1836 Van Buren is elected President is a close race.

1838-39 Fifteen thousand Cherokee are forced to leave their Georgia homeland. 4,000 die on the journey now called the “Trail of Tears.”

1840 William Henry Harrison defeats Van Buren for the Presidency.

1862 Martin Van Buren dies.

Martin Van Buren
1837 - 1841
Eighth President

Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York on December 5, 1782.

President Van Buren was the first president of Dutch desent. He spoke Dutch at home.

He was a lawyer.

Martin had four sons.

When he was vice president, he presided over the Senate wearing a pair of pistols, as a precaution against the frequent outbursts of violence.

Martin Van Buren had large mutton-chop sideburns.

President Van Buren was the first president born an American citizen. His predecessors all were born before the Declaration of Independence and thus were born British subjects.

Van Buren was known as "Old Kinderhook." Some people called him O.K. This nickname is given credit for the origin of the word "okay."

Van Buren was one of the founders of the Democratic Party.

Johnson, Van Buren's Vice President was the only Vice President to be selected by the U.S. Senate. Since no one had received a majority of the electoral votes the Senate had to elect the Vice President.

Van Buren's Vice President was Richard M. Johnson (1837-1841).

President Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren.
Library of Congress

The U.S. had several problems during his term. Soon after he became President, hundreds of banks failed causing financial panic. Also, the arguments about slavery became more intense.

While he was President he was given two tiger cubs by the Sultan of Oman.

Martin Van Buren took $100,000, the sum of his salary as president for 4 years, in a lump sum at the end of his term.

Martin Van Buren was defeated in the primary in 1844 by James Polk.

President Van Buren's autobiography does not mention his wife once.

He lived to see eight Presidents from eight different sates succeed him.

Martin Van Buren died in Kiderhook, New York (the same place he was born) on July 24, 1862. He was 79.

Quotes from Martin Van Buren:

"I have never yet seen unpretending, but honest zeal and practical efforts t be usefull, go without their ulimate reward."
Alabany, New York, Jul 1827




Quick Notes

8th President March 4 - April 4, 1841

Born: Kinderhook, N.Y., Dec. 5, 1782

Party: Democratic

Died: Kinderhook, N.Y. July 24, 1862 age 79



  • The Presidents of the United States. 22 September 2004
  • Davis, Gibbs and Ilus. David A. Johnson. Wackiest White House Pets. New York: Scholastic Press, October 2004
  • James, Barber and Amy Pastan. Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies. New York: DK Publishing, 2002
  • Harnsberger, Caroline Thomas. Treasury of Presidential Quotations. Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1964
  • Kane, Joseph Natan. Facts about the Presidents from Washington to Johnson. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1964.
  • National Park Service Web Site on Presidential Trivia:

Additional Sources:


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This page was last modified: January 31, 2012