Biography of Martin Van Buren
Celebrated American Biographies





MARTEN VAN BUREN was the eighth president of the United States, 1837 to 1841. He was of Dutch extraction, and his ancestors were among the earliest settiers on the banks of the Hudson, He was born December 5, 1782, at Kinderhook, New York. Mr. Van Buren took up the study of law at the age of fourteen and took an active part in political matters before he had attained his majority. He commenced the practice of law in 1803 at his native town, and in 1809 he removed to Hudson, Columbia county, New York, where he spent seven years gaining strength and wisdom from his contentions at the bar with some of the ablest men of the profession. Mr. Van I3uren was elected to the state senate, and from 1815 until 1819 he was attorney general of the state. He was reelected to the senate in 1816, and in 1818 he was one of the famous clique of politicians known as the "Albany regency." Mr. Van Buren was a member of the convention for the revision of the state constitution, in 1821. In the same year he was elected to the United States senate and served his term in a manner that caused his reelection to that body in 1827, but resigned the following year as he had been elected governor of New York. Mr. Van Buren was appointed by President Jackson as secretary of state in March, 1829, but resigned in 1831, and during the recess of congress he was appointed minister to England. The senate, however, when it convened in December refused to ratify the appointment. In May, 1832, he was nominated by the Democrats as their candidate for vice president on the ticket with Andrew Jackson, and he was elected in the following November. He received the nomination to succeed President Jackson in 1836, as the Democratic candidate, and in the electoral college he received one hundred and seventy votes out of two hundred and eighty three, and was inaugurated March 4, 1837. His administration was begun at a time of great business depression, and unparalled financial distress, which caused the suspension of specie payments by the banks. Nearly every bank in the country was forced to suspend specie payment, and no less than two hundred and fifty four business houses failed in New York in one week. The President urged the adoption of the independent treasury idea, which passed through the senate twice but each time it was defeated in the house. However the measure ultimately became a law near the close of President Van Buren's term of office. Another important measure that was passed was the pre eniption law that gave the actual settlers preference in the purchase of public lands. The question of slavery had begun to assume great preponderance during this administration, and a great conflict was tided over by the passage of a resolution that prohibited petitions or papers that in any way related to slavery to be acted upon. In the Democratic convention of 1840 President Van Buren secured the. nomination for reelection on that ticket without opposition, but in the election he only received the votes of seven states, his opponent, W. H. Harrison, being elected president. In 1848 Mr. Van Buren was the candidate of the "Free Soilers," but was unsuccessful. After this he retired from public life and spent the remainder of his life on his estate at Kinderhook, where he died July 24, 1862.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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