The Incredible Life Of Martin Van Buren – America’s Forgotten 8th President

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Image: Mathew Brady
Image: Mathew Brady

It’s December 1837, and U.S. President Martin Van Buren is dealing with a provocation from British forces over the border in Canada. The Brits have seized and destroyed a U.S. steamer known as Caroline on the American side of the Niagara. But can Van Buren find a way to avoid the potentially destructive war that some hotheads are now demanding?

Image: Domenick D'Andrea
Image: Domenick D’Andrea

We’ll leave Van Buren with that perilous situation for the moment. First, let’s find out a little more about the man who would go on to become the eighth president of the United States. Maarten Van Buren – as he was born – came into the world on December 5, 1782, just six years after America declared independence and the year before American sovereignty was enshrined in the Treaty of Paris.

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Image: John Warner Barber
Image: John Warner Barber

Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, a village on the River Hudson in upstate New York. His parents were Dutch Americans, which explains the name Maarten – later anglicized to Martin. In fact, his father, Abraham Van Buren, was a descendant of Cornelis Maessen, who had arrived in America from the Netherlands in 1631.

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