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. They’ve seized and destroyed a U.S. steamer known as Caroline on the American side of the Niagara. 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. Let’s first find out a little more about the man who would go on to become the eight 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. His father, an innkeeper and, for a time, Kinderhook’s town clerk, was Abraham Van Buren. He was a descendant of Cornelis Maessen who had arrived in America from the Netherlands in 1631.

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