Portraits: Martin Van Buren   Leave a comment

Martin Van Buren daguerreotypeMartin Van Buren (1782 – 1862)

The 8th President of the United States, 1837 – 1841

AKA:The American Talleyrand, The Careful Dutchman, The Enchanter, The Great Manager, The Master Spirit, Martin Van Ruin, Matty Van, The Mistletoe Politician, Old Kinderhook, The Little Magician

From: New York

College: One of 8 US Presidents that did not attend college

Married to: Hannah Hoes

Children: Abraham, John, Martin, Smith

Party: Democratic-Republican (Before 1825), Democratic (1825 – 1848), Free Soil (1848 – 1854)

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, New York Attorney General, US Senator, Governor of New York, Secretary of State, Minister to the United Kingdom, Vice President

In His Words:  “It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.”

“The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for general prosperity.”

“Those who have wrought great changes in the world never succeeded by gaining over chiefs; but always by exciting the multitude. The first is the resource of intrigue and produces only secondary results, the second is the resort of genius and transforms the universe.”

Not true: Van Buren was a political ally of Aaron Burr, a fellow New Yorker.  A rumor about their relationship — that Van Buren was Burr’s illegitimate son — survived into the 20th century, when Gore Vidal included it in his novel, Burr. There was never any proof of a familial relationship.

True: Van Buren was the first President born a US Citizen.

He was also our first and only ESL President:  the first President not to speak English as his first language. He grew up speaking Dutch.

He was the architect of the Democratic Party; after he organized it around his election, the party was firmly established as a national force.

Twentieth Century etymologist Alan Walker Read has published research asserting the wide usage of the phrase “O.K.” (okay) started during the presidential campaign and subsequent presidency of Martin Van Buren.

The Official Portrait: Chicagoan George P. A. Healy painted the official White House portrait of Van Buren.  He received a Congressional commission in 1857 to paint portraits of several presidents, some of whom had sat for him in the 1840s. The portraits were of John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce. Finished by 1859, the portraits were stored in the White House attic, as no funds had been provided for framing them. After the Civil War President Andrew Johnson obtained funding to frame them and hung the portraits in the Cross Hall.

Martin Van Buren, Official White House Portrait

Martin Van Buren Signature

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