Martin Van Buren’s time in office was not one of great economic gain. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He inherited policies that led the US into the Panic of 1837.
The Whigs capitalized on this Panic, and Van Buren’s seeming disconnect from the situation, to propel William Henry Harrison into the office. In this first modern presidential campaign, Harrison was portrayed as the opposite of Van Buren. In fact, it was the Democrats who first pointed out the glaring differences between the two. They mocked Harrison in the campaign as being a hard cider drinker who lived in a log cabin. The Whigs used the image to their benefit and Tippecanoe the war hero became the log cabin and hard cider candidate (even though he was really from a wealthy Virginia family). The public connected to this idea and Harrison was elected.