8. Martin Van Buren

“The Little Magician”


collaboration with bobblehead george

Presidential Basics

  • Full name: Martin Van Buren
  • Years in office: 1837 – 1841
  • Political party: Democratic (during Presidency); Free Soil (from 1848)
  • Vice president: Richard M. Johnson
  • Age at inauguration: 54
  • Nicknames: “Little Magician,” “Red Fox of Kinderhook,” “Martin Van Ruin,” “Little Van”

Random Trivia

  • American citizen: Born December 5, 1782, in Kinderhook, New York, Martin Van Buren was the first president to be an American citizen at birth.
  • OK, OK, OK… The term “OK” actually comes from Van Buren’s hometown name of Old Kinderhook.  The phrase OK was used during Van Buren’s political career and now has become a part of our language.

Birth & Death

  • Birthday: December 5, 1782
  • Birthplace: Kinderhook, New York
  • Death date: July 24, 1862
  • Place of death: Kinderhook, New York
  • Place of burial: Kinderhook Cemetery – Kinderhook, New York
  • Last words: “There is but one reliance.”


  • Father: Abraham Van Buren (1737–1817); Farmer, tavern owner
  • Mother: Maria Hoes Van Alen Van Buren (1747–1817)
  • Wife: Hannah Hoes (1783–1819)
  • Marriage: February 21, 1807 in New York
  • Kids: Four
    • Abraham (180 –1873)
    • John (1810–1866)
    • Martin (1812–1855)
    • Smith Thompson (1817–1876)
  • Home: Lindenwald in Kinderhook, New York

Other Facts

  • Height: 5’6”
  • Eye color: Blue
  • Ancestry: Dutch
  • Religion: Dutch Reformed
  • Born in a log cabin: No
  • Owned enslaved people: Yes
  • Freemason: No


  • Education: Village schools; Kinderhook Academy; studied law
  • College degree: No


  • Military Service: No
  • Lawyer: Yes
  • Lawyer (1803–)
  • New York State Senate (1813– 1815)
  • Attorney General of New York (1815–1819)
  • U.S. Senate (1821–1829)
  • Governor of New York (1829)
  • Secretary of State: Jackson administration (1829–1831)
  • Minister to England (1831–1832)
  • Vice President: Jackson administration (1833–1837)
  • Eighth president (1837–1841)
  • Writer


  • Inquiry into the Origin and Course of Political Parties in the United States
  • The Autobiography of Martin Van Buren


Martin Van Buren used his close ties to Andrew Jackson to secure the nomination of the Democratic party in the election of 1836.

The Whigs, a party created in opposition to Jackson and his policies, ran four candidates.  The intent was to split the vote enough that Van Buren would not gain a majority of electoral votes.  The plan failed, and Van Buren won the needed electoral votes to become our 8th president. (For more on the Whigs, see our infographic here.)

Campaign Poster

Martin Van Buren: Eighth President of the United States, hand-colored lithograph by N. Currier, 1835-36 (Library of Congress)



© 2021 Periodic Presidents, PJ and Jamie Creek