Messages and Papers of Martin Van Buren

Author: Martin Van Buren

Messages and Papers of

March 4, 1837, to March 4, 1841

MARTIN VAN BUREN was born in Kinderhook, Columbia County, N.Y., December 5, 1782. He was the eldest son of Abraham Van Buren, a small farmer, and of Mary Hoes (originally spelled Goes), whose first husband was named Van Alen. He studied the rudiments of English and Latin in the schools of his native village. At the age of 14 years commenced reading law in the office of Francis Sylvester, and pursued his legal novitiate for seven years. Combining with his professional studies a fondness for extemporaneous debate, he was early noted for his intelligent observation of public events and for his interest in politics; was chosen to participate in a nominating convention when only 18 years old. In 1802 went to New York City and studied law with William P. Van Ness, a friend of Aaron Burr; was admitted to the bar in 1803, returned to Kinderhook, and associated himself in practice with his half-brother, James I. Van Alen. He was a zealous adherent of Jefferson, and supported Morgan Lewis for governor of New York in 1803 against Aaron Burr. In February, 1807, he married Hannah Hoes, a distant kinswoman. In the winter of 1806-7 removed to Hudson, the county seat of Columbia County, and in the same year was admitted to practice in the supreme court. In 1807 supported Daniel D. Tompkins for governor against Morgan Lewis, the latter having come to be considered less true than the former to the measures of Jefferson. In 1808 became surrogate of Columbia County, displacing his half-brother and partner, who belonged to the defeated faction. In 1813, on a change of party predominance at Albany, his half-brother was restored to the office. Early in 1811 he figured in the councils of his party at a convention held in Albany, when the proposed recharter of the United States Bank was the leading question of Federal politics. Though Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, had recommended a recharter, the predominant sentiment of the Republican party was adverse to the measure. Van Buren shared in this hostility, and publicly landed the "Spartan firmness" of George Clinton when as Vice-President he gave his casting vote in the United States Senate against the bank bill, February 20, 1811. In 1812 was elected to the senate of New York from the middle district as a Clinton Republican, defeating Edward P. Livingston; took his seat in November of that year, and became thereby a member of the court of errors, then composed of senators in connection with the chancellor andthe supreme court. As senator he strenuously opposed the charter of "The Bank of America," which was then seeking to establish itself in New York and to take the place of the United States Bank. Though counted among the adherents of Madison’s Administration, and though committed to the policy of declaring war against Great Britain, he sided with the Republican members of the New York legislature in 1812, and supported De Witt Clinton for the Presidency. In the following year, however, he dissolved his political relations with Clinton and resumed the entente cordiale with Madison’s Administration. In 1815, while still a member of the senate, was appointed attorney-general of the State, superseding the venerable Abraham Van Vechten. In 1816 was reelected to the State senate, and, removing to Albany, formed a partnership with his life-long friend, Benjamin F. Butler. In the same year was appointed a regent of the University of New York. Supported De Witt Clinton for governor of New York in 1817, but opposed his reelection in 1820. In 1819 was removed from the office of attorney-general. February 6, 1821, was elected United States Senator. In the same year was chosen from Otsego County as a member of the convention to revise the constitution of the State. Took his seat in the United States Senate December 3, 1821, and was at once made a member of its Committees on the Judiciary and Finance. For many years was chairman of the former. Supported William H. Crawford for the Presidency in 1824. Was reelected to the Senate in 1827, but soon resigned his seat to accept the office of governor of New York, to which he was elected in 1828. Was a zealous supporter of Andrew Jackson in the Presidential election of 1828, and in 1829 became premier of the new Administration. As Secretary of State he brought to a favorable close the long-standing feud between the United States and England with regard to the West India trade. Resigned his Secretaryship in June, 1831, and was sent as minister to England. The Senate refused in 1832 to confirm his nomination by the casting vote of John C. Calhoun, the Vice-President. In 1832 was elected Vice-President of the United States, and in 1833 came to preside over the body which a year before had rejected him as a foreign minister. On May 20, 1835, was formally nominated for the Presidency, and was elected in 1836 over his three competitors, William H. Harrison, Hugh L. White, and Daniel Webster, by a majority of 57 in the electoral college, but of only 25,000 in the popular vote. On May 5, 1840, was nominated for the Presidency by the Democratic national convention at Baltimore, Md. At the election on November 10 was defeated by William Henry Harrison, who received 234 electoral votes and a popular majority of nearly 140,000. Van Buren received but 60 votes in the electoral college. Retired to his country seat, Lindenwald, in his native county. Was a candidate for the Presidential nomination at the Democratic national convention at Baltimore, Md., May 27, 1844, but was defeated by James K. Polk. Was nominated for the Presidency by a Barnburner convention at Utica, N.Y., June22, 1848, a nomination which he had declined by letter in advance. He was also nominated for the presidency by the Free Soil national convention of Buffalo, August 9, 1848. At the election, November 7, received only a popular vote of 291,263, and no electoral vote. Supported Franklin Pierce for the Presidency in 1852 and James Buchanan in 1856. In 1860 voted the fusion ticket of Breckinridge, Douglas, and Bell in New York against Mr. Lincoln, but when the civil war began gave to the Administration his zealous support. Died at Kinderhook July 24, 1862, and was buried there.


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Chicago: Martin Van Buren, "Title Page," Messages and Papers of Martin Van Buren in 1529–1530. Original Sources, accessed May 26, 2024,

MLA: Buren, Martin Van. "Title Page." Messages and Papers of Martin Van Buren, in , pp. 1529–1530. Original Sources. 26 May. 2024.

Harvard: Buren, MV, 'Title Page' in Messages and Papers of Martin Van Buren. cited in , , pp.1529–1530. Original Sources, retrieved 26 May 2024, from