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AMERICAN HISTORY

8th President:  Martin Van Buren
Years in Office:  1837 -- 1841  ( 4 yrs )
Party:  Democrat
Vice President:  Richard M. Johnson
First Lady:  Hannah Hoes Van Buren
Year Born:  1782
Year Died:  1862  ( 80 yrs old )

Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born an American citizen.  He was a smooth talker who glorified in giving speeches and was able to captivate audiences even as a child.  He grew up on a family farm in the Dutch community of Kinderhook, N.Y., where he helped his father run an inn and tavern.  After completing school at age 14, he apprenticed himself to the town lawyer and helped to win a case at the age of 15.

    Admitted to the bar in 1803, he eventually turned his attention to a political career.  Campaigning against the concentration of federal funds in the Bank of the United States, he was elected to the state senate in 1812.  He went on to become state attorney general and was easily elected to two terms in the U.S. Senate.  In 1828 he was elected governor of New York but resigned after two months to become President Andrew Jackson's secretary of state.

    He replaced John C. Calhoun as vice-president and went on to win the presidency in a landslide election in 1836.  His mismanagement of the Seminole Indian War, refusal to annex Texas and the financial panic of 1837 did Van Buren in, and he lost his race for re-election in 1840.