Martin Van Buren: The Irony of 1840

Presidential History Blog


8th POTUS Martin Van Buren is vaguely remembered today, but….

MVB: A Man of Firsts

…he holds a few interesting distinctions.

Born in 1782, he was the first President who was not born a British subject. He was the only President who learned another language before learning English. His first language was Dutch.

He is also considered by many historians to be the first American professional politician.

Born in New York’s Catskills Mountains, about 20 miles south of Albany, he was the son of a tavern owner and his second wife. His local schooling ended when he was about fourteen. Desiring a better life than as an innkeeper, he read law with Peter Silvester, a prominent Federalist attorney. Silvester and his son stressed a meticulous personal appearance. Young Martin Van Buren thus shed his rough homespun clothing, for a somewhat foppish wardrobe – and manners.

Most indications are that MVB…

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