Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Martin Van Buren

Term: 1837-1841

Party: Democrat

Nickname: Little Magician (Don’t ask)

Short Bio: Martin Van Buren is one of those presidents that make you scratch your head, wondering what he was known for, and what century he was president in. He is not a very well known president, but you will see why. Van Buren rode Jackson’s coattails to the presidency and decided to take over where Jackson left off. Too bad that included a economic tailspin. Van Buren inherited Jackson’s economy problem and was ultimately blamed for it, as the Panic of 1837 as it was called, didn’t happen till he was president. Van Buren was stuck with the very clever name of Martin Van Ruin (I’m being a little sarcastic). Van Buren was not like Jackson in many ways though. He was not a visible man of the people-he liked to wear expensive clothes and had a stuffy appearance. He was also not as adamant or fierce in the face of opposition. He was like Jackson in one way-he did not hesitate to order the Cherokee off their land starting the lovely chapter of American History called the Trail of Tears. Van Buren, Jackson, and most of the U.S. population was to blame for what happened to the Native Americans. The blame does not solely lay on one person in particular. Did Jackson and Van Buren play a part? They sure did, and that's why they lose points for wheir involvement.

Though popular at first, Van Buren lost it with the Panic of 1837 and the depression that followed. It didn’t help that he refused to extend federal aid to distressed banks and state governments. He was soundly beat by non-political war hero, William Henry Harrison. One bright spot on Van Buren’s record is his peaceful approach to the border dispute over Maine. Fighting was about to break out between U.S. troops and the British over the land when Van Buren went into peace talks and had a property line drawn.

Grade: C

He loses points for his mismanagement of a country in economic peril. He did very little to help the economy and got his comeuppance with a denied second term. I still find the Trail of Tears to be a bad mark on his record. He gains points for his peaceful talks with Britain and giving us the land that would be Maine. Van Buren was a strictly mediocre president.

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