Martin Van Buren was trim and erect, only about 5 feet and 6
inches in height, and dressed meticulously. His appearance was impeccable which
contradicted his humble background and amiability. He was born in 1782, to a
farmer and tavern-keeper, in Kinderhook, New York.
He became a lawyer at a young age and soon was involved in New York politics. He
became the leader of the Albany Regency which was an effective organization in
New York Politics. Although, he astutely gave awards and office positions to
bring in votes but he was faithful to his duties. In 1821, Van Buren was elected
to the United States Senate.
By the year 1827, Van Buren became a power northern leader in alliance with
Andrew Jackson. He was appointed as the Secretary of the State by Andrew Jackson
soon after. Van Buren became the most trusted advisor to President Jackson and
was referred as, “a true man with no guile” by the president.
Calhoun, a Presidential candidate’s differences with President Jackson
caused a serious rift in the Cabinet. Van Buren sought a way out of the serious
problem: he and the Secretary of the War Eaton would resign so that the Calhoun
men also resign. Jackson then appointed a new cabinet and wanted to reward Van
Buren by appointing him as the Minister to the Great Britain. However, the
Senate voted against this decision, infuriating Jackson.
Van Buren became the Vice President in 1832 on the Jacksonian ticket and was
elected as the president of America in 1836.
Van Buren’s inaugural Address was devoted to a discussion on the American
experiment to be an illustration to the rest of the world. The country was
prospering, however, less than three months later the 1837’s panic
disturbed the prosperity.
Basically, the trouble was cyclical economy of “boom and bust” in
the 19th century, but some of Andrew Jackson’s moves made the situation a
little worse. The Second Bank’s destruction caused widespread inflationary
practices of other banks causing wild speculation in land based on east credit
from the banks.
The panic began in 1837 and hundreds of businesses and banks failed. Thousand of
citizens lost their land and the depression was the worst yet in the history of
the United States. Van Buren’s remedial actions that were based on the
deflationary policies of Jackson were only making the depression worse.
Van Buren declared that the panic was caused by the overexpansion of credit and
recklessness in business. He devoted himself to maintain the solvency of the
Government. He was against the creation of a new Bank of United States. He also
opposed to the idea of placing Government funds in the state banks.
Van Buren supported free trade and lower tariffs, and this helped him to
maintain support from the south for the Democratic Party. He also succeeded in
creating a system of bonds to handle the national debt.
He was inclined to oppose the expansion of slavery and blocked the annexation of
Texas as it would have added to slave territory. He was defeated by the Whigs in
1840 and was an unsuccessful candidate for presidential elections in 1848. He
died in the year 1862.