Today in History: This Famous President Was Born in Upstate NY
240 years ago today, on December 5, 1782, America's eighth president was born in Kinderhook, NY. Martin Van Buren, known widely as the "red fox" for his political intensity, made some prominent waves in the New York State government during his time in office (whitehouse.gov).
In 1796, a Kinderhook Federalist by the name of Francis Silvester began teaching Van Buren law. He then completed his training with a close associate of Aaron Burr, William Van Ness. He established his own practice in Kinderhook, where he grew up. Van Buren traveled throughout Upstate NY, reaching the Hudson Valley in 1808, and then Albany in 1816 (empirestateplaza.ny.gov).
According to the National Park Service, he "organized the first state-wide political organization, the Bucktails, whose leaders were known as the Albany Regency" (nps.gov). The organization invented the "spoils system", which allowed government officials to award their loyal supporters with job opportunities. Van Buren joined the Republican Party, utilizing his intelligence and public affairs skills to gain traction as opposed to the wealth and familial connections other politicians relied on in the 19th century (empirestateplaza.ny.gov).
Here are 10 Interesting Facts about the Late President Martin Van Buren:
- He resided in Kinderhook, NY.
- He married his cousin Hannah Hoes and yes, that was her real maiden name.
- He was known as the "Little Magician".
- He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party
- He won his first court case.
- His parents owned a tavern that Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr often went to.
- He was the first president to be born as a United States citizen.
- He opposed the Bank of the United States.
- In 1828 he stepped down from his Senate seat to run for Governor, and then after 12 weeks as Governor he stepped down to be Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of State.
- One of Van Buren’s last acts before leaving office was to order that no person should work more than 10 hours a day on federal public works.