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Martin Van Buren
Suggested Reading



"The government should not be guided by Temporary Excitement, but by Sober Second Thought. "

American Presidents: Martin Van Buren
(Ted Widmer, Arthur M. Schlesinger)
The first "professional politician" to become president, the slick and dandyish Martin Van Buren was to all appearances the opposite of his predecessor, the rugged general and Democratic champion Andrew Jackson. Van Buren, a native Dutch speaker, was America's first ethnic president as well as the first New Yorker to hold the office, at a time when Manhattan was bursting with new arrivals. A sharp and adroit political operator, he established himself as a powerhouse in New York, becoming a U.S. senator, secretary of state, and vice president under Jackson, whose election he managed. His ascendancy to the Oval Office was virtually a foregone conclusion.

Once he had the reins of power, however, Van Buren found the road quite a bit rougher. His attempts to find a middle ground on the most pressing issues of his day-such as the growing regional conflict over slavery-eroded his effectiveness. But it was his inability to prevent the great banking panic of 1837, and the ensuing depression, that all but ensured his fall from grace and made him the third president to be denied a second term. His many years of outfoxing his opponents finally caught up with him.

Ted Widmer, a veteran of the Clinton White House, vividly brings to life the chaos and contention that plagued Van Buren's presidency-and ultimately offered an early lesson in the power of democracy.

Martin Van Buren : The Romantic Age of American Politics
(John Niven, Katherine Speirs (Editor))
Based upon extensive use of the Van Buren papers and other basic primary sources of the period, this is a readable, authoitative biography of the 8th President of the United States and a close political ally of Andrew Jackson, and later upholder of the Jacksonian tradition.

Martin Van Buren And The American Political System
(Donald B. Cole)


Martin Van Buren and the Emergence of American Popular Politics
(Joel H. Silbey)
In the early part of the 19th century, America was skeptical of popular politics, distrustful of political parties, and disdainful of political management. However, as prominent historian Joel H. Silbey demonstrates, Martin Van Buren took the lead among his contemporaries in remolding the old political order as he captured the New York state governorship, a seat in the United States Senate, and ultimately the Presidency. Martin Van Buren and the Emergence of American Popular Politics takes a fresh look at the life and political career of one of America's most often overlooked, yet most influential, public figures.

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