About this Famous Person
Martin VAN BUREN
8th President of the United States
Source : Tim DOWLING
Martin Van Buren was born in the village of Kinderhook, New York. His father, Abraham van Buren (1737–1817) was a farmer, the owner of a few slaves, and a tavern-keeper in Kinderhook. Abraham Van Buren supported the American Revolution and later the Jeffersonian Republicans. He died while Martin Van Buren was a New York state senator. Martin Van Buren's mother was Maria Hoes (van Alen) van Buren (1747–1818). Her first husband, Johannes Van Alen, died and left her with three children. In 1776, she married Abraham van Buren. She never got over the loss of her second husband in 1817 and died less than a year after him.
By his mother's first marriage, Van Buren had one half-sister and two half-brothers, including James Van Alen, who practiced law with Van Buren for a time and served as a Federalist member of Congress (1807–1809). Van Buren had four full siblings from his parents' marriage: Dirckie "Derike" Van Buren (1777–1865); Jannetje "Hannah" Van Buren (born 1780); Lawrence Van Buren (1786–1868), who served as an officer in the New York militia during the War of 1812 and later was active in the Barnburners New York Democrats; and Abraham Van Buren (1788–1836). Van Buren was also a slaveowner, and like many people of his time, a supporter of slavery.
Van Buren was the first president born a citizen of the United States, as all previous presidents were born before the American Revolution. His great-great-great-great-grandfather Cornelis had come to the New World in 1631 from the Netherlands. Van Buren was also the only President who spoke English as a second language.
Van Buren received a basic education at a dreary, poorly lit schoolhouse in his native village and later studied Latin briefly at the Kinderhook Academy. He excelled in composition and speaking. His formal education ended before he reached 14, when he began studying law at the office of Francis Sylvester, a prominent Federalist attorney in Kinderhook. After six years under Sylvester, he spent a final year of apprenticeship in the New York City office of William P. Van Ness, a political lieutenant of Aaron Burr. Van Buren was admitted to the bar in 1803.
Van Buren married Hannah Hoes, his childhood sweetheart and distant relative on February 21, 1807, in Catskill, New York. Like Van Buren, she was raised in a Dutch home and never lost her distinct Dutch accent. After 12 years of marriage, Hannah Van Buren contracted tuberculosis and died on February 5, 1819, at the age of 35. Martin Van Buren never remarried.