Martin Van Buren
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Kinderhook, New York April 2004 5th Visited

President Martin Van Buren rests
in his hometown in the Hudson
Valley, Kinderhook. Though in life
he wore fine clothing and resided
in an elegant house, the president
is interred behind a simple obelisk.
His wife, Hannah Hoes Van Buren,
is buried beside him. She died in
1819 and did not serve as first lady.

Van Buren's birth year of 1782,
six years after American
independence, made him the first
president that was not born a
British subject. He was also the
only president whose initial
language was not English. Van
Buren was raised in a household
that spoke Dutch.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Sarah Angelica Singleton Van Buren
- Spouse: Hannah Hoes Van Buren (m. 1807-1819)

- Political Party: Democratic Party

- Term: 1837-1841
- Vice President: Richard Mentor Johnson

- Born: December 5, 1782

- Died: July 24, 1862

Age: 79

- Cause of Death: Asthmatic Complications

- Last Words: "There is but one reliance."

Cemetery: Kinderhook Reformed Church Cemetery, Kinderhook, New York
- GPS Coordinates: 42°24'12.2"N 73°42'09.1"W

* * * Background on Martin Van Buren * * *

* On the state and national level, Martin Van Buren was instrumental in the construction of the party politics that emerged during the United States' second generation. Raised by a father whose tavern was a Jeffersonian Republican meeting place, Van Buren adopted this ideology. Powerful families in Kinderhook, a Federalist stronghold, pressed Martin to support Federalist candidates, but he stayed true to his political convictions. Later, as the Federalist Party dissolved, some of its members joined the increasingly factional Democratic-Republican Party. Van Buren believed in distinct parties, as he felt differences in political opinions could do “much national good.” In his view, the party system would sometimes help one party, sometimes another, and could keep an individual politician's ambitions in check. Van Buren organized a coalition of “ambitious lawyers and journalists” called the Bucktails, who wrestled control of the legislature from another segment led by Governor DeWitt Clinton. The “Little Magician’s” regard for party regularity and Jeffersonian principles guided him a decade later as he helped form the modern Democratic Party around Andrew Jackson to defeat President John Quincy Adams in 1828.

* Two weeks after Van Buren became president, he was faced with the Panic of 1837. The U.S. was flush with money from Mexico and the United Kingdom, and its debt and trade deficit levels were high. To reduce the money supply, in 1836 Andrew Jackson signed an executive order called the Specie Circular that prohibited the government from accepting payment for land in any form other than gold and silver coins. As a result, the value of paper money decreased and basic goods tripled in price. Because Jackson defunded the Second Bank of the United States, there was little the Federal Government could do when his actions came home to roost during Van Buren’s administration. People withdrew large sums from banks, which forced the institutions to close. In turn, this bankrupted thousands of businesses and led to widespread unemployment. President Van Buren called upon a special session of Congress to withdraw all government funds from state-chartered banks and put them in the U.S. Treasury. The measure failed to pass until 1840. The government spent $50 million enforcing the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which stimulated the economy, but another panic in 1839 doomed “Martin Van Ruin’s” chances of winning reelection.

* Although he did not originate it, Van Buren popularized the term "O.K." In the late 1830s, a wordplay craze swept the nation. For fun, people used initials of words to create acronyms. In many cases, the words were purposely misspelled. For instance, "Oll Wright," derived from "all right," was "O.W." A similar term was "Oll Korrect," or "O.K." In 1840, "O.K." became a campaign slogan for President Van Buren, who was sometimes called "Old Kinderhook" because he hailed from Kinderhook, New York. The use of the term "O.K." was spread by the president's political supporters, who held O.K. galas and attached the acronym to other events and clubs. Though many felt that Van Buren was "O.K.," a majority of voters cast their ballots for General William Henry Harrison that November.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

Beyer, Rick. The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told. New York: Collins, 2007.

Cole, Donald B. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System. 2nd ed. Fort Washington, PA: Eastern National, 2004.

Henretta, James A. "Martin Van Buren." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 112-22. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

"Part IV: 1841-1862." Accessed March 31, 2019. papers/articles-and-essays/timeline/1841-to-1862/.

The Presidents. "John Q. Adams to Polk (1825-1849)." History Channel, 2005.

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