The eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) was born on this day in Kinderhook, New York. With a strong work ethic, he pulled himself from poverty to become a lawyer in 1803.
"Most men are not scolded out of their opinion," he once said.
A political shooting star, Van Buren entered politics in 1812 as a U.S. Senator and held the office of New York Governor for a few months before being tapped as Secretary of State (1829-1831), then Vice-President (1833-1837) to mentor Andrew Jackson.
Of the Presidency he won in 1836, Van Buren said,"The two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it."
Three months after he took office, the Panic of 1837 crashed the country's banking system. Based on speculation and easy credit, the crisis caused land losses and a five-year depression.
This economic crisis overshadowed Van Buren's success in keeping peace with Mexico and Britain. In 1840, he lost the Presidency to William Henry Harrison, his first of three unsuccessful bids for reelection.
"The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for the general prosperity," he said.
At 5 feet, 6 inches tall, he was nicknamed "The Little Magician" for his statesmanship and deal-making ability. Strong, determined, and devoted to Thomas Jefferson and Jackson philosophy, Van Buren helped build the Democratic Party, which was instrumental in creating the modern political party system.
He said, "It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't."
More PRESIDENTIAL Quotations
Politics are a means of rising in the world.