Martin Van Buren and the Romantic Age of American Politics by John Niven

Read: Nov 10 - 26
Source: Public Library
Category: History /Bios
Pages: 715

Martin Van Buren, eighth President of the United States, "may have been a conservative, an advocate of States Rights, an agrarian, a party regular, but he was overall a New Yorker, a Northerner, and a pragmatic politician." The Little Magician as he was called, ruled New York politics for the majority of his lifetime, manipulating the selection process of who would have what office, who would be supported and who would be denounced. Behind the scenes of numerous vital issues, MVB would work the state legislature negotiating the passage of legislation that had far-reaching effects.

On the national scene, Van Buren worked tirelessly in support of Andrew Jackson and served as his Secretary of State as well as Vice President. In these capacities, he traipsed through the quagmire of issues of the day - bank dissolution, abolition, Indian removal - frequently calming a volatile Jackson and preventing numerous catastrophes. Van Buren's Presidential candidacy was complicated not by the issues of the day, but the selection of a running mate.

Upon his election, he was confronted with the banking issues, a depression and costs of the Indian removal - all issues inherited from Jackson. Trying to use the concept of a subtreasury to combat the depression, VB was handicapped by a hostile congress.

Defeated when he ran for re-election, Martin VanBuren felt that the importation of voters by the Whig Party constituted election fraud. The following years he spent trying to rebuild the Democratic party which he had built in New York state. He was drafted in a later Presidential election to run for the Free Soil Party which advocated the end of slavery.

This book was overwhelming in the amount of details that were dispensed regarding the politics of the State of New York elections and national politics during the Presidencies of Jackson, Van Buren, Tyler, and Polk. Since this was titled to be a biography of Van Buren, I was disappointed with the amount of information about unrelated people and events regarding the political machine that MVB was credited to have created. It was also difficult to read because the print was smaller than normal so that 1 page was probably equivalent to 2 pages of a normal book, so 700 pages was really many more.

A description of Martin Van Buren which seems appropriate - " An American Statesman who with his faults, his weaknesses, his little vanities had made no little consequence on his state and his nation."

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