Who Was the First President to Be Born an American Citizen?
The eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States. Unlike his seven predecessors, Martin Van Buren was born after the American Revolution when the country had gained full independence from Britain. Due to his reputable cunning skills in politics, Van Buren was known as a sly fox to his enemies. He is celebrated as a forefather of the Democratic Party and the founder of the singular American political system.
Van Buren was born and raised in Kinderhook, New York in 1782 as a third child of Maria Van Alen and Abraham Van Buren, who served as a farmer and tavern caretaker in New York. Van Buren frequented his father’s workplace where he met prominent politicians and lawyers. At the age of 15, he was already apprenticed as a lawyer. He married his cousin Hannah Hoes and they had four sons before Hannah passed away in 1819 following a Tuberculosis attack.
Van Buren attained his first political seat as the Senator of New York serving for two terms (1812-1820). During his campaign trail, he was an opponent of now-defunct Bank of the United States and a great supporter of the dominant war against Great Britain over maritime borders. In his term, he served as the Attorney General occupying the office for 5 years. Van Buren endorsed Thomas Jefferson’s political ideologies, where he had preferential state rights, opposed the rigid federal government, and criticized state-sponsored in-house developments. In 1828, he became President Jackson’s Secretary of State and later resigned due to disagreements on expansions of political backing systems. In 1832, he was nominated as the Vice President by the Democratic Party and thereafter endorsed by President Jackson for the presidency in 1835.
The following year, he garnered 176 votes to become the first president born in the US. Almost immediately after his inauguration in 1837, he was confronted by the worst financial crisis brought about by the transfer of federal funds from the United States Bank to other state banks during Jackson’s tenure. During this period, hundreds of businesses and banks were in economic turmoil further intensified by the wild land speculation burst bubble in the west which resulted in dragging the country into the worst depression of its history. Van Buren sought to curb the crisis by continuing with deflationary monetary policies but they did not solve the situation.
His admiration was further challenged by the long costly second Seminole War with Seminole Indians in Florida after he failed to support the annexation of Texas. Moreover, in a bid to secure his re-election to the White House, Van Buren stood against African American slaves in their trial for their participation in the Amistad mutiny. These factors coupled with the prevailing economic crisis contributed to his overwhelming defeat.
Martin Van Buren retired from active politics after failing to secure re-election in 1848 and watched as slavery tore the country apart in the 1850’s. He died in 1862, a year after the commencement of the Civil War. He is fondly remembered for his role in developing a singular and significant American political system.