Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
2008 Martin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin
The coin I picked for December features Martin Van Buren. He was the eighth President of the United States, the first president who was born after the Revolutionary War ended, and the first whose native language was not English but Dutch!
As a boy in New York, Martin often had to deliver farm goods after school, or help out at his father’s inn and tavern. He loved to listen to the political discussions among the inn’s guests. By 1807, he was earning enough money as a lawyer to marry Hannah Hoes, his childhood sweetheart. They had four sons together, but Hannah died in 1819.
When Van Buren became president in 1837, he chose two of his sons as his aides. A daughter-in-law, Angelica Singleton Van Buren, agreed to serve as the White House hostess since Martin was a widower.
As president, Van Buren had to deal with the Seminole Indian War in Florida (1835–42). He handled issues calmly and carefully, even though some people wanted him to act more quickly. Looking back, we can see he was a solid statesman. For example, he headed off a war with England over the border between Maine and Canada (the “Aroostook War”) through talks that settled the issue.
Soon after Van Buren took office, the nation faced a financial panic caused by easy credit and overborrowing. Bankers hoped the federal government would give them aid, but he reasoned that government help would only weaken the economy even more.
With the financial crisis fresh in voters’ minds, Van Buren lost the 1840 presidential election to William Henry Harrison. Van Buren was again nominated in 1848, but was again defeated. In 1862, he died at Lindenwald, his estate near Kinderhook, his home town.
Learn more about the man on the coin on the Martin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin page.