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VanBuren served one term, but he wasn't bad.—The Presidents, by Jonathan Coulton.
Martin van Buren could scarcely have been more different from his predecessor, the hard-assed Andrew Jackson. The first President born to American parents (as opposed to colonial British subjects), and one of only two men (with Jefferson) to serve as Secretary of State, Vice President and President, van Buren's public image was of an effete intellectual. His opponents criticized him for serving "unmanly" fare like strawberries and celery in the White House.
A shrewd political operator, he was unfortunate to preside over a period of economic hardship and a straining of relationships with Britain and Canada. Before becoming president, he nearly prevented those hardships. Van Buren was also both a brilliant congressman and a decent man.
His nickname while running for President was "Old Kinderhook", and his election campaign was known as "The Democratic O.K. Club". While the term "O.K." had been known for a few years, it seems to have been popularized by the election campaign.
Martin Van Buren was the first President to be born in the United States of America, having been born following 1776. The only president with no ancestors from Ireland or Great Britain, he is also the only president thus far to speak English as a second language (he was born to one of the Dutch-speaking families in the Hudson Valley dating back to the Nieuw-Nederland settlements).
Van Buren possessed Hotblooded Sideburns and was the first president to grant an exclusive interview to a reporter, James Gordon Bennett, Sr., of the New York Herald in 1839.
It was in his administration that the U.S. first encountered an economic downturn. Van Buren was powerless to stop it and he lost his bid for re-election to William Henry Harrison. Had the American people known he was gonna die a month later, they would have voted Van Buren.
Martin Van Buren would be the last sitting Vice President to be elected President for 152 years--the next would be George HW Bush.
Van Buren in fiction
- In an episode of The Monkees entitled "Dance, Monkee, Dance", Martin Van Buren is the answer to a trivia question entitling callers to a free dance lesson. Later in the episode, Van Buren himself shows up for the lesson.
- In Gore Vidal's novel Burr, Van Buren is secretly the illegitimate son of Aaron Burr.
- In a popular episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Van Buren Boys," Kramer and George are threatened by a street gang called the Van Buren Boys with the secret sign of the number 8 because Van Buren was the 8th president. They apparently picked that name because Van Buren was the man they most admired. The gang is apparently "every bit as mean as he was".
- In the 2000 PBS documentary series The American President, Van Buren's voice was provided by Mario Cuomo. In the 1997 film Amistad, he was played, more conventionally, by Nigel Hawthorne.
- Rutger Hauer would probably have done it better.
- In The Simpsons episode "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington", Krusty is assigned petty janitorial jobs as his first term in the House. One of them is to clean off "Capitol Hill graffiti", reading "Martin Van Buren is a wiener", followed by:
Bart: Grover Cleveland sucks what?!
Walter Mondale: Lest we forget.
- In an episode of Pete and Pete, Little Pete gets a piece of cereal that resembles Martin Van Buren stuck in his nostril.
- In 2004 version movie of "The Alamo", Martin Van Buren appeared uncredited with another character portraying Andrew Jackson during the scene at Washington D.C. Martin Van Buren was talking to Sam Houston (portrayed by Dennis Quaid) while Andrew Jackson stand beside him.
- On the show "Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the episode "Soultaker" we see towards the start of the episode a fuzzy TV screen with a picture of him and Crow T. Robot says that its Martin Van Buren.
- He appeared as a character in the podcast RPPR in the episode "Dodgeball to Save the World" with electricity, liquid and portal powers.
- "Project Van Buren" was the code name of an early version of Fallout 3, when it was still in production by Black Isle.
- According to John Hodgman, he is a Time Lord.
- In the second book of Eric Flint's Trails of Glory Alternate History series, he's referred to as "The Little Magician" for his political acumen.
- Don't forget the Duck Dodgers series, in which the titular character was forced to compete in "roller derby TO THE DEATH" against the "Lesser Known American Presidents," among which were William "Tippiecanoe" Harrison, Grover "Uncle Jumbo" Cleveland, John "Tyler Too" Tyler, and, of course, Martin "Red Fox of Kinderhook" Van Buren.
- A bust of him is occasionally seen on Homestar Runner.
- The Weekenders makes a reference to him when Tino has a bad dream, fuelled by his mother's cooking. "Down with the cotton gin! Down with the cotton gin!"
- He's one of the Presidents of the independent Republic of New England in Decades of Darkness.