Read THE LIFE OF MARTIN VAN BUREN of Lives of the Presidents Told in Words of One Syllable , free online book, by Jean S. Remy, on

The place in which Martin Van Buren was born was far from the homes of the other boys who became our prèsidents; and his life, as a boy, was not one bit like theirs. His father and mother were Dutch; Hoes was his mother’s queer name; and the name of the small town, in which, on December 5th, 1782, he was born, was Dutch too Kinderhook; the little town was on the Hudson River, way up in New York state. His father kept a good inn, and had a small farm; so he could send Martin to good schools; Martin was so quick and bright at his books that he took up the study of law when he was fourteen; and at twentyone he was a lawyer and at work in Kinderhook. He was a man who made friends with great ease; and as he was a good lawyer as well, his state soon saw that he was the man to speak for it at Washington. So in 1821 he was sent to Congress; then in 1828 he was made governor of New York state; and this was a big step toward the prèsident’s chair; he was secretary of state when Jackson was prèsident; and in 1837 he took the oath of office, and became prèsident.

He was in office only one term; and those four years were hard ones for him.

Just at this time the men in Canada tried to be free from England, and have homerule; and some of our men took sides with them; this made England angry of course; and if Van Buren had not put a stop to such things, we should have had war once more; but he said all who tried to give aid to Canada should be sent to jail; and so the fear of war was put down.

At the end of Van Buren’s first term some wanted him to take the chair again; but more wanted General Harrison, who had made a great name in the Indian wars. Van Buren was rich, and Harrison was poor; and this race for the prèsident’s chair was called the “Log Cabin against the White House.” After Harrison took the chair, Van Buren went back to his home at Kinderhook, where he lived in quiet, until, in 1848, he was once more put up for prèsident; but James K. Polk had more votes than he, and so won the election.

In 1853 Van Buren and his son went to Europe, where they stayed two years. He spent the rest of his life at his old home, where he died on July 24th, 1862.