HistoryMartin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren’s family and descendants

Portrait of Martin Van Buren
Abraham Van Buren and Maria Hoes Van Allen gave birth to Martin Van Buren. Abraham married Maria in 1776 despite Maria Hoes, the widow of Johannes Van Allen, and three children.

The couple were immigrants from the Netherlands and put down their roots in America. They were the fifth generation of residents in the province of New York.

On December 5, 1782, they gave birth to Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook, New York. He was fourth among eight children the couple had. They are Maria, John, James, Dircke, Hannah, Lawrence and Abraham.

Martin’s most significant sibling was James Van Allen. He practiced law with him and started a small firm. He served in the Congress from 1807-1809.

His sister, Dirckie Van Buren, married his brother in law, Barent Hoes.

To make ends meet, Abraham owned and managed a tavern and inn. He also fought during the American Revolution. Martin’s exposure to politicians who visited their bar greatly influenced him to aspire to study law and eventually become a politician. The Van Buren family owned six slaves, which is unusual in the Kinderhook neighborhood.

Hannah Hoes Van Buren

Portrait of Hannah Hoes Van Buren
Martin Van Buren tied the knot with his childhood sweetheart and cousin, Hannah Hoes, on February 21, 1807. Martin was 24 years old, and Hannah was 23 when they were married. There are few sources about Martin’s relationship with his childhood sweetheart and wife, Hannah, because there is no citation of her in his memoirs.

Hannah’s parents were Johannes Dircksen Hoes and Maria Quakenbush. Both have Dutch ancestry. She became a school teacher in Kinderhook. She is described as shy and has dashing blue eyes, spoke Dutch, and speaks English but with a distinct accent.

Martin and Hannah had five children. Abraham, John, Martin Jr., Winfield, and Smith. Winfield died when he was still an infant, and their other four children lived to adulthood.

Hannah died due to tuberculosis on February 5, 1819, at the age of 35. Martin socialized and even flirted with other women, but he never remarried.

Abraham Van Buren

portrait of Abraham Van Buren
The eldest son of Martin and Hannah was Abraham Van Buren II. He was born on November 27, 1807, in Kinderhook, New York. He was an alumnus from United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1827. At the age of 15, he was appointed to West Point.

In Abraham’s service in the United States Army, it took him five years before he got promoted from the second lieutenant to first lieutenant, and another three years to become a Captain. There are speculations that his father’s political position influenced his slow promotion rate.
Before his father’s inauguration, he resigned his commission and worked as his father’s private secretary in 1837.

The widow of the former president, James Madison, was Dolley Madison. In 1838, she introduced Abraham to Angelica Singleton, who was her cousin during a White House dinner.

Angelica came from a wealthy South Carolina planter family. She attended Madame Grelaud’s French School in Philadelphia and became very refined and smart. Abraham fell in love with her and got married in Wedgefield, South Carolina. Martin Van Buren was not able to attend the wedding ceremony, but he expressed his great fondness with the couple. The couple went to London for their honeymoon and returned to the United States to assume Angelica’s duty of being the “White House Hostess” since her mother-in-law passed away. The newlywed had a child named Rebecca in March 1840; unfortunately, she was only a few months old when she died in the White House. The couple then had three more children, and they were Singleton, Martin, and Travis.

Abraham died on March 15, 1873. His remains lie alongside his wife in Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx.

John Van Buren

Portrait of John Van Buren
On February 18, 1810, Hannah and Martin Van Buren had their second child. His name was John Van Buren. He was born in Hudson, Columbia County, New York. He finished his studies at Yale University in 1828. He passed the bar examination in 1830. His father, Martin, was appointed as the ambassador to Great Britain in 1831. He accompanied his father as a secretary of the American Legation in London.

After his father’s appointment in Great Britain, they went back and opened a law firm with James McKown in Albany, New York. He was known to be very skillful and brilliant. During his father’s presidency, John went back to London on his own and started a name for himself.

He was present during Queen Victoria’s coronation because he had seats. He attended Queen’s prorogue to Parliament. He was known as “Prince John” as per newspaper articles have named him because he was honored to dance with Queen Victoria. He was able to meet many royal personalities in England, Ireland, and Scotland.

He married Elizabeth Vanderpoel, niece of Aaron Vanderpoel, and happened to be childhood sweethearts too. Anna was their only daughter. John’s wife, Elizabeth, died on November 19, 1844.

John served as New York’s attorney general from 1845 until 1847. He was also the chief prosecutor of the leader on the Anti-Rent War. John even served as his father’s principal advisor and also a Democratic Party leader. He was encouraged to run for various positions, but he refuses. He opposed slavery and land monopolies.

John Van Buren died on October 13, 1866, while traveling at sea due to kidney disease.

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