MARTIN VAN BUREN: THE ROMANTIC AGE OF AMERICAN POLITICS
by John Niven
ISBN 978-0-945707-25-7 $37.50
715 pages including acknowledgments, notes & references and
index. Sixteen pages of illustrations
They called him "the Magician," "the Red Fox", and other
names that celebrated his political skill. And, indeed, there is no
doubt that Martin Van Buren was the most innovative politician of his age.
In the first modern biography of the eighth President, John Niven reveals
a man who was preeminently a statesman - not just a superb practitioner of
the art of the possible, as he is commonly depicted.
First prominent in New York politics, Van Buren served as Andrew
Jackson's Secretary of State and later as his vice president. The balance
wheel of the administration, he was Jackson's most influential adviser.
His own presidency (1837-1841) was beset by the worst depression the United
States had yet faced, but, as Niven shows, Van Buren met the crisis with courage.
His corrective measures incensed the financial community but saved the public
credit. Defeated in the 1840 election, he was denied the Democratic
nomination in 1844, for opposing, on moral grounds, the immediate annexation
of Texas. In 1848, as the presidential candidate for the anti-slavery
Free Soil Party, he again lent his name to an unpopular cause he felt was
Charming, witty, enigmatic, Van Buren could hold his own with
the other key political figures of his day: Jackson, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster,
John C. Calhoun, John Quincy Adams. Correcting many false images of
Van Buren (including the view that he was a compromiser on the slavery issue),
this authoritative biography unveils a brilliant career in American political
life, set against the backdrop of a fascinating era.