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 right.
   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.

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