Martin Van Buren's Early Life & Childhood

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the early life and childhood of Martin van Buren, before his political career. You'll learn where he was born, went to school and what kind of early life he had.

Martin van Buren

Ok, let's get started. But before we do, here's a little fun trivia. Do you know where the expression, 'Ok', came from? Some people believe it is a shortened version of 'Old Kinderhook', a nickname used for the eighth President of the United States, Martin van Buren.

Why don't we learn a bit about OK's early life and childhood then? Ok?


You know what's really neat about Old Kinderhook? He was the first U.S. president actually born in the United States of America. The presidents before him were all actually British colonial subjects who became U.S. citizens after the Revolutionary War. But van Buren was a born U.S. citizen.

Where was he born? He was born in Kinderhook, New York on December 5th, 1782, a small town near Albany. As his last name (van Buren) gives away, van Buren's parents (Abraham and Maria) were of Dutch descent. The Dutch are people from the Netherlands and there were many Dutch in Kinderhook at the time.

Van Burens baptismal record.

Van Buren was by no means born into a privileged background. His family was a relatively modest one in term of finances. In fact, the family had a difficult time financially since there were six children to raise, with Martin the fourth oldest of the bunch.

Early Life

To support the family, van Buren's dad farmed and worked as the town clerk. But more importantly, van Buren's dad also ran a tavern and inn. This tavern served as a local political hot spot and as a result, van Buren was exposed to politics from an early age. The likes of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr stayed at the tavern. Alexander Hamilton was the first U.S. secretary of the treasury and Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the United States. Burr later shot and killed Hamilton. So, yeah…politics as usual then?

Martin van Buren went to local schools and the Kinderhook Academy until he was 14. At this point, his dad didn't have enough change to send him to college. Maybe people didn't pay their tabs at the pub?

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