It’s December 1837, and U.S. President Martin Van Buren is dealing with a provocation from British forces over the border in Canada. The Brits have seized and destroyed a U.S. steamer known as Caroline on the American side of the Niagara. But can Van Buren find a way to avoid the potentially destructive war that some hotheads are now demanding?
We’ll leave Van Buren with that perilous situation for the moment. First, let’s find out a little more about the man who would go on to become the eighth president of the United States. Maarten Van Buren – as he was born – came into the world on December 5, 1782, just six years after America declared independence and the year before American sovereignty was enshrined in the Treaty of Paris.
Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, a village on the River Hudson in upstate New York. His parents were Dutch Americans, which explains the name Maarten – later anglicized to Martin. In fact, his father, Abraham Van Buren, was a descendant of Cornelis Maessen, who had arrived in America from the Netherlands in 1631.