"I tread in the footsteps of illustrious men..."
—Martni Van Buren
By becoming President Jackson's most trusted advisor, Martin Van Buren earned the political reputation and capital that would help him become the eighth President of the United States. His steadfast support for Jackson during the Eaton Affair, and the ensuing fallout between Jackson and Vice President John C. CalhounA U.S. Senator and strong proponent of states' rights and nullification. , dramatically increased his influence with the president.
Nicknamed the "Little Magician," Van Buren was a skilled political operative who had a hand in many of the political dealings of the time. As a young lawyer and state legislator in New York, Van Buren was intimately involved in developing the State's Democratic-Republican political machine, a far-reaching organization that worked to ensure party loyalists were elected to most state offices. This experience proved valuable to Van Buren as one of the early organizers of the national Democratic PartyThe party created in 1828 by Jackson and his supporters to mobilize constituents..
Martin Van Buren's victory in the presidential election of 1836 was due in large part to Jackson's support and continued influence. As a sign of allegiance, President Van Buren retained most of Jackson's cabinet and attempted to maintain many of his predecessor's policies. The conclusion of Jackson's Indian removal policies, the forced relocation of the Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, and Chickasaws, including the infamous "Trail of Tears,"The 1838 forced removal of the Cherokee Nation from their homeland. took place under his watch.
Largely blamed for the nation's economic difficulties during his term, which were attributed to fiscal policies first implemented under Jackson, Van Buren lost his reelection bid in 1840. He failed to win the Democratic Party's nomination in 1844 and ran unsuccessfully for president in1848 as the candidate of the Free Soil Party. In addition to the presidency, Van Buren held several other coveted political offices including vice president, United States senator, governor of New York, and secretary of state.