Among the many blessings to befall the American Republic is the fact that he first six presidents of the United States were strong presidents, able to meet the challenges of our young country. They were certainly not perfect. They made mistakes. But to a man, they were able to rise to the challenges they faced. Even Jackson, the seventh President, who pursued policies that proved ruinous to the economy and near genocidal to native Americans, was able to define and achieve his agenda. In Van Buren, we find our first example of a President who fails to resolve the central problem of his presidency: the Panic of 1837. While clearly brought on by the mistakes of Andrew Jackson, the task of righting the ship fell to Van Buren. Van Buren tried to cope with the economic depression by pulling federal funds out of state banks and creating an independent treasury, but Congress would not approve of this tactic until 1840. To Van Buren fell the task of administering the nearly 70 treaties signed with various Native American tribes by his predecessor. And in spite of the fact that thousands of indigenous people died under the so-called Indian Removal Act, we find numerous examples of Van Buren giving glowing and totally false reports of the success of the resettlements and the welfare of the affected native peoples. By 1840, hostile newspapers had dubbed the President "Martin Van Ruin", and he lost the election to William Henry Harrison that year.
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Author of Thy King Dumb Come and Accountability Citizenship, Stephen P. Tryon is a businessman and technologist with extensive experience in e-commerce, a retired Soldier, and former Senate Fellow.