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    Raise a Glass to James Elliot

    Martin Van Buren was first mentioned in a newspaper on July 16, 1805, in that most colorful and vitriolic Republican organ, the Hudson Bee. (You can read the piece here: Hudson Bee 7.16.05-July Toast.) The paper was covering Kinderhook’s annual Fourth of July dinner, held at the home of Judge Medad Butler (whose son Benjamin… Continue Reading

    A Historical Precedent for Dumping a Presidential Candidate

    Reblogged from PMVB Project Director Mark Cheathem’s blog: The Republican party is set to nominate Donald J. Trump as its nominee this week. Most signs indicate that a plan to derail the New Yorker’s convention nomination by unbinding delegates, thus freeing them to vote for someone else, will come to naught. In 1844, another New… Continue Reading

    Upcoming Talk in Hudson, NY

    On Tuesday, July 19, co-editors James Bradley and Mark Cheathem will be speaking about the project at the Washington Hose Company Fire Station in Hudson, New York. They will be joined by Dr. Patricia West McKay, curator at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, and Dr. Barbara Bair, historian, curator, and digital content expert at… Continue Reading

    The Difficulty of Transcribing 19th-Century Handwriting

    Almost universally when I speak about the Papers of Martin Van Buren project, listeners are shocked at the amount of time that it takes to transcribe a document. Much of their surprise undoubtedly comes from the immediacy of Internet search engines and the availability of historic printed sources. Unfortunately, for those of us who work… Continue Reading

    Hannah Van Buren, Part II

    So who was Hannah Van Buren? She is a mysterious presence in the story of Martin Van Buren, a crucial piece of his life reduced to a shadow—mostly because of Martin’s silence. Van Buren famously did not mention her in his autobiography, an omission that has long confounded historians. It is believed that he destroyed… Continue Reading

    Hannah Van Buren, Part I

    On February 21, 1807, in the town of Catskill, on a hilltop overlooking the Hudson River, Martin Van Buren secretly married his first cousin once removed, Hannah Hoes. The couple had traveled for twelve miles in the harsh Hudson Valley winter to reach the Hoxton House Inn, the country estate of Hannah’s brother-in-law, a former… Continue Reading

    “Little Martin Van Buren”

    In this dignified and enlightening campaign season, we’ve seen Republican candidate Donald Trump hurl many names at his opponents. Lately he’s called Marco Rubio “Little Marco.” Most of Trump’s insults are childish and silly (we needn’t go in details), but by mocking Rubio’s height, he’s at least keeping with some semblance of political tradition. Politicians… Continue Reading

    James Van Alen Goes to Congress

    It’s been a well-kept secret that Martin Van Buren had a half brother, James I. Van Alen, who was a U.S. congressman. Van Buren himself never revealed much about his oldest sibling, who died in 1823 at age 49. I’ve written before (in blog posts now deleted, alas) about how little we know about Van… Continue Reading

    Van Buren and the William P. Van Ness Trial

    Van Buren and the William P. Van Ness Trial

    Many historians have asserted that Martin Van Buren represented William P. Van Ness in the murder trial stemming from the Burr-Hamilton duel. After spending many months digging into this subject, I’m fairly confident that this is a myth. It was probably an old canard that found its way into some 19th-century history books and has… Continue Reading

    Video of PMVB Press Conference

    Video of PMVB Press Conference

    We were pleased to launch The Papers of Martin Van Buren project at Cumberland University on Presidents Day 2016. The Lebanon Democrat posted video of the press conference announcing the project, which we wanted to share with you. Continue Reading