Podcasts Constitutionally Speaking

Episode 63: Martin Van Buren: The Red Fox of Kinderhook

President Martin Van Buren, c. 1860-1862 (Library of Congress)

Martin Van Buren, nicknamed the Red Fox of Kinderhook and the Little Magician, was the first American president born after American independence, the first raised in a home where English was not the primary language, and the first true political organizer. A political genius, who created the model of the nineteenth-century political machine, Van Buren is sadly consigned to the second or third tier of American presidencies. Jay and Luke push back against his undue relegation in this episode, the first of two covering Van Buren. They discuss his unique cultural background, his rise through the ranks of Jeffersonian politics, his creation of what became known as the Albany Regency, and his controversial efforts on behalf of James Crawford’s unsuccessful candidacy in 1824. That election saw Van Buren cast out of the center of political life with the return of DeWitt Clinton to the New York governorship and John Quincy Adams’s presidency. Yet in four short years, Van Buren managed to organize the Jacksonian resurgence, as well as his own political revival in New York. We end the episode with Van Buren elected governor of New York and called by Jackson to join his cabinet as Secretary of State.