Summer Reading B2G1 Free
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores


    Recently Viewed clear list


    Original Essays | July 15, 2015

    Frank Wilczek: IMG You Are... Who?



    Writing a book is an unnatural act of communication. Speaking to a person, or even to an audience, is an interaction. Very different styles are... Continue »
    1. $20.97 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    spacer

Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents Series (American Presidents)

by

Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents Series (American Presidents) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The first president born after America's independence ushers in a new era of no-holds-barred democracy

The first "professional politician" to become president, the slick and dandyish Martin Van Buren was to all appearances the opposite of his predecessor, the rugged general and Democratic champion Andrew Jackson. Van Buren, a native Dutch speaker, was America's first ethnic president as well as the first New Yorker to hold the office, at a time when Manhattan was bursting with new arrivals. A sharp and adroit political operator, he established himself as a powerhouse in New York, becoming a U.S. senator, secretary of state, and vice president under Jackson, whose election he managed. His ascendancy to the Oval Office was virtually a foregone conclusion.

Once he had the reins of power, however, Van Buren found the road quite a bit rougher. His attempts to find a middle ground on the most pressing issues of his day-such as the growing regional conflict over slavery-eroded his effectiveness. But it was his inability to prevent the great banking panic of 1837, and the ensuing depression, that all but ensured his fall from grace and made him the third president to be denied a second term. His many years of outfoxing his opponents finally caught up with him.

Ted Widmer, a veteran of the Clinton White House, vividly brings to life the chaos and contention that plagued Van Buren's presidency-and ultimately offered an early lesson in the power of democracy.

Ted Widmer is the director of the C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College. He is the author of Young America and the coauthor, with Alan Brinkley, of Campaigns. Widmer served as senior adviser to President Clinton and director of speechwriting at the National Security Council. He lives on the eastern shore of Maryland.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., is the preeminent political historian of our time. The recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Humanities Medal, he published the first volume of his autobiography, A Life in the Twentieth Century, in 2000.

The stick and dandyish professional politician Martin Van Buren was to all appearances the opposite of his predecessor, the rugged general and Democratic champion Andrew Jackson. Yet he too had an iron temperament, and he would build a lasting legacy as the architect of the modern Democratic Party. Van Buren, a native Dutch speaker, was America's first ethnic president as well as the first New Yorker to hold the office, at a time when Manhattan was bursting with new arrivals. A sharp and adroit political operator, he established himself as a powerhouse in New York, becoming a U.S. senator and, briefly, governor. Under President Jackson, whose election he managed, he served as secretary of state and vice president. His ascendancy to the White House was a brilliant triumph over several famous rivals, including Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and his mortal enemy, John C. Calhoun, who did everything he could to prevent Van Buren's rise.

Once he held the reins of power, however, Van Buren found the road rougher. His failure to find a middle ground on the most pressing issues of his daysuch as the growing conflict over slaveryeroded his effectiveness. But it was his inability to prevent the great banking panic of 1837, and the ensuing economic depression, that all but ensured his defeat for a second term in 1840. His many years of outfoxing his opponents finally caught up with him.

Still, Van Buren enjoyed a remarkably long postpresidency, nearly launching a new political party in 1848 and living until the Civil War, when a young lawyer he had once befriended in Illinois occupied the White House. Despite his short and troubled tenure in office, he fundamentally shaped the politics of the early republic and our modern party system.

Ted Widmer, a veteran of the Clinton White House, vividly brings to life the chaos and contention that plagued Van Buren's presidencyand offers an early lesson in the power of democracy.

"A brief but elegant portrait of our eighth president . . . Widmer relates [Van Buren's life and times] powerfully, engagingly, and efficiently."—Publishers Weekly
"Martin Van Buren was a president for the future—he even boasted at his inaugural in 1837 that he was the first president born after independence and insisted, 'I belong to a later age.' In certain ways, he brought the future into existence, fashioning a new style of national politics that helped America grow from infancy into something like adolescence. It was an essential step in our democracy, and so I want in this book to bring Van Buren back from his relative obscurity. I have chosen to steer a middle course between the partisans of the nineteenth century who tried to lift Van Buren's pudgy frame into the pantheon—an effort that collapsed under the weight of its absurdity—and his legions of character assassins. Van Buren's presidency is, above all, a lesson in how much effort and emotion are invested in any presidency—not merely the gargantuan political struggles but the simple life of the republic over any four years in our history."—Ted Widmer on Martin Van Buren

"Widmer [delivers a] compendious and readable treatment."—Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., The Washington Post Book World

"In remarkably few pages, Ted Widmer, director of a research center at Washington College in Maryland, rescues Van Buren from what E. P. Thompson once termed 'the enormous condescension of posterity,' by subsuming a failed presidency within a more momentous career. Widmer deftly explains how the pioneering party boss built a formidable machine, using the trick bag of personal contacts and legislative reforms perfected by Lyndon Johnson over a century later . . . Within the ascetic span of a short-biography series, Widmer keenly evokes the environment that enabled Van Buren to thrive . . . Van Buren, as Widmer wisely concludes, was one of those 'not-quite-heroic' figures without whom no democracy would operate for long."—Michael Kazin, The New York Times Book Review

"A brief but elegant portrait of our eighth president . . . Widmer relates [Van Buren's life and times] powerfully, engagingly, and efficiently."—Publishers Weekly

"Pity poor Martin Van Buren: reviled in life, ignored in death, undistinguished enough that biographers have had a hard time finding much to say about him. Until now. Clinton administration advisor Widmer reckons that Van Buren will always be considered one of our lesser leaders: 'His presidency [1837-41] produced no lasting monument of social legislation, sustained several disastrous reversals, and ended with ignominious defeat after one short term.' Van Buren is unknown today, Widmer adds, mostly because no one is looking for him, a lost figure in the years between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. He was well known in his day, however, and even though always something of an outsider, the first of the non-Anglo presidents, a native speaker of Dutch, and of humble origins, Van Buren forged a new Democratic Party made up of southern planters, New York financiers, and New England industrialists alike. Such a broad constituency, however, forced the president into many compromises: Though he didn't quite oppose slavery, for instance, he quietly supported certain civil rights for African-Americans. (Too quietly, it appears: In 1839, he issued an executive order demanding the return of rebellious slaves to their Spanish owners, an act making him a villain in Steven Spielberg's film Amistad.) As a result, both northern abolitionists and southern slaveholders came to mistrust Van Buren, who, Widmer insists, had other virtues: He refused to invade Texas, championed the cause of the urban poor, and advanced ideas that would cause historian Frederick Jackson Turner to consider him an architect of progressivism. Yet Van Buren also presided over the ruinous Panic of 1837, and he failed to push through his pet reform—to create an independent treasury. Though crafty and diligent, in the end not even the seasoned politician dubbed the 'The Fox' could weather all the storms that sank his administration. [This is a] well written and sensible book—especially when Widmer notes that 'it's antidemocratic to expect all of our leaders to be great.'"—Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"In the latest volume of Arthur Schlesinger's American Presidents series, Widmer (Young America) paints a brief but elegant portrait of our eighth president, who, Widmer says, created the modern political party system, for which he deserves our 'grudging respect.' Andrew Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren (1782 — 1862) was also at various times Jackson's secretary of state, ambassador to the Court of St. James's and vice president. As Widmer relates, some newspapermen called the New York Democrat 'the little magician' because of his diminutive frame and his deftness at political sleight of hand. Others — who criticized his response when the American economy ground to a halt shortly after his election in 1836 — called him 'Martin Van Ruin.' Despite the collapse of financial markets in 1837, Van Buren held fast to his belief in the Jacksonian principles of limited federal government, states' rights and protection of the 'people' from the 'powerful.' This led him to reject calls for a national bank and an independent treasury. Throughout his term, Van Buren effectively took no federal action to alleviate the economic crisis. Thus it was not surprising when, despite building the Democratic Party into a well-oiled machine, he went down to defeat after just one term, beaten by William Henry Harrison, the Virginian Whig of aristocratic background who posed as a simple rustic. All this Widmer relates powerfully, engagingly and efficiently." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

The first president born after America's independence ushers in a new era of no-holds-barred democracy. Widmer vividly brings to life the chaos and contention that plagued Van Buren's presidency and ultimately offered an early lesson in the power of democracy.

Synopsis:

The first president born after America's independence ushers in a new era of no-holds-barred democracy

The first "professional politician" to become president, the slick and dandyish Martin Van Buren was to all appearances the opposite of his predecessor, the rugged general and Democratic champion Andrew Jackson. Van Buren, a native Dutch speaker, was America's first ethnic president as well as the first New Yorker to hold the office, at a time when Manhattan was bursting with new arrivals. A sharp and adroit political operator, he established himself as a powerhouse in New York, becoming a U.S. senator, secretary of state, and vice president under Jackson, whose election he managed. His ascendancy to the Oval Office was virtually a foregone conclusion.

Once he had the reins of power, however, Van Buren found the road quite a bit rougher. His attempts to find a middle ground on the most pressing issues of his day-such as the growing regional conflict over slavery-eroded his effectiveness. But it was his inability to prevent the great banking panic of 1837, and the ensuing depression, that all but ensured his fall from grace and made him the third president to be denied a second term. His many years of outfoxing his opponents finally caught up with him.

Ted Widmer, a veteran of the Clinton White House, vividly brings to life the chaos and contention that plagued Van Buren's presidency-and ultimately offered an early lesson in the power of democracy.

About the Author

Ted Widmer is the director of the C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College. He is the author of Young America and the co-author, with Alan Brinkley, of Campaigns. Widmer served as senior adviser to President Clinton and director of speechwriting at the National Security Council. He lives in Maryland.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805069228
Editor:
Schlesinger, Arthur M.
Publisher:
Times Books
Author:
Widmer, Edward L.
Author:
Widmer, Ted
Author:
Schlesinger, Arthur M.
Author:
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Author:
Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Historical - U.S.
Subject:
Presidents
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Subject:
Presidents & Heads of State
Subject:
Biography-Presidents and Heads of State
Edition Description:
First Times
Series:
American Presidents
Publication Date:
20050131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 bandw illustration
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
8.26 x 5.76 x 0.925 in

Other books you might like

  1. Rutherford B. Hayes (American... New Hardcover $33.00
  2. Don't Know Much about American...
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  3. American Plague: The True and... Used Book Club Paperback $4.50
  4. The Life of Andrew Jackson... Used Trade Paper $8.50
  5. John Tyler: The President of Many Firsts New Mass Market $17.00
  6. Grover Cleveland: The American... Used Hardcover $13.00

Related Subjects

Biography » Political
Biography » Presidents and Heads of State
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » US Presidency

Martin Van Buren: The American Presidents Series (American Presidents) New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$25.00 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Times Books - English 9780805069228 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In the latest volume of Arthur Schlesinger's American Presidents series, Widmer (Young America) paints a brief but elegant portrait of our eighth president, who, Widmer says, created the modern political party system, for which he deserves our 'grudging respect.' Andrew Jackson's successor, Martin Van Buren (1782 — 1862) was also at various times Jackson's secretary of state, ambassador to the Court of St. James's and vice president. As Widmer relates, some newspapermen called the New York Democrat 'the little magician' because of his diminutive frame and his deftness at political sleight of hand. Others — who criticized his response when the American economy ground to a halt shortly after his election in 1836 — called him 'Martin Van Ruin.' Despite the collapse of financial markets in 1837, Van Buren held fast to his belief in the Jacksonian principles of limited federal government, states' rights and protection of the 'people' from the 'powerful.' This led him to reject calls for a national bank and an independent treasury. Throughout his term, Van Buren effectively took no federal action to alleviate the economic crisis. Thus it was not surprising when, despite building the Democratic Party into a well-oiled machine, he went down to defeat after just one term, beaten by William Henry Harrison, the Virginian Whig of aristocratic background who posed as a simple rustic. All this Widmer relates powerfully, engagingly and efficiently." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , The first president born after America's independence ushers in a new era of no-holds-barred democracy. Widmer vividly brings to life the chaos and contention that plagued Van Buren's presidency and ultimately offered an early lesson in the power of democracy.
"Synopsis" by ,
The first president born after America's independence ushers in a new era of no-holds-barred democracy

The first "professional politician" to become president, the slick and dandyish Martin Van Buren was to all appearances the opposite of his predecessor, the rugged general and Democratic champion Andrew Jackson. Van Buren, a native Dutch speaker, was America's first ethnic president as well as the first New Yorker to hold the office, at a time when Manhattan was bursting with new arrivals. A sharp and adroit political operator, he established himself as a powerhouse in New York, becoming a U.S. senator, secretary of state, and vice president under Jackson, whose election he managed. His ascendancy to the Oval Office was virtually a foregone conclusion.

Once he had the reins of power, however, Van Buren found the road quite a bit rougher. His attempts to find a middle ground on the most pressing issues of his day-such as the growing regional conflict over slavery-eroded his effectiveness. But it was his inability to prevent the great banking panic of 1837, and the ensuing depression, that all but ensured his fall from grace and made him the third president to be denied a second term. His many years of outfoxing his opponents finally caught up with him.

Ted Widmer, a veteran of the Clinton White House, vividly brings to life the chaos and contention that plagued Van Buren's presidency-and ultimately offered an early lesson in the power of democracy.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top

FOLLOW US ON...

     
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.