"Martin Van Buren was known as something of a free-spending dandy, favoring brightly colored vests and ascots and strange, luminous waistcoats. Only later did we find out that this was because he was a Time Lord."
—More Information Than You Require
Van Buren served one term, but he wasn't bad.Martin/Maarten Van Buren (1782-1862) was the eighth president (serving from 1837 to 1841), and the second from the Democratic Party, after Andrew Jackson and before Whig president William Henry Harrison. He was the first president born after America gained its independence, and the only one with no ancestry from the British Isles. He was descended from the Dutch-speaking people who originally colonized the Hudson River valley, nicknamed the Knickerbockers (the New York Knicks basketball team derives its name from these settlers). His primary language, naturally, was Dutch, making him the only president whose first language wasn't English. Van Buren, having had no ancestry from the British Isles, has the distinction of being the only President not descended from Bad King John of England,note although he was descended from William the Conqueror. He was also famous for possessing Hot-Blooded Sideburns.note Following the election of 1824, Van Buren and his allies banded together and created the Democratic Party to support Andrew Jackson. Van Buren effectively ran the new party from behind the scenes and made it the leading political party in the nation. Before becoming president, he was a Senator, the Governor of New York, Secretary of State, ambassador to the United Kingdom, and finally Jackson's vice president. Along with Thomas Jefferson, he is the only American who has served as Secretary of State, Vice President, and President. His nickname while running for President was "Old Kinderhook" (Kinderhook was the town where he was born - and died), and his election campaign was known as "The Democratic O.K. Club". While the term "O.K." had been known for a few years, it seems to have been popularized by the election campaign. Van Buren could scarcely have been more different from his hard-assed predecessor. His public image was of an effete intellectual, and opponents criticized him for serving "unmanly" fare like strawberries and celery in the White House. While a shrewd, brilliant political operator and a very decent man, he was unfortunate to preside over a period of economic hardship. Before becoming president, he nearly prevented those hardships. Unable to stop the stinging economic downturn, he was given the rather embarrassing nickname "Martin Van Ruin" by his political enemies. It also didn't help that border disputes between America and British Canada nearly led to war, with many criticizing his supposedly weak stance on the issue. He unpopularly denied the newly-created Republic of Texas' first request for American annexation on the grounds that it would strain relations between the North and South. The Amistad trial also happened during his presidency; he supported giving the kidnapped slaves back to Spain. Also, contrary to how most people remember it, the "Trail of Tears" (the forced and bloody relocation of the Cherokee to reservations west of the Mississippi River) did not happen under Jackson's presidency, but during Van Buren's. Widely unpopular, Van Buren lost reelection in 1840. When he left office, he said "As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it." On a side note, in 1839, he became the first sitting president to grant an exclusive interview to a reporter (James Gordon Bennett, Sr., of the New York Herald). He tried to gain the Democrat nomination again for the following election in 1844, though ultimately dropped out in order to help James K. Polk secure the nomination over Van Buren's Arch-Enemy, Lewis Cass. Cass eventually did get nominated four years later, and so Van Buren decided to form his own party, the Free Soil Party in order to split the vote and prevent Cass from getting elected. This likely wasn't necessary in retrospect, since Cass's opponent, the hugely popular Zachary Taylor pretty much had the election in the bag from early on, though Van Buren did get the satisfaction of putting in a relatively good performance for a third-party candidate. On the subject of slavery, he was personally opposed to it, but he was willing to let it continue since it was justified under the Constitution. While initially skeptical of Abraham Lincoln, Van Buren would praise his handling of the war effort not long before he died. Martin Van Buren would be the last sitting Vice President to be elected President for 152 years—the next would be George H. W. Bush. Coincidentally, he also followed a popular two-term president and lost reelection due to a weak economy.
—"The Presidents", by Jonathan Coulton.
Tropes he embodied:
Van Buren in fiction