"The Martin Van Buren Papers, one of twenty-three presidential collections in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division, contains more than 6,000 items dating from 1787 to circa 1910. The bulk of the material dates from the 1820s, when Van Buren (1782-1862) was a U.S. senator from New York, through his service as secretary of state and vice president in the Andrew Jackson administrations (1829-1837), to his own presidency (1837-1841) and through the decade thereafter when he made unsuccessful bids to return to the presidency with the Democratic and Free Soil parties. Included are correspondence, autobiographical materials, notes and other writings, drafts of messages to Congress in 1837 and 1838, and other speeches, legal and estate records, miscellany, and family items.
The collection primarily consists of letters received by Van Buren from other individuals, as well as copies, drafts, transcripts, and photocopies of letters written by him. Correspondents include George Bancroft, Thomas Hart Benton, Francis P. Blair, James Buchanan, law partner Benjamin F. Butler (1795-1858), Churchill C. Cambreleng, John A. Dix, John Fairfield, Azariah Cutting Flagg, Henry D. Gilpin, James Hamilton, Jr., Jesse Hoyt, Charles Jared Ingersoll, Andrew Jackson, Amos Kendall, William L. Marcy, Louis McClane, Richard Elliot Parker, James Kirke Paulding, Joel R. Poinsett, James K. Polk, Thomas Ritchie, William Cabell Rives, Andrew Stevenson, Levi Woodbury, and Silas Wright.
The Calendar of the Papers of Martin Van Buren created by Elizabeth Howard West for the Manuscript Division in 1910 provides a list and index for the general correspondence contained in the original collection up to that date. Some 150 letters received by the Library of Congress after 1910 are not represented in the calendar. These items have been interfiled within Series 2 of the collection. Typescripts of letters can also be found in Series 7, Miscellany. A finding aid to the current Van Buren Papers collection is available online.
Note that this site is limited to the Martin Van Buren Papers collection and does not include all documents by, about, or related to Van Buren in the Library of Congress. The Library’s Manuscript Division holds additional Van Buren-related documents pertaining to his family and his long and varied political career in New York and Washington, as well as his role in evolving party politics in his era. These documents are located in the collections of other individuals, including Andrew Jackson, Andrew Jackson Donelson, James K. Polk, William L. Marcy, William C. Rives, Charlotte Cushman, Duff Green, Reverdy Johnson, Andrew Stevenson, and Nicholas P. Trist, and in the family papers of the Blair, Bancroft-Bliss, Henry Clay, Samuel Smith, and Singleton families."
"This collection of Martin Van Buren Papers is arranged into eight series and oversize. Series 8 of the collection contains the newer additions. These are grouped by the year the addition was received or processed as part of the collection. The bulk of the collection was captured on 35 reels of microfilm, the scans of which comprise the bulk of this online collection. A list of the series follows.
- Series 1, Autobiography, 1854-1862 (Reels 1-3)
- Series 2, General Correspondence, 1787-1868 (Reels 4-34)
- Series 3, Additional Correspondence, 1811-1853 (Reel 34)
- Series 4, Messages, 1837-1838 (Reel 35)
- Series 5, Legal Record Book, 1807-1813 (Reel 35)
- Series 6, Estate Record Book, 1862-1863 (Reel 35)
- Series 7, Miscellany, 1814-1910 (not microfilmed; scanned from originals)
- Series 8, Addenda, 1799-1862 (Reel 36 and not filmed; some scanned from originals)
- Oversize, 1837-1839 (not microfilmed; scanned from originals)"
Documents in this Collection:
Under the belief that it is the right of every free Citizen in a free government, to know the opinions of those who aspire to public Station, upon great public questions, as one of your warmest supporters in 1836 & in 1840, & as an unpledged Delegate to the Baltimore Convention, I desire particularly to know your opinions as to the Constitutionality & expediency of immediately... Continue Reading
Sender: William Henry Hammett
I Received a Letter from you some days sinc[e] upon the subject of the <ensuing> election, but have been pr[e]vented by absence from home from answering it soone[r]. The Sentiments of liberality and magnan[i]mity which it contains are such as from a knowledge of your Character and the quallities of your h[e]art I had a right ^to^ and did expect. Possessed of strong personal prejudices for... Continue Reading
Recipient: William Peter Van Ness
I have forwarded to the author of the enclosed, a letter addressed to yourself, (as he requests) in behalf of the object he solicits. After dispatching my letter, it occurred to me that I had better present to you his own communication which is a faithful type of its author, clear, strong, direct. He is indeed a most estimable man; and for further knowledge of him if desired, I will refer you to... Continue Reading
Sender: Peter Vivian Daniel