As the editors at the Andrew Jackson Papers note, “Converting handwriting to print is an inexact process.”1 To understand our editorial process, please consult this document.
We have also taken the approach used by the editors at the Jane Addams Papers, who ask, “Is it more useful for our readers that we publish a transcription of 99% of a document quickly, or that we wait and wait to get that last 1%?” For the digital edition provided here, we have decided not to wait for perfection. The documents available on our site are first-pass transcriptions, meaning that they have been transcribed and looked over by an editor one time. Therefore, they may not be completely transcribed, and they may contain errors.
Unless staffing increases, that will be our approach with future documents in order to ensure that as many Van Buren documents as possible are made accessible to researchers and the public.
The editors have organized the digital portion of this project into fifteen discrete series and have identified the major topics in each series:
- U.S. Senate (Jan. 1825-3 March 1829): Reconciliation with DeWitt Clinton, support for Andrew Jackson, formation of Jacksonian Democratic coalition, election of 1828, gubernatorial tenure.
- Vice President (4 March 1833-3 March 1837): Vice-presidential duties, Bank War, 1836 election.
- President, pt. 1 (4 March 1837-Dec. 1837): Panic of 1837, independent treasury, Indian Removal, etc.
- President, pt. 2 (Jan.-Dec. 1838): Economic issues, independent treasury, Indian removal, etc.
- President, pt. 3 (Jan.-Dec. 1839): Panic of 1839, independent treasury, border conflicts, campaign tour through mid-Atlantic states, etc.
- President, pt. 4 (Jan. 1840-4 March 1841): Independent treasury, border conflicts, Amistad case, 1840 election, etc.
- Defeat and 1844 Campaign (5 March 1841-Dec. 1845): Return to Kinderhook, 1842 national tour, Texas annexation, 1844 Democratic convention, 1844 election.
- Move to Free Soil Party (Jan. 1845-Dec. 1848): Break from James K. Polk and Democratic Party, Free Soil Party nomination, 1848 election.
- U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Minister to England (4 March 1829-3 March 1833): Jackson’s secretary of state, Eaton affair, minister to England, vice-presidential candidate in 1832 election.
- Albany Years (Jan. 1812-16 Feb. 1815): State senator and War of 1812 prosecutor.
- Attorney General and Party Leader (17 Feb. 1815-Dec. 1821): Attorney general, state senator, founder of Albany Regency, member of state constitutional convention.
- U.S. Senator (Jan. 1821-Dec. 1824): U.S. Senator, supporter of William Crawford for president in 1824 election.
- Retirement (Jan. 1849-24 July 1862): Farming, family life, political correspondence, support for Abraham Lincoln in Civil War, death.
- Kinderhook Years (Dec. 1782-Dec. 1812): Childhood and time as lawyer and local politician.
- Miscellaneous: Documents outside the chronological scope of the previous series; documents not defined as a Van Buren document but included in the microfilm edition; and any Van Buren documents not included in the microfilm edition that were previously discovered or new Van Buren documents that come to the editors’ attention.
1 Papers of Andrew Jackson, vol. 9, p. xiii.