Blog

29 September 2016
It’s been a well-kept secret that Martin Van Buren had a half brother, James I. Van Alen, who was a U.S. congressman. Van Buren himself never revealed much about his oldest sibling, who died in 1823 at age 49. I’ve written before (in blog posts now deleted, alas) about how little we know about Van Alen, the degree of misinformation about him (Wikipedia has finally been corrected, though) and how central he was to Van Buren’s early career, in politics and (especially) the law. I can only conclude from his silence that Van Buren wanted to maintain the image that he was a self-made man whose... Continue Reading
William P. Van Ness
29 September 2016
Many historians have asserted that Martin Van Buren represented William P. Van Ness in the murder trial stemming from the Burr-Hamilton duel. After spending many months digging into this subject, I’m fairly confident that this is a myth. It was probably an old canard that found its way into some 19th-century history books and has been repeated by quite a few (though certainly not all) scholars who’ve covered this period ever since. The Burr-Hamilton duel hardly needs retelling here (just go plop a few thousand and see the Broadway show), but Van Buren was more closely connected to this... Continue Reading
29 September 2016
We were pleased to launch The Papers of Martin Van Buren project at Cumberland University on Presidents Day 2016. The Lebanon Democrat posted video of the press conference announcing the project, which we wanted to share with you.

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