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Martin Van Buren's Diary

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S: Martin Van Buren's Diary

FC: Martin Van Buren

1: March 4, 1837 Today I was elected into office. I am now president, which seems so unreal to me. This was my dream, and I can't explain how happy I am to be president of the United States. I got this journal from my wife, Hannah Hoes just before she died in 1819. She told me that she thought it would be nice to have because someone later on could read it and know of all of my experiences. I hadn't thought of using it before, but now seems like a perfect time. I was born on December 5, 1792, and I grew up with my father and mother in Kinderhook, New York. I am a descendant of a Dutch family. My father ran a tavern that many politicians stopped at when they were traveling between New York City and Albany. This makes me wonder if that was where my interest in politics began. I grew up rather humbly, being very poor.

2: Although my parents couldn't afford college for me, I got a good job as a clerk in a law office and began studying law on my own. I was a clerk for seven years, then, I became a lawyer. I fortunately made myself known, and joined the Democratic-Republicans. They appointed me as county official in 1808. I held that position until 1812, when I ran for New York state Senate and won. I ran once again in 1816 and held that position until 1819, which was the year my wife passed away. I was left with four sons to raise, but despite the hard times, I carried on with my political duties. I won election to the United States Senate in 1821 and moved to Washington, D.C. !827 was the year I became the northern leader for Andrew Jackson. We also became very good friends, and I like to think of myself as his 'right hand man'. Jackson then appointed me to being Secretary of State in 1827, and soon, the Minister to Great Britain.

3: I held that position for a time, and then became Vice President to Andrew Jackson in 1832. Today, March 4, 1837, I was inaugurated as President of the United States. I cannot express in words how much I wanted this position. I am already known as the first President that is an American citizen, so I hope I can be known as one of the presidents that made a huge change as well. This is not just a dream, though. This is my duty now, and I must fulfill it.

4: April 12, 1837 Canada is fighting for independence. We wanted to help the rebels because we only think it is fair for everyone to be independent; not to be ruled by anyone else. I don't know why it has gone this far, though. The reason of this event is the rebellion. We were aiding rebels in Canada with our steamship, the Caroline. The British found out and ordered the army to attack our steamship. They set it on fire and threw it down Niagra Falls. I have to make the decision to go to war or not. I have no military training, and I would prefer not going to war anyway. I need to see how our people react to make certain of this. Such an act of the British forces me to want to fight, but I don't think our county is strong enough economically to go to war.

5: April 13, 1837 This is the most important decision that I have had to make in my short time as president, and I hope I have made a wise decision. I remained awake most of last night pondering on whether to go to war or not. I haven't made my decision public yet, but I don't want to go to war. I think our economy is getting weaker day by day, and I can't put our country to war if it is weak. The Caroline will always be remembered as a sign of the importance of independence. I don't want to put my country into danger, so my final decision is no war. I think it is a reasonable, wise decision.

6: May 15, 1837 Things are beginning to get worse in America's economy. I am trying to make it better, to focus on it, but it isn't working. This event is now being called the 'Panic of 1837'. It is the worst recession that this young country has had to suffer yet. This is not what I hoped for America during my term. I hope I can do something to make this better. I am truly in distress now, for I need to find a way to fix things. I am getting worried. Perhaps I am not the president that I thought I could be. Bless Richard M. Johnson; he is the Vice President, and he is trying so hard to help me. I feel that this cannot go on much longer, so I will do everything I can to make it stop.

7: July 20, 1837 Things are still in a rather bad condition, but people are trusting me to make everything better, I think. Like I always say, it is easier to do something right than to explain why you didn't. I think I can do this job right. As I said, people are starting to trust me more and more, and that's where my new nicknames came from. I am called 'The Little Magician' and 'Old Kinderhook' by the people that trust and like me. However, there are always the people who don't like me. I've heard they call me 'Sly Fox'; a name rather odd it seems for me. I'm not trying to be sneaky like a fox, but perhaps that is how they see me. Michigan was admitted this year, and I hope more countries will be as well throughout my term.

8: February 10, 1838 This year seems to be a sad but good time. The Iowa territory was organized, but along with it came the removal of the Cherokees. It seems to me evil and destructive. However, I promised that I would carry out Andrew Jackson's policies, and this is one of them. I know that America needs to grow, but we have forced thousands of people out of their homes; their natural territory. I cannot help but feeling a slight bit of gladness, though because we have gained large amounts of land for America in the process. It has already been decided, so there is no turning back now.

9: June 17, 1838 The Trail of Tears. That is what the removal of the Cherokee is being called at this very moment by many people. The Cherokees had to travel a very long way to get to where we are forcing them to be, and many of them died from lack of food, disease, and extreme exhaustion. I feel like this was all my doing, but I don't know how else we will gain more land. If I didn't do it, who knows what could have happened. Like I said, I promised to keep up Jackson's policies, and I am a man of my word. I intend to keep doing what I planned to do all along, and hope that I am doing the right thing. Pressure is almost unbearable as president. I am always worried how the citizens will react, what I will do next, and what everyone thinks of me as the president. It took some time, but I feel that I am getting more familiar with the duties of the president.

10: January 27, 1839 The Canadian border along Maine has been squabbled over for some time now. Some say that it is wrong on all of the maps and that we need to change it. They don't think that the border is 'fair'. I don't understand why the people want to go to war over it, though. We have not started yet because I want General Winfield Scott to negotiate a truce with the lieutenant governor of Brunswick. I don't think a war is necessary, especially with the state this economy is in.

11: March 25, 1839 I am very happy. The war that I was worried about is gone. I don't have to worry about it anymore. My hopes of General Winfield Scott making a truce were fulfilled! This country isn't going to war after all of my worrying. I have also decided that I am going to run for another term. I want to improve the economy before I leave the presidency, and I don't think one year is enough time.

12: March 1840 Today I found out that I cannot serve another term as president because I lost the election to WilliamHenry Harrison. It was a very sad day, but I'm sure I lost the election for a good reason. This journal was for my presidency alone, so this is my last entry. If anyone reads this, I want to tell them thank you. Perhaps they may become president one day and learn from my experiences.

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  • By: MaCayla C.
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  • Title: Martin Van Buren's Diary
  • President project for language; diary entries of Martin Van Buren during his term
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  • Published: over 7 years ago