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Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
The promise of the American Revolution, the turmoil of antebellum politics and the tragedy of the Civil War frame Martin Van Burens life. Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in 1782, the last year of the American Revolution. He lived until July 1862, sixteen months into the American Civil War. He was among the most prominent politicians of his time and an architect of the party system that still shapes American political life. Politics before the Civil War was a whirlwind of boisterous characters and opposing interest groups. Martin Van Buren positioned himself in the eye of the political storm and in the process helped to found the Democratic Party. His skill propelled him to the presidency in 1837, but it was not enough to assure reelection to a second term in the wake of a massive bank panic and economic depression. He returned to Kinderhook in 1841, but continued to be a central figure in American politics. As frustration, anger and violence over the extension of slavery grew in the 1840's, Van Buren ran for the presidency twice more from this house.