Abraham Van Buren

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Abraham Van Buren
Abraham Van Buren.jpg
Born(1807-11-27)November 27, 1807
Kinderhook, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 15, 1873(1873-03-15) (aged 65)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Place of burial
Woodlawn Cemetery, New York City
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1827–1837; 1846–1854
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/warsSecond Seminole War
Mexican–American War
(m. 1838)
ChildrenRebecca Van Buren
Singleton Abraham Van Buren
Martin Van Buren II
Travis Coles Van Buren
RelationsMartin Van Buren (father)
Hannah Hoes (mother)
John Van Buren (brother)
Other workPrivate secretary to his father during his presidency

Abraham Van Buren II (November 27, 1807 – March 15, 1873) was the eldest son of Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States and his wife, Hannah Hoes Van Buren. Van Buren was named in honor of his paternal grandfather Abraham Van Buren (I) who was an officer in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and was a career military man.


Abraham Van Buren was born on November 27, 1807, in Kinderhook, New York, the eldest son of Martin Van Buren (1782–1862) and Hannah Hoes (1783–1819).

Van Buren graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1827. He was appointed to West Point when he was 15 years of age.


After West Point, Van Buren took five years to advance from second lieutenant to first lieutenant in the United States Army. It took him three more years to obtain the rank of captain. According to Wead, it was "a slow promotion rate – particularly given his father's political positions of the time".[1] He served two years on the American frontier and another seven years as aide-de-camp to Alexander Macomb, Commanding General of the US Army. In July 1836, Van Buren was promoted to captain of the 1st Dragoon Regiment.

White House[edit]

In 1837, he resigned his commission the day before his father's inauguration to become the president's private secretary in the White House.[2]

Van Buren's career in the White House ended when his father was defeated by Whig candidate William Henry Harrison in the presidential campaign of 1840. Van Buren and his wife Angelica left Washington in March 1841 after Harrison's inauguration. Their first visit was with Angelica's family in Sumter, where Angelica gave birth to their first son, Singleton.

Return to Army[edit]

In June 1846, at the outbreak of the Mexican–American War, Van Buren was reappointed to the regular army as a paymaster with the rank of major. In spite of his absence while serving in the military, Van Buren still enjoyed close relations with his father. When the former president renovated and expanded his estate Lindenwald, located in Kinderhook, New York, during the years of 1849 to 1851, a corner room on the second floor opposite the master bedroom in the original home that was built in 1797 was reserved for Van Buren and his wife. The couple would enjoy extended stays with the former president along with Van Buren's surviving brothers John, Martin, Jr., and Smith Thompson. Van Buren and his family continued to winter at their plantation in South Carolina.

Van Buren served for eighteen years in the army as an officer, but never rose above the rank of major. In August 1847, he was made a brevet lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious conduct during the battles of Contreras and Churubusco.[3] Van Buren served in the war despite the fact that his father was opposed to the conflict. During the war, Van Buren also served as an aide to Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott and became an original member of the Aztec Club of 1847.

Later career[edit]

In 1848, Van Buren's family moved to New York City. In June 1854, Van Buren retired from the military. After his military career ended, Van Buren spent his remaining years editing and publishing his father's presidential papers and served as the leading apologist for his father's oft-criticized United States Presidential legacy.

Personal life[edit]

In 1838, Dolley Madison, widow of former President James Madison, introduced Van Buren to her cousin, Angelica Singleton (1818–1877), at a White House dinner hosted by his father. Singleton was a daughter of a wealthy South Carolina planter, and a refined lady who had been schooled in the fine arts at Madame Grelaud's French School in Philadelphia. Van Buren fell in love with her and the two were married at Colonel Richard Singleton's Wedgefield, South Carolina, plantation named "Home Place". The President was unable to attend the couple's wedding; however, he was delighted with the match. The two honeymooned in London. Upon returning to the United States, Angelica assumed the duties of "White House Hostess" because her mother-in-law had died after only twelve years of marriage in 1819. Their first-born, Rebecca, was born in March 1840; however, she died in the White House only months later. The couple later had three more children.

  • Rebecca Van Buren (1840–1840), died young
  • Singleton Van Buren (1841–1885)[4]
  • Martin Van Buren II (1844–1885)
  • Travis Coles Van Buren (1848–1889)

He died March 15, 1873, and is buried alongside his wife in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.[5]

Dates of rank[edit]

  • Brevet Second Lieutenant of Infantry – July 1, 1827
  • Second Lieutenant, 2d Infantry – July 1, 1827
  • First Lieutenant, 1st Dragoons – March 4, 1833
  • Captain, 1st Dragoons – July 4, 1836
  • Resigned – March 3, 1837 (Served as Private Secretary to President Van Buren, March 4, 1837, to March 4, 1841)
  • Paymaster with rank of Major – June 26, 1846
  • Brevet Lieutenant Colonel – August 20, 1847
  • Resigned – June 1, 1854

See also[edit]

Cullum's Register of Graduates of the United States Military Academy


  1. ^ Wead, p. 53.
  2. ^ Service profile
  3. ^ Heitman, p. 980.
  4. ^ "Singleton van Buren as a Child by John Carlin / American Art". americanart.si.edu. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  5. ^ Abraham Van Buren at Find a Grave
  • Heitman, F. (1903), Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, Volume 1. Government Printing Office, Washington.
  • Wead, D. (2003), All The Presidents' Children, Atria Books, New York, ISBN 0-7434-4631-3.

External links[edit]