Talk:Martin Van Buren

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former good article nominee Martin Van Buren was a History good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
March 27, 2016 Good article nominee Not listed
Wikipedia CD Selection
WikiProject icon Martin Van Buren is included in the Wikipedia CD Selection, see Martin Van Buren at Schools Wikipedia. Please maintain high quality standards; if you are an established editor your last version in the article history may be used so please don't leave the article with unresolved issues, and make an extra effort to include free images, because non-free images cannot be used on the DVDs.

Dutch: Maarten van Buren[edit]

Okay, I understand he grew up in a heavily Dutch area of New York (I am descended from people who lived in the same area), and that he may very well have spoken Dutch at home and been bilingual his whole life. But is there any reason to list the Dutch spelling of Martin? Is there any any any reason to believe that his name was ever spelled that way? Why is this on there?

Uac1530 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:29, 4 March 2012 (UTC).

It's not speculation that Dutch was his first language. The name Martin is fairly rare in Dutch, the name Maarten isn't. Case and point: The island of Saint Martin is called the Sint Maarten in Dutch. I could only find second hand sources to substantiate that Van Buren was really called Maarten. This redditor says he/she found his name in a church registry, this blogger is quoting a book I can't find on Amazon. The latter doesn't look like a good source since in just that one quote the author seems to think he wasn't actually born in the US. Things are complicated by his name being a very common Dutch name, hence there being plenty of modern day Maarten van Burens out there.--1Veertje (talk) 21:44, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The baptismal record with the spelling "Maarten" is featured in this article! Fentener van Vlissingen (talk) 14:03, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
I've reinstated the Dutch spelling + prenounciation of his name at the beginning of the article.--1Veertje (talk) 13:33, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
The baptismal record does spel Van Buren with a capital V. Vernoeming (talk) 12:47, 8 March 2015 (UTC)


"... Martin Van Buren learned as a young man to make a positive impression by dressing ...." The beginning & end of this sentence from is a Copvio (I have only provided the non-copyvio text here). I have reported it at Wikipedia:Copyright problems/2015 February 13. If it is removed, please do not restore it. Peaceray (talk) 16:27, 13 February 2015 (UTC)


It strikes me that the second paragraph of the lede is unduly filled with personal information and downright trivia about Van Buren and perhaps should be re-focused to give the reader more about Van Buren's accomplishments, which were not trivial.--Wehwalt (talk) 05:19, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

That is an excellent point, and I took it up and rewrote the paragraph to emphasize his political skills and achievements. Rjensen (talk) 05:27, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Copyright problem removed[edit]

Prior content in this article duplicated one or more previously published sources. The material was copied from: (taken from Hugh Sidey (1999) The Presidents of the United States of America). Copied or closely paraphrased material has been rewritten or removed and must not be restored, unless it is duly released under a compatible license. (For more information, please see "using copyrighted works from others" if you are not the copyright holder of this material, or "donating copyrighted materials" if you are.) For legal reasons, we cannot accept copyrighted text or images borrowed from other web sites or published material; such additions will be deleted. Contributors may use copyrighted publications as a source of information, and according to fair use may copy sentences and phrases, provided they are included in quotation marks and referenced properly. The material may also be rewritten, but only if it does not infringe on the copyright of the original or plagiarize from that source. Therefore such paraphrased portions must provide their source. Please see our guideline on non-free text for how to properly implement limited quotations of copyrighted text. Wikipedia takes copyright violations very seriously, and persistent violators will be blocked from editing. While we appreciate contributions, we must require all contributors to understand and comply with these policies. Thank you. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 21:41, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Please see Wikipedia:Public domain#U.S. government works, and cool down. Kraxler (talk) 11:14, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm cool. Please see the page linked in the notice above,, and in particular the notice near the foot of that page which reads:

The Presidential biographies on are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.

Not all content hosted on .gov websites is in the public domain. The short copyright-infringing passage may have been added in good faith by an editor under the same misapprehension as Kraxler. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 11:39, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. I just wondered what this was about, since you added the notice, but did not edit the article. Could you briefly point out where the copyrighted material was added? Kraxler (talk) 12:37, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
There was a sentence in the lead about Van Buren being 5 feet 6 inches, but trim and erect. It's a line that shows up in a lot of references, but was removed from the lead during editing after the topic was first mentioned on the Talk page for the article.
Billmckern (talk) 13:16, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Then, there's no problem anymore? It's more than probable that the authors cited on the White House site copied that statement already from somewhere else. But that's a moot point now, or not? Cheers. Kraxler (talk) 13:34, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, the point is moot because the content in question was removed in subsequent editing.
Billmckern (talk) 14:10, 24 February 2015 (UTC)


After being accused of vested interests I just wish to say that I was merely being faithful to the source, which actually isn't merely about "states' rights". Lutie (talk) 00:47, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

You're right. I checked the reference, which definitely uses the term "administrative republic." I changed this line in the article to reflect the words of the original reference.
Billmckern (talk) 01:19, 3 March 2015 (UTC)


Alright, let's have it out. I think a blanket revert ill-advised. What you are saying is that nothing there is worth keeping, and I don't think that's justifiable.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:37, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

When he first began his legal studies, Van Buren was badly dressed. The Silvesters suggested that Van Buren could improve his professional prospects by dressing fashionably. (I think the passage on this topic was fine as written, and was well-referenced.)
The Silvesters did their best to get Van Buren to be a Federalist, but with the support of his family, he resisted. He turned to the leading Jeffersonians in the county, the Van Ness family. John Peter Van Ness, who lent him money and arranged for Van Buren to complete his apprenticeship in the New York City office of Van Ness's brother William. (Same -- I think the passages on this topic were fine as they were, and well-referenced. Why use only the Cole book as a reference?)
John Van Ness also helped Van Buren politically, in 1801 arranging for him, at age 18, to be a delegate to the party's state convention in Troy. In return, Van Buren helped John Van Ness win a seat in Congress in 1802.[1] (Same -- this was already stated and already referenced. Why change it?)
In New York City beginning in 1802, Van Buren involved himself in politics, often meeting William Van Ness's mentor, Vice President Aaron Burr. As Burr had often frequented the Van Buren tavern, and the two men closely resembled each other, there were rumors that Van Buren was Burr's illegitimate son.[2] (I really object to this. As far as I can tell, this story is mostly the result of Gore Vidal's novel. I could find only a couple of references to it from before that book's publication. One was from 1912, and this story was included only so that it could be debunked. Famous Affinities of History: The Romance of Devotion. Volume 2. By Lyndon Orr. I think something like this really needs to be substantiated if it's going to be included.
Billmckern (talk) 01:24, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, the sources are whatever you could find on Google Books; many do not specifically deal with Van Buren. You have left the full search in the URL, which makes for very crowded paragraphs and difficulty in editing. All you need is the initial alphanumeric scene. What was your reason for reverting that? Biographies are by people who have studied Van Buren, many of the sources you used are very old and cannot be considered very reliable.
Regarding Burr in particular, the rumors that he was Van Buren's father were widespread throughout Van Buren's career, at least among his enemies. It is fairly typical, in fact, of the sort of slander that was given out against Van Buren (by that time, Burr had worse things to worry about). As far as I know, it has nothing to do with Gore Vidal, though I take your word that it's in his bio of Burr. Have you read Cole and his discussion of this manner, or other modern Van Buren biographers?
You reverted against two different editors. I do not see that your reasons are sufficient. Not for a blind reversion, a determination that nothing another editor spent time over was worth keeping. Were there other reasons for your actions? Your difficulty seemed to be that you and (so you say) other editors had done things in a certain way, that you did not like to see disturbed. I do not believe that sufficient either. So I will ask you again the reasons for your actions, and hope for candor.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:50, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
I believe my reasons were perfectly clear -- no guile.
I think some of the passages were fine as written, so there was no need to change them.
I also think the references were fine -- if they're right, why does it matter if they're old? I don't get why an entire article should be based mostly on a single source -- in this case Cole's book. Why is Cole the only one to consult about the subject of Martin Van Buren?
I think that some changes, like the stupid rumor about Van Buren being Burr's son, don't need to be included on the grounds that they're stupid rumors.
The point about Cleveland and Van Buren being the only presidents without both college and military experience was useful. I hadn't realized that before now, and it's interesting in that it provides context about their professional and personal development.
In my view, edits ought to provide useful elaboration on a narrative, or improve it, such as by making it more chronological or eliminating redundant passages, or they ought to correct information that isn't accurate. Otherwise you're just stepping on someone else's research and writing efforts.
Billmckern (talk) 02:15, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't plan to go in circles with you on this, I am merely confirming my own conclusions. If the Cleveland material was useful, then a blind revert was ill-advised and it is for you to revert yourself. The rest of it could be discussed, not reverted, and certainly not against two different editors. Cole is one source, of course there are others, to use a single source several times in a biographical section is hardly undue. Are you saying the article is not capable of any improvement whatsoever? Or that only you and the other editors you alluded to in your first edit summary are capable of doing it?--Wehwalt (talk) 02:30, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
You're going in circles. We've had this discussion before. I'm tired of it. So, the list of pages I know that you and only you can make edits on now includes Martin Van Buren and Franklin Pierce. Why don't you just give me the complete list so I know where you'll be and I can steer clear of you from now on?
Billmckern (talk) 02:40, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Let's end it with that before we say things we regret. I do think there are better ways of article improvement than catch as catch can with Google books, and I suspect if we were both willing, we could do it in a way that stepped on no one's toes.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:55, 6 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cole, pp. 15–16
  2. ^ Cole, p. 17


Under Early life and education...

Martin Van Buren would become the only U.S. president who spoke English as a second language, and the only one prior to John F. Kennedy not to be of principally British descent.

This should read "Dwight D. Eisenhower" as he was of German (Pennsylvania Dutch) ancestry and he preceded John F. Kennedy as President. (talk) 18:04, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt defined themselves as principally of Dutch dissent. Perhaps it's best just to leave this dubious statement out. Rjensen (talk) 19:04, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Andrew Jackson's parents were Scots-Irish immigrants from Ireland, not British. William McKinley was also of Scots-Irish ancestry, as indicated by his surname. The Roosevelts and Eisenhower were already mentioned. I don't see how the statement about JFK being the first since Van Buren to be something other than British in ancestry can be considered valid.
Billmckern (talk) 19:41, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Understanding how to read the edit history[edit]

Billmckern, performed this revert citing an issue with the word "tern" and "Democrat Party". however, if you check the diff, this revert didn't fix either of these problems. these edits were introduced much earlier by another editor. to find them. you can use the page history link, and the diff links for each edit. to undo them, you have to select a span of edits and undo the entire span. since Billmckern doesn't understand how this works, I went ahead and rolled back the offending edits. note that this also rolled back Billmckern's contribution in the middle, found here. I will leave it to Billmckern add that back if he/she finds it was important. Frietjes (talk) 15:02, 3 January 2016 (UTC)

@Frietjes: -- I know how reverting edits works. I see that you caught up to the "tern" and "Democrat Party" edits and made the changes. I was working on the same thing at the same time and got an edit conflict notice. We're good. Oh -- spare me your condescension, please.
Billmckern (talk) 15:05, 3 January 2016 (UTC)

GA nomination[edit]

i'm nominating for GA since the revscore indicates FA -- Duckduckstop (talk) 18:02, 26 March 2016 (UTC)


"Van Buren's inability as president to deal with the economic chaos of the Panic of 1837 and with the surging Whig Party led to his defeat in the 1840 election."

Really? Someone just wrote that without any bibliographical references? Van Buren's inauguration and the Panic of 1837 were only a few weeks apart, yet the Panic of 1837 and his electoral defeat in 1840 were separated by years. What evidence is there to make such a claim? I eat a tuna sandwich today and three years later I die: did the sandwich kill me?

well he was dying the whole time because the economy remained in the dumps. eg: 1) "he took much of the blame for the Panic of 1837; it was a major factor in his losing the 1840 election." in Exploring American History: From Colonial Times to 1877 2) "This Whig cartoon from the 1840 campaign blames the Panic of 1837 on the Democrats" Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People,; 3) "The deepening of the depression [in 1840] made the Whig presidential nomination all the more attractive." Martin van Buren and the American Political System - Page 349. etc Rjensen (talk) 12:42, 14 June 2016 (UTC)
I just added references which address these points. I included relevant quotes.
Billmckern (talk) 13:16, 14 June 2016 (UTC)

Should Van Buren be a dab page or a redirect to this article?[edit]

Discuss and !vote here: Talk:Van_Buren#Requested_move_29_January_2017. (intentionally unsigned)

Nine children in his blended family?[edit]

Although one source states that MVB was "the middle child of nine children", I haven't been able to find documentation for more than 8. Therefore I deleted this sentence in the article. A subsequent revision re-inserted that statement. I am going to take it out again; I am not trying to start an edit war, but if you can't find evidence of who #9 is, please don't re-add that line. TIA --Spray787 (talk) 00:34, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

Spray787, note that I removed the Apparently erroneous information yesterday evening. Cheers. Drdpw (talk) 01:03, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
I did some checking tonight -- some online sources list eight brothers and sisters for Van Buren, but it looks to me like they count one twice.
One of Van Buren's half-brothers was James I. Van Alen. In Dutch, James is "Jacobus". That's the name under which James Van Alen was baptized at Kinderhook's Dutch Reformed Church -- just as Martin Van Buren was baptized as "Maarten" -- Martin in Dutch.
Here's one site that does what I described -- counts James twice - once as James, and once as Jacobus. Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the USA at
Not only that, but Johannes/John is listed as 2 separate people as well, as is Jannetja/Hannah; Marytjr is left out altogether. Definitely an unreliable tertiary source. Drdpw (talk) 01:33, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
I didn't intend it as a "source". More like an example of what I think the problem might be. Billmckern (talk) 02:47, 11 April 2017 (UTC)
I previously added photos of pages from the Kinderhook Dutch Reformed Church baptismal register to the Wikipedia pages for Van Buren and Van Alen, so you can check them to verify what I've written here if you need to.
Billmckern (talk) 01:06, 11 April 2017 (UTC)

Shallow Reference Issues[edit]

The following lines (Early life and education section) utilize URL cites which are not acceptable per WP:DEEPLINK:

Marytje (or Maria) Van Alen (1768–1829), married John L. Hoes
John I. Van Alen (1770–1805)
Jannetje (Called "Hannah" or "Jane") Van Buren (1780–1838), who never married and who resided with her sister Dirckie Van Buren and brother-in-law Barent Hoes.
Hoppyh (talk) 21:37, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
I updated the URLs for the first two lines -- it now goes to the relevant Dutch Reformed Church records database within
I updated the URL for the third one, too -- it now goes directly to the death notice for Jane Van Buren, and not just the relevant newspaper page.
Billmckern (talk) 22:08, 23 April 2017 (UTC)


The memorials section seems excessively long to me. Would anyone object to me creating a subarticle devoted to memorials, much like Memorials to Warren G. Harding? Orser67 (talk) 06:33, 29 April 2017 (UTC)

As no one objected, I went ahead and created the subarticle. Orser67 (talk) 23:35, 30 April 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Martin Van Buren. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 11:10, 4 June 2017 (UTC)