Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren's genius as a backroom political strategist had earned him the nickname "little magician." But when he succeeded to the White House in 1837 following his tenure as Andrew Jackson's vice president, the gift of orchestration that Van Buren had effectively used to promote Jackson's reputation proved of little avail in advancing his own. At the heart of the problem was an economic depression that persisted throughout most of his administration . Like most Presidents who preside over such downturns, Van Buren was roundly blamed for this misfortune, and he was soon known as "Martin Van Ruin." Damaging him further was his taste for the finer things in life, which led critics to portray him as the perfumed "lily-fingered" dandy, indifferent to the country's current sufferings. Over the years, however, Van Buren's presidential reputation has improved, and he is often lauded for his evenhanded foreign policy and his landmark support for limiting the hours of laborers who were engaged in public projects.

See William Marcy

Mathew Brady Studio
Daguerreotype, c. 1856
14 x 11 cm ( 5 1/2 x 4 5/6 inches)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.