Martin Van Buren White House portrait

On this day in 1862, Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), who served as the nation’s eighth president between 1837 and 1841, slips into a coma.

Unlike the seven men who preceded him in the White House, Van Buren was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States. That is, he was not a British subject.

The diminutive Van Buren was blessed with sound political acumen, but despised for his constant political maneuvering. So, standing at just 5’6″, friends and foes alike regarded him as “the Little Magician.”

Van Buren, who developed asthma in 1860, had a history of heavy drinking. Later in life, he developed cardiac problems.

His history of drinking, plus his increasing obesity, led to a battle with gout.

Then, he developed asthma, his circulatory system began to fail, causing the coma. Three days later, he passed away. Some historians claim sleep apnea, caused by disruptive snoring, may have contributed to his declining health and eventual death.

“Bless Our Beloved Country”

Inaugural Address “Fellow Citizens”
March 4, 1837

“…for myself, conscious of but one desire, faithfully to serve my country, I throw myself without fear on its justice and its kindness. Beyond that I only look to the gracious protection of the Divine Being whose strengthening support I humbly solicit, and whom I fervently pray to look down upon us all. May it be among the dispensations of His providence to bless our beloved country with honors and with length of days. May her ways be ways of pleasantness and all her paths be peace!”

Martin Van Buren White House portrait


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