Martin Van Buren was the first President born in the United States.

  • Martin Van Buren portrait
Martin Van Buren portrait
mashuk/ DigitalVision Vectors via Getty Images

None of the United States Presidents in the first 61 years of the nation’s existence were actually born in the country they led. The reason for this is simple enough: The first seven U.S. Presidents — George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson — were all born before 1776, and therefore before the United States was an independent nation. The first President who could actually claim to have been born a U.S. citizen was the country’s eighth President, Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was born in 1782 in Kinderhook, New York, which also makes him the first native of the Empire State to be elected to the presidency. 

Before becoming President in 1837, Van Buren served as Vice President under Andrew Jackson (who himself was born in 1767 in a territory disputed between the British colonies of North and South Carolina). Jackson’s endorsement helped elevate Van Buren to the nation’s highest office. However, his presidency was marked by a severe economic downturn, which sunk his bid for a second term. He was defeated in his campaign for reelection by William Henry Harrison, who was born in Virginia in 1773, making him the last U.S. President to come into the world a subject of the British Empire. 

You may also like