RSS
Today in history: A former president falls into a coma
Van Buren would die three days later
 
Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), the 8th president of the United States.
Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), the 8th president of the United States. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

July 21, 1862: Former President Martin Van Buren entered a coma and would die three days later. He was the 8th president, serving from 1837-41.

Van Buren helped organize what today is the Democratic Party. He was the first president who was of neither British nor Irish descent (his family was Dutch) and was the first president born as an American citizen. He is the only president who didnt' speak English growing up — Dutch was his first language — and the first president from New York.

The Van Buren presidency was largely characterized by the Panic of 1837 and the economic depression that followed. Critics attacked him, labeling him "Martin Van Ruin." Van Buren lost his re-election bid in 1840 to Whig candidate William Henry Harrison.

July 21, 1955: President Dwight Eisenhower presented his "Open Skies" proposal — allowing mutual air reconnaissance over the U.S. and Soviet Union. It was rejected by the Soviets.

Quote of the Day

"As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it." –Martin Van Buren

More from West Wing Reports...
 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week