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Abraham Van Buren
Born November 27, 1807(1807-11-27)
Kinderhook, New York
Died March 15, 1873 (aged 65)
Spouse(s) Angelica Singleton

Abraham Van Buren (November 27, 1807 ‚Äď March 15, 1873) was the eldest son of the eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren (Republican-Democrat) and his wife, Hannah Hoes Van Buren. Born in Kinderhook, New York, Abraham was named in honor of his paternal grandfather who was an officer in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

Abraham, a career military man, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1827. He was appointed to West Point when he was 14 years of age. Some of his classmates included: 1. Jefferson Davis, hero of the Mexican-American War with his Mississippi infantry troops and eventual President of The Confederate States of America, 2. Robert E. Lee, eventual Commandant of West Point and General and Commander of The Army of Northern Virginia and General and overall Commander of the Confederate States of America Army, and 3. Joseph E. Johnston, eventual General and Commander of The Army of Tennessee of the Confederate States of America Army.

Abraham took five years to advance from second lieutenant to first lieutenant in the United States Army. It took him four more years to obtain the rank of captain. According to Wead, it was ‚Äúa slow promotion rate‚ÄĒparticularly given his father's political positions of the time‚ÄĚ (p. 53). He served two years on the American frontier and he also served under General Winfield Scott in the Seminole War in 1836. During this time, Abraham was made captain of the United States Army's First Dragoons; however, he resigned his commission to become his father's private secretary in the White House starting in 1837.

In 1838, Dolley Madison, wife of former President James Madison, enticed Abraham to meet her cousin, Angelica Singleton, at a White House dinner hosted by his father. Miss Singleton was a daughter of a wealthy South Carolina planter. Angelica was a refined lady who had been schooled in the fine arts at Madame Grelaud's Seminary in Philadelphia. Abraham fell in love with Angelica and the two were married at Colonel Richard Singleton's Wedgefield, South Carolina plantation named ‚ÄúHome Place.‚ÄĚ The President was unable to attend the couple's wedding; however, he was delighted with the match. The two honeymooned in London. Upon returning to the United States, Angelica assumed the duties of ‚ÄúWhite House Hostess‚ÄĚ because Hannah, Martin Van Buren's wife, had died after only twelve years of marriage in 1819. Angelica's and Abraham's first born, Rebecca, was born in March 1840; however, she died in the White House only months later. The couple later had three more children.

Abraham's career in the White House ended when his father was defeated by Whig candidate William Henry Harrison in the presidential campaign of 1840. Abraham left Washington with Angelica in March 1841 after Harrison's inauguration. Their first visit was with Angelica's family in Sumter, where Angelica gave birth to their first son, Singleton.

In 1846, at the outbreak of the war with Mexico, Abraham was reappointed to the military as a member of the regular army with the rank of major and position as paymaster. In spite of his absence while serving in the military, Abraham still enjoyed close relations with his father. When the former president renovated and expanded his estate Lindenwald, located in Kinderhook, New York, during the years of 1849 to 1851, a corner room on the second floor opposite the master bedroom in the original home that was built in 1797 was reserved for Abraham and Angelica. The couple would enjoy extended stays with the former president along with Abraham's surviving brothers John, Martin, Jr., and Smith Thompson. Abraham and his family continued to winter at their plantation in South Carolina.

Abraham served for eighteen years in the First Dragoons as an infantry officer eventually reaching the rank of major. In August 1847, he was made a brevet lieutenant colonel during the Mexican-American War for gallant and meritorious conduct during the battles of Contreras and Churubusco (Heitman, p. 980). Abraham served in the war despite the fact that his father was opposed to the conflict. During the war, Abraham also served as an aide to General Zachary Taylor. In 1848, Abraham's family moved to New York City. In 1854, Abraham retired from the military.

After his military career ended, Abraham spent his remaining years editing and publishing his father's presidential papers. Abraham served as the leading apologist for his father's oft-criticized United States Presidential legacy before his death. He is buried alongside his wife Angelica in Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.

See also


  • Heitman, F. (1903), Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, Volume 1. Government Printing Office, Washington.
  • Wead, D. (2003), All The Presidents' Children, Atria Books, New York, ISBN 0743446313


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