Constitution Daily

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Martin Van Buren becomes a social media star

May 25, 2012 by NCC Staff


Why is former President Martin Van Buren trending in Google and getting a lot of play on Twitter? It’s because a young boy dropped Van Buren’s name on a popular talk show.

Young Rainer and Atticus Muuss were on “The Ellen Show” this week showing off their knowledge of presidential trivia.

Ellen DeGeneres  asked three-year-old Atticus who his favorite president was,  and he responded: “Martin Van Buren.”

The reason: Van Buren’s sideburns.

Soon, the social media outlets lit up as people searched for information on the eight president. Some people were concerned they didn’t know Van Buren was a president, while others wanted information about those sideburns (or mutton-chop whiskers).

By Friday afternoon, Van Buren was in the top 20 list for Google trends, ranking alongside “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips and Chernobyl.

The video (seen below) is extremely cute and may even result in some good PR for Van Buren, who served four years as president after succeeding Andrew Jackson.

Van Buren oversaw a nation that sank into a five-year financial depression (not a recession) after he took office, which included the Panic of 1837.

The new president was blamed for the economic disaster and his Whig opponents called him “Martin Van Ruin.”

Van Buren also said, in some many words, he couldn’t wait to leave the White House.

On the upside, historians haven’t consistently ranked him as one of the worst presidents in U.S.  history. In recent polls, Van Buren is in the middle of the rankings, along with George H.W. Bush and William McKinley.

Van Buren blocked efforts to add Texas as a slave state and inherited many of his economic problems from Jackson.

But today, he’s most remembered for a picture taken right before his death in 1862, showing those gigantic sideburns.

Earlier daguerreotypes taken by Mathew Brady showed Van Buren with large, but not gigantic sideburns.


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