"As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of the opportunity provided to serve self-interest when Al Gore created the internet; and we should also thank Mark Zuckerburg and Jack Dorsey for creating Facebook and Twitter out of the kindness of their big hearts and not the thinness of their small wallets."
-Ben Franklin, Autobiography (1742)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kidnapping in the White House?! In 1833?


We have a shocker for you history buffs today - the Lost and Founders recently uncovered evidence that suggests former President Martin Van Buren actually began his term as Vice President to Andrew Jackson in 1833 under duress.

Martin Van Buren, nick-named as a child "The Van Urinator," was a misunderstood man who cam from humble beginnings. Born in New York in 1782 to a wealthy Dutch family, Martin grew up speaking Dutch and according to sources was actually not very good at English. Despite his sheer brilliance in the political arena when he ventured into the realm of politics as a young man in his 30's while attempting to help found the Democratic Party, he initially struggled to gain support from his peers because of his thick accent and tendency to slip into Dutch when nervous or excited. In fact, many members of Congress, including the then-current president John Quincy Adams, were convinced that Van Buren was actually a Dutch spy.

For this reason, President Adams wrote a little-known letter to his successor Andrew Jackson upon leaving office, warning him of potential treachery:

"...keep your friends close and your enemies closer. By this I mean that wily Van Buren gentleman, for he is surely an agent of the Queen or King or whatever they have in the Netherlands."

- J.Q. Adams, 1832.

Andrew Jackson was not a man to take threats lightly. Recent accounts that have come to light now lead us to believe that as a result of this letter, Jackson's supporters kidnapped Van Buren from his New York estate and held him captive for the next several years. During that time, Jackson appointed Van Buren as his Vice President in order to keep an eye on him (Jackson was usually very clever, though this particular scheme was not among his most impressive).

Van Buren served under Jackson for the entirety of his four year term; all while being instructed in proper English and being watched carefully. Despite his failings, he flourished as a VP and was considered by many to be one of the most shrewd politicians of his day. Each night, Jackson would put him to bed saying, "Good work today Martin, I'll most likely kill you in the morning." He never did though, and over the years they became good friends and close confidants, and Van Buren learned much about the ways of pirating and diplomacy from his captor.

At the end of Jackson's term, he is on record as having pulled Van Buren aside and explained his desire for Van Buren to succeed him. He stated that he was mostly sure that Van Buren was probably not a Dutch spy, and that at any rate he was the only man the paranoid Jackson trusted to lead the nation into its next great years. Van Buren, whether under the effects of patriotism or Stockholm Syndrome we will never know for sure, accepted and ran for President with the support of Jackson, ensuring his victory and four years of glory for the United States of America.

Shockingly, Van Buren's tenure was largely considered a failure, ending with the Panic of 1837 for which he was used as a scapegoat and given the new nickname of "Martin Van Ruin."

You can't make this stuff up. History really is stranger than fiction.

Have a good weekend!
The Lost and Founders

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