Martin Van Buren: Party Animal

I'm not just calling Van Buren a party animal because the term 'booze' was coined because of the E.B. Booz liquor company which supplied the log cabin shaped liquor bottles in his unsuccessful campaign against the Whigs.

Van Buren helped to form one of the first truly national movements in America. To this point, with some exceptions, most politics were defined by regional interests. The Federalist party, or what little was left of it at this point represented the Northeastern manufacturing interests. The Democratic-Republicans represented the Southern agricultural interests.

At one time to be from Massachusetts was to be a Federalist, to be from Virginia was to be a Republican (different meaning then). Van Buren changed all that.

He had modern advances in technology and transportation on his side. Now was the heyday of steam ship travel, the start of efficient train travel and the golden age of party newspapers.

Presidents and politicians in the northeast or Virginia in the early 1800's would never have dreamed of taking months off to travel out west to Ohio or down south to Georgia. To do so would have presented great risks, been excruciatingly slow, uncomfortable and cost prohibitive.

Now, if Van Buren wanted to consult his mentor Andrew Jackson on a policy matter, he could board a train to Tennessee and be back to Washington D.C. in a matter of days, not months.

Newspaper presses started to cater more towards general political sentiments than regional interests. They were also becoming easier to operate and could get readers undivided attention, unlike the political pamphlets of the early 1800's which were only read by those already inclined to agree with them.

These are the tools that allowed Van Buren to forge his national democratic party and are the same tools that the Whig party, copying his methods would use to defeat him four years after took office.

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