Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Who knew? The first U.S. president actually born in the United States (so after the country’s founding) didn’t even speak English as his first language. In fact, Martin Van Buren, born in 1782, spoke Dutch at home, as did many of his neighbors from the small village of Kinderhook about 20 miles south of Albany, New York.
Van Buren's immigrant roots go back several generations to Cornelis Maessen who settled in New Netherland in 1631 before it became New York. Even 150 years later, many inhabitants throughout the region continued to speak Dutch as their primary language, including the Van Buren family. His wife Hannah, a childhood sweetheart, spoke with a noticeable Dutch accent her entire life.
Curious what's up with "van" and "von" in all those Dutch and German names? Check out our blog Clues Hidden in "von" and "van"?
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