top of page

Our Dutch (Speaking) President Martin Van Buren

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Portrait of Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the U.S.
Martin Van Buren - courtesy of the Library of Congress

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.

Another fun fact: Martin Van Buren was friends with Washington Irving who often featured Dutch-Americans, including in Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.


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"?


Do you have any Swedish, German, Danish, Dutch or Norwegian documents you can't read? We can help. Get more info here.


We'd love to make sure you don't miss other great updates and blogs from us. Please be sure to sign up here! Would you like to share this piece? You have full permission to share as long as you include Pamela's bio and this link to sign up and keep in touch with us.

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page