Miller Center

Martin Van Buren Bibliography (1785 - 1862)

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Historical Context

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. The Age of Jackson. Boston: Little, Brown, 1945.

Van Deusen, Glyndon G. The Jacksonian Era, 1828-1848. New York: Harper & Row, 1959.

Schlesinger and Van Deusen are two classic surveys of the era.

White, Leonard D. The Jacksonians: A Study in Administrative History, 1829-1861. New York: Macmillan, 1954.

The third book in White's trilogy on the early republic.

Wiebe, Richard H. The Opening of American Society: From the Adoption of the Constitution to the Eve of Disunion. New York: Knopf, 1984.

A broad cultural history of early America.

Van Buren Papers and Memoirs

Van Buren, Martin. The Autobiography of Martin Van Buren. Edited by John C. Fitzpatrick. 1920. Reprint, New York: Augustus Kelley, 1969.

Only covers Van Buren’s life up to 1834.

There are no published papers available in book form. For a discussion of Van Buren’s papers see the Public and Private Papers section of our website.

Van Buren Biographies

Cole, Donald B. Martin Van Buren and the American Political System. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Niven, John. Martin Van Buren: The Romantic Age of American Politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Cole and Niven are considered the two standard biographies of Van Buren.

Widmer, Ted. Martin Van Buren. New York: Times Books, 2005.

From the American Presidents Series, a project dedicated to producing brief biographical treatments of each U.S. President. The volumes are typically less than 200 pages. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. serves as Series Editor.

Wilson, Major L. The Presidency of Martin Van Buren. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1984.

From the American Presidency Series, a series dedicated to providing a consistent, scholarly treatment of each President of the United States. Coverage is limited to the years in office.

Curtis, James C. The Fox at Bay: Martin Van Buren and the Presidency, 1837-1841. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1970.

Curtis focuses on Van Buren’s presidency but also includes a summary of Van Buren’s career before his presidency.

Van Buren Administration and Advisors (1837-1841)

For cabinet members not listed below, please see: Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet. 3 vols. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2000.

Benjamin F. Butler (Attorney General)

Driscoll, William Dennis. Benjamin F. Butler: Lawyer and Regency Politician. New York: Garland, 1987.

Lewis Cass (Minister to France)

Klunder, Willard. Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation. Kent, Ohio, Kent State University Press, 1996.

George M. Dallas (Minister to Russia)

Belohlovek, John M. George Mifflin Dallas: Jacksonian Patrician. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977.

Dallas, Susan, ed. Diary of George Mifflin Dallas, While United States Minister to Russia 1837-1839, and to England 1856-1861. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1892.

John Forsyth (Secretary of State)

Ducket, Alvin Laroy. John Forsyth: Political Tactician. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1962.

Henry D. Gilpin (Attorney General)

Gilpin, Eliza. A Memorial of Henry D. Gilpin. Philadelphia: 1860.

Felix Grundy (Attorney General)

Parks, Joseph H. Felix Grundy: Champion of Democracy. University: Louisiana State University Press, 1940.

Richard M. Johnson (Vice President)

Meyer, Leland. The Life and Times of Colonel Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky. 1932. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1967.

Amos Kendall (Postmaster General)

Kendall, Amos. Autobiography of Amos Kendall. Edited by William Stickney. New York: Peter Smith, 1949.

James Kirke Paulding (Secretary of Navy)

Aderman, Ralph M. Advocate for America: The Life of James Kirke Paulding. Selinsgrove, Penn.: Susquehanna University Press, 2003.

Herold, Amos Lee. James Kirke Paulding: Versatile American. New York: Columbia University Press, 1926.

The "classic" biography of Paulding.

Joel R. Poinsett (Secretary of War)

Rippy, J. Fred. Joel R. Poinsett: Versatile American. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1935.

Putnam, Herbert. Joel Roberts Poinsett: A Political Biography. Washington: Mimeoform Press, 1935.

Andrew Stevenson (Minister to Great Britain)

Wayland, Francis Andrew Stevenson, Democrat and Diplomat, 1785-1857. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1949.

Henry Wheaton (Minister to Prussia)

Baker, Elizabeth. Henry Wheaton, 1785-1848. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1937.

Levi Woodbury (Secretary of the Treasury)

Woodbury, Levi. Writings of Levi Woodbury. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1852.

Major Issues in the Van Buren Administration (1937-1941)

 

Foreign Relations (General)

Perkins, Dexter. The Monroe Doctrine: 1826-1867. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1933.

The second volume in Perkins's multi-volume examination at the Monroe Doctrine.

Goetzmann, William H. When the Eagle Screamed: The Romantic Horizon in American Diplomacy, 1800-1860. New York: Wiley, 1966.

A thin volume that offers a good synthesis of early American diplomacy.

Varg, Paul. United States Foreign Relations, 1820-1860. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1979.

Great Britain (Including The Caroline)

Carroll, Francis M. A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783–1842. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2001.

Jones, Howard. To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977.

Webster, C. K. The Foreign Policy of Palmerston, 1830-1841: Britain, the Liberal Movement, and the Eastern Question. 2 vols. London: G. Bell, 1951.

Burrage, Henry. Maine in the Northeastern Boundary Controversy. Portland: State of Maine, 1919.

Stevens, Kenneth R. Border Diplomacy: The Caroline and McLeod Affairs in Anglo-American-Canadian Relations, 1837-1842. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989.

United States Exploring Expedition

Stanton, William. The Great United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.

Considered the standard work on the subject.

Joyce, Barry Alan. The Shaping of American Ethnography. The Wilkes Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001.

Focuses less on the specific history of the Expedition and more on the ethnological tenets of the time period.

Viola, Herman J. and Carolyn Margolis, eds. Magnificent Voyagers: The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1985.

A collection of essays.

Annexation of Texas

Pletcher, David M. The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon and the Mexican War. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973.

Pletcher devotes the first section of this lengthy work to the years 1815-1842.

Smith, Justin Harvey. The Annexation of Texas. Corrected ed. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1941.

Binkley, William C. The Expansionist Movement in Texas, 1836-1850. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1925.

Smith and Binkley are both classic studies of the expansionist movement.

Garrison, George P., ed. Diplomatic Correspondence of the Republic of Texas. The Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Years 1907, 1908. 3 vols. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1908-1911.

Diplomatic correspondence from 1836-1845.

Gullick, Charles Adams, et al., eds. The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar. 6 vols. in 7. Austin: A.C. Baldwin and Sons, 1921-1927.

Lamar was president of the Texas Republic from 1838-1941.

Jones, Anson. Memoranda and Official Correspondence Relating to the Republic of Texas, its History and Annexation. 1859. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1973.

Jones was the last president of the Republic of Texas. Letters cover 1836-1857.

Economics (General)

Taylor, George. The Transportation Revolution: 1815-1860. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1951.

Gates, Paul Wallace. The Farmer’s Age: Agriculture, 1815-1860. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960.

Taylor and Gates are both part of the Economic History of the United States series. Combined, the two works provide an excellent overview of antebellum U.S. industry.

Temin, Peter. The Jacksonian Economy. New York: W.W. Norton, 1969.

A good source for information on the Panic of 1837.

McFaul, John M. The Politics of Jacksonian Finance. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972.

Valuable for those studying the banking crisis and Van Buren’s proposal of an Independent Treasury.

The Panic of 1837 and the Independent Treasury

McGrance, Reginald. The Panic of 1837: Some Financial Problems of the Jacksonian Era. 1924. Reprint, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

Bourne, Edward G. The History of the Surplus Revenue of 1837. New York: Burt Franklin, 1968.

Examines the distribution problem: Van Buren’s unwillingness to hand out federal money to state governments during the depression.

Sharp, James Roger. The Jacksonians versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970.

A survey of banking and politics on the state level.

Slavery

Berlin, Ira. Generations of Captivity: A History of African-American Slaves. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003.

An excellent overview of the institution of American Slavery.

Freehling, William W. The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Cooper, William J. The South and the Politics of Slavery, 1828-1856. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987.

Nye, Russel B. Fettered Freedom: Civil Liberties and the Slavery Controversy, 1830-1860. Revised edition, East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1963.

Miller, William Lee. Arguing about Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.

An engaging narrative of the Congressional debate over slavery in the 1830s and 1840s.

The Amistad

Jones, Howard. Mutiny on the Amistad: The Saga of a Slave Revolt and its Impact on American Abolition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

A detailed summary and analysis of the Amistad case.

The Amistad Case: The Most Celebrated Slave Mutiny of the Nineteenth Century. New York: Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1968.

Reprints of primary sources related to the Amistad Case including the Congressional report detailing the case and John Quincy Adams’s argument before the Supreme Court.

Indian Policy (General)

Satz, Ronald N. American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975.

Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States and the American Indians. 2 vols. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

Foreman, Grant. Indian Removal: The Emigration of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957.

Prucha, Francis Paul, ed. Documents of United States Indian Policy. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1975.

Indian Policy (Cherokee / Trail of Tears); Seminole Wars)

Ehle, John. Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

An overview of the history of the Cherokee Nation.

Rozema, Vicki. Voices from the Trail of Tears. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J.F. Blair, 2003.

A compilation of eye-witness accounts, letters from missionaries, and stories from soldiers involved in the forced march of the Cherokee.

Anderson, William L., ed. Cherokee Removal: Before and After. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991.

A collection of essays on the Cherokee removal.

See Winfield Scott under "Van Buren Contemporaries" for information on his involvement in the Cherokee Removal.

Indian Policy (Seminole Wars)

Mahon, John. History of the Second Seminole War, 1835-1842. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1967.

A general overview of the Second Seminole War.

Wickman, Patricia Riles. Osceola’s Legacy. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991.

A well researched work about the infamous Seminole leader. The author makes a concerted effort to set the record straight on this figure whose life has attained mythical status.

Bauer, K. Jack. Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985.

Taylor commanded the U.S. forces in the second Seminole War.

Judicial Issues and Appointments

Frank, John Paul. Justice Daniel Dissenting: A Biography of Peter V. Daniel, 1784-1860. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964.

Hall, Timothy L. Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Facts on File, 2001.

Abraham, Henry J. Justices, Presidents, and Senators: A History of the U.S. Supreme Court Appointments from Washington to Clinton. Rev. ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

Hall and Abraham cover Van Buren's appointments of John McKinley and Peter Daniel to the Supreme Court.

Politics and Political Parties

Remini, Robert. Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959.

Credits Van Buren with creation of two-party system.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr., ed. History of U. S. Political Parties. 5 vols. New York: Chelsea House, 2002.

Brief essays on political parties from the Federalists to the 1992-2001 Reform party.

Holt, Michael F. The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

An ambitious study of the Whig party that is considered the standard work on the subject.

Elections

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr., ed. History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-1968. 4 vols. New York: Chelsea House, 1971.

Gunderson, Robert Gray. The Log-Cabin Campaign. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1957.

Specifically on the election of 1840.

Van Buren Contemporaries

John Quincy Adams (Former President; Congressman)

Bemis, Samuel Flagg. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy. New York: Knopf, 1949.

Bemis, Samuel Flagg. John Quincy Adams and the Union. New York: Knopf, 1956.

Bemis’s two-volume work remains the standard John Quincy Adams biography.

Hargreaves, Mary W. M. The Presidency of John Quincy Adams. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1985.

From the American Presidency Series, a series dedicated to providing a consistent, scholarly treatment of each president. Coverage is limited to the years in office.

Adams, John Quincy. Diary of John Quincy Adams. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981-.

The authoritative diary; however, only the first 2 of many volumes have been published.

Adams, John Quincy. Memoirs of John Quincy Adams. Edited by Charles Francis Adams. 12 vols. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippencott, 1857-77.

The best source for the diary until the Harvard edition is complete.

See online bibliography of John Quincy Adams for more information.

Thomas Hart Benton (Democratic Senator)

Smith, Elbert B. Magnificent Missourian: The Life of Thomas Hart Benton. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1957.

More detailed and better documented than Chamber below.

Chamber, William Nisbet. Old Bullion Benton: Senator from the New West: Thomas Hart Benton, 1782-1858. Boston: Little Brown, 1956.

A briefer more "personal"’ biography of Benton.

Benton, Thomas Hart. Thirty Years View: Or, a History of the Workings of the American Government for Thirty Years, from 1820 to 1850. 2 vols. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1854.

Benton’s autobiography.

Nicholas Biddle (President of the Second Bank of the United States)

Biddle, Nicholas. The Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle Dealing with National Affairs, 1807-1844. Edited by Reginald C. McGrane. 1919. Reprint, Boston: J.S. Canner, 1966.

Govan, Thomas Payne. Nicholas Biddle: Nationalist and Public Banker, 1786-1844. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.

A detailed biography based on Biddle’s manuscripts.

Taylor, George Rogers. Jackson vs. Biddle’s Bank: The Struggle over the Second Bank of the United States. 2d ed. Lexington, Mass.: Heath, 1972.

Focuses more on Biddle’s life in politics and the bank issue in particular.

Francis Preston Blair (Democrat; Journalist)

Smith, William Ernest. The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1933.

James Buchanan (Democratic Senator)

Klein, Philip S. President James Buchanan: A Biography. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1962.

The standard "life" of Buchanan.

Binder, Frederick M. James Buchanan and the American Empire. Selinsgrove, Penn.: Susquehanna University Press, 1994.

Focuses on Buchanan’s foreign policy views both before and during his presidency.

Buchanan, James. The Works of James Buchanan. 12 vols. Edited by John Bassett Moore. 1908-1911. Reprint, New York: Antiquarian Press, 1960.

See online bibliography of James Buchanan for more information.

John C. Calhoun (Statesman)

Wiltse, Charles M. John C. Calhoun, Nationalist, 1782-1828. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1944.

Wiltse, Charles M. John C. Calhoun, Nullifier, 1829-1839. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1949.

Wiltse, Charles M. John C. Calhoun, Sectionalist, 1840-1850. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1951.

Traditionally, the standard "life" of Calhoun; volumes 2 and 3 will be the most useful for studying Van Buren.

Niven, John John C. Calhoun and the Price of Union. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988.

A more recent challenge to Wiltse’s work.

Calhoun, John C. Papers of John C. Calhoun. 27 vols. Edited by Robert L. Meriwether, et al. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1959-2003.

The authoritative collection of Calhoun papers.

Henry Clay (Statesman; Whig leader)

Remini, Robert V. Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union. New York: Norton, 1991.

The new standard Clay biography.

Van Deusen, Glyndon G. The Life of Henry Clay. Boston: Little, Brown, 1937.

The classic Clay biography.

Clay, Henry. Papers of Henry Clay. 11 vols. Edited by James F. Hopkins, et al. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1959-1992.

The authoritative collection of Clay papers.

Andrew Jackson (Former President)

Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767-1821. New York: Harper & Row, 1977.

Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832. New York: Harper & Row, 1981.

Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.

The definitive Jackson biography.

Cole, Donald B. The Presidency of Andrew Jackson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.

From the American Presidency Series, a series dedicated to providing a consistent, scholarly treatment of each president. Coverage is limited to the years in office.

Jackson, Andrew. Papers of Andrew Jackson. Edited by Sam B. Smith, et al. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1980-.

The authoritative collection of Jackson papers. Publication is ongoing.

See online bibliography of Andrew Jackson for more information.

William Marcy (Member of Albany Regency)

Spencer, Ivor Debenham. The Victor and the Spoils: A Life of William Marcy. Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1959.

James K. Polk (Democratic Congressman; Governor of Tennessee)

Sellers, Charles C. James K. Polk: Jacksonian, 1795-1843. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1957.

Sellers, Charles C. James K. Polk: Continentalist, 1843-1846. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966.

The standard "life" of Polk. Originally planned as a three-volume work.

Polk, James K. Correspondence of James K. Polk. Edited by Herbert Weaver, et al. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1969-.

The authoritative collection of Polk correspondence. Publication is ongoing. To date, 9 volumes (1817-1845) have been published.

Polk, James K. Diary of James K. Polk During His Presidency, 1845 to 1849. 4 vols. Edited by Milo M. Quaife. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1910.

See online bibliography of James K. Polk for more information.

Thomas Ritchie (Virginia Democrat)

Ambler, Charles Henry. Thomas Ritchie: A Study in Virginia Politics. Richmond, Va.: Bell, Book, & Stationary Co., 1913.

William Rives (Senator)

Dingledine, Raymond. "The Political Career of William Cabell Rives." PhD diss., University of Virginia, 1947.

Winfield Scott (U.S. General)

Johnson, Timothy D. Winfield Scott: The Quest for Military Glory. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Elliott, Charles Winslow. Winfield Scott: The Soldier and the Man. New York: Macmillan, 1937.

Scott, Winfield. Memoirs of Lieut.-General Scott, LL.D. Written by himself. 2 vols. New York: Sheldon, 1864.

William Henry Seward (Whig; New York Governor)

Van Deusen, Glyndon G. William Henry Seward. New York: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Seward was a prominent Whig spokesman.

Daniel Webster (Statesman)

Remini, Robert V. Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time. New York: Norton, 1997.

The new standard biography of Webster.

Brown, Norman D. Daniel Webster and the Politics of Availability. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969.

Nathans, Sydney. Daniel Webster and Jacksonian Democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.

Bartlett, Irving H. Daniel Webster. New York: Norton, 1978.

Webster, Daniel. Papers of Daniel Webster. 14 vols. Edited by Charles M. Wiltse, et al. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England. 1974-1989.

The authoritative collection of Webster papers.

Thurlow Weed (Prominent Whig)

Van Deusen, Glyndon G. Thurlow Weed: Wizard of the Lobby. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1947.

Weed, Thurlow. Life of Thurlow Weed, Including His Autobiography and a Memoir. 2 vols. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1884.

Silas Wright (Senator; Member of Albany Regency)

Garraty, John Arthur. Silas Wright. New York: Columbia University Press, 1949.

Recent Publications

Silbey, Joel H. Martin Van Buren and the Emergence of Popular Politics. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Mushkat, Jerome. Martin Van Buren: Law, Politics, and the Shaping of Republican Ideology. Dekalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 1997.

Bibliographies

Wise, W. Harvey, Jr. and John W. Cronin, comps. A Bibliography of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. New York: Burt Franklin, 1970.

Remini, Robert V. and Edwin A. Miles. The Era of Good Feelings and the Age of Jackson, 1816-1841. Arlington Heights, Ill.: AHM Publishing Corp., 1979.

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