Happy 134th Birthday to Martin Van Buren!


Today marks the birthday of our 8th president, Martin Van Buren. This morning I couldn’t have told you one fact about him. But now I’ve learned several!

  • He was the FIRST president to be born in the U.S.
  • He was the first president NOT of British or Scots-Irish ancestry; he was Dutch and spoke Dutch as his first language, with English as his second.
  • His political enemies nicknamed him Martin Van RUIN.
  • He married his childhood sweetheart and first cousin once removed, Hannah Hoes, but she died 18 years before he was sworn in. FYI, a first cousin once removed is either your cousin’s kid or your parent’s cousin

Once I learned that, I immediately thought of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt and how ew it was that they were cousins. And how Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old cousin back in the day. But did you know Edgar Allen Poe married his 13-year-old first cousin, too?

So did Einstein, Jesse James, and composer Stravinsky. Thomas Jefferson married his third cousin. Johann Sebastian Bach had 20 children, seven of them with his first wife and second cousin, Maria Barbara Bach. Charles Darwin married his first cousin and had ten children. Cue the natural selection jokes. The real Christopher Robin married his first cousin and had one daughter, who was later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Makes you wonder. 

Now check out Einstein and his handsome cousin.


6 thoughts on “Happy 134th Birthday to Martin Van Buren!

  1. There is a Hoes Heights in Baltimore…wonder if there is a connection? And speaking of inbreeding – did you see the X-Files episode that covered that topic? Creepy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sets me to wondering a) at what stage in history people started to think that marrying one’s cousin was a bit ick and b) at what stage people worked out – even without understanding genetics – that marrying kin wasn’t great for the offspring and c) whether those two epiphanies coincided. I’m sure a lot of cousin marriages were related to social status and keeping wealth in the family. Maybe the reason none of my ancestors married cousins was because nobody had a bean between them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Then inbreeding isn’t really for poor folks. It’s for kings and queens. Queen Elizabeth married her 3rd cousin. I also wonder when it became ew and when they realized the offspring might wind up less than ideal.

      Liked by 1 person

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