Martin Van Buren—born in Kinderhook, N.Y., on 5 December 1782—began the study of law at age 14 and was admitted to the bar seven years later, beginning a law practice at Kinderhook. During his tour as a state senator from 1812 to 1820, Van Buren became a regent of the University of the State of New York in 1815 and, the following year, became attorney general of the state. In 1820, Van Buren had a part in organizing one of the first American political "machines," the Albany Regency.
Elected to the United States Senate in 1821, he was reelected to another term six years later. In 1828, however, he was elected Governor of New York, and took office in 1829, only to resign in March of that year to become President Andrew Jackson's Secretary of State. His most important achievement in that post was an agreement with Great Britian allowing a resumption of trade between the United States and the British West Indies, commerce banned at the close of the War of Independence.
Resigning his post in 1831, he was chosen as Minister to Great Britain but did not receive confirmation. He did, however, receive the nod as Andrew Jackson's running mate in the 1832 election and became Vice President. At the end of Jackson's second term, Van Buren, his hand-picked successor, was elected President in 1835 and took office on 4 March of the following year.
During Van Buren's presidency, the nation suffered a financial panic and depression. In addition, the Semi-nole War—a long and costly period of hostilities— brought condemnation from some quarters who decried the cost of the conflict in money and lives. In international affairs, the Canadian seizure and burning of the American ship Caroline in late 1837 caused great tension between the United States and Great Britain until the incident was settled by the Webster-Ashburton treaty.
Although the unanimous choice of his own party for the 1840 elections, Van Buren lost the election to the war hero, General William Henry Harrison. Although he was the leading contender for his party's nomination in 1844, Van Buren lost the bid to James K. Polk, who went on to win the Presidency.
In 1848, Van Buren's political career ended. Nominated by the Free-Soil party—which opposed the extension of slavery—the former President's candidacy split the Democratic Party in his home state. Ultimately, Zachary Taylor benefitted from that split. After the 1848 election, Van Buren spent two years in Europe, before he returned to the United States to live in retirement at Kinderhook. He died there on 24 July 1862.
The first Van Buren, a revenue cutter, was named for President Van Buren; the second Van Buren (PF-42), honors the small city of Van Buren, Ark.
(PF-42: dp. 2,100; 1. 303'11"; b. 37'6"; dr. 13'8"; s. 20 k.; cpl. 190; a. 2 3", 4 40mm., 9 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.); cl. Tacoma)
The second Van Buren (PF-42) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1453) on 24 June 1943 at Los Angeles, Calif., by the Consolidated Steel Corp.; launched on 27 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Edward J. O'Hara; and commissioned at Terminal Island, Calif., on 17 December 1943, Lt. Comdr. Charles B. Arrington, USCG, in command.
Van Buren conducted shakedown off the west coast before departing San Pedro, Calif., on 9 March 1944, bound for the western Pacific. She sailed in company with sister ship Ogden (PF-39) and escorted the merchant tanker SS Fort Erie to Espiritu Santo from 23 to 29 March. Departing that port on the 30th, the frigate arrived at Milne Bay, New Guinea, on 2 April.
On 21 April, Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's task force of carriers, battleships, cruisers, and destroyers began pounding Japanese airfields and defensive positions on Hollandia, Wakde, Sawar, and Sarmi, New Guinea, to neutralize them during an impending amphibious operation under the command of Rear Admiral Daniel E. Barbey. The next day, Army troops began splashing ashore at Aitape and Humboldt Bay. Van Buren escorted convoys supporting this operation into May and June.
As Army forces encountered stiff enemy resistance ashore, naval units were often called upon to render gunfire support. Van Buren received such a request on the afternoon of 9 June. At 1740, the patrol frigate opened with her main battery, firing salvoes at Japanese troop concentrations near a road in the Sarmi-Sawar sector. Ten days later, the warship again conducted a gunfire-support mission for the Army, this time near Maffin Village. The following day, Van Buren lobbed 150 rounds of 3-inch and 180 of 40-millimeter into the troublesome Maffin Village sector. Directions from an Army spotting plane provided information on enemy positions. Lying to off the beach, Van Buren soon demolished her targets and started many fires. An Army plane again provided call-fire guidance on the 23d, when Van Buren once more supported Army troops struggling against the Japanese defenders ashore, breaking up troop concentrations and destroying communications and supplies.
Van Buren subsequently screened the ships supporting the Cape Sansapor operations in August and continued escort operations into the autumn. On 10 November, Van Buren departed Humboldt Bay, bound for Cape Sansapor with a convoy of four LST's (LST-654. LST-465, LST-471, and LST-697). En route on 16 November, the frigate saw an Army plane crash four miles away and altered course to close. The ship's motor whaleboat soon rescued the aircraft's crew unhurt.
One week later, while participating in operations in the Philippines, Van Buren went to general quarters when El Paso (PF-41) radioed a contact report of an unidentified plane closing their vicinity. Van Buren's SA radar picked up the enemy at 18 miles; her SL receivers picked up the contact at 6 miles. Although ready for action, the frigate did not get a chance to engage, as the plane veered away and passed along the opposite side of the convoy, well beyond the American warship's gun-range.
Van Buren continued her convoy escort and screening duties with the 7th Amphibious Force, in the Philippines, into late 1944. After escorting a convoy to Leyte in mid-December, Van Buren sailed via Manus, in the Admiralties, to Hawaii. Arriving at Pearl Harbor on 2 January 1945, Van Buren operated as a training ship attached to the Pacific Fleet's destroyer forces through the spring of 1945. Shifting to the west coast of the United States soon thereafter, the patrol vessel arrived at San Francisco on 2 July. Assigned to Commander, Western Sea Frontier, the warship was fitted out as a weather ship and operated as such through the end of hostilities with Japan and into the year 1946.
Departing San Francisco on 13 March 1946, Van Buren transited the Panama Canal and arrived at Charleston, S.C., on 3 April. Decommissioned on 6 May 1946, Van Buren was struck from the Navy list on 19 June 1946 and sold soon thereafter to the Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., of Chester, Pa., for scrapping.
Van Buren received three battle stars for World War II service.