President in a Bag – Martin Van Buren



B finished 5th grade in May and we are now into 6th grade – middle school!  How is that possible?  I don’t want to dwell on it…

He enjoyed creating Presidents in a Bag so much in 5th grade, we’re continuing it in 6th grade, as well.  We should; we only got through 7 presidents in 5th grade!  But we learned so much, went on lots of field trips and connected with homeschool families, including joining a co-op.  Onward and upward!

Here are the 5 items B chose to represent the life of our 8th president, Martin Van Buren:

  1. Symbols for the Democratic & Republican Parties, the Donkey & the Elephant –  One of Van Buren’s greatest contribution to politics was in developing our modern party system.
  2. Fences – Van Buren was possibly our first example of a typical politician.  He would listen to all sides of an issue, acknowledge the pros and cons of both but wasn’t fond of choosing sides.  The issue of slavery in the US was a perfect example of him “sitting on the fence”.  He didn’t want to take a stand for either the North nor the South, because the other would be upset with him and, therefore, not vote for him.  Later in life, however, he did choose a side, and supported Abraham Lincoln after The Civil War began.
  3. A Treasure Chest – After three years, Van Buren was finally successful in passing the Independent Treasury Act in 1840.  President Jackson had destroyed the Bank of the United States and the Independent Treasure Act kept federal money out of local banks.  This act was the beginning of our current Treasury Department.
  4. A Passport – Van Buren was the first president to travel outside of the US after his presidency.  He’s also the 1st president to be born in the United States, the first one not of British decent (he was Dutch) and the only president whose first language was not English (he spoke Dutch before he learned English).
  5. A Hotel Symbol – Van Buren grew up in Kinderhook, NY (the town on which The Legend of Sleepy Hallow was based) and his parents converted part of their house into a tavern.  The tavern was on the road to Albany, the capital of New York, so many guests were politicians.  Van Buren listened to all the political talk going on.  He came to like politics and the fancy attire of the wealthy visitors.

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

#1 George Washington
#2 John Adams
#3 Thomas Jefferson
#4  James Madison
#5 James Monroe
#6 John Quincy Adams
#7 Andrew Jackson

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