Martin Van Buren's primary accomplishment was serving as the eighth president of the United States from 1837 to 1841. Van Buren previously served as vice president and secretary of state.
Before being elected president, Martin Van Buren was President Andrew Jackson's secretary of state. As such, he was in charge of overseeing the United States' foreign affairs and later became United States minister to England. He served as vice president during Jackson's second term in office.
Van Buren won the presidential election of 1836. From 1837 to 1842, however, the United States fell into its worst depression in history. Hundreds of banks and businesses failed, and thousands lost their land.
Van Buren believed that the downturn in the economy was due to reckless business practices and the over-expansion of credit. He also believed in a limited federal government and fought for the establishment of an independent treasury system to handle government transactions, which Congress authorized in 1840. He opposed not only creating a new bank of the United States, but also placing government funds in state banks.
Because Van Buren opposed the expansion of slave territory, he blocked the annexation of Texas. He believed doing so would also prevent the United States from going to war with Mexico. His main foreign policy concern was the dispute between the United States and Great Britain over control of the border between the United States and Canada. Van Buren worked to keep peace in the region with diplomacy rather than force.