Martin van Buren is known as our first professional politician. If this is true, he sure could’ve been smarter about the way he dressed.
Van Buren was thought of as a dandy, and he still dressed like a colonial founding father, rather than adopting the rugged frontier style. Davey Crockett of Tennessee said, “When he walks into the Senate chamber… he struts and swaggers like a crow in a gutter. He is laced up in corsets like a woman in town would wear. It would be difficult to say whether he was a man or a woman.”
In addition to dressing in corsets and stockings, he liked his clothes to be peacock-colorful. One article described him in “an elegant snuff-colored broadcloth coat with a velvet collar; his cravat was orange with modest lace tips; his trousers were white duck, his shoes were morocco; his neat-fitting gloves were yellow kid; his long furred beaver was a broad brim of a Quaker color.”
At this point, we were nine years away from the first ever photograph of a president. I have to believe that Van Buren’s presence sped up the whole process. I know if I had been there and seen that outfit, I would have said, “I’ve got to invent photography so I can take a picture of this.”
In this way, Donald Trump is Martin van Buren. When he ran for president, Donald Trump was so unbelievable, cameras came from near and far to get a picture of it.
This similarity alone would be striking, but Donald Trump is hot on the trail of another: Martin van Buren is one of our most hated presidents. He is one of only ten to run for re-election and lose, and historians give him low scores in quite a few areas, including “pursuing justice for all,” “moral authority,” and “economic management.”
While it appears that Donald Trump seems to be headed for low scores in these areas as well, it’s too soon to tell. All indications are, though, that President Trump is on track to be just like President Van Buren.
Ryil Adamson is the author of “The Best-Looking One Always Wins,” which is the premiere book on presidential elections. You should read it.