PRESIDENT MARTIN VAN BUREN
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Francis L. Urry
Martin Van Buren (December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862) was the eighth President of the United States (1837-1841). Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President (1833–1837) and the 10th Secretary of State under Andrew Jackson (1829–1831).
His administration was largely characterized by the economic hardship of his time, the Panic of 1837. He was scapegoated for the depression and called "Martin Van Ruin" by his political opponents. Van Buren was voted out of office after four years, losing to Whig candidate William Henry Harrison.
In 1839, Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement visited Van Buren to plead for the U.S. to help roughly 20,000 Mormon settlers of Independence, Missouri, who were forced from the state during the 1838 Mormon War there. The Governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs, had issued an executive order on October 27, 1838, known as the "Extermination Order". It authorized troops to use force against Mormons to "exterminate or drive [them] from the state."
In 1839, after moving to Illinois, Smith and his party appealed to members of Congress and to President Van Buren to intercede for the Mormons. According to Smith's grandnephew, Van Buren said to Smith, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you; if I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri."