Martin Van Buren, son of a tavern keeper, architect of the Democratic Party, the first U.S. president to be born after the founding of the United States, and the only president for whom English was a second language (he grew up speaking Dutch), is widely regarded as a failed president, but Ted Widmer, author of Martin Van Buren argues that the "little magician" was in fact a critical force in early American politics. Van Buren, Widmer says, essentially created America's strong two-party system, and should not be consigned to the dustbin of U.S. presidential history.

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