Angelica Van Buren
HANNAH VAN BUREN
Cousins in a close-knit Dutch community, Hannah Hoes and Martin Van Buren grew up together in Kinderhook, New York. They were wed in 1807. Apparently their marriage was a happy one, though little is known of Hannah as a person. Van Buren omitted even Hannah’s name from his autobiography - a gentleman of that day would not shame a lady by public references. A niece remembered "her loving, gentle disposition" and "her modest, even timid manner." Church records preserve some details of her life; she seems to have considered church affiliation a matter of importance.
She bore a son in Kinderhook, three others in Hudson, where Van Buren served as county surrogate. A fourth son died in infancy. In 1816 the family moved to the state capital in Albany. Contemporary letters indicate that Hannah was busy, sociable, and happy. She gave birth to a fifth boy in January 1817. But by the following winter her health was obviously failing, apparently from tuberculosis. Not yet 36, she died on February 5, 1819. The Albany Argus called her "an ornament of the Christian faith."
Martin Van Buren never remarried. He entered the White House in 1837 as a widower with four bachelor sons. Accustomed to living in elegant style, he immediately began to refurbish a mansion shabby from public use under Andrew Jackson. Dolley Madison lived nearby, and when her young relative-by-marriage Angelica Singleton came from South Carolina for a visit, the two went to the White House to pay a call.
Angelica's aristocratic manners, excellent education, and handsome face won the heart of the president's eldest son, Abraham Van Buren. They were married in November 1838, and a honeymoon abroad the next spring polished her social experience. Thereafter, while Abraham served as the president's private secretary, Angelica presided as lady of the house. The only flaw in her pleasure in this role was the loss of a baby daughter. Born at the White House, the girl lived only a few hours.
In later years, though they spent much time in South Carolina and in Europe, Angelica and her husband made their home in New York City; she died there in 1878.