Abraham Van Buren (November 27, 1807 – March 15, 1873) was the eldest son of the eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren (Republican-Democrat) and his wife, Hannah Hoes Van Buren. Born in Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren was named in honor of his paternal grandfather who was an officer in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War
Van Buren, a career military man, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1827. He was appointed to West Point when he was 15 years of age. Some of his classmates included Jefferson Davis, hero of the Mexican-American War with his Mississippi infantry troops and eventual President of The Confederate States of America, Robert E. Lee, eventual Commandant of West Point and General and Commander of The Army of Northern Virginia and General and overall Commander of theConfederate States of America Army, and Joseph E. Johnston, eventual General and Commander of The Army of Tennessee of theConfederate States of America Army.
Van Buren took five years to advance from second lieutenant to first lieutenant in the United States Army. It took him three more years to obtain the rank of captain. According to Wead, it was "a slow promotion rate – particularly given his father's political positions of the time". He served two years on the American frontier and he also served under General Winfield Scott in the Seminole War in 1836. During this time, Van Buren was made captain of the United States Army's First Dragoons; however, he resigned his commission to become his father's private secretary in the White House starting in early 1837.
In 1838, Dolley Madison, widow of former President James Madison, introduced Van Buren to her cousin, Angelica Singleton, at a White House dinner hosted by his father. Singleton was a daughter of a wealthy South Carolina planter, and a refined lady who had been schooled in the fine arts at Madame Grelaud's Seminary in Philadelphia. Van Buren fell in love with her and the two were married at Colonel Richard Singleton's Wedgefield, South Carolina, plantation named "Home Place". The President was unable to attend the couple's wedding; however, he was delighted with the match. The two honeymooned in London. Upon returning to the United States, Angelica assumed the duties of "White House Hostess" because her mother-in-law had died after only twelve years of marriage in 1819. Their first-born, Rebecca, was born in March 1840; however, she died in the White House only months later. The couple later had three more children.
Van Buren's career in the White House ended when his father was defeated by Whig candidate William Henry Harrison in the presidential campaign of 1840. Van Buren and his wife left Washington in March 1841 after Harrison's inauguration. Their first visit was with Angelica's family in Sumter, where Angelica gave birth to their first son, Singleton.
In June 1846, at the outbreak of the war with Mexico, Van Buren was reappointed to the military as a member of the regular army with the rank of major and position as paymaster. In spite of his absence while serving in the military, Van Buren still enjoyed close relations with his father. When the former president renovated and expanded his estate Lindenwald, located in Kinderhook, New York, during the years of 1849 to 1851, a corner room on the second floor opposite the master bedroom in the original home that was built in 1797 was reserved for Van Buren and his wife. The couple would enjoy extended stays with the former president along with Van Buren's surviving brothers John, Martin, Jr., and Smith Thompson. Van Buren and his family continued to winter at their plantation in South Carolina.
Van Buren served for eighteen years in the army as an infantry officer, but never rose above the rank of major. In August 1847, he was made a brevet lieutenant colonel during the Mexican-American War for gallant and meritorious conduct during the battles of Contreras and Churubusco. Van Buren served in the war despite the fact that his father was opposed to the conflict. During the war, Van Buren also served as an aide to General Zachary Taylor. In 1848, Van Buren's family moved to New York City. In June 1854, Van Buren retired from the military.
After his military career ended, Van Buren spent his remaining years editing and publishing his father's presidential papers and served as the leading apologist for his father's oft-criticized United States Presidential legacy. He is buried alongside his wife in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.