Today we started off by visiting the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site.
Martin Van Buren was our eighth president. His presidency was defined by the Panic of 1837 – the stock market crashed only a few months after he became president. Banks failed, people lost their jobs, and companies went out of business. The failure was mostly due to policies set by his predecessor, President Jackson. There was much Van Buren could do at that point. Other significant events of his presidency included: continuing with Jackson’s policy of moving American Indians to new lands in the west. The Trail of Tears took place during his administration in which the Cherokee Indians were marched across the country from North Carolina to Oklahoma. Thousands of Cherokees died during that trip; not allowing Texas to become a state, which helped to ease tensions between the north and south; working for peace with Great Britain, settling a dispute over the border between Maine and Canada; and setting up a system of bonds to help pay for the national debt.
After Van Buren, Alan indulged me and we made a trip to Woodstock, NY. I really wanted to get a t-shirt and a bumper sticker (or two) that reflected my “hippie” side. We had a healthy lunch at Oriole 9, then left to go to the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. We didn’t do much more than walk around and read historic markers and placards, but it was interesting the influence that the Vanderbilts had on our country. The last living relative is news reporter and interviewer, Anderson Cooper.
From the Vanderbilts we drove a short distance down the road to the Home of Franklin D Roosevelt National Historic Site and Presidential Library. We visited the library and learned a lot about Roosevelt’s presidency. He had a lot to deal with, what with the Great Depression and World War II, not to mention having been crippled by Polio earlier in his life.
FDR was re-elected a record three more times after his first term. He was known for his New Deal agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. Although not an overnight success, his New Deal agenda helped to save the economy and bring our country up out of the Depression. He is rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, but has also been highly criticized by others.
When we left the Library it was raining, so we called off going to the Eleanor Roosevelt Historic Site and drove to our next campground instead.