Unlike the seven men who preceded him in the White House, Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States and not a British subject. He rose quickly in New York politics, winning a U.S. Senate seat in 1821 and presiding over a sophisticated state political organization. Van Buren helped form the new Democratic Party from a coalition of Jeffersonian Republicans who backed the military hero and president Andrew Jackson. A favorite of Jackson’s, Van Buren won the White House himself in 1836 but was plagued by a financial panic that gripped the nation the following year. After losing his bid for reelection in 1840, Van Buren ran again unsuccessfully in 1844 (when he lost the Democratic nomination to the pro-southern candidate James K. Polk) and 1848 (as a member of the antislavery Free Soil Party).