When Martin Van Buren ran for the presidency in 1836, his opponents coined the nicknames “Little Magician” and “Red Fox of Kinderhook” (the New York town where the red-haired Van Buren was born) to highlight what they saw as his slippery character. They also invented the adjective vanburenish, meaning an unprincipled or evasive politician. Former Congressman David Crockett was one of those who didn’t trust Van Buren. Crockett wrote about him, “It is said that at a year old he could laugh on one side of his face and cry on the other, at one and the same time.”

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