Portrait of Angelica Singleton Van Buren (1842). Henry Inman (American, 1801–1846). Oil on canvas. White House.
Our 8th president, Martin Van Buren, had been a widower for nearly 20 years and hence had no first lady, yet someone needed to fill the position. He called upon his daughter-in-law Angelica Singleton Van Buren (1818-1877). Beguiling and loved, she was a young, beautiful, gentle woman who was confident, poised and religious. Raised on a southern plantation as the daughter of wealthy South Carolinians, she had a genteel southern spirit and benefited from an excellent education.
Angelica Singleton Van Buren, First Lady of the United States, native of Wedgefield, South Carolina
Sarah Angelica Singleton Van Buren, née Singleton (February 13, 1818 – December 29, 1877), was the daughter-in-law of the 8th United States President Martin Van Buren. She was married to the President’s son, Abraham Van Buren. She assumed the post of First Lady because the president’s wife, Hannah Van Buren had died 17 years earlier and he remained unwed throughout the rest of his life. She is the youngest woman ever to hold the title of First Lady.
Sarah Angelica Singleton was born in Wedgefield, South Carolina, the daughter of Richard Singleton and his wife, Rebecca Travis Coles. She was a cousin of William C. Preston and of Dolley Madison.
Raised in high society, Angelica brought an air of sophistication to her role as first lady. She married Abraham Van Buren on November 27, 1838, in Wedgefield, and the following New Year’s Day, she assumed the duties of hostess at the White House. In the spring of 1839, the couple took an extended trip through England (where her uncle Andrew Stevenson was U.S. minister) and other European countries. When they returned that autumn, she resumed the duties of White House hostess for the rest of her father-in-law’s presidency.
After Martin Van Buren was defeated for re-election in 1840, Angelica and her husband lived at the Van Buren home of Lindenwald, in Kinderhook, NY, wintering at her family home in South Carolina. From 1848 until her death, she lived in New York City.
Hannah Van Buren Angelica Singleton Van Buren Martin Van Buren Following Angelica Singleton Van Buren’s debut appearance as the first lady at the New Year’s Day reception in 1839, the Boston Post reported on Angelica: “She is represented as being a lady of rare accomplishments, very modest, yet perfectly easy and graceful in her manners, and free and vivacious in her conversation.” Born – March…