President Martin Van Buren, a Jacksonian Democrat, did his best to project a strong executive image, like that of his predecessor. However, the Panic of 1837 crippled Van Buren’s economic plan. His effort to influence the courts in the Amistad case—involving a group of Africans who had staged a revolt from their Spanish captors on the high seas—only fueled his abolitionist opponents. And Van Buren’s effort to prevent Congress from having any supervisory role with respect to the postmaster general chipped away at the power of the executive branch and cemented his reputation as an ineffective president.
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