[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以

译 / 陈式方程

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第1张图片
America's Presidents - Martin Van Buren 美国总统 — 马丁·范布伦

VOA Learning English presents America’s Presidents.

Today we are talking about Martin Van Buren. He was sworn in as the eighth president of the United States in 1837.

Van Buren had already been working for the White House for several years. He had been the secretary of state for President Andrew Jackson, and later his vice president.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第2张图片
This 1832 political cartoon shows Jackson carrying Van Buren into office. 这幅1832年的政治漫画,展示了杰克逊把范布伦带进办公室。

Jackson asked his party, the Democrats, to nominate Van Buren as their presidential candidate in the 1836 election.

They agreed, and Van Buren won that election easily. But he did not win the next election. Or the next. Or the next.

Presidency 总统任期

In his inaugural[1] speech in 1837, Van Buren noted that he was the first U.S. president to be born after the American Revolution.

He was also the first president who was not from a British family. His ancestors were Dutch.

He remains the only president – so far – who did not speak English as his first language.

In his inaugural speech, Van Buren predicted better times for Americans.

But several days later, an economic crisis struck. The situation put the country in a depression that lasted for the rest of Van Buren’s term. It was one reason the president’s opponents called him “Martin Van Ruin.”

The depression was not Van Buren’s only problem. He also faced a dispute with Britain related to the border between the U.S. and Canada. The conflict nearly turned into war.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第3张图片
Van Buren also continued Jackson's policies on Native Americans. He aimed to move tribes to west of the Mississippi River. Here, a Seminole leader in Florida, Osceola, objects to U.S. officials. 范布伦也一直坚持杰克逊关于美洲印第安人的政策。他旨在将印第安部落迁移到密西西比河西面。图中,一位塞米诺尔族长在佛罗里达州奥西奥拉市反对美国官员。

Historian Joel Silbey says most experts do not think Van Buren was a strong president.

However, Silbey notes, Van Buren left an important legacy that still operates today: He created the modern U.S. political system.

Early life 早期生活

Van Buren’s political education began early.

His father was a farmer and operated a hotel at a small town in New York State. Lawmakers sometimes visited the hotel. By listening to them, the future president learned about politics.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第4张图片
As a young man, Van Buren began wearing fancy clothes to appear more sophisticated. Painting by Francis Alexander. 年轻时的范布伦开始穿着讲究品味,这使得他看起来更加老成。由弗朗西斯·亚历山大绘画。

Eventually, Van Buren studied in a law office and became a lawyer. In the first years of his career, he defended farmers who were fighting large plantation owners for their land. As a result, he developed a reputation[2] for helping the common man.

Van Buren became a local official, and then a senator and governor of New York.

When he was 24, he married a young woman he had grown up with. But she died of tuberculosis after 12 years, leaving him with four sons.

Historian Joel Silbey says although Van Buren did not remarry, “he was known as quite charming[3] among the ladies[4].”

Political animal 政治动物

Van Buren had a gift for politics – that is, developing relationships and forming alliances.
范布伦拥有政治天赋 — 即发展关系并建立联盟。

Historian Joel Silbey says most people who knew Van Buren liked him. He seemed warm and friendly. He tried to keep his work-related life and social activities separate. It was not unusual to see him exchange handshakes, smiles and jokes with men who were his political enemies.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第5张图片
Opponents called Van Buren the Sly Fox because they did not believe they could trust him. 政治敌手称范布伦是狡猾的狐狸,因为他们觉得不能信任他。

His ability to make friends became a powerful tool. Before Van Buren, even lawmakers from the same political party operated independently. They had their own beliefs, their own supporters, and their own allies. Van Buren brought them together.

First he identified people who followed the ideas of Thomas Jefferson: support for independent farmers and states’ rights. The group had become known as the Democratic Party (although it was in many ways different from the Democratic Party of today).

Van Buren organized meetings for Democrats to talk about their political beliefs. He persuaded them to support the same policies – at that time, the policies of Andrew Jackson.
范布伦组织民主党人的会议来讨论他们的政治信仰。他说服他们去支持相同的政策 — 那时的安德鲁·杰克逊政策。

Sometimes, Van Buren helped people who supported Jackson’s policies. He gave them government jobs.

Van Buren also used a series of meetings to choose one presidential candidate for the party. If this process seems clear-cut[5], it was not at the time. During the election of 1824, for example, a single party had four separate candidates for president, one for each part of the country.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第6张图片
Martin Van Buren was the grandfather of today's modern campaigns. Here is the Democratic national convention in 2016. 马丁·范布伦是现代竞选活动的鼻祖。这张图是2016年民主党全国代表大会。

Van Buren’s system eventually gave rise to[6] the national conventions[7] that major U.S. parties use today to nominate their candidates.

Model campaigner 模范竞选者

Van Buren also helped create the modern political campaign. In the 1820s, he saw that many state constitutions were lifting some of their voting restrictions. As a result, states were giving more white males the right to vote. (Women and most African-American men were still largely prohibited from voting.)

Historian Joel Silbey says Van Buren wanted to bring these new voters into the Democratic Party. He decided to improve on the methods that other, smaller groups had used: campaign events, speeches, and organized efforts to bring people to vote on Election Day.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第7张图片
Supporters called Van Buren the Little Magician because he knew how to win elections. He was also short -- 167 centimeters. 支持者称范布伦为小魔术师,因为他知道如何去赢得选举。他个子很矮,身高只有1.67米。

Silbey explains that these efforts to persuade and energize voters were new to national politics. Now they are some of the major features[8] of political campaigns.

Live by the sword, die by the sword 以其人之道,还治其人之身

In the election of 1840, Van Buren sought a second term as president. This time his opponents used Van Buren’s political techniques against him.

Silbey says the new opposition party, called the Whigs, used popular speeches and events to portray[9] Van Buren as a failed president.

Crowds shouted, “Mattie Van is a used-up man!” In other words, he no longer had any power or effect in government.

Critics also made fun of Van Buren’s fine-looking, even fussy[10] clothes. They portrayed him as a rich, elite candidate. They compared him unfavorably[11] to their candidate, a military hero named William Henry Harrison.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第8张图片
Some of Van Buren's supporters called him by the initials of his hometown: "OK" for Old Kinderhook, New York. His nickname may be the basis for today's common expression to mean yes. 范布伦的一些支持者用它家乡名的首字母“OK”来称呼他,“OK”代表纽约州的老肯德胡克。他的绰号也许就是如今表达yes的基础。

Yet it was Van Buren who had come from a poor family, and Harrison from a wealthy one.

Even so, Van Buren lost the election of 1840.

Four years later, Van Buren again sought the presidency. This time, even Andrew Jackson did not support him. Instead, Jackson backed a man who supported the seizure of Texas and expanding slavery: James Polk.

But Van Buren did not permit those defeats to stop his political career. He ran again in the presidential election of 1848.

This time, Van Buren withdrew from the Democratic Party he had helped build. He ran instead as the candidate of a new, anti-slavery party, called the Free Soilers.

But even Van Buren’s political skills could not persuade voters. He did not win a single state.

[VOA英译汉-双语][8]Martin Van Buren: Just OK 马丁·范布伦:勉强可以_第9张图片
Portrait of Martin Van Buren by Mathew Brady 马丁·范布伦肖像,出自马修·布雷迪

​After losing this final presidential election, Van Buren finally retired. He spent time with his children and grandchildren, traveled, and wrote about his life.

At 79 he died of heart failure.



  1. inaugural - adj. happening as part of an official ceremony or celebration when a newly elected official begins an important job - 就职的 ↩

  2. reputation - n. the common opinion that people have about someone or something - 声誉 ↩

  3. charming - adj. very pleasing or appealing - 有魅力的 ↩

  4. ladies - n. women, usually of high social position - 女士,通常指上层社会的女士 ↩

  5. clear-cut - adj. obvious - 清晰的;轮廓鲜明的 ↩

  6. give rise to - 使发生,引起,促成,导致,产生 ↩

  7. national conventions - 全国代表大会(美国政党为总统候选人提名而召开),总统候选人提名大会,全国党代表大会;国民公会(指1792-1795年间的法国议会) ↩

  8. features - n. important parts - 重要部分 ↩

  9. portray - v. to describe someone in a particular way - 描绘 ↩

  10. fussy - adj. to fancy or complicated - 过分注意讲究的,爱挑剔的 ↩

  11. unfavorably - 不利地 ↩