Angelica Singleton Van Buren

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Angelica Van Buren
Henry Inman - Angelica Singleton Van Buren (Mrs. Abraham Van Buren) - Google Art Project.jpg
Van Buren's White House Portrait (1840)
8th First Lady of the United States
In role
November 27, 1838 – March 4, 1841
President Martin Van Buren
Preceded by Sarah Jackson (Acting)
Succeeded by Anna Harrison
Jane Harrison (Acting)
Personal details
Born Sarah Angelica Singleton
(1818-02-13)February 13, 1818
Wedgefield, South Carolina, U.S.
Died December 29, 1877(1877-12-29) (aged 59)
New York City, U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Abraham Van Buren
(m. 1838; d. 1873)
Alma mater Madame Grelaud's French School

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. Although she was never married to a president, she is the youngest woman ever to hold the title of First Lady.[1]


Sarah Angelica Singleton was born in Wedgefield, South Carolina, the daughter of Richard Singleton and his wife, Rebecca Travis Coles, she was the fourth of six children.[2]

Van Buren was educated at the Columbia Female Academy in South Carolina and Madame Grelaud's French School in Philadelphia.[2] Van Buren was a popular student at Madame Grelaud's and the school gave her the opportunity to meet a more diverse group of people, although all of students at Madame Grelaud's were wealthy, they included Roman Catholic and Sephardi Jews, two groups Van Buren may not have socialized with before.[2]

In 1838, Van Buren visited Washington, D.C. with her sister.[2] Former First Lady Dolley Madison, a cousin of Rebecca Travis Coles, decided to play matchmaker and introduced the Singleton girls to President Martin Van Buren's bachelor sons.[3] Eight months later, Angelica Singleton married Abraham Van Buren on November 27, 1838 in Wedgefield,[2] the marriage strengthened President Van Buren's ties to the Old South.[1]

Following the wedding, Van Buren assumed the duties of hostess at the White House with great success.[3]

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.[2][4] The trip was a massive success and when Van Buren returned to Washington, she hoped to bring some European style to the White House.[4] Angelica and other honored female guests began standing on a dais in the Blue Room to greet guests at the beginning of White House functions,[5] although the French Ambassador enjoyed the reception, Americans did not.[2] The dais was soon removed.[4]

In March 1840, Angelica gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Rebecca. Rebecca died a few months later,[3] after leaving the White House, the couple had four sons.[2]

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.[2]

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Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sarah Jackson
De facto
First Lady of the United States

Succeeded by
Anna Harrison (de jure)
Jane Harrison (de facto)