Early on, Calhoun and his supporters had attacked him as an abolitionist (a smear used against any threat to the institution). In the case, the Supreme Court had freed the captured Africans aboard a Spanish ship that they had grounded and successfully mutinied on.
Van Buren, while personally anti-slavery but always wanting to keep political alliances, denied this and stated explicitly he would go along with the "gag rules" active in Congress and not attempt to abolish slavery in D. This undertook a dramatic turn in the 1841 case of Armistead v. Van Buren, before the case was decided, was very willing to give up the slaves back if it meant continued peace with Spain. However, it is important to keep in mind that Van Buren was not a James Buchanan in the way that he dealt with the Southern section of his party.
He also became entrenched in the vicious and expensive Second Seminole War that his predecessor had started.
By continuing the Trail of Tears, he solidified his place in history as someone who did not fully embrace all people's natural rights.
While one can disagree with his political ideology, he provides a useful model for how one can maintain their principles even after you get into office.
So let's review some of his achievements in office. influence and territory, Van Buren opposed any further empire building.Van Buren was deflated by his defeat to the Whig general William Henry Harrison, who used "log and hard cider" populist tactics and fake news to win the Presidency (although his early death allowed the Jeffersonian John Tyler to continue many of the same policies as his predecessor).While he would have a run in 1848 for the anti-slavery free soil party, his vindication for his peaceful and pragmatic policies would never come.Van Buren was not simply a career politician, however.He was able to transform the political scene away from the mushy (and often fractious) centrism that characterized the mislabeled Era of Good Feeling, and towards the reemergence of ideological polarization.He was also a strong opponent of nationalizing state militias and was encouraged by the trend towards voluntary rather than compulsory service.Van Buren stated that, "We have a character among the nations of the earth to maintain.The first, and most laudatory, was his peaceful foreign policy. He was also successful in preventing two wars with Mexico and the U. by maintaining a neutral stance that promoted free trade over mercantilist conflict.He also opposed the annexation of Texas for fear it would divide the party over the slavery question (and boy was he right about that! This was a trait seen during the Jackson administration, when he successfully negotiated a trade settlement with the British West Indies, and prevented a war with France over Jackson's hot temper.In contrast to Jackson and Calhoun, he sought to maintain alliances and friendships.While men like John Randolph were more consistent, Van Buren, unlike Jefferson when his time came for the presidency, maintained a more consistently antistatist line during his time in office.