Skip to main content

1840 One Hundred And Fifty Years Ago

November 2023
1min read

William Henry Harrison defeated President Martin Van Buren on December 2 with a popular vote of 1,275,390 to 1,128,854. A lasting effect of the election was the popularization of the new Americanism, “O.K.,” which had first appeared in print the year before. Supporters of Van Buren gave him a nickname, “Old Kinderhook,” for his native Hudson River town in old Dutch New York, and formed O.K. clubs during the campaign. Though the true origin of O.K. remains clouded, Martin Van Buren’s failed reelection effort helped give it a national currency that remains strong to this day.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.