The son of a farmer and tavernkeeper, Martin Van Buren was too poor to attend college. Yet he studied law, became a prosperous lawyer, and was an influential founder of the Democratic Party in the 1820s. An early party organizer in his home state of New York, Van Buren helped establish a tradition of grassroots politicking that continues today. Along the way, Van Buren acquired the refined tastes of a country gentleman. This 1840 caricature portrays him as a dandy and mocks his presidential reelection bid, in which he was running against William Henry Harrison, the Whig Party's winning candidate.