History Buzz September 9, 2011: New C-Span Series “The Contenders” Profiling Failed Presidential Candidates that Changed and Impacted Political History

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Associated Press

William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate at the turn of the 20th century.

HISTORY ON TV:

The Contenders Premiere

Fri., 8 – 9:30 pm ET on C-SPAN
Henry Clay
LIVE from his Ashland Estate in Lexington, Kentucky

As the 2012 presidential campaign takes shape, we’ll give historical context to our current politics by taking a look back. This Friday night, C-SPAN debuts the first LIVE program in our new history series The Contenders.

Originating from Henry Clay’s home in Lexington, Kentucky, we’ll explore the life, times, and political legacy of a man known simultaneously by his contemporaries as “The Great Compromiser” and “The Dictator” — and perhaps the most powerful politician of his time. Helping us to understand his relevancy today, his almost 50 years in politics, his support for both slavery and keeping the Union together, his quests for the presidency, and a time period covering the first half of the 19th century, we’ll be joined at Ashland Estate by:

· Kentucky State Historian James Klotter, who is currently writing a book on Clay’s presidential aspirations

· Alicestyne Turly, history professor at Louisville University and an expert on the issue of slavery in Kentucky compared to the rest of the country

· Avery Malone, tour director at Ashland Estate

To help connect the discussion to today, we’ll also see clips from House Speaker John Boehner, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul talking about Clay and his relevancy almost 160 years after his death.
For more information on the series and our Contenders, go to www.c-span.org/thecontenders where you’ll find videos, biographical information, election results, helpful links, and more on each of these 14 Contenders featured in the series:
Henry Clay, James G. Blaine, William Jennings Bryan, Eugene Debs, Charles Evans Hughes, Al Smith, Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, George McGovern, and Ross Perot.
Watch this Friday at 8 pm ET on C-SPAN, c-span.org, and C-SPAN Radio. The program re-airs Friday night at 11 pm on C-SPAN.

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

‘The Contenders’ a Nod to Failed Candidates Who Still Changed History

Source: PBS Newshour, 9-1-11

Mp3 Download

SUMMARY

A new C-SPAN series starting this month called “The Contenders” profiles failed presidential candidates who still managed to change political history. Gwen Ifill discusses the presidential race losers with George Mason University’s Richard Norton Smith and RealClearPolitics.com’s Carl Cannon.

U.S. presidential campaigns always produce a winner — 43 men have served, one of them twice, as the nation’s commander in chief.History books pay less attention to the losers, even though many had an outsized impact on the election and on the national debate. A good number of them turned out to be ahead of their times.

Beginning Sept. 9, a new C-SPAN series titled “The Contenders: They Ran and Lost but Changed Political History,” will examine 14 of the losers who turned out to be influential, even in defeat.

Richard Norton Smith, scholar in residence at George Mason University, is an adviser to the series, and Carl Cannon is Washington editor for the political website RealClearPolitics.com.

RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University:

Well, it has famously been said, the winners write the history books. And there’s a lot of truth to that.

Turns out winning and losing are relative terms. Of these 14 people, there are a number — we could debate who — who went on, perhaps, ultimately to have greater impact than the people who — quote — “won.”

More important, there are people who lost in the immediate sense, but who turned out not only to be ahead of their time, but in fact were catalysts for political transformations, the most recent example certainly being Barry Goldwater, who carried six states against Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and yet who planted the seeds of a conservative movement that arguably has yet to crest…..

I think Henry Clay may be the best president we never had.

Well, Abraham Lincoln said, “He was my beau ideal of a statesman.”He was a constructive force first part of the 19th century. He’s the bridge between Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln, the idea that government had a significant role to play. I mean, it’s curious. Conservatives in the 19th century believed in using government as an agent of capitalist development….

Clay was like the speaker of the House on the day he arrived in the House of Representatives, he, of course, known as the great compromiser. The last one in 1850 arguably delayed the Civil War for 10 years, which gave the North an opportunity to become that much stronger, and, equally important, allowed Abraham Lincoln to emerge from obscurity….
Charles Evans Hughes…. A very successful governor of New York, reformer beginning in the 20th century. Then he was put on the Supreme Court, left the court in 1916 to run a very close race against Woodrow Wilson.

He went back to service in the 1920s as secretary of state under two presidents. But his greatest contribution, arguably, his greatest historical significance, came in 1937 when FDR tried famously to pack the Supreme Court. Hughes was then chief justice. Employing all of his old political wiles, he almost single-handedly managed to thwart the president’s effort to change the court in a way that I think a lot of people today, and certainly even then, regarded as radical….

Tom Dewey, someone who tends to be written off as the guy who…. … who lost to Harry Truman.

If Tom Dewey had been elected in 1948, I would — I think you would never have heard of Joe McCarthy.

One, Dewey is a prosecutor. The first national political debate in America was in 1948. Tom Dewey in Oregon against Harold Stassen, the question being, shall we outlaw the Communist Party of America? And Dewey, ironically, the old prosecutor, took the civil libertarian position.

But, beyond that, Dewey was a boss. He was used to having his way. Joe McCarthy wouldn’t have been allowed to become the phenomenon that he had. Dewey would have taken care of it, and Dewey would have cut McCarthy off at the knees.

 

Richard Norton Smith: Don’t Call Them ‘Losers’

Source: NYT, 9-8-11

On cable news these days Republicans are warring for attention, as the presidential primary season reaches a boiling point, and Democrats are wondering how to win despite a wretched economy. Meanwhile the C-SPAN staff is doing what almost no one else on television does: reaching back into history for campaign lessons.

Associated Press

Thomas E. Dewey was twice nominated for president.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The first person to be profiled is Henry Clay, the successful speaker of the House and unsuccessful Whig Party candidate for president in 1844.

Underwood and Underwood

Charles Evans Hughes waged a “not very effective campaign” for president in 1916.

Associated Press

George S. McGovern, the senator who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972.

But it’s doing so in an unusual way. On Friday night that public-affairs channel will start a 14-week series about the presidents who could have been but never were. Called “The Contenders” — purposefully not “The Losers” — the series is about politicians who lost elections but, to borrow from its self-description, “changed political history” anyway.

“The idea is to offer an alternative school of political history,” said Richard Norton Smith, the presidential historian who is a consultant to C-SPAN and who came up with the idea for the series. He said, “More than a few who were deemed losers in their time turned out to be winners in the longer run.”

The first person to be profiled is Henry Clay, the successful speaker of the House and unsuccessful Whig Party candidate for president in 1844 who was known as the Great Compromiser, revealing one of the reasons that Mr. Smith said the series was “not without relevance in our time.”

So many failed candidates now seem to be staples of our national news diet, whether it’s Sarah Palin with her “will she or won’t she?” run for president; Al Gore, with his continuing campaign about climate change; Mike Huckabee, with his new talk-show career; or even John Edwards, with his fall from the op-ed page to the tabloid cover. But the current crop didn’t inspire the series, said Mark Farkas, its executive producer.

“We knew we wanted to do a history series before the presidential election was really kicked off,” Mr. Farkas said Wednesday, taking a break from reviewing video clips for the Clay episode. Studying the runners-up, he said, is a “great way to track how people have run for the presidency and how they have interacted with the media.”

The most recent crop of candidates wouldn’t have qualified for the series. To be a contender the person had to have run for president before 1996. Mr. Farkas said Mr. Gore, who ran for president in 2000, was considered for the series, but the producing group decided that “history’s still being written about 2000.”

The series starts with Clay and ends on Dec. 9 with Ross Perot, who ran for president in 1992 (and again in 1996). In between are men — they are all men — like William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate at the turn of the 20th century; Eugene V. Debs, the union leader who ran on a socialist platform five times, once from prison; Thomas E. Dewey, the New York governor who was the Republican nominee in 1944 and 1948; and George S. McGovern, the senator who was the Democratic nominee in 1972.

Mr. Smith said the producing team was careful to include an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and a “good sampling” of third-party candidates.

“You can play all sorts of parlor games with this topic,” he said. “Would these guys have been better than the people who beat them? How might history have been different?”

C-SPAN’s schedule is determined by Congress much of the time because the channel is committed to showing the House of Representatives whenever it is in session. But Friday night is typically free for original programming because the House tends to dismiss itself for the weekend. In 2007 Mr. Smith was a consultant for a Friday series that was set at presidential libraries. “We were combing the treasures of the collections,” he said.

Similarly, each 90-minute episode of “The Contenders” will be produced live from a location that was important in the life of the featured person. The episode about Clay will be broadcast from his former plantation in Lexington, Ky., which is significant, Mr. Farkas said, because “many of the compromises that Clay made were over slavery.” Guests on each episode will include estate or museum curators, outside historians and authors.

The locations are significant because “these people are really windows into their time period as well,” Mr. Farkas said.

Mr. Smith, who is a professor at George Mason University and the author of books about Dewey, Herbert Hoover, George Washington and others, became one of C-SPAN’s top house historians after befriending Brian Lamb, the founder and chief executive of the network. They have, Mr. Smith said with a laugh, a “curious basis for a friendship:” Mr. Lamb found out in 1993 that Mr. Smith had visited the grave site of every United States president and then decided to do the same. (There are no plans at the moment for a series about the grave sites.)

Mr. Smith said he perceived “The Contenders” to be an alternative to the constant coverage of the current Republican primary campaign, but relevant to the coverage too. Take Mr. Perot, for instance. “Perot put the deficit on the agenda in a way that made it virtually impossible for whoever won to avoid doing something about it,” he said.

Perhaps there are lessons too for the losers — or contenders — themselves. The Oct. 7 episode will profile Charles Evan Hughes, who governed New York before joining the Supreme Court in 1910. A Republican, Hughes waged a “not very effective campaign” for president in 1916, but then became the secretary of state and later the nation’s chief justice. He wrote opinions that supported elements of the New Deal and strengthened free-press protections and fended off a proposal to add more justices to the court.

“He never even served in Congress,” Mr. Smith said. “But it’s hard to find many public servants who did as much, as well, as long.”

A version of this article appeared in print on September 8, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Don’t Call Them ‘Losers’.
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On This Day in History… February 7, 1839: Henry Clay declares “I had rather be right than president.”

February 7, 1839: Henry Clay declares “I had rather be right than president.”

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HNN, Monday, February 4, 2008

On this day in history…. February 7, 1839 Henry Clay declares in the United States Senate “I had rather be right than president.”

The venerable politician and statesman Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky believed his time to win the Presidency would finally be ripe in 1840. There were many obstacles to his winning the Whig Party’s nomination. One of the most contentious issues in the country in the antebellum period was slavery. Clay tried to take a centrist position, but accusations flew in both the North and the South that he favored extremes. In the North he was accused of “being ultra” in favor of Southern slaveholders. In the South he was accused of being an abolitionist who plotted secretly to abolish slavery. (Remini, 525) As the historian Robert Remini explains, “It may have occurred to Clay that his apparent middle-of- the-road position invited attacks from both sides of the slavery question.” (Remini, 525) Clay felt the charges that he was an abolitionist were detrimental to his chances for the presidency, and he needed to clarify his views on the slavery question. But he intended to stick to his views regardless of the political consequences. As he famously said, “I had rather be right than president.”

In order eventually to capture the nomination he needed support from Southern Whigs, but at the same time, he needed support from the Northern Quakers who were passive abolitionists. The most important aspect was to distinguish himself from the most extreme abolitionists, the “ultras” which he did in a Senate speech on February 7, 1839. Clay’s speech, “Petitions for the Abolition of Slavery,” supposedly addressed a petition by Washington DC’s residents to abolish slavery in the district. Clay actually wrote the petition himself.

The speech was Clay at his worse, which his supporters lamented. As Carl Schurz writes, “It was an apology for his better self. Formerly he had spoken as a born anti-slavery man, who to his profound regret found himself compelled to make concessions to slavery. Now he appeared as one inclined to deplore the attacks on slavery no less, if not more, than the existence of slavery itself.” (Schurz, 164)

In the speech, Clay claimed the only thing he had in common with the abolitionists was “abhorrence of slavery,” but their positions were entirely different, and in no way did he identify with them. Clay hoped this would put the speculation to rest that he harbored secret abolitionist desires. He laid out in the speech the history of the “peculiar institution,” the constitutional and legal questions surrounding it, and the course of action that should be taken to resolve slavery. It was here that he distinguished himself most from the abolitionists while attacking their solution to the slavery problem.

As Remini writes, Clay charged that abolitionists were “setting back emancipation half a century” by their agitation. (Remini, 526) Still, he believed that emancipation was not the answer. Clay claimed he did not believe that blacks and whites could live in racial harmony, as abolitionists claimed. As Thomas Brown writes, Clay believed that the “Freed slaves would flood the North, compete with white laborers, and drive down their wages, or the country, would be convulsed by interracial warfare as blacks and whites sought to preserve the purity and separateness of the races.” (Brown, 144) Clay was concerned that a power struggle would lead to a war between the races, especially since the slaves outnumbered whites in some Southern states. Clay believed that this power struggle would lead to Civil War, and suggested that the status quo was the best approach to take to the slavery question. “It is not better for both parties that the existing state of things should be preserved, instead of exposing them to the horrible strifes and contests which would inevitably attend immediate abolition.” (Remini, 526)

According to Clay “time” was the solution that would eventually end slavery, stating, “Providence will cure all-abolition nothing. It may ruin all; it can save none.” (Remini, 526) He then proceeded to make a plea to the ultra-abolitionists to cease their crusade for the sake of the country. “I beseech the abolitionists themselves, solemnly to pause in their mad and fatal course,” he stated. Clay continued: “Amid the infinite variety objects of humanity and benevolence which invite the employment of their energies, let them select some one more harmless, that does not threaten to deluge our country in blood.” (Remini, 526)

The reactions to Clay’s speech were far ranging. For the most part the speech boosted Southerners’ opinion of Clay. As Shurz writes, “Clay received his reward — or punishment — immediately.” (Shurz, 166) After he finished speaking Senator John C. Calhoun, from South Carolina, lauded Clay, praising him for understanding the dangers of the abolitionist movement. Carl Schurz in his biography of Clay believed Calhoun stood up “as if to accept his surrender.” However, Remini describes Cahoun’s enthusiasm as “So spontaneous, so sincere, so fervent … that some wondered if another political alliance between northern money and southern cotton had been struck.” (Remini, 526) This alluded to the “corrupt bargain” of 1825, which handed John Quincy Adams the Presidency despite the fact that Andrew Jackson won the popular vote.

Calhoun proclaimed, “I heard the Senator from Kentucky with pleasure. His speech will have a happy effect, and will do much to consummate what had already been so happily begun and successfully carried on to a completion.” (Shurz, 167) Clay wanted the nomination so much that he had to take Calhoun’s humiliating words without saying anything. As Schurz explains, “Calhoun assigned to him a place in his church on the bench of the penitents, and the candidate for the presidency took the insult without wincing.” (Shurz, 168)

The speech offended the abolitionists, giving Clay the results he was looking for, distancing himself from them. Clay hoped his speech would increase his support among those he needed to help him garner the nomination. Still it was a turn off to many Northerners. Clay supporters like James G. Birney and John Greenleaf Whittier, who “once idolized Clay, now cast him off as something loathsomely hypocritical.” (Remini, 526) Clay claimed he wasn’t surprised by the response. “My abolition Speech was made after full deliberation,” he told a friend. “I expected it would enrage the Ultra’s more than ever against me, and I have not been disappointed.” (Remini, 527)

Clay should not have been surprised by the negative reaction or the long-term consequences. Before he delivered it, he read it to Senator William C. Preston of South Carolina, and several of his friends and colleagues to get their opinion. They believed that “The speech bears all the marks of that careful weighing of words characteristic of a candidate ‘defining his position’ on a delicate subject.” (Schurz, 164) One of the men believed it could have a negative impact on his presidential prospects, offending both the abolitionists and the pro-slavery factions. Upon hearing this Clay proclaimed the classic phrase he is most remembered for: “I trust the sentiments and opinions are correct, I HAD RATHER BE RIGHT THAN BE PRESIDENT.” Remini describes it as “the immortal utterance, the classic rejoinder, one that quickly entered the lexicon of American politics and was always associated with Clay’s name.” (Remini, 527)

Senator Preston repeated these words in a speech to a Whig rally in Philadelphia the following month announcing the phrase to the public. Then almost immediately Clay’s words were the talk of the nation, the newspapers reprinted his speech, and citizens found it to “noble and patriotic” and appropriate, while critics and “hard-nosed” politicians laughed upon hearing it. (Remini, 527) Clay may have wanted to be right, but he also wanted the Presidency, and his chances were slipping from him.

Soon after the speech, Clay felt the backlash. First Daniel Webster charged that Clay caused the Whigs to lose the 1838 election in Maine, and that the party should instead support a candidate who had more appeal, such as General William Henry Harrison. Webster was deliberately mounting a campaign against Clay, even going as far as to blame him for losing Harrison’s state, Ohio, in the 1838 election. To cap off this crusade, at the Anti-Mason National Convention in November 1839, the group nominated Harrison for President and Webster for Vice-President.

Politicians in the North, Abolitionists, and anti-Masons preferred Harrison as a presidential candidate to Clay. Another candidate who drew support was General Winfield Scott, whose military record was akin to Andrew Jackson’s. Fortunately for Clay, Webster took himself out of the running for the Whig nomination when he departed for England in 1839. Still Clay believed the nomination was his. As he wrote, “Moderation, conciliation, and decision, but above all firmness and decision should be our course. May it be guided by wisdom and lead to victory.” (Remini, 531)

Even before the Whig Convention Clay lost New York. Thurlow Weed, as Brown explains, thought “Clay had gone too far in his attacks [on abolitionists].” (Brown, 145) Both Weed and Thaddeus Stevens were Anti-Mason leaders, and wanted anybody but Clay as the nominee; they devised a plan to strip Clay of his 254-delegate majority.

A friend of Webster’s, Peleg Sprague, introduced a motion that changed the voting. Each state would choose three delegates to a committee, the committee in turn would ask their state which candidate they preferred. A vote would be held in private, and when there was a state consensus, the delegates would report it to the full convention. Clay’s supporters could not stop the motion even through it was obviously designed to strip Clay of the nomination, and soon Clay’s majority melted. Stevens and Weed preferred Harrison to Scott or Clay, but Scott’s candidacy seemed to benefit from their maneuvering. To counter this, Stevens released to the delegates a letter Scott wrote to Francis Granger that appeared favorable to the abolitionists. This was enough to damage Scott’s propsects and give Harrison–the least controversial choice–the nomination. Clay’s chance to capture the Presidency had ended.

Anti-Masons and abolitionists, the two groups Clay alienated with his February 7, 1839 speech, controlled the Whig Party. But Clay, says Remini, “also had a hand in engineering his [own] defeat. His Senate speech on February 7, 1839, against the abolitionists, more than any other single factor, undoubtedly prevented him from gaining a single northern state at the convention ‘except glorious Rhode Island.’ ‘I had rather be right than President,’ Clay had announced. So be it, responded the delegates.” (Remini, 554) Henry Clay would live to regret his words on the Senate floor, because ultimately they caused him to lose the nomination he wanted more than anything.

As we are now reaching a defining moment in the 2008 campaign with Super Tuesday around the corner, another candidate has been compared to Clay. Hillary Clinton has been haunted by her Senate vote for the Iraq war, but has refused to apologize for it, though her position on the war has evolved. In a February 2007 Christian Science Monitor article Daniel Schorr wrote, “Whether that will appease her supporters remains to be seen. What they apparently will not get from her are those three little words. ‘I am sorry.’ What her lack of contrition will cost her, that also remains to be seen…. She may take comfort from the ‘great compromiser,’ Sen. Henry Clay of Kentucky, who on the Senate floor in 1839 declared, ‘I had rather be right than president.’”

Sources and further reading:

Thomas Brown, Politics and Statesmanship: Essays on the American Whig Party, Columbia University Press, 1985.

Henry Clay, The Works of Henry Clay, Barnes & Burr, 1863.

Robert Vincent Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union, W. W. Norton & Company, 1991.

Daniel Schorr, “Will voters accept Hillary Clinton’s nonapology? Her vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq might cost her the presidency,” Christian Science Monitor, February 23, 2007.

Carl Schurz, Life of Henry Clay: American Statesmen, Volume: 2, Houghton Mifflin, 1899.

Q & A: What Did Condi Rice’s Nomination in the 21st Century Have in Common with Henry Clay’s in the 19th?

HISTORY ARTICLES

HISTORY, NEWS & POLITICS

HNN, 2-14-05

What Did Condi Rice’s Nomination in the 21st Century Have in Common with Henry Clay’s in the 19th?

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern.

On January 26, 2005 history was made when the Senate confirmed Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state by a vote of 85 to 13. No black woman had ever held the post. But the vote also made history in another, less fortunate way. As the Associated Press widely reported, more senators voted against Rice’s nomination than against any other secretary of state since 1825, when Henry Clay was up for the position and was confirmed by a vote of 27-14.

Even though Rice may have had the largest number of “no” votes for confirmation since Clay, in proportion to the total number of senators, she did better than he had. She received 13 “no” votes or 13 percent of the total; Clay received 14 “no” votes or 34 percent. Still the opposition they faced in the Senate shared remarkable similarities.

The fierce opposition in the Senate toward Henry Clay’s nomination as was a direct fallout from the 1824 presidential campaign and the “Corrupt Bargain” allegedly made between John Quincy Adams and Clay. In 1824, there were four candidates running for president; President Monroe’s secretary of state, John Quincy Adams, Senator Andrew Jackson, Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford, and the incumbent Speaker of the House, Henry Clay. All the candidates were members of the Republican-Democratic Party, and voting loyalties were sectional. In the election Jackson won the popular vote, and had a plurality of the electoral votes but not the necessary majority. The precise breakdown showed that Jackson had 99 Electoral College votes and polled 153,544 popular votes (43.1 percent); Adams had 84 and 108,740 (30.5 percent); Crawford had 41 and 46,618 (13.1 percent), and Clay had 37 votes and 47,136 (13.2 percent). (John C. Calhoun had a clear majority for the vice presidency.)

Because no one enjoyed a majority of electoral votes, the election was thrown into the House of Representative. As required under the Constitution, the House choose from the top three candidates, eliminating Clay, who’d come in fourth in electoral votes. The states that were up for grabs included Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio, which Clay had won, and the closely divided states of Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, and New Jersey. Jackson seemed likely to win since he only needed the votes of two states in addition to those he had carried in the election. Adams, in contrast, needed six of the seven available states in addition to the six New England states he already had plus New York. In the end Adams won; according to Jackson and his supporters, Adams achieved victory by entering into a Corrupt Bargain with Clay, promising him the post of secretary of state in exchange for his support. Clay as Speaker of the House had the influence over congressional members to decide the outcome of the vote.

The position of secretary of state was at the time considered a stepping stone to the presidency; the last four secretaries of states in the country’s short history had risen to the presidency. The agreement was favorable to both parties; Adams would immediately get the presidency, and Clay would be the next in line. Clay a “typical Western gambler” gambled with his position as Speaker, and publicly supported Adams. Clay later wrote that Adams “was the best choice that I could practically make.” Clay delivered four Western states to Adams, including the three states he had won in the election: Kentucky, Ohio and Missouri. Adams also allegedly made an agreement with Daniel Webster to gain the vote of Maryland in exchange for the post of minister to Great Britain, but the appointment was never tendered. Adams was elected president by a vote of 13 to 11 states on the first ballot. (States voting for president in the House of Representatives vote as a group.)

Andrew Jackson vehemently opposed Clay, and the deal made with Adams that had cost him the election. It was a hatred that would resonate with Jackson until his death in 1845. Jackson swore he would do everything he could to thwart Clay’s presidential ambitions.

Jackson teamed up with John C. Calhoun, and William Crawford to create a Southern-Western axis in opposition to Clay. Clay nonetheless succeeded in lining up broad support for his nomination as secretary of state, but the “violent” friends of his enemies–Calhoun, Crawford and Jackson–remained opposed to his appointment. Clay persisted and his supporters argued that the West with a population of 3 million deserved representation, as they had not yet had a president or even a high level cabinet official. On February 17 Clay accepted President-Elect Adams’s offer of the position of secretary of state. The nomination increased Jackson’s fury. Fulminating, he raged: “So you see the Judas of the West has closed the contract and will receive thirty pieces of silver. His end will be the same. Was there ever such a bare faced corruption in any other country before?”

After Adams’s inauguration on March 4, 1825 the president sent in three appointments for the Senate’s approval; at the top of the list was Clay’s nomination. Adams originally wanted to keep the Monroe Administration’s cabinet except for the admission of Clay, but Jackson’s opposition sabotaged Adams’s plan. When Clay’s nomination came up in the Senate, he believed that there would be little opposition to his appointment, with a maximum of 3 or 4 votes against him. He was shocked when 14 out of the 41 senators voted against him, thanks to Jackson’s opposition.

John Branch of North Carolina, voting against Clay, became the only senator to speak out in defense of his vote. He stated he opposed the nomination because of the “suspicion” of alleged wrong-doing. Jackson and two of his close partisans headed the campaign against Clay along with other Jackson followers who would go on to form the new Democratic Party. As Adams noted in his diary, “This was the first act of opposition from the stump which is to be carried on against the Administration under the banners of General Jackson.” The only Jackson follower that voted for Clay was Martin Van Buren, the leader in the Congress. On March 6 Clay resigned from his position in Congress and the next day signed his commission and was sworn in as secretary of state on March 8, 1825, amid a controversy that would haunt the one-term administration.

In the two elections–1824 and 2004–the losing presidential candidates in the Senate led the opposition to the appointment of a new secretary of state. In 1825 it was Andrew Jackson; this year it was John Kerry. In both cases the secretary of state faced questions that raised doubts about their character.

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