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the expressed and unbiased will of the people, I never would step into the Presidential chair; and requested him to say to Mr. Clay and his friends ( for I did suppose he had come from Mr. Clay, although he used the term of 'Mr. Clay's friends'), that before I would reach the Presidential chair by such means of bargain and corruption, I would see the earth open and swallow both Mr. Clay and his friends and myself with them. If they had not confidence in me to believe, if I were elected, that I would call to my aid in the Cabinet men of the first virtue, talent, and integrity, not to vote for me. The second day after this communication and reply, it was announced in the newspapers, that Mr. Clay had come out openly and avowedly in favor of Mr. Adams. It may be proper to observe, that, on the supposition that Mr. Clay was not privy to the proposition stated, I may have done injustice to him. If so, the gentleman informing me can explain.
"I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
"andrew Jackson. "Mr. Carter Beverley."
This is not a good letter, and carries with it the indelible marks of political trickery not in keeping with the general tenor of Jackson's bold and outspoken manner. And it does not at all appear certain by his way of putting the case, that Mr. Beverley's letter, and his conversation at the "Hermitage," on which it rested, were not designed by the "company of gentlemen" to find their way, at the proper time, "into the public journals."
The manner in which General Jackson's informant, "a member of Congress, of high respectability," James Buchanan, treated this difficult cnse. unexpectedly thrown upon him, may be seen in another volume of this work. The friends of Mr. Clay, as well as a vast number occupying doubtful positions, believed Mr. Buchanan's answer a complete exoneration of Mr. Clay, and General Jackson was never satisfied with the light in which Mr. Buchanan placed the case.
Mr. Parton says that some time subsequently, the General wrote to his man, Wm. B. Lewis, that Mr. Buchanan showed a lack of moral courage in the affair of the intrigue of Adams and Clay. He never did quite recover from the impression that Mr. Buchanan was a Pennsylvania serpent. Nor did he ever give up the charge against Adams and Clay, however clear it became to the majority of their countrymen, that the whole matter was a fabrication, notwithstanding the very feasible grounds of such a coalition, as charged. Even after the matter had been allowed to fall into neglect, he renewed the charge in the summer of 1844, when on the verge of the grave.
The following letter contains his last thrust at Mr. Adams. No other man at that or any other day would have called John Quincy Adams a "lying, old scamp;" no other President could have been guilty of such lack of refinement and dignity; and, perhaps, there is no intelligent American to-day who does not understand how it was that General Jackson could do such a thing, and who is not able to place it to the credit of the old hero's bad passions, and imperious will.
From the "Cincinnati Commercial," in 1879, this letter is taken :—
_, "hermitage, November 28, 1844.
"amos Kendall, r.scj.:
"my Dear Sir,—Your letter of the 18th instant is received with its inclosure. I will deliberate on the subject of taking any further notice of that lying old scamp, J. Q. Adams, but in the meantime if your leisure will permit, & your health (is) good, I will be greatly obliged to you to collect and embody the facts, and forward them to me, 'that, if it becomes necessary, I may reply over my own name. If I should be called hence soon, then some friend may use them.
"I had a visit from my friend, Colonel James K. Polk, and your letter reached me whilst he was with me. I had a long conversation with him in regard to you. He has the most friendly feelings for you, & will do any thing for you that he can do with propriety. This you may rely on; and (he) will, if he can with propriety, place you where you have indicated. . . .
"Colonel Polk will have some difficulty about his Cabinet, but rest assured he has sufficient segacy (sagacity) & energy to select a good one. You have his friendship, and I know if he wishes & asks your opinions you will give it candidly.
"We all rejoice at your good health, & my whole household unite with me our best wishes to you & yours.
"Your friend, sincerely, Andrew Jackson.
"P. S. I am greatly afflicted with cough, pain in the side, & shortness of breath."
THE STORY OF THE "BARGAIN, INTRIGUE, AND CORRUPTION "—" BLIFIL AND BLACK GEORGE "—REPENTANCEWILLIAM H. CRAWFORD.
MR. CLAY'S card to the public on the last day of January, 1825, contained a challenge which was really below his moral standard, and for which he felt called upon to make the following apology in an address to his constituents :—
"When I saw that letter, alleged to be written by a member of the very House over which I was presiding, who was so far designated as to be described as belonging to a particular delegation by name, a member with whom I might be daily exchanging, at least on my part, friendly salutations, and who was, possibly, receiving from me constantly acts of courtesy and kindness, I felt that I could no longer remain silent. A crisis appeared to me to have arisen in my public life. I issued my card. I ought not to have put in it the last paragraph, because, although it does not necessarily imply the resort to a personal combat, it admits of that construction; nor will I conceal that such a possible issue was within my contemplation. I owe it to the community to say, that whatever heretofore I may have done, or, by inevitable circumstances, might be forced to do, no man in it holds in deeper abhorrence than I do, that pernicious practice. Condemned as it must be by the judgment and philosophy, to say nothing of the religion, of every thinking man, it is an affair of feeling about which we can not, although we should, reason. Its true corrective will be found when all shall unite, as all ought to unite, in its unqualified proscription."
But it will soon appear how unreliable Mr. Clay's moral strength was under certain contingencies. This charge against him brought out in resistance all the vehemence of his character, and, until the ball was set in motion from the "Hermitage" in 1827, it appeared as if he had killed the unfortunate scandal. Still in the bitter opposition which, from the outset, arose against Mr. Adams's Administration, the old story of "bargain, intrigue, and corruption" was not lost sight of. It acquired the force of a standing argument with men of incautious tongues.
In one of his bitter and disjointed speeches or harangues John Randolph of Roanoke, characterized the union of Adams and Clay as "the coalition of Blifil and Black George, the combination unheard of till then, of the Puritan and the blackleg."
Mr. Clay's position as Secretary of State did not restrain him from fighting with his tongue and pen, or even in another style not yet out of fashion in parts of the Nation. He challenged Randolph to fight him, and, on the 8th of April, 1826, they met and interchanged shots. The pistols were again charged, and Mr. Clay shot at and missed his adversary. Randolph then fired into the air, and stepping forward compelled Clay to take his hand. And thus the disgraceful affair ended without bodily injury to either of the combatants. But this duel neither removed nor abated the charge against Mr. Clay, nor did it give luster or reputation to Mr. Adams's Administration.
Until the letter of Carter Beverley, followed by that of General Jackson, in 1827, little had been done on either side beyond charging and denying. But the case now took a new aspect, and, on the 4th of July,