« НазадПродовжити »
he left home two or three of his friends had besought him to assume a mild and conciliatory demeanor at the capitol. It would never do, they told him, for a candidate for the Presidency to threaten to cut off the ears of gentlemen who disapproved his public conduct; he must restrain himself and make friends. This advice he followed. He was reconciled with General Winfield Scott, whom, in 1817, he had styled an “assassin,” a “ hectoring bully,” and an “intermeddling pimp and spy of the War Office.” He made friends with Colonel Thomas H. Benton, with whom he had fought in the streets of Nashville, while he still carried in his body a bullet received in that bloody affray. With Henry Clay, too, he resumed friendly intercourse, met him twice at dinner-parties, rode and exchanged visits with him, and attended one of the Speaker's Congressional dinners.
When next these party chieftains met, in the spring of 1825, it was about to devolve upon the House of Representatives to decide which of three men should be the next President, — Jackson, Adams, or Crawford. They exchanged visits as before ; Mr. Clay being desirous, as he said, to show General Jackson that, in the vote which he had determined to give, he was influenced only by public considerations. No reader needs to be informed that Mr. Clay and his friends were able to decide the election, and that they decided it in favor of Mr. Adams. We believe that Mr. Clay was wrong in so doing. As a Democrat he ought, we think, to have been willing to gratify the plurality of his fellowcitizens, who had voted for General Jackson. His motives we fully believe to have been disinterested. Indeed, it was plainly intimated to him that, if he gave the Presidency to General Jackson, General Jackson would make him his heir apparent, or, in other words, his Secretary of State.
The anger of General Jackson at his disappointment was not the blind and wild fury of his earlier days ; it was a deeper, a deadlier wrath, which he governed ar 1 concealed in order to wreak a feller vengeance. On the erening of the day on which the election in the House occurred there was a levee at the Presidential mansion, which General Jackson attended. Who, that saw him dart forward and grasp Mr. Adams cordially by the
hand, could have supposed that he then entirely believed that Mr. Adams had stolen the Presidency from him by a corrupt bargain with Mr. Clay? Who could have supposed that he and his friends had been, for fourteen days, hatching a plot to blast the good name of Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay, by spreading abroad the base insinuation that Clay had been bought over to the support of Adams by the promise of the first place in the Cabinet ? Who could have supposed that, on his way home to Tennessee, while the newspapers were paragraphing his magnanimity in defeat, as shown by his behavior at the levee, he would denounce Adams and Clay, in bar-rooms and public places, as guilty of a foul compact to frustrate the wishes of the people ?
It was calumny's masterpiece. It was a rare stroke of art to get an old dotard of a member of Congress to publish, twelve days before the election, that Mr. Clay had agreed to vote for Mr. Adams, and that Mr. Adams had agreed to reward him by the office of Secretary of State. When the vote had been given and the office conferred, how plausible, how convincing, the charge of bargain!
It is common to censure Mr. Clay for accepting office under Mr. Adams. We honor him for his courage in doing so. Having made Mr. Adams President, it had been unlike the gallant Kentuckian to shrink from the possible odium of the act by refusing his proper place in the administration. The calumny which anticipated his acceptance of office was a defiance: Take office if you dare! It was simply worthy of Henry Clay to accept the challenge, and brave all the consequences of what he had deliberately and conscientiously done.
In the office of Secretary of State Mr. Clay exhibited an admirable talent for the despatch of business. He negotiated an unusual number of useful treaties. He exerted himself to secure a recognition of the principles, that, in time of war, private property should enjoy on the ocean the same protection as on land, and that paper blockades are not to be regarded. He
econded Mr. Adams in his determination not to remove from :ffice any man on account of his previous or present opposition to the administration; and he carried this policy so far, that, in
selecting the newspapers for the publication of the laws, he refused to consider their political character. This was in strict accordance with the practice of all previous administrations ; but it is so pleasant to recur to the times when that honorable policy prevailed, that we cannot help alluding to it. In his intercourse with foreign ministers, Mr. Clay had an opportunity to display all the charms of an unequalled courtesy : they remained his friends long after he had retired. His Wednesday dinners and his pleasant evening receptions were remembered for many years. How far he sympathized with Mr. Adams's extravagant dreams of a system of national works that should rival the magnificent structures of ancient Rome, or with the extreme opinions of his colleague, Mr. Rush, as to the power and importance of government, we do not know. He worked twelve hours a day in his office, he tells us, and was content therewith. He was the last high officer of the government to fight a duel. That bloodless contest between the Secretary of State and John Randolph was as romantic and absurd as a duel could well be. Colonel Benton's narrative of it is at once the most amusing and the most affecting piece of gossip which our political annals contain. Randolph, as the most unmanageable of members of Congress, had been for fifteen years a thorn in Mr. Clay's side, and Clay's later politics had been most exasperating to Mr. Randolph ; but the two men loved one another in their hearts, after all. Nothing has ever exceeded the thorough-bred courtesy and tender consideration with which they set about the work of putting one another to death; and their joy was unbounded when, after the second fire, each discovered that the other was unharmed. If all duels could have such a result, duelling would be the prettiest thing in the world.
The election of 1828 swept the administration from power. No man has ever bowed more gracefully to the decision of the people than Henry Clay. His remarks at the public dinner given him in Washington, on his leaving for home, were entirely admirable. Andrew Jackson, he said, had wronged him, but he was now the Chief Magistrate of his country, and, as such, he should be treated with decorum, and his public acts judged with
sandcr. His journey to Ashland was more like the progress or a victor than the return homeward of a rejected statesman.
He now entered largely into his favorite branch of rural business, the raising of superior animals. Fifty merino sheep were driven over the mountains from Pennsylvania to his farm, and he imported from England some Darham and Hertford cattle. He had an Arabian horse in his stable. For the improvement of the breed of mules, he imported an ass from Malta, and an other from Spain. Pigs, goats, and dogs he also raised, and endeavored to improve. His slaves being about fifty in number, he was able to carry on the raising of hemp and corn, as well as the breeding of stock, and both on a considerable scale. Mrs. Clay sent every morning to the principal hotel of Lexington thirty gallons of milk, and her husband had large consignments to make to his factor in New Orleans. His letters of this period show how he delighted in his animals and his growing crops, and how thoughtfully he considered the most trifling details of management. His health improved. He told his old friend, Washington Irving, that he found it was as good for men as for beasts to be turned out to grass occasionally. Though not without domestic afflictions, he was very happy in his home. One of his sons graduated second at West Point, and two of his daughters were happily married. He was, perhaps, a too indulgent father; put his children loved him most tenderly, and were guided by his opinion. It is pleasing to read in the letters of his sons to him such passages as this: “You tell me that you wish me to receive your opinions, not as commands, but as advice. Yet I must consider them as commands, doubly binding; for they proceed from one so vastly my superior in all respects, and to whom I am under such great obligations, that the mere intimation of an opinion will be sufficient to govern my conduct."
The President, meanwhile, was paying such homage to the farmer of Ashland as no President of the United States had ever paid to a private individual. General Jackson's principal object
- the object nearest his heart - appears to have been to wound and injure Henry Clay. His appointments, his measures, and his vetoes seem to have been chiefly inspired by resentment against
him. Ingham of Penasylvania, who had taken the lead in thal State in giving currency to the “ bargain ” calumny, was appointed Secretary of the Treasury. Eaton, who had aided in the original concoction of that foul slander, was appointed Secretary of War. Branch, who received the appointment of Secretary of the Navy, was one of the few Senators who had voted and spoke en against the confirmation of Henry Clay to the office of Secretary of State in 1825; and Berrien, Attorney-General, was another. Barry, appointed Postmaster-General, was the Kentuckian who had done most to inflict upon Mr. Clay the mortifcation of seeing his own Kentucky siding against him. John Randolph, Clay's recent antagonist in a duel, and the most unfit man in the world for a diplomatic mission, was sent Minister to Russia. Pope, an old Kentucky Federalist, Clay's opponent and competitor for half a lifetime, received the appointment of Governor of the Territory of Arkansas. General Harrison, who had generously defended Clay against the charge of bargain and corruption, was recalled from a foreign mission on the fourth day after General Jackson's accession to power, though he had scarcely reached the country to which he was accredited. In the place of General Harrison was sent a Kentuckian peculiarly obnoxious to Mr. Clay. In Kentucky itself there was a clean sweep from office of Mr. Clay's friends ; not one man of them was left. His brother-in-law, James Brown, was instantly recalled from a diplomatic post in Europe. Kendall, the chief of the Kitchen Cabinet, had once been tutor to Mr. Clay's children, and had won the favor of Jackson by lending a dexterous hand in carrying Kentucky against his benefactor. Francis Blair, editor of the Globe, had also been the particular friend and correspondent of Mr. Clay, but had turned against him. From the Departments in Washington, all of Mr. Clay's known friends were immediately removed, except a few who had made themselves indispensable, and a few others whom Mr. Van Buren contrived to spare. In nearly every instance, the men who succeeded to the best places bad made themselves conspicuous by their vituperation of Mr. Clay. He was strictly correct when he said, “ Every movement of the President is dictated by personal hostility toward