January 29, 1825 – Henry Clay Questions Why a Military Hero is Necessarily Qualified to Run the Country

On this day in history, Henry Clay wrote a letter to Francis P. Blair, explaining the reasons why he was supporting John Quincy Adams for the presidency.

He wrote that some had turned on him for not supporting Andrew Jackson, but, he argued:

They can not conceive that I should have solemnly interrogated my conscience and asked it to tell me seriously what I ought to do. That it should have enjoined me not to establish the dangerous precedent of elevating, in this early state of the Republic, a military chieftain, merely because he has won a great victory? . . .

Mr. Adams, you know well, I should never have selected, if at liberty to draw from the whole mass of our citizens to be President. But there is no danger in his elevation now, or in time to come. Not so of his competitor, of whom I can not believe that killing two thousand five hundred Englishmen at New Orleans, qualifies for the various, difficult, and complicated duties of the chief magistracy.”

Portrait by Matthew Harris Jouett, 1818

Portrait by Matthew Harris Jouett, 1818

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