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REPLY TO JOHN RANDOLPH.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 1824.
(During the session of 1823 – 4, attempts were made to run at Mr. Clay, on account of his peculiar situation in being named for the presidency, while speaker of the house of representatives, and for his zealous support of the American system. In a debate on an improvement bill he encountered Mr. Randolph of Virginia, who had endeavored to provoke him to reply, and the following remarks were made by Mr. Clay on that occasion, in the course of the debate.]
Sir, I am growing old. I have had some little measure of experience in public life, and the result of that experience has brought me to this conclusion, that when business, of whatever nature, is to be transacted in a deliberative assembly, or in private life, courtesy, forbearance, and moderation, are best calculated to bring it to a successful conclusion. Sir, my age admonishes me to abstain from involving myself in personal difficulties; would to God that I could say, I am also restrained by higher motives. I certainly never sought any collision with the gentleman from Virginia. My situation at this time is peculiar, if it be nothing else, and might, I should think, dissuade, at least, a generous heart from any wish to draw me into circumstances of personal altercation. I have experienced this magnanimity from some quarters of the house. But I regret, that from others it appears to have no such consideration. The gentleman from Virginia was pleased to say, that in one point at least he coincided with me — in an humble estimate of my grammatical and philological acquirements. I know my deficiencies. I was born to no proud patrimonial estate; from my father I inherited only infancy, ignorance, and indigence. I feel my defects; but, so far as my situation in early life is concerned, I may, without presumption, say they are more my misfortune than my fault. But, however I regret my want of ability to furnish to the gentleman a better specimen of powers of verbal criticism, I will venture to say, it is not greater than the disappointment of this committee as to the strength of his argument.
ADDRESS TO LA FAYETTE.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DECEMBER 10, 1824.
[In the year 1824, general La Fayette visited the United States, as the guest of the nation, and was welcomed with the most gratifying testimonies of affection and respect by the whole American people, in behalf of whose rights and liberty he had so gallantly fought, and performed other important services during the revolutionary
The general landed at New York in August 1824, (having embarked at the same place about forty years before, namely, in December, 1784, on his return to France.) After visiting various parts of the United States, he was received at the city of Washington with distinguished honors by the people and the public authori. ties, and on the tenth of December, 1824, he was introduced to the house of representa. tives by a committee appointed for that purpose. The general, being conducted to the sofa placed for his reception, the speaker (Mr. Clay) addressed him in the follow. ing words.]
The house of representatives of the United States, impelled alike by its own feelings, and by those of the whole American people, could not have assigned to me a more gratifying duty than that of presenting to you cordial congratulations upon the occasion of your recent arrival in the United States, in compliance with the wishes of Congress, and to assure you of the very high satisfaction which your presence affords on this early theatre of your glory and renown. Although but few of the members who compose this body shared with you in the war of our revolution, all have, from impartial history, or from faithful tradition, a knowledge of the perils, the sufferings, and the sacrifices, which you voluntarily encountered, and the signal services, in America and in Europe, which you performed for an infant, a distant, and an alien people; and all feel and own the very great extent of the obligations under which you have placed our country. But the relations in which you have ever stood to the United States, interesting and important as they have been, do not constitute the only motive of the respect and admiration which the house of representatives entertain for you. Your consistency of character, your uniform devotion to regulated liberty, in all the vicissitudes of a long and arduous life, also commands its admiration. During all the recent convulsions of Europe, amidst, as after the dispersion of, every political storm, the people of the United States have beheld you, true to your old principles, firm and erect, cheering and animating with your wellknown voice, the votaries of liberty, its faithful and fearless champion, ready to shed the last drop of that blood which here you so freely and nobly spilt, in the same holy cause.
The vain wish has been sometimes indulged, that Providence would allow the patriot, after death, to return to his country, and to contemplate the intermediate changes which had taken place; to view the forests felled, the cities built, the mountains levelled, the canals cut, the highways constructed, the progress of the arts, the advancement of learning, and the increase of population. General, your present visit to the United States is a realization of the consoling object of that wish. You are in the midst of posterity. Every where, you must have been struck with the great changes, physical and moral, which have occurred since you left us. Even this very city, bearing a venerated name, alike endeared to you and to us, has since emerged from the forest which then covered its site. In one respect you behold us unaltered, and this is in the sentiment of continued devotion to liberty, and of ardent affection and profound gratitude to your departed friend, the father of his country, and to you, and to your illustrious associates in the field and in the cabinet, for the multiplied blessings which surround us, and for the very privilege of addressing you which I now exercise. This sentiment, now fondly cherished by more than ten millions of people, will be transmitied, with unabated vigor, down the tide of time, through the countless millions who are destined to inhabit this continent, to the latest posterity.
(After the above address, La Fayette rose, and in a tone influenced by powerful feeling, made an eloquent reply.)
ADDRESS TO HIS CONSTITUENTS.
ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1825. MARCH 26, 1825.
[In the year 1816, as the term of president Madison was about to expire the following year, a caucus of the democratic members of congress was held, in conformity to previous custom, to designate a candidate to succeed Mr. Madison, as president. I being the general impression and understanding that Mr. Monioe would be nominated, much surprise was felt when it was ascertained that he had received only a small majority in the canicus- - the votes standing thus; for James Monroe sixty-five, for William H. Crawford fifty-four. In consequence of this circumstance it was evident that the popular will with regard to nominations might be defeated by caucus manage. ment, and a powerful opposition to nominations of president by members of congress grew up, previous to the election of a successor to Mr. Monroe. It was ascertained that Mr. Crawford, then secretary of the treasury, would be the caucus candidate in 1824, and the people began to look around for candidates to oppose him. John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun, were each warmly advocated by their friends for the succession. Mr. Calhoun was withdrawn and supported for vice-president, to which office he was elected. Neither of the other four candidates being withdrawn, and Mr. Crawford having been nominated by a minority of only sixty-six members of congress, in caucus, it became evident that no election would be made by the people. The result was, that general Jackson received ninety. nine electoral votes, Mr. Adams eighty-four. Mr. Crawford forty-one, and Mr. Clay thirty-seven. The constitution requiring that the house of representatives should now choose the president, from the three highest names on the list, (Mr. Clay being excluded.) the greatest interest was felt by the friends of all the candidates, as 10 the course which would be pursued by Mr. Clay and his friends in the house, of which he was then speaker. It was soon known, as he had previously declared, that he would vote for Mr. Adams, which he did, and that gentleman was elected president. A cry of .bargain and corruption' was thereupon set up by the disappointed and ze:ulous partisans of general Jackson, in which they were joined by some of the friends of Mr. Crawford. This charge having been agitated by members of congress at Washington, and reiterated in other quarters, was indignantly repelled by Mr. Clay, and in refulation he issued the following address to his constituents in Kentucky, composed of the people of the counties of Fayette, Woodford, and Clarke.]
The relations of your representative and of your neighbor, in which I have so long stood, and in which I have experienced so many strong proofs of your confidence, attachment, and friendship, having just been, the one terminated, and the other suspended, I avail myself of the occasion on taking, I hope a temporary, leave of you, to express my unfeigned gratitude for all your favors, and to assure you, that I shall cherish a fond and unceasing recollection of them. The extraordinary circumstances in which, during the late session of congress, I have been placed, and the unmerited animadversions which I have brought upon myself, for an honest and faithful discharge of my public duty, form an additional motive for this appeal to your candor and justice. If, in the office which I have just left, I have abused your confidence and betrayed your interests, I cannot deserve your support in that on the duties of which I have now entered. On the contrary, should it appear that I have been assailed without just cause, and that misguided zeal and interested passions have singled me out as a victim, I cannot doubt that I shall continue to find, in the enlightened tribunal of the public, that cheering countenance and impartial judgment, without which a public servant cannot possibly discharge with advantage the trust confided to him.
It is known to you, that my name had been presented, by the respectable states of Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri, for the office of president, to the consideration of the American public, and that it had attracted some attention in other quarters of the union. When, early in November last, I took my departure from the district to repair to this city, the issue of the presidential election before the people was unknown. Events, however, had then so far transpired as to render it highly probable that there would be no election by the people, and that I should be excluded from the house of representatives. It became, therefore, my duty to consider, and to make up an opinion on, the respective pretensions of the three gentlemen who might be returned, and at that early period I stated to Dr. Drake, one of the professors in the medical school of Transylvania university, and to John J. Crittenden, esquire, of Frankfort, my determination to support Mr. Adams in preference to general Jackson. I wrote to Charles Hammond, esquire, of Cincinnati, about the same time, and mentioned certain objections to the election of Mr. Crawford, (among which was that of his continued ill health,) that appeared to me almost insuperable. During my journey hither, and up to near christmas, it remained uncertain whether Mr. Crawford or myself would be returned to the house of representatives. Up to near christmas, all our information made it highly probable that the vote of Louisiana would be given to me, and that I should consequently be returned, to the exclusion of Mr. Crawford. And, while that probability was strong, I communicated to Mr. senator Johnston, from Louisiana, my resolution not to allow my name, in consequence of the small number of votes by which it would be carried into the house, if I were returned, to constitute an obstacle, for one moment, to an election in the house of representatives.
During the month of December, and the greater part of January, strong professions of high consideration, and of unbounded admiration of me, were made to my friends, in the greatest profusion, by some of the active friends of all the returned candidates. Every body professed to regrets after I was excluded from the