Henry clay was the speaker of the House of Representatives. Although Mr. Clay desired to run for the much coveted position of the president of United States he could not do so because he was not among the three chosen from the state of Kentucky to be in the House of Representative. Despite the fact that Mr. Clay was not chosen to be one of the electors of the president at the state House of Representative, he had other alternative way of influencing the voting in the House of Representatives. Mr. Letcher a bosom friend of Clay whom they even lodged in the same house was a member of house of representative of Kentucky. Being of such great influence in the house, he could have used his power as the speaker of the House of Representatives to influence the voting in the house in the favor of John Quincy Adams.
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After Clay missed an opportunity to be voted for in the House of Representative, it was obvious that his opponents will make use of this situation to pin him down especially in his own state of Kentucky. According to Letcher, there would be meetings of people at the county level instructing their members to vote for Jackson. Even Relief Party will be taken up into this hostility against Mr. Clay. Letcher affirms that Relief Party was hostile to Henry Clay. Jackson being on the opponents’ side it is obvious that Clay Henry could never be in his support for presidency.
In the conversation between Letcher and Adams on the 17th at Adams’ office depicts that Adams had never had bitter feelings about Clay which even Clay himself was aware of despite having fallen out before. At that time Clay did not feel any hostility against Adams and even spoke respectfully of him as confirmed by Letcher. According to Letcher Clay was a sincere man “and was a man of sincerity” (2) and probably would never engage in corrupt deals. The voting of Calhoun as the vice-president by electors of Kentucky was more hostile to Clay than the election of Jackson as the president. This is because the election of Calhoun as the vice-president diminished Clay’s prospects of rising to the top having had lost a golden opportunity to be among the presidential candidates. This would then make Clay play his cards smartly in order to be rewarded with an administration portfolio. He had to marshal and put his support in the right “basket”. Despite the fact that Jackson had emerged top Clay could not put his support behind Jackson for the simple reason of being supported by Reality Party that was hostile to him. On the other hand, it could not be wise for Clay to support William Harris Crawford since he was the weakest of the candidates. Although Clay and Adams had fallen out before, Adams did not show hostility to Clay. This is was unusual and it made it Clay change his perception about Adams. Through this uncommon behavior Adams commanded great respect from Clay. Clay was a very influential in Kentucky and his supports would cast their support behind Adams if they were assured that Clay will be rewarded with an administration portfolio. If Adams did not harbor any hostility against Clay even after false allegations, then Clay was almost sure to be rewarded heftily if he threw his support behind Adams.
In a nutshell, there is no evidence throughout the conversations between Clay and Adams in the memoir that there was corrupt bargain for presidency. Clay’s support of Adams was purely out of his foreseen gain. To Clay, Adams was an honest, compassionate and reliable person. He was therefore almost sure to receive a reward if John Quincy Adams became the president of United States. Just as he expected, Adams rewarded him with powerful secretary of state portfolio.
Memoirs are autobiographies that many at times are subjective. The memoirs only tell the story from the writer’s point of view and hence many at times could not present the persons weakness. Memoirs are therefore unreliable for making an objective judgment about something and in this case whether Henry Clay and Quincy Adams were engaged in a corrupt bargain for presidency.
Accusation of a “corrupt bargain” will obviously affect Adam’s presidency. Such accusations will slump the faith that people of United States as well as that of the members of House of Representative have in Adams’s. Consequently he would meet a lot of resistance in passing of bills at the House of Representatives as well as support of the people of United States in general. Without the support of the House of Representatives it will be quite difficult for Adams to implement his campaign pledges. Whenever he would want to do anything, there will be a feeling that something fishy may be going on. On the hand in the perspective that the accusations of corruption are false, it will make his supporters to have more faith in him and hence enjoy their ardent support at all time. He may also win the support of his opponents out of sympathy.
If Adam’s family background is not credible it would seriously aggravate the problem. If his family has a history of being involved in corrupt deals especially in the political arena, then this would be used by his opponents as a strategy to justify Adam’s accusations of corruption. Although it is possible that Adam’s is not corrupt it would be difficult to convince people otherwise.
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