CLAY, Henry. Autograph letter signed ("H. Clay") and initialed as Speaker of the House, to N. Bache, Washington, 17 February 1824. 1½ pages, 4to (9 7/8 x 7 13/16 in.), some very minor repairs, evidence of mounting along right margin of verso.
HENRY CLAY ANALYZES HIS CHANCES FOR THE PRESIDENCY IN THE 1824 ELECTIONS"
Clay provides a penetrating analysis of the contradictory political situation in the early stages of his campaign for President in the Election of 1824. Clay's career in politics, crowned by his role in the Missouri Compromise, had catapulted him into a position of national prominence, and convinced him that he was destined, in due time, to occupy the White House: "During a period of thirty years, from the time when he first aspired to be Monroe's successor until 1848, Clay unceasingly hunted the shadow whose capture would probably have added nothing either to his usefulness or his fame, but the pursuit of which made his public life singularly restless and unsatisfactory to himself" (Schurz, Henry Clay, vol. 2, p. 413).
Clay evaluates his prospects in various states: "In regard to the P. question, the states which may be certainly relied on for me are Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana." Noting that William Crawford currently holds Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, he states: "Tho' with respect to Virginia, my friends at Richmond entertain great confidence of giving the support of the antient dominion." In regards to Jackson, Clay notes that he can rely upon Tennessee and Alabama although "the latter with less certainty than the former." He notes that John Quincy Adams will "receive the votes of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont," while "Calhoun will win his home state, South Carolina. But the preference in some states remains unclear: "All our information represents my interest as best at Albany. Genl. Jackson will get Penna. I presume. How New Jersey amd Delaware will go I cannot say. Maryland will give a divided vote, and I think the largest number to me. Mississippi is for Jackson or me."
Realizing that a division of the electoral votes would deny the necessary majority to any candidate in the election, Clay predicts the election will be decided in the House: "If the election comes to the H. of R. (as it will do unless N. York should make a decisive nomination of me) my election I think certain, if I should be one of the three highest." He makes an uncanny prediction: "If Jackson, Adams and Crawford should be the three highest, Adams or Crawford will be elected." He reports that Calhoun appears to be abandoning the race: "Mr. Calhoun's friends are in great despondancy. They are preparing to admit openly the utter hopelessness of his prospects. Genl. Rogers told me today, that all was over, and that Jackson would be nominated at Harrisburg."
As he predicted, the election was thrown into the House. Clay was fourth in electoral votes and so was excluded from consideration. He threw his votes to Adams in what his critics charged was a corrupt pact (see following lot).