Having written a story today about the President’s remarks at the Correspondents Dinner, I went for a walk and while out there, I went passed a historical marker that I see all of the time but don’t pay much notice.
It says that along the trail where I hike is the location of a duel between Secretary of State Henry Clay and U.S. Senator John Randolph. The marker says that it was illegal to duel in Virginia, but these two politicians went at it because Randolph insulted Clay while on the floor of the Senate. Those were fighting words.
The story goes that Randolph didn’t really intend to shoot Clay because he had a wife and family. Both men aimed in the air and fired their pistols with no intention of shooting one another. In the name of “honor,” the two approached half way and shook hands.
Here is something I did not know. Henry Clay was in a prior duel in which he was wounded in the thigh.
“809 – . Senator Humphrey Marshall vs. Representative Henry Clay
At the Kentucky General Assembly, Clay introduces a resolution requiring members to wear homespun suits rather than import their duds from Britain. Only two members voted against the patriotic measure. One of them, Humphrey Marshall, was not a fan of Clay’s politics… or his fashion sense apparently. Clay challenges him to a duel. Clay grazes Marshall once just below the chest, while Marshall hit Clay once in the thigh. Both men live.”
By the same standard today, there might be a lot of duels in Washington. Maybe they could just make it a paint ball war between the feuding parties and let us all watch.
“Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852) was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives. He served three different terms as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He lost his campaigns for president in 1824, 1832 and 1844.
Clay was a dominant figure in both the First and Second Party systems. As a leading war hawk in 1812, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role inleading the nation to war in the War of 1812. In 1824 he ran for president and lost, but threw his electoral votes to John Quincy Adams, who made him secretary of state as the Jacksonians denounced what they considered a “corrupt bargain.” He ran and lost again in 1832 and 1844 as the candidate of the Whig Party, which he founded and usually dominated. Clay was the foremost proponent of the American System, fighting for an increase in tariffs to foster industry in the United States, the use of federal funding to build and maintain infrastructure, and a strong national bank.”
Senator Randolph just wanted the USA to be a collection of landed gentrifies, i.e. aristocratic farmers and slave owners no doubt.
“John Randolph (June 2, 1773 – May 24, 1833), known as John Randolph of Roanoke, was a planter, and a Congressman from Virginia, serving in the House of Representatives at various times between 1799 and 1833, the Senate (1825–1827), and also as Minister to Russia (1830). After serving as President Thomas Jefferson’s spokesman in the House, he broke with Jefferson in 1803 and became the leader of the “Old Republican” or “Quids”, an extreme states’ rights vanguard of the Democratic-Republican Party who wanted to restrict the role of the federal government. Specifically, Randolph promoted the Principles of ’98, which said that individual states could judge the constitutionality of central government laws and decrees, and could refuse to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional.”