An Unexpected Endorsement

Richard M. Johnson

While Colonel Johnson was on a visit to Pennsylvania, he was asked what opinion he entertained of Henry Clay. His reply was “As an orator, and a statesman, he is one of the greatest men living.”


It isn’t every day that you get the opposing party to endorse your man, is it?  Richard Johnson had been Martin Van Buren’s vice-president.  The Whigs had spared nothing in attacking Johnson during the 1844 campaign (as folks who have read (and, I hope, sung) the songs to date will recall).  Still Johnson had been moved, perhaps by politeness, to say on some occasion “He sure talks pretty,” or words to that effect, and here we see them reprinted!

While Henry Clay “could not be spared from the public councils” to fight in the war (of 1812)  he had helped foment as a “War Hawk,” Johnson had been on the front lines and was severely wounded.  Clay had spent most of the war several thousand miles from the fighting, in Belgium, negotiating the peace treaty.

Tomorrow:  The Orator’s Coming!

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