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Editor says, what if Henry Clay had paid for the corrupt bargain - with his life? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
In 1826,on this day Secretary of State Henry Clay was killed dueling with Senator John Randolph of Roanoke at Pimmit Run in Northern Virginia.
Corrupt BargainRandolph had been infuriated by a backroom deal that saw Clay become secretary of state in exchange for ordering his supporters to back Adams for the Presidency. Making comparison to Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones he called the political partnership a combination of "the Puritan and the blackleg" the latter being a cheat at cards a clear reference to Clay's fondness for late-night card games.
Called upon to apologize or fight, Randolph accepted pistols even though he had every intention of firing into the air unless he saw "the devil" in Clay's eyes. But as they gathered on a field near Arlington, Virginia, Randolph saw ominous devilment in the infuriated secretary's eyes and shot to kill.
Editor says, in in authoring this article we have repurposed content from the Summer 2011 edition of American Heritage Magazine which continues - He put a bullet through his adversary's coat. Clay's bullet missed, and he demanded another round. Clay missed again. This time Randolph fired in the air. One eyewitness said that both men, after shaking hands, acknowledged their pleasure that no blood had been shed. Another version, probably more likely, was that Randolph told Clay that he owed him a new coat. Clay curtly replied: "I am glad the debt is no greater". Editorial comments are entered in [light green] typeface.