In 1813, on this day Elbridge Gerry suffered a fatal stroke caused by the shock of James Madison succumbing to malaria and in the absence of a President Pro Tempore of the Senate thirty-six year old Speaker of the House Henry Clay (pictured) entered the Oval Office.
Fifth US President, 1813-Elected at the height of his powers, Clay was seen as a "hawk" due to his increasingly outspoken criticisms of the conduct of the war with Great Britain. Having dismissed Madison as "wholly unfit for the storms of War" he was now presented with the challenge of having his own leadership abilities put to the harshest of tests.
Over-confident but time-boxed by the outcome of the Congressional debate on the mandatory election clause, Clay was forced to take the boldest of short-term decisions. The Acting President ordered Andrew Jackson to march north and take Niagara..