Political scandals are nothing new when it comes to American history. Back in 1824, an anonymous letter sent to a Philadelphia newspaper left several politicians ready to throw down. It all began when the election of 1824 got off to a bit of a rocky start.
The winner-less election
During this particular election, there were not just two but four candidates running for president. Things went south when the votes came in to reveal that none of them had scored enough electoral votes to win the race. In fact, some of the candidates did not get enough votes to stay in the running at all, with the exception of Andrew Jackson and Johny Quincy Adams.
Even though the choices were narrowed down to Jackson or Adams, America was still left with what amounted to an electoral tie. Ultimately, the job of choosing between the two remaining candidates would fall to the House of Representatives.
Clay remains in play
Though he didn’t get enough votes to continue in the presidential race, Henry Clay would come back into play while the House hashed things out. Soon after Clay threw his support behind Adams, an anonymous letter appeared in the Columbian Observer.
The letter’s author claimed that Clay wasn’t just supporting his pal Adams out of the goodness of his heart. The mysterious writer claimed that Clay, then the speaker of the House, had made both Jackson and Adams a shady offer. Rumor had it that Clay’s bargain entailed using his influence to win them the election, in exchange for becoming their secretary of state.
The rumor that refuses to rest
While Jackson refused, the writer claimed, Adams had agreed. As the letter put it, this was “one of the most disgraceful transactions that ever covered with infamy the Republican ranks.” To the surprise of no one, this didn’t go over well with Clay, who took to D.C.’s Daily National Intelligencer to deny the claims and demand the writer step forth from the shadows.
A guy named George Kremer, who was a Pennsylvania representative, copped up to the letter, but despite his claims of evidence, he later refused to testify. It probably didn’t help that not only was Adams ultimately elected, but he also did indeed make Clay his Secretary of State. Coincidence? No one knows for sure.