Holmes Alexander. The Famous Five. New York: The Bookmaker, 1958.
John Calhoun declared about Henry Clay “I don’t like Clay. He is an imposted, a creature of wicked schemes. I won’t speak to hi,---but, by God, I love him.”
Clay was House Speaker, a leader of the Whig Party, and an unsuccessful Presidential candidate in 1816, 1824, 1832, 1836, 1840, and 1844.
In the 1832 election, Whig parties in different states nominated separate candidates. Clay was one of the several Whig nominess. No candidate won a majority of the Electoral College votes. Congress chose the President. Clay as House Speaker threw his support to John Quincy Adams who then appointed Clay as Secretary of State. Clay was Adam’s Secretary of State for four years. He did not like the position.
At the 1840 Whig convention, where Clay expected to be nominated for President, William Henry Harrison was nominated instead. Clay declared “My friends are not worth the powder and shot it would take to kill them.”
In 1844, Clay expected to be the Whig Party nominee. He expected to face his friend Martin Van Buren, who was the presumptive Democratic Party nominee. They mutually agreed to avoid discussing a key issue of admitting Texas to the Union. This strategy backfired. The Democrats instead nominated James Polk and the Whigs instead nominated Zachary Taylor.
Clay had become a U.S. Senator 100 days before he turned the legal minimum age for being a Senator of being 30 years old. He had been a lawyer known for winning a case with the then novel legal argument that his client had temporary delirium and that she would never kill again.
Clay was against slavery. As a prosecutor, he convicted a slave who killed an overseer who was whipping him. After the slave was executed Clay resigned as he felt he could not cause the pain of punishment to another
Clay was elected to the Kentucky legislature while still in his twenties.. In 1807, the legislature elected him to fill as a place holder an unexpired term in the U.S. Senate. Clay took an active role in his brief term arguing the U.S. boundary should reach the Pacific Ocean.
Clay became Kentucky House Speaker. He gave a speech that prevented passage of a bill prohibiting courts from citing British law, noting the centuries of British intellectual legal consideration. The legislature returned Clay to the U.S. Senate
In the Senate, Clay supported the War of 1812. The war was not popular. He argued for war against France as well. The Senate vote for war with Great Britain 62 to 32 with most opposition from New Englanders. He declared the war provided “responsibility and character abroad, security and confidence at home.”
Clay supported the U.S. advocating freedom i other countries. He argued against European countries colonizing in the Western Hemisphere. He favored the Federal government building roads, protecting U.S. industries, and advocated economic self-sufficiency with less foreign trade.
Clay argued against rechartering the Bank of the United States.
Clay was popular. Andrew Jackson’s military victories made him popular. Clay led an investigation into Jackson’s actions in hanging some Native American and two British citizens accused of spying and engaging in provocations. Clay argued that law was not followed, even if they were guilty. The House vindicated Jackson.
Clay argued for the Missouri compromise that admitted slave states and allowed the return of fugitive slaves to their owners.
Clay left politics for private law practice and farming in 1818. Clay returned to politics including a plea from a frequent political foe Daniel Webster who wrote him thst “everything valuable in the government is to be fought for, and we need your arm in the fight.” Clay was elected back to he Senate with a majority vote of the Kentucky legislature.
Clay put his nation above all else, including ending slavery. proclaiming “I am no friend of slavery...But I prefer the liberty of my own country to that of any other people, and the liberty of my own race to that of any other race.”
In 1833, the South Carolina Governor nullified a Federal tariff and refused to obey it. John Calhoun supported the nullification. President Andrew Jackson had troops ready to invade South Carolina Jackson threatened to hang Calhoun. Clay worked to keep tariff protectionism as a policy yet made tariffs more acceptable to Southern states. Clay’s compromise passed. Calhoun and Webster opposed this compromise proposal.
President Jackson violated law in withdrawing Federal deposits from sate branches in hopes of destroying the Bank of the United States. Some called for Jackson’s impeachment. Clay argued for a compromise of censure. The Senate censured Jackson by a 26 to 20 vote.
In 1850, Clay worked with Webster ad Calhoun on a compromise that strengthened the Fugitive Slave Law, gave statehood for California as a free non-state state (which undid the Missouri Compromise), created territorial governments in New Mexico and Utah which allowed they from adopting slavery (which undid the Wilmot Proviso), paid off Texas debt the Federal funds, gave New Mexico border concessions from Texas, ended slave trade in the District of Columbia yet allowed slavery in D.. until Maryland would decide to end slavery, and prohibited Federal interference in slave trafficking where slavery was legal.
Daniel Webster graduate from Dartmouth.
Webster refused to accept a Senate seat in 1827 until supporters gave him $10,0000. He was highly political, winning Methodist votes by favoring religious prejudice.
In 1852, Webster was upset over the rise of military men within the Whig Party leadership and Presidential nominations. He favored the formation of a new political party. He refused to endorse the Whig Party nominee Winfield Scott. Scott lost and some whigs were upsets with Webster. Henry Cabot Lodge criticized, of Webster’s refusal to Scot, that he “had no right to do so, after he sought a nomination from the Whigs, ad it was a breach of faith to act as he did.”
Webster understood political deal making. He asked for and received patronage job awarding before supporting John Quincy Adams for President in 1824. He made a deal supporting President Zachary Taylor in return for naming the Port of Boston’s Surveyor.
Webster was elected to the New Hampshire House in 1812. He later was elected by the legislature to the U.S. Senate. He argued against war with Great Britain. He defended states’ rights. He warned President James Madison of growing sentiment for secession in New England.
Webster had a poor attendance record attendance record. Clay took away his seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Politics at that time bored Webster, In 1817, he left the Senate to enter law practice where he saw his earning increase from $2,000 annually to almost $20,000 annually.
Webster was sent back to Congress from his Boston district in 1822. In 1827, the Massachusetts legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate. He would serve in the Senate for 24 years.
Webster opposed an embargo that hurt New England and New York businesses. He demanded paymet for his Congressional efforts, imploring a New York importer “You must contrive in some way for me to get rich as soon as there is peace.” The importer paid him $900. Other business leaders contributed to his salary through his career. Webster insisted he judged issues on their merits.
Webster defended property rights. He argued our own immortal Revolution was undertaken, not to shake or plunder property, but to protect it.
Webster estimated he worked about 15 hours a day for 50 years. He charged large fees for legal and legislative work.
Webster argued in favor of removing a requirement that a Massachusetts public office holder had to be a Christian. He argued most Massachusetts residents were Christians making it unlikely a non-Christian could be elected in Massachusetts. Yet, if a non-Christian could so excel as to be elected, why should there be a lawy that would injure just a few people?
Webster defended the Union when the South threatened secession. His speeches were considered mesmerizing.
Webster supported John Calhoun for President in 1824. As issues changed, Webster became a supporter of Henry Clay in most of his Presidential efforts from 1832 to 1848.
Webster became Secretary of State appointed by President William Henry Harrison in 1941. He refused to resign when James Tyler became President after Harrison died.
Webster opposed Clay’s Compromise of 1850. He declared “I shall oppose all slavery extension....under all circumstance, even against all inducements against all supposed limitation of great interests, against all combinations, against all compromises.”
Webster sought the Presidency in 1852. He finished fourth on the first ballot at the Whig Convention.
John Calhoun was Vice President under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, member of Congress, state legislator and U.S. Senator for 15 years He had a farm with slaves.
Calhoun entered politics in 1807 at age 26 by delivering a speech asking for actions against the British for impressing Americans into the British Navy. A few weeks later he was elected to the South Carolina state legislature.
In 1810, Calhoun ran for Congress as a supporter of war with England. He defeated an opponent who urged for caution with Great Britain. Calhoun served for three terms. He was part of the pro-Clay supporters. He accused a political opponent of supporting what the British enemy wanted.
Calhoun introduced the bill in 1812 to keep a National bank. He would later change his views and criticize the bank as defending Northern financial interests against Southern agricultural interests. Before then, in 1815, Rep. Calhoun improved Rep Daniel Webster to draft a bill that would save the National Bank after the bill Calhoun supported was defeated.
John Calhoun was the choice for Vice President from both Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams winning with Adams in 1824 and Jackson in 1828 Calhoun resigned the Vice Presidency to run for the legislature for the legislature to select him as U.S. Senator.
Calhoun was elected U.S. Senator in 1833. Calhoun declared that lberty was more important than preserving he union. He argued that states could veto Federal government He believed Nullification was the North’s chance ot preserve the union. He opposed the Compromises of 1836 and 1850. He stated slavery was an issue to be decided by each state and the District of Columbia on their own. Calhoun died in 1850.
Robert LaFollette served three two year terms as Wisconsin Governor. As Governor, he created a strong Corrupt Practices law, a State Railroad Commission that favored the public over corporate interests, and various pro-health and pro-labor laws.
LaFollette favored direct election of the President with the elimination of the Electoral College as well as the direct election of Senators.
LaFolleete criticized political machines yet accepted that Wisconsin’s political machinery helped him. He entered politics by being elected Dane County District Attorney. He won his first election by 93 votes and was reelected by 3,200 votes. He was then elected to Congress by defeating incumbent Rep. Barr Jones by 491 votes. He served three terms . He was defeated for reelection in 1890.
LaFollette turned own a bribe attempt asking his help in swaying a judicial decision. LaFollette regained the image of honesty ad reform. In 1900, he was elected Governor.
LaFollette was elected to the Senate in 1906. He ignored the tradition that freshmen Senators do not speak by giving a 148 page speech denouncing railroad interests and calling for strengthening the Interstate Commerce Commission.
In the Senate, LaFollette’s general strategy was to describe measures he favored as being in the public interest and the opposition as being in the interests of corporations or corruption. While LaFollette’s legislation was often defeated, he became popular. Senators sought his endorsement to help with their reelections.
LaFollette sought the Republican nomination for President in 1908 losing to William Howard Taft. LaFollette supported Taft’s election. After Taft was elected, LaFollette attacked Taft’s tariff policies as LaFollette favored free trade.
LaFollette helped President Woodrow Wilson win confirmation of Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court by 47 to 27. LaFollette was not satisfied that Wilson was progressive enough. LaFollette opposed Wilson’s preparing for war as LaFollete felt the U.S. should be neutral and a broker for peace. Wilson joined in fillibusters against appropriations bills for war mobilization.
LaFollette unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for in 1908, 1912, 1916, and 1920. In 1924 he ran for President as a third party candidate with Democratic Sen. Burton Wheeler as his running mate.
LaFollette died in 1925.
Robert Taft was the son of President William Howard Taft. He was elected to the General Assembly and then the State Senate. Taft supported slum clearance, housing programs, and constructing schools.
Taft ran for the U.S. Senate and defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Robert Bulkley by 170,597 votes. In 1944, was reelected by 17,000 votes. IN 1950, he won reelection by a landslide.
Taft sought the Republican nomination for President in 1948. Some viewed him as too conservative. The Grundy political machine in Pennsylvania considered him “socialistic” for his support of housing and schools.
Taft opposed more foreign aide, although he did support the Marshall Plan.
Taft was a major factor in settling industrial relations law with the Taft-Hartley Act.