Corrupt Bargain

Following his victory in the disputed Election of 1824, John Quincy Adams appointed Henry Clay as Secretary of State, a position regarded as a stepping stone to the presidency; Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Adams himself had all held that position. Critics speculated that Clay’s support for Adams was being rewarded.

Jackson supporters charged Adams with corruption and labeled Clay as the “Judas of the West.”

Most historians doubt that Adams solicited Clay’s support by offering him high office; that action would have been totally contrary to Adams’ nature. Nonetheless, the charge persisted and energized the Jackson forces for the Election of 1828. Clearly Adams was guilty of poor political judgment.

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