The wisdom of Henry Clay: advice for the modern-day politician

Henry Clay was not perfect. He could be harsh in his criticisms—he called Andrew Jackson “ignorant, passionate, hypocritical, corrupt, and easily swayed by the basest men” (Jackson, in turn, termed his enemy Clay “the basest, meanest scoundrel that ever disgraced the image of his god”). Clay made political mistakes, owned slaves, fought duels, had a reputation for gambling and drinking too much, and more. Perhaps some of those reasons were why he never became president. Three times he sought the office; three times he was defeated. Twice more he was runner-up for his party’s nomination.