describes Buchanan's role in the events surrounding the farcical election
of 1824, in which Henry Clay threw his support behind Monroe's secretary of
state, John Quincy Adams, enabling Adams to
steal the presidential election from Andrew Jackson in the House of
As the new year, 1825, commenced and the time for the House election
[of the President] drew closer rumors of "bargain & sale"
grew louder and the pressures on Clay mounted. Several Congressmen
sought out the Kentuckian to see what could be arranged. Others offered
to play go-between. Representative James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, a born
busybody and a Jackson supporter, had heard that Clay's friends were disturbed
over the rumor that the General [Jackson], if elected, would "punish"
the Kentuckian by excluding him and his cronies from the cabinet. Concerned
that these friends of Clay's would go over to Adams, Buchanan took this
information to John Eaton [a Jackson aid] and afterward to Jackson himself.
As he stood before the wary General repeating what he had heard, he could
not control the nervous affliction that troubled one eye. He kept winking
at Old Hickory as he spoke. Clay's friends, said Buchanan after a barrage
of winks, gave assurances that they would "end the presidential election
within the hour" if the General would first declare his intention of
dismissing Adams as secretary of state.
Jackson stared in disbelief at the winking, fidgeting little busybody.
Everything he had heard about intrigues and plots now stood twitching before
him. In return for his support, Clay obviously wanted to become secretary
of state (because it was the fastest and the traditional road to the
White House) and so Buchanan had been sent to sound him out with winks and
It is unclear to me why Remini focuses on Buchanan's blinks as he does.
It may be because Clay had, in fact, never authorized anyone to approach
Buchanan, nor had he proposed a deal of the type Buchanan outlined.