That evening Jackson and Adams came face to face at a presidential levee, Jackson with a lady on his right arm. Each man hesitated an instant, and spectators wondered what was going to happen. But those who were looking for a sensation were disappointed. Reaching out his long arm, the General said in his most cordial manner: “How do you do, Mr. Adams? I give you my left hand, for the right, as you see, is devoted to the fair; I hope you are very well, sir.” The reply came in clear but icy tones: “Very well, sir; I hope General Jackson is well.” It is the testimony of an unprejudiced observer that of the two, the defeated Tenneseean bore himself more graciously than the victorious New Englander.
Two days later Adams, following a conference with Monroe, invited upon his head the fires of heaven by announcing that he had decided to appoint Clay Secretary of State, “considering it due to his talents and services to the western section of the United States, whence he comes, and to the confidence in me manifested by their delegations.”
THE DEMOCRATIC TRIUMPH
Monroe’s Administration drew to a close in a mellow sunset of popular approval. But no prophetic genius was required to foresee that clouds of discontent and controversy would hang heavy about the head of his successor. Adams certainly did not expect it to be otherwise. “Prospects are flattering for the immediate issue,” he recorded in his diary shortly before the election, “but the fearful condition of them is that success would open to a far severer trial than defeat.” The darkest forebodings were more than realized. No one of our chief executives, except possibly Andrew Johnson, was ever the target of more relentless and vindictive attacks.