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My dear Mr. Clay, I have been most unfortunate in respect to your very kind note to me of May 30, addressed to this place. It followed me to Frederick, Md., then to Washington, a second time to Frederick, thence to Leonardstown (our friend John Lee's post-office), and after lying there long after I had left his hospitable mansion, it has finally just overtaken me here, via Washington.
It is now sixty days since I landed on the Jersey shore, with a Mexican disease upon me, and although obliged to travel and to engage in the most vexatious and disgusting work, I have not had the strength to walk three hundred yards at once in the whole time. I am still very feeble, and go to-morrow to the sea shore to gain vigor to meet the same court (nearly) in my own case, at the beginning of the next month.
I left Mexico in the comfortable belief that the choice of a Whig candidate for the Presidency had been narrowed down to would be the nominee. The day after I landed a distinguished public man from a wing of the Capitol, a friend of yours, passing by got out of the train to see me. I stated my impressions and wishes to him., and was astonished to hear him say that your friends in Congress, with four exceptions Berrien and Botts, but no Kentuckians, were two of them had given you up on some calculation of a want of availability ! I promptly said, if I could be flattered into the belief that my name on the same ticket (below yours) would add the vote of a single State, I might be considered as at the service of the party, and authorized him to say so on his return to Washington, notwithstanding my reluctance to change my army commission, etc. In a day or two I went to Washington, visited Frederick and returned, but I was contained to a sick bed, and, although I saw many political men, I was not in a condition to converse or to exercise the slightest influence. I believe the impression was quite general that I was not likely to recover. At the end of a week, however, I got back, with difficulty, to Frederick, and there the nomination of General Taylor reached me.
If he shall frankly accept the nomination as a Whig, with a pledge to administer the Government on the principles of the party, I shall fervently pray for his success. If not, I shall at least be indifferent.
- Winfield Scott
- The Private Correspondence of Henry Clay, Edited by Calvin Colton, Ll.D. 1856