M. van Buren: 25 Random Things about Me
25 Random Things About Me
by Martin Van Buren,
CITIZEN of the REPUBLIC
1) Whilst campaigning for Gen. Jackson’s reelection in our nation’s Capitol in 1832, I became embroiled in a heated argument with one Sen. Henry Clay, the Kentuckey WHIG, over the fate of the Second Bank of the United States.
2) Some regrettable Words were exchanged; I labeled Mr. Clay “a roguish Southern jacktar”, while he branded me “a diminuitive Dutch fop.”
3) At the mid-day repast following that morning’s session of the Congress, I began a rumor among my table-mates that Mr. Clay’s proclivity for Indian corn whisky had made him the town soak. I told of finding him consorting with second-rate ladies of the night, warbling bawdy tunes in his gravelly drawl, his trousers sodden with his own brine.
4) Later that day, still in a fit of temper, I advised the editor of the daily intelligencer that Mr. Clay’s meager rhetorical gifts were only eclipsed by his wife’s egregious dearth of natural comeliness.
5) Still later, encouraged by the libations at a local Capitol tavern, I proceeded to disparage both the magnitude and utility of Mr. Clay’s sex.
6) On the following day, Mr. Clay called upon me during the mid-day recess and demanded an explanation for my saucy and slanderous tongue.
7) I promised Mr. Clay that I would make reparations that very day with a formal apology on the Senate floor.
8) True to my word, and with commensurate sincerity and humility, I began relating my regrets in a speech to my fellow STATESMEN.
9) Then, thinking better of it, I announced an immediate recantation of all apologia, and with thumb and forefinger I proceeded to animatedly mock the size of Mr. Clay’s sex in front of the entirety of our assembled colleagues.
10) Raging like a wounded beast, Mr. Clay endeavored to charge at me, but was restrained by Sens. Kane and Forsyth.
11) “His bits! His bits!,” I hurriedly exclaimed, as I was led out of the chamber. “O me! How they resemble a withered pile of the tanner’s leather scrap!”
12) The following day Mr. Clay and his damnable Whig colleagues called for a formal censure of my behavior on the Senate floor.
13) Many among the Senate chided me for the temerity with which I had assailed the reputation of Mr. Clay’s sex.
14) Many more, I add, were angry with the Whigs for their recent spate of corrupt and profligate appropriations to the execrable canal-building industry. “American System” indeed!
15) Still others, I aver, were equally as skeptical as I of the vitality of Mr. Clay’s sex.
16) Mr. Clay’s paleness, his gauntness, his approval of federal fiduciary controls…all signs pointed to a man whose bilious humors had enervated his sex to the brink of Female.
17) Debate concerning my resolution “to send a reconnaissance battalion in order to find Mr. Clay’s sex” was highly spirited. The Senate immediately tabled the matters of the Cherokee removal and the cotton tariffs in order to address this more immediate matter of the alleged slander of Mr. Clay’s sex.
18) Yet as my good fellow Sen. Marcy argued, “We cannot speak with absolute certainty as to the pulchritude of Sen. Clay’s sex without violating the very same dictates of gentlemanly honor and Virtue. Thus we must assume that Mr. Clay’s part, like the Whigs’ economic dilettantism, is of no great significance.”
19) Then Mr. Clay took to the floor to argue his case for my censure. Tittering with womanish passions, he called for a return to “rational” discussions of the major “issues” facing the Senate. My Democratic associates jeered and taunted Mr. Clay until he ceased his prattle.
20) Being a man of short stature and a nimble gait, I was able to sneak into the Senate chamber undetected by my Whiggish foes.
21) Once the opportunity presented itself, I flung myself at Mr. Clay and began pummeling him without reserve.
22) This wrangle brought both sides of the Senate out of their seats, pistols and pen-knives drawn, the long-simmering anger over modern politicking calling for some redress.
23) Hoping to end this sad affair once and for all, I offered to brook a compromise. Should Mr. Clay support a new banking bill favorable to Gen. Jackson’s designs, I would proffer a rider clause “praising both the functional utility and rare magnificence of Mr. Clay’s private prowess, &c.” Despite my prideful nature, I accepted this deal, knowing well in my heart that this was the way of Business in Washington.
24) That evening that Kentuckey blackheart beat me senseless with a riding crop.
25) My fellow New York politicos once graced me in my youth with the nick-name of Old Kinderhook. Alas, this is not a story for gentle company.