Date: Sun, 16 Nov 1997 20:25:36 -0500 From: Gregory {Greg} Downing Subject: Re: "I Would/Had Rather Be Right Than Be President" At 08:07 PM 11/16/97 -0500, you (Barry Popik) wrote: > This is from The State Gazette (Trenton, NJ), 22 March 1839, pg. 3, col. >2: > > HENRY CLAY > >His reply was, "I did not send for you to ask what might be the >effects of the proposed movement on my _prospects_, but whether it was >_right_; I HAD RATHER BE RIGHT THAN BE PRESIDENT." > Once politicians get a good line, they usually recycle it to the point of driving it into the ground -- especially in the pre-media days where they had an almost completely new fresh audience every time they gave a campaign speech out on the trail. Clay lost in running for US Pres. in 1824 and 1832, and would lose a record-setting third time in 1844. I wouldn't surprise me if you could find it even earlier! -- Maybe 1833 ff., right after the second loss. Now that you mention it, Barry, 1850 seems pretty late for Hank to have been coming up with that line for the first time. If 1850 had been the actual date (six years after his third/final presidential run), it would add a whole new stretch to the term Treppenwitz ("stairs-joke," what you think of on the way out of a building that you should have said while you were there but didn't think of till it was too late). BTW, how do you find all this stuff in uncatalogued newspaper archives? What's the ratio of time expended per interesting item found...? At your leisure of course, and not at the cost of trade secrets. (If this were Dear Abby, I'd have to say "Sign me: Curious in Staten Island") Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]