On September 15, 1815, at New York City’s Tammany Hall, the leading lights of the city’s political establishment, from both parties (Jeffersonian Republican and Hamiltonian Federalist), gathered to honor tw0 of the returning peacemakers of 1814. Albert Gallatin and Henry Clay, along with John Quincy Adams who remained in Europe, had negotiated the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812 without forcing
America to make any humiliating concessions to Great . After listening to toasts in tribute to the nation, himself, Galatin, the military heroes of the war, Clay rose to offer his toast: “The eighth of January 1815!” Britain
Clay’s toast to Andrew Jackson’s victory at New Orleans was not unexpected that day. It only seems surprising in historical hindsight. For Henry Clay, Jackson’s triumph over the British, and the War of 1812 in full, had vindicated
’s national character. Clay, who would soon become America Jackson’s bitter rival, had, like , been an outspoken advocate for war in 1812. Clay and Jackson shared a belief in America’s manifest destiny to expand across the continent, and of war as a means to assert national honor and vindicate the national character. The war, capped by Jackson Jackson’s victory, fulfilled Clay’s hopes for a revitalization of ’s republican institutions and character. Despite numerous errors, hardships, and setbacks—American victories were few and far between—the federal government had shown that it could defend the nation and lead it to victory, which was the main purpose for which it had been established. “The effects of the war” Clay told a banquet audience in America in October 1815, Lexington, Kentucky
are highly satisfactory. Abroad, our character, which at the time of its declaration was in the lowest state of degradation, is raised to the highest point of elevation. It is impossible for any American to visit
Europe, without being sensible of this agreeable change, in the personal attentions which he receives, in the praises which are bestowed on our past exertions, and the predictions which are made as to our future prospects.
Well, everyone does love a winner.