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April 8, 1826

Image of Senator John Randolph of Virginia

In a Senate floor speech on March 30, 1826, Virginia's John Randolph charged that Henry Clay had entered into a "corrupt bargain" when he helped to secure the election of President John Quincy Adams. Randolph believed Adams rewarded Clay with appointment as secretary of state. Clay reacted to Randolph's accusation with a challenge to a duel. The two men met on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, across from Georgetown, on April 8, 1826 at 4:30 in the afternoon. Standing 30 feet apart, both men fired and missed. Agreeing to fire a second time, each missed again.


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