It was Henry Clay who said he'd rather be right than be president. The cynic perhaps would retort that such a selfless sentiment could only issue from a man who had never been president; though, Lord knows, Mr. Clay, always ready to serve his country in any capacity, certainly gave it a good try.
Drafted for president a few times, he was frustrated by unavoidable political events beyond his control and lost each time, some would say, to lesser men. A Whig leader in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, said Mr. Clay was "my beau ideal of a great man." And Sen. John Kennedy cited Mr. Clay as one of the five greatest senators in U.S. history.