“Has It Come To This?”

Yesterday after reading various accounts of the efforts of certain European leaders to humiliate Greece, I happened to pick up my copy of Robert Remini’s biography of Henry Clay and randomly opened it to a page featuring this passage:

Suddenly he raised his fist high over his head. His eyes flashed, and the tone of his voice hardened. “Sir,” he shouted, “has it come to this? Are we so humbled, so low, so despicable, that we dare not express our sympathy for suffering Greece, lest, peradventure, we might offend some one or more of their imperial and royal majesties?”

–House Speaker Henry Clay, 1824, supporting a resolution to offer aid to Greek independence fighters resisting the Ottoman Empire.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.