Adam Huntsman and His Entertaining Wooden Leg

While searching the online newspapers for articles related to Adam Huntsman, I came across this gem published in the Baltimore Patriot and reprinted in the Adams Sentinel (Gettysburg, PA) on Jan. 25, 1836. At the time, Huntsman had served only one month in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Tennessee’s 12th Congressional District. Initially, he attracted attention as the man who beat the celebrated frontiersman David Crockett for the seat; his humor and unique speaking style, however, quickly made their own reputations in the halls of Congress.

“…You know DAVY CROCKETT is said to have declared that he would not have so much minded his defeat in running for Congress last year if he had not been beaten by ADAM HUNTSMAN.

“But ADAM is not to be sneezed at after all. He made his maiden speech to-day [Jan. 15], upon the subject of extending the charters of the banks in the District [of Columbia], and I assure you the members more generally crowded round him than they have ever been known to crowd round MR. JOHN Q. ADAMS even. ADAM spoke low, it is true; but then, when he brought his grinning powers into full play, and brought his heavy hickory iron-shod leg–for you must know that the hero who beat CROCKETT, besides being short and thick, has a powerful wooden leg–down upon the floor in confirmation of a position, he produced an astonishing effect. From the distance where I stood I was unable to hear what he said; but from the crowd he drew about him, and from the peals of laughter which arduous suppression only prevented from reverberating through the Hall, I am anxious he is destined to become no less a Lion certainly than was his predecessor.

“Why, I am told that at some of the great dinner parties he has attended, the originality of his genius and notions far surpasses any thing ever manifested on such occasions by the renowned COL. CROCKETT. At a wine party, at the President’s, the other night, he declared the Champagne the best he ever drank. He said he could feel it go all over him even into his very toes, throwing up his wooden understanding at the same time, and taking hold of his iron shoe at the bottom. He was doubtless right; for if the President [Andrew Jackson] keeps Champagne that won’t penetrate hickory, he ought to abdicate in favor of the heir apparent [Martin Van Buren] forthwith.

‘I have heard many curious things about General HUNTSMAN–he certainly ought to be General, and I presume he is–which will not probably see the light before his life is got out in two volumes, duodecimo.”


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