Henry Clay

Henry Clay

Overview
Henry Clay, Sr. was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 separately in both the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 and in the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. He served three different terms as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

 and was also Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 from 1825 to 1829.

Clay was a dominant figure in both the First
First Party System
The First Party System is a model of American politics used by political scientists and historians to periodize the political party system existing in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states:...

 and Second Party
Second Party System
The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

 systems. As a leading war hawk
War Hawk
War Hawk is a term originally used to describe members of the Twelfth Congress of the United States who advocated waging war against the British in the War of 1812...

, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war
Origins of the War of 1812
The War of 1812, between the United States of America and the British Empire , and Britain's Indian allies, lasted from 1812 to 1815. It was fought chiefly on the Atlantic Ocean and on the land, coasts and waterways of North America.There were several immediate stated causes for the U.S...

 in 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. Later he was involved in the "Corrupt Bargain" of 1824, after which he was appointed Secretary of State by newly elected President John Quincy Adams. He was the foremost proponent of the American System
American System (economic plan)
The American System, originally called "The American Way", was a mercantilist economic plan that played a prominent role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century...

, fighting for an increase in tariffs to foster industry in the United States, the use of federal funding to build and maintain infrastructure, and a strong national bank.
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Quotations

If you wish to avoid foreign collision, you had better abandon the ocean.

Speech, House of Representatives (January 22, 1812)

The gentleman cannot have forgotten his own sentiment, uttered even on the floor of this House, "Peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must."

Speech on the New Army Bill, House of Representatives, (January 8, 1813), quoting Josiah Quincy III; The Life and Speeches of the Hon. Henry Clay, vol. I (1857), ed. Daniel Mallory

All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All, separated from government, are compatible with liberty.

Speech on the Emancipation of South America], House of Representatives (1818-03-24); The Life and Speeches of the Hon. Henry Clay, vol. I (1857), ed. Daniel Mallory

Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.

Speech, Ashland, KY (March 1829)

The arts of power and its minions are the same in all countries and in all ages. It marks its victim; denounces it; and excites the public odium and the public hatred, to conceal its own abuses and encroachments.

Speech, Senate (March 14, 1834)

Precedents deliberately established by wise men are entitled to great weight. They are evidence of truth, but only evidence...But a solitary precedent...which has never been reexamined, cannot be conclusive.

Speech, Senate (February 18, 1835).

I have heard something said about allegiance to the South. I know no South, no North, no East, no West, to which I owe any allegiance... The Union, sir, is my country.

Speech, Senate (1848)

The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity—unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity.

Speech, Senate (January 29, 1850)
Encyclopedia
Henry Clay, Sr. was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 separately in both the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 and in the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. He served three different terms as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

 and was also Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 from 1825 to 1829.

Clay was a dominant figure in both the First
First Party System
The First Party System is a model of American politics used by political scientists and historians to periodize the political party system existing in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states:...

 and Second Party
Second Party System
The Second Party System is a term of periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political party system existing in the United States from about 1828 to 1854...

 systems. As a leading war hawk
War Hawk
War Hawk is a term originally used to describe members of the Twelfth Congress of the United States who advocated waging war against the British in the War of 1812...

, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war
Origins of the War of 1812
The War of 1812, between the United States of America and the British Empire , and Britain's Indian allies, lasted from 1812 to 1815. It was fought chiefly on the Atlantic Ocean and on the land, coasts and waterways of North America.There were several immediate stated causes for the U.S...

 in 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. Later he was involved in the "Corrupt Bargain" of 1824, after which he was appointed Secretary of State by newly elected President John Quincy Adams. He was the foremost proponent of the American System
American System (economic plan)
The American System, originally called "The American Way", was a mercantilist economic plan that played a prominent role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century...

, fighting for an increase in tariffs to foster industry in the United States, the use of federal funding to build and maintain infrastructure, and a strong national bank. He opposed the annexation of Texas, fearing it would inject the slavery issue into politics. Clay also opposed the Mexican-American War and the "Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

" policy of Democrats, which cost him votes in the close 1844 election.

Dubbed the "Great Compromiser," Clay brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

 and on the slavery issue. As part of the "Great Triumvirate
Great Triumvirate
The Great Triumvirate is a term that refers to the three statesmen who dominated the United States Senate in the 1830s and 1840s: Henry Clay of Kentucky, Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina...

" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

 and John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

, he was instrumental in formulating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

. He was viewed as the primary representative of Western interests in this group, and was given the names "Henry of the West" and "The Western Star." A plantation owner, Clay held slaves during his lifetime but freed them in his Will.

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, the Whig leader in Illinois, was a great admirer of Clay, saying he was "my ideal of a great man." Lincoln wholeheartedly supported Clay's economic programs. In 1957, a Senate Committee selected Clay as one of the five greatest U.S. Senators, along with Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

, John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

, Robert La Follette
Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Robert Marion "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr. , was an American Republican politician. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was the Governor of Wisconsin, and was also a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin...

, and Robert Taft
Robert Taft
Robert Alphonso Taft , of the Taft political family of Cincinnati, was a Republican United States Senator and a prominent conservative statesman...

.

Childhood


Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, at the Clay homestead in Hanover County, Virginia
Hanover County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 86,320 people, 31,121 households, and 24,461 families residing in the county. The population density was 183 people per square mile . There were 32,196 housing units at an average density of 68 per square mile...

 in a story-and-a-half frame house. It was an above-average home for a common Virginia planter of that time. At the time of his death, Clay's father owned more than 22 slaves, making him part of the planter class
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 in Virginia (those men who owned 20 or more slaves).

Henry was the seventh of nine children of the Reverend John Clay and Elizabeth Hudson Clay. His father, a Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 minister nicknamed "Sir John," died four years after his birth (1781). The father left Henry and his brothers two slaves each, and his wife 18 slaves and 464 acres (187.8 ha) of land. Henry Clay was a second cousin of Cassius Marcellus Clay, who became an abolitionist
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 in Kentucky.

The widow Elizabeth Clay married Capt. Henry Watkins, who was an affectionate stepfather to Henry Watkins moved the family to Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. Elizabeth had seven more children with Watkins, bearing a total of sixteen.

Education


In Richmond, Clay was hired as a shop assistant. His stepfather secured Clay employment in the office of the Court of Chancery
Court of Chancery
The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of...

, where he displayed an aptitude for law. There he became friends with George Wythe
George Wythe
George Wythe was an American lawyer, a judge, a prominent law professor and "Virginia's foremost classical scholar." He was a teacher and mentor of Thomas Jefferson. Wythe's signature is positioned at the head of the list of seven Virginia signatories on the United States Declaration of Independence...

. Hampered by a crippled hand, Wythe chose Clay as his secretary. After Clay was employed as Wythe's amanuensis
Amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

 for four years, the chancellor took an active interest in Clay's future; he arranged a position for him with the Virginia attorney general
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

, Robert Brooke
Robert Brooke (Virginia)
Robert Brooke was the son of Richard Brooke, and grandson of Robert Brooke, a skilled surveyor, who had been one of Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood's "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition"...

. Clay received no formal legal education but, as was customary at the time, "read the law" by working and studying with Wythe, Chancellor of the Commonwealth of Virginia (also a mentor to Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall, among others) and Brooke. Clay studied for the bar for a year under Brooke and was admitted to practice law in 1797.

Legal career


In November 1797, Clay relocated to Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

, the growing town near where his family then resided in Woodford County
Woodford County, Kentucky
Woodford County is a county located in the heart of the Bluegrass region of the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 23,208. Its county seat is Versailles. The county is named for General William Woodford, who was with General George Washington at Valley Forge...

. He soon established a reputation for his legal skills and courtroom oratory. Some of his clients paid him with horses and others with land. Clay came to own town lots and the Kentucky Hotel.

By 1812, Clay owned a productive 600 acres (242.8 ha) plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

, which he called "Ashland," and numerous slaves to work the land. He held 60 slaves at the peak of operations, and likely produced tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 and hemp
Hemp
Hemp is mostly used as a name for low tetrahydrocannabinol strains of the plant Cannabis sativa, of fiber and/or oilseed varieties. In modern times, hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel with modest...

, the two chief commodity crops of the Bluegrass Region
Bluegrass region
The Bluegrass Region is a geographic region in the state of Kentucky, United States. It occupies the northern part of the state and since European settlement has contained a majority of the state's population and its largest cities....

.

One of Clay's clients was his father-in-law, Colonel Thomas Hart, an early settler of Kentucky and a prominent businessman. Clay's most notable client was Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr, Jr. was an important political figure in the early history of the United States of America. After serving as a Continental Army officer in the Revolutionary War, Burr became a successful lawyer and politician...

 in 1806, after the US District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daviess
Joseph Hamilton Daviess
Major Joseph Hamilton Daveiss commanded the Dragoons of the Indiana Militia at the Battle of Tippecanoe. Although the correct spelling of his name appears to be "Daveiss", it is uniformly spelled "Daviess" in places named for him. Daveiss was born on March 4, 1774, in Bedford County, Virginia...

 indicted him for planning an expedition into Spanish Territory
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. Clay and his law partner John Allen
John Allen (soldier)
John Allen was a United States politician and army officer who was killed in the War of 1812.Allen was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and moved with his father to Kentucky in 1779. He went to school in Bardstown, Kentucky and studied law in Staunton, Virginia. He then returned to Kentucky...

 successfully defended Burr. Some years later Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 convinced Clay that Daviess had been right in his charges. Clay was so upset that many years later, when he met Burr again, Clay refused to shake his hand.

Marriage and family



After beginning his law career, on April 11, 1799, Clay married Lucretia Hart at the Hart home in Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

. She was a sister to Captain Nathaniel G. S. Hart
Nathaniel G. S. Hart
Nathaniel Gray Smith Hart , often Nathaniel G. S. Hart was a prominent Kentucky lawyer,, brother-in-law to Henry Clay and to Senator James Brown of Louisiana. Hart was the Captain of the Lexington Light Infantry during the War of 1812 and died along with most of his men in the River Raisin Massacre...

, who died in the Massacre of the River Raisin in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

Clay and his wife had eleven children (six daughters and five sons): Henrietta (1800–1801), Theodore (1802–1870), Thomas (1803–1871), Susan (1805–1825), Anne (1807–1835), Lucretia (1809–1823), Henry, Jr.
Henry Clay, Jr.
Henry Clay, Jr. was an American politician and soldier from Kentucky, the third son of US Senator and Congressman Henry Clay and Lucretia Hart Clay. He was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1835 and served one term...

(1811–1847), Eliza (1813–1825), Laura (1815–1817), James Brown
James Brown Clay
James Brown Clay was a Democratic Party member of the United States House of Representatives from Kentucky....

 (1817–1864), and John
John Morrison Clay
John Morrison Clay was a Kentucky thoroughbred breeder, a son of statesman Henry Clay, and a husband of Josephine Russell Clay and the brother of Henry Clay, Jr. and James Brown Clay. He was also called John M. Clay.Upon his father’s death, Clay inherited a portion of the large estate, Ashland...

 (1821–1887).

Seven of Clay's children died before him as well as his wife. By 1835 all six daughters had died of varying causes, two when very young, two as children, the other two as young women: from whooping cough, yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

, and complications of childbirth
Childbirth
Childbirth is the culmination of a human pregnancy or gestation period with the birth of one or more newborn infants from a woman's uterus...

. Henry Clay, Jr. was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista
Battle of Buena Vista
The Battle of Buena Vista , also known as the Battle of Angostura, saw the United States Army use artillery to repulse the much larger Mexican army in the Mexican-American War...

 during the Mexican-American War.

Lucretia Hart Clay died in 1864 at the age of 83. She is interred with her husband in the vault of his monument at the Lexington Cemetery. Henry and Lucretia Clay were great-grandparents of the suffragette
Suffragette
"Suffragette" is a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for members of the late 19th and early 20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union...

 Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
Madeline McDowell Breckinridge
Madeline McDowell Breckinridge was a leader of the women’s suffrage movement and one of Kentucky's leading Progressive reformers. She was also known as Madge Breckinridge and Mrs...

.

State legislator



In 1803 Clay was elected to serve as the representative of Fayette County
Fayette County, Kentucky
Fayette County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The population was 295,083 in the 2010 Census. Its territory, population and government are coextensive with the city of Lexington, which also serves as county seat....

 in the Kentucky General Assembly
Kentucky General Assembly
The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Kentucky.The General Assembly meets annually in the state capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky, convening on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January...

. As a legislator, Clay advocated a liberal interpretation of the state's constitution and initially the gradual emancipation of slavery in Kentucky, although the political realities of the time forced him to abandon that position. Clay also advocated moving the state capitol from Frankfort
Frankfort, Kentucky
Frankfort is a city in Kentucky that serves as the state capital and the county seat of Franklin County. The population was 27,741 at the 2000 census; by population it is the 5th smallest state capital in the United States...

 to Lexington
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

. He defended the Kentucky Insurance Company, which he saved from an attempt in 1804 by Felix Grundy
Felix Grundy
Felix Grundy was a U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator from Tennessee who also served as the 13th Attorney General of the United States.-Biography:...

 to repeal its monopolistic charter.

First Senate appointment and eligibility


Clay's influence in Kentucky state politics was quickly such that in 1806 the Kentucky legislature elected him to the Senate seat
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 of John Breckinridge. He had resigned when appointed as US Attorney General. The legislature first chose John Adair
John Adair
John Adair was an American pioneer, soldier and statesman. He was the eighth Governor of Kentucky and represented the state in both the U.S. House and Senate. Adair enlisted in the state militia and served in the Revolutionary War, where he was held captive by the British for a period of time...

 to complete Breckinridge's term, but he had to resign over his alleged role in the Burr Conspiracy
Burr conspiracy
The Burr conspiracy in the beginning of the 19th century was a suspected treasonous cabal of planters, politicians, and army officers led by former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. According to the accusations against him, Burr’s goal was to create an independent nation in the center of North...

. On December 29, 1806, Clay was sworn in as senator, serving for less than one year that first time.

When elected by the legislature, Clay was below the constitutionally required age of thirty
Article One of the United States Constitution
Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers of Congress, the legislative branch of the federal government. The Article establishes the powers of and limitations on the Congress, consisting of a House of Representatives composed of Representatives, with each state gaining or...

. His age did not appear to have been noticed by any other Senator, and perhaps not by Clay. Three months and 17 days into his Senate service, he reached the age of eligibility. Such an age qualification issue has occurred with only two other U.S. Senators. Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

 was also elected to the Senate at the age of 29, but he had reached the required age of 30 before being sworn in.

Speaker of the State House and duel with Humphrey Marshall


When Clay returned to Kentucky in 1807, he was elected the Speaker of the state House of Representatives
Kentucky House of Representatives
The Kentucky House of Representatives is the lower house of the Kentucky General Assembly. It is composed of 100 Representatives elected from single-member districts throughout the Commonwealth. Not more than two counties can be joined to form a House district, except when necessary to preserve...

. On January 3, 1809, Clay introduced a resolution to require members to wear homespun
Spinning (textiles)
Spinning is a major industry. It is part of the textile manufacturing process where three types of fibre are converted into yarn, then fabric, then textiles. The textiles are then fabricated into clothes or other artifacts. There are three industrial processes available to spin yarn, and a...

 suits rather than those made of imported British broadcloth
Broadcloth
Broadcloth is a dense woollen cloth. Modern broadcloth can be composed of cotton, silk, or polyester, but traditionally broadcloth was made solely of wool. The dense weave lends sturdiness to the material....

. Two members voted against the measure. One was Humphrey Marshall, an "aristocratic lawyer who possessed a sarcastic tongue," who had been hostile toward Clay in 1806 during the trial of Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr
Aaron Burr, Jr. was an important political figure in the early history of the United States of America. After serving as a Continental Army officer in the Revolutionary War, Burr became a successful lawyer and politician...

.

Clay and Marshall nearly came to blows on the Assembly floor, and Clay challenged Marshall to a duel
Duel
A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules.Duels in this form were chiefly practised in Early Modern Europe, with precedents in the medieval code of chivalry, and continued into the modern period especially among...

. The duel took place on January 9 in Shippingport, Kentucky
Shippingport, Kentucky
Shippingport, Kentucky is an industrial site and former settlement near Louisville, Kentucky on a peninsula near the Falls of the Ohio. It was incorporated without a name on October 10, 1785, then became Campbell Town after Revolutionary War soldier John Campbell, who had been granted the land for...

. They each had three turns. Clay grazed Marshall once, just below the chest. Marshall hit Clay once in the thigh.

Second Senate appointment


In 1810, United States Senator Buckner Thruston
Buckner Thruston
Buckner Thruston was a Democratic-Republican U.S. Senator from Kentucky, and later a long-serving a United States federal judge.-Early life, education, and career:...

 resigned to serve as a judge on the United States Circuit Court
United States circuit court
The United States circuit courts were the original intermediate level courts of the United States federal court system. They were established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. They had trial court jurisdiction over civil suits of diversity jurisdiction and major federal crimes. They also had appellate...

, and Clay was again selected to fill his seat.

Early years


In the summer of 1811, Clay was elected to the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. He was chosen Speaker of the House
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

 on the first day of his first session, something never done before or since. During the fourteen years following his first election, he was re-elected five times to the House and to the speakership. Like other Southern Congressmen, Clay took slaves to Washington, DC to work in his household. They included Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy
Charlotte Dupuy
Charlotte Dupuy, also called Lottie Charlotte Dupuy was still living in 1860. She and her husband Aaron were listed by name as free persons in the 1860 Census for Fayette County, Kentucky. They were respectively 70 and 76 years old...

, their son Charles and daughter Mary Ann.

Before Clay's election as Speaker of the House, the position had been that of a rule enforcer and mediator. Clay made the position one of political power second only to the President of the United States. He immediately appointed members of the War Hawk
War Hawk
War Hawk is a term originally used to describe members of the Twelfth Congress of the United States who advocated waging war against the British in the War of 1812...

 faction (of which he was the "guiding spirit") to all the important committees, effectively giving him control of the House. This was a singular achievement for a 34-year-old House freshman. During his early House service, Clay strongly opposed the creation of a National Bank
First Bank of the United States
The First Bank of the United States is a National Historic Landmark located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania within Independence National Historical Park.-Banking History:...

, in part because of his personal ownership in several small banks in his hometown of Lexington. Later he changed his position and, when he was seeking the presidency, gave strong support for the Second National Bank
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

.

The War Hawks, mostly from the South and the West, resented British violations of United States (US) maritime rights and its treatment of US sailors; they feared British designs on US territory in the Old Northwest. They advocated a declaration of war against the British. As the Congressional leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, Clay took charge of the agenda, especially as a "War Hawk
War Hawk
War Hawk is a term originally used to describe members of the Twelfth Congress of the United States who advocated waging war against the British in the War of 1812...

" supporting the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 against the British Empire. Later, as one of the peace commissioners, Clay helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent
Treaty of Ghent
The Treaty of Ghent , signed on 24 December 1814, in Ghent , was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 and signed it on December 24, 1814. In 1815, while still in Europe, he helped negotiate a commerce treaty with Great Britain.

Henry Clay helped establish and became president in 1816 of the American Colonization Society
American Colonization Society
The American Colonization Society , founded in 1816, was the primary vehicle to support the "return" of free African Americans to what was considered greater freedom in Africa. It helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821–22 as a place for freedmen...

, a group that wanted to establish a colony for free American blacks in Africa; it founded Monrovia
Monrovia
Monrovia is the capital city of the West African nation of Liberia. Located on the Atlantic Coast at Cape Mesurado, it lies geographically within Montserrado County, but is administered separately...

, in what became Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, for that purpose. The group was made up of both abolitionists from the North, who wanted to end slavery, and slaveholders, who wanted to deport free blacks
Free people of color
A free person of color in the context of the history of slavery in the Americas, is a person of full or partial African descent who was not enslaved...

 to reduce what they considered a threat to the stability of slave society. On the "amalgamation" of the black and white races, Clay said that "The God of Nature, by the differences of color and physical constitution, has decreed against it." Clay presided at the founding meeting of the ACS on December 21, 1816, at the Davis Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 Attendees included Robert Finley
Robert Finley
Robert Finley was briefly the president of the University of Georgia. Finley was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and graduated from College of New Jersey at the age of 15.-Early life:Finley was born to James Finley and Ann Angrest, James was born 1737 in Glasgow, Scotland where he...

, James Monroe
James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States . Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation...

, Bushrod Washington
Bushrod Washington
Bushrod Washington was a U.S. Supreme Court associate justice and the nephew of George Washington.Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, and was the son of John Augustine Washington, brother of the first president. Bushrod attended Delamere, an academy administered by the Rev....

, Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

, Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".-Life:...

, and Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

.

The "American System"



Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun
John C. Calhoun
John Caldwell Calhoun was a leading politician and political theorist from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun eloquently spoke out on every issue of his day, but often changed positions. Calhoun began his political career as a nationalist, modernizer, and proponent...

 helped to pass the Tariff of 1816 as part of the national economic plan Clay called "The American System
American System (economic plan)
The American System, originally called "The American Way", was a mercantilist economic plan that played a prominent role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century...

," rooted in Alexander Hamilton's American School
American School (economics)
The American School, also known as "National System", represents three different yet related constructs in politics, policy and philosophy. It was the American policy for the 1860s to the 1940s, waxing and waning in actual degrees and details of implementation...

. Described later by Friedrich List
Friedrich List
Georg Friedrich List was a leading 19th century German economist who developed the "National System" or what some would call today the National System of Innovation...

, it was designed to allow the fledgling American manufacturing sector, largely centered on the eastern seaboard, to compete with British manufacturing through the creation of tariffs.

After the conclusion of the War of 1812, British factories were overwhelming American ports with inexpensive goods. To persuade voters in the western states to support the tariff, Clay advocated federal government support for internal improvements to infrastructure, principally roads and canals. These internal improvements would be financed by the tariff and by sale of the public lands, prices for which would be kept high to generate revenue. Finally, a national bank would stabilize the currency and serve as the nexus of a truly national financial system.

Clay's American System ran into strong opposition from President Jackson's administration. One of the most important points of contention between the two men was over the Maysville Road. Jackson vetoed a bill which would authorize federal funding for a project to construct a road linking Lexington and the Ohio River, the entirety of which would be in the state of Kentucky, because he felt that it did not constitute interstate commerce, as specified in the Commerce Clause
Commerce Clause
The Commerce Clause is an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution . The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." Courts and commentators have tended to...

 of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

.

Foreign policy


In foreign policy, Clay was the leading American supporter of independence movements and revolutions in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 after 1817. Between 1821 and 1826, the U.S. recognized all the new countries, except Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

 (whose independence was debated and recognized only later), though Haiti remained unrecognized. When in 1826 the U.S. was invited to attend the Columbia Conference
Congress of Panama
The Congress of Panama was a congress organized by Simón Bolívar in 1826 with the goal of bringing together the new republics of Latin America to develop a unified policy towards Spain...

 of new nations, opposition emerged, and the American delegation never arrived. Clay supported the Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 independence revolutionaries in 1824 who wished to separate from the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, an early move into European affairs.

The Missouri Compromise and 1820s


In 1820 a dispute erupted over the extension of slavery in Missouri Territory. Clay helped settle this dispute by gaining Congressional approval for a plan called the "Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

". It brought in Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 as a free state and Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 as a slave state (thus maintaining the balance in the Senate, which had included 11 free and 11 slave states), and it forbade slavery north of 36° 30' (the northern boundary of Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 and the latitude line) except in Missouri.

Election of 1824 and Secretary of State



By 1824, the unparalleled success of the Democratic-Republican Party had driven all other parties from the field. Four major candidates, including Clay, sought the office of president. Because of the unusually large number of candidates receiving electoral votes, no candidate secured a majority and the tie between the two front runners, Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 and John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

, was broken in the House of Representatives.

Clay used his political clout to secure the victory for Adams, who he felt would be both more sympathetic to Clay's political views and more likely to appoint Clay to a cabinet position. When Clay was appointed Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

, his maneuver was called a "corrupt bargain
Corrupt Bargain
The term Corrupt Bargain refers to three separate events that each involved a United States presidential election and a deal that was struck that many viewed to be corrupt from many standpoints, such as in the Election of 1824 controversy over the House of Representative's choice for president with...

" by many of Jackson's supporters and tarnished Clay's reputation.

Slave freedom suit


As Secretary of State, Clay lived with his family and slaves in Decatur House
Decatur House
Decatur House is a historic home in Washington, D.C., named after its first owner and occupant Stephen Decatur. The house is located northwest of Lafayette Square, at the southwest corner of Jackson Place and H Street, near the White House...

 on Lafayette Square. As he was preparing to return to Lexington in 1829, his slave Charlotte Dupuy
Charlotte Dupuy
Charlotte Dupuy, also called Lottie Charlotte Dupuy was still living in 1860. She and her husband Aaron were listed by name as free persons in the 1860 Census for Fayette County, Kentucky. They were respectively 70 and 76 years old...

 sued Clay for her freedom and that of her two children, based on a promise by an earlier owner. Her legal challenge to slavery preceded the more famous Dred Scott
Dred Scott
Dred Scott , was an African-American slave in the United States who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters in the Dred Scott v...

 case by 17 years. The "freedom suit" received a fair amount of attention in the press at the time. Dupuy's attorney gained an order from the court for her to remain in DC until the case was settled, and she worked for wages for 18 months for Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

, the successor to Secretary of State and the Decatur House. Clay returned to Ashland with Aaron, Charles and Mary Ann Dupuy.

The jury ruled against Dupuy, deciding that any agreement with her previous master Condon did not bear on Clay. Because Dupuy refused to return voluntarily to Kentucky, Clay had his agent arrest her. She was imprisoned in Alexandria, Virginia before Clay arranged for her transport to New Orleans, where he placed her with his daughter and son-in-law Martin Duralde. Mary Ann Dupuy was sent to join her mother, and they worked as domestic slaves for the Duraldes for another decade.

In 1840 Henry Clay finally gave Charlotte and her daughter Mary Ann Dupuy their freedom. He kept her son Charles Dupuy as a personal servant, frequently citing him as an example of how well he treated his slaves. Clay granted Charles Dupuy his freedom in 1844. While no deed of emancipation
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

 has been found for Aron Dupuy, in 1860 he and Charlotte were living together as free black residents in Fayette County, Kentucky. He may have been freed or "given his time" by one of Clay's sons, as Dupuy continued to work at Ashland, for pay.

Decatur House
Decatur House
Decatur House is a historic home in Washington, D.C., named after its first owner and occupant Stephen Decatur. The house is located northwest of Lafayette Square, at the southwest corner of Jackson Place and H Street, near the White House...

 in Washington, DC, a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 and museum on Lafayette Square near the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

, has exhibits on urban slavery and Charlotte Dupuy's freedom suit against Henry Clay.

The Nullification Crisis



After the passage of the Tariff of 1828
Tariff of 1828
The Tariff of 1828 was a protective tariff passed by the Congress of the United States on May 19, 1828, designed to protect industry in the northern United States...

, dubbed the "tariff of abominations" which raised tariffs considerably in an attempt to protect fledgling factories built under previous tariff legislation, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 declared its right to nullify federal tariff legislation and stopped assessing the tariff on imports. It threatened to secede from the Union if the Federal government tried to enforce the tariff laws. Furious, President Jackson threatened to lead an army to South Carolina and hang any man who refused to obey the law.

The crisis worsened until 1833 when Clay, again a U.S. Senator re-elected by Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 in 1831, helped to broker a deal in Congress to lower the tariff gradually. This measure helped to preserve the supremacy of the Federal government over the states, but the crisis was indicative of the developing conflict between the northern and southern United States over economics and slavery.

Opposition to Jackson and creation of Whig Party



After the election of Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

, Clay led the opposition to Jackson's policies. His supporters included the National Republicans, who were beginning to identify as "Whigs" in honor of ancestors during the Revolutionary War. They opposed the "tyranny" of Jackson, as their ancestors had opposed the tyranny of King George III. Clay strongly opposed Jackson's refusal to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States
Second Bank of the United States
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

, and advocated passage of a resolution to censure Jackson for his actions.

In 1832
United States presidential election, 1832
The United States presidential election of 1832 saw incumbent President Andrew Jackson, candidate of the Democratic Party, easily win re-election against Henry Clay of Kentucky. Jackson won 219 of the 286 electoral votes cast, defeating Clay, the candidate of the National Republican Party, and...

 the National Republicans unanimously nominated Clay for the presidency. Jackson was nominated by the Democrats. The main issue was the policy of continuing the Second Bank of the United States. Clay lost by a wide margin to the highly popular Jackson (55% to 37%).

In 1840
United States presidential election, 1840
The United States presidential election of 1840 saw President Martin Van Buren fight for re-election against an economic depression and a Whig Party unified for the first time behind war hero William Henry Harrison and his "log cabin campaign"...

, Clay was a candidate for the Whig nomination, but he was defeated at the party convention by supporters of war hero William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States , an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. He was 68 years, 23 days old when elected, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the...

. Harrison was chosen because his war record was attractive, and he was seen as more likely to win than Clay.

In 1844
United States presidential election, 1844
In the United States presidential election of 1844, Democrat James K. Polk defeated Whig Henry Clay in a close contest that turned on foreign policy, with Polk favoring the annexation of Texas and Clay opposed....

, Clay was nominated by the Whigs against James K. Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

, the Democratic candidate. Clay lost in part due to national sentiment in favor of Polk's "54°40' or Fight" campaign. This was to settle the northern boundary of the United States with Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, then under the control of the British Empire. Clay opposed admitting Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 as a state because he believed it would reawaken the slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 issue and provoke Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 to declare war. Polk took the opposite view, supported by most of the public, especially in the Southern United States. The election was close; New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

's 36 electoral votes proved the difference, and went to Polk by a slim 5,000 vote margin. Liberty Party candidate James G. Birney
James G. Birney
James Gillespie Birney was an abolitionist, politician and jurist born in Danville, Kentucky. From 1816 to 1818, he served in the Kentucky House of Representatives...

 won slightly more than 15,000 votes in New York and likely attracted votes that might have gone to Clay. His warnings about Texas proved prescient. The US annexation of Texas led to the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) (in which his namesake son died). The North and South came to increased tensions during Polk's Presidency over the extension of slavery into Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and beyond.

The Compromise of 1850



After losing the Whig Party nomination to Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States and an American military leader. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig in the 1848 presidential election, defeating Lewis Cass...

 in 1848, Clay decided to retire to his Ashland estate in Kentucky. Retired for less than a year, he was in 1849 again elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky. During his term, the controversy over the expansion of slavery in new lands had reemerged with the addition of the lands ceded to the United States by Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is the peace treaty, largely dictated by the United States to the interim government of a militarily occupied Mexico City, that ended the Mexican-American War on February 2, 1848...

 at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. David Wilmot
David Wilmot
David Wilmot was a U.S. political figure. He was a sponsor and eponym of the Wilmot Proviso which aimed to ban slavery in land gained from Mexico in the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848. Wilmot was a Democrat, a Free Soiler, and a Republican during his political career...

, a Northern congressman, had proposed preventing the extension of slavery into any of the new territory in a proposal referred to as the "Wilmot Proviso
Wilmot Proviso
The Wilmot Proviso, one of the major events leading to the Civil War, would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War or in the future, including the area later known as the Mexican Cession, but which some proponents construed to also include the disputed...

".

On January 29, 1850, Clay proposed a series of resolutions, which he considered to reconcile Northern and Southern interests, what would widely be called the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

. While Clay originally intended the resolutions to be voted on separately, at the urging of southerners, Clay agreed to the creation of a Committee of Thirteen to consider the measures. The committee was formed on April 17. Clay as chair of the committee, on May 8 presented an omnibus bill linking all of the resolutions. The resolutions included:
  • Admission of California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

     as a free state, ending the balance of free and slave states in the senate.
  • Organization of the Utah
    Utah Territory
    The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 4, 1896, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Utah....

     and New Mexico
    New Mexico Territory
    thumb|right|240px|Proposed boundaries for State of New Mexico, 1850The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of...

     territories without any slavery provisions, giving the right to determine whether to allow slavery to the territorial populations.
  • Prohibition of the slave trade, not the ownership of slaves, in the District of Columbia.
  • A more stringent Fugitive Slave Act.
  • Establishment of boundaries for the state of Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

     in exchange for federal payment of Texas's ten million dollar debt.
  • A declaration by Congress that it did not have the authority to interfere with the interstate slave trade.


The Omnibus bill, despite Clay's efforts, failed in a crucial vote on July 31 with the majority of his Whig Party opposed. He announced on the Senate floor the next day that he intended to persevere and pass each individual part of the bill. Clay was physically exhausted; the tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 that would eventually kill him began to take its toll. Clay left the Senate to recuperate in Newport
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

, Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

. Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

 separated the bills and guided them through the Senate.

Clay was given much of the credit for the Compromise's success. It quieted the controversy between Northerners and Southerners over the expansion of slavery, and delayed secession and civil war for another decade. Senator Henry S. Foote
Henry S. Foote
Henry Stuart Foote was a United States Senator from Mississippi from 1847 to 1852 and Governor of Mississippi from 1852 to 1854. His emotional leadership on the Senate floor helped secure passage of the Compromise of 1850, which for a time averted a civil war in the United States.-Biography:Henry...

 of Mississippi, who had suggested the creation of the Committee of Thirteen, later said, "Had there been one such man in the Congress of the United States as Henry Clay in 1860–'61 there would, I feel sure, have been no civil war."

Death and estate



Clay continued to serve both the Union he loved and his home state of Kentucky. On June 29, 1852, he died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, at the age of 75. Clay was the first person to lie in state
Lying in state
Lying in state is a term used to describe the tradition in which a coffin is placed on view to allow the public at large to pay their respects to the deceased. It traditionally takes place in the principal government building of a country or city...

 in the United States Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

.

He was buried in Lexington Cemetery, and Theodore Frelinghuysen
Theodore Frelinghuysen
Theodore Frelinghuysen was an American politician, serving as New Jersey Attorney General, United States Senator, and Mayor of Newark, New Jersey before running as a candidate for Vice President with Henry Clay on the Whig ticket in the election of 1844...

, Clay's vice-presidential candidate in the election of 1844, gave the eulogy. Clay's headstone reads: "I know no North — no South — no East — no West." Even though the 1852 pro-slavery novel Life at the South; or, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" As It Is
Life at the South; or, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" As It Is
Life at the South; or, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" As It Is is an 1852 plantation fiction novel written by W.L.G...

, by W.L.G. Smith, is dedicated to his memory, Clay's Will freed all the slaves he held.

Ashland, named for the many ash trees on the property, was Clay's plantation and mansion for many years. He held as many as 60 slaves at the peak of the plantation operations. It was there he introduced the Hereford
Hereford (cattle)
Hereford cattle are a beef cattle breed, widely used both in intemperate areas and temperate areas, mainly for meat production.Originally from Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom, more than five million pedigree Hereford Cattle now exist in over 50 countries...

 livestock breed to the United States.

By the time of his death, his only surviving sons were James Brown Clay
James Brown Clay
James Brown Clay was a Democratic Party member of the United States House of Representatives from Kentucky....

 and John Morrison Clay
John Morrison Clay
John Morrison Clay was a Kentucky thoroughbred breeder, a son of statesman Henry Clay, and a husband of Josephine Russell Clay and the brother of Henry Clay, Jr. and James Brown Clay. He was also called John M. Clay.Upon his father’s death, Clay inherited a portion of the large estate, Ashland...

, who inherited the estate and took portions for use. For several years (1866–1878), James Clay allowed the mansion to be used as a residence for the regent of Kentucky University, forerunner of the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky, also known as UK, is a public co-educational university and is one of the state's two land-grant universities, located in Lexington, Kentucky...

 and present-day Transylvania University
Transylvania University
Transylvania University is a private, undergraduate liberal arts college in Lexington, Kentucky, United States, affiliated with the Christian Church . The school was founded in 1780. It offers 38 majors, and pre-professional degrees in engineering and accounting...

. Later the mansion and estate were rebuilt and remodeled by later descendants. John Clay designated his portion of the estate as Ashland Stud, which he devoted to breeding thoroughbred horses.

Maintained and operated as a museum, today Ashland includes 17 acres (6.9 ha) of the original estate grounds. It is located on Richmond Road (US 25
U.S. Route 25
U.S. Route 25 is a north–south United States highway that runs for from Brunswick, Georgia to the Ohio state line in Covington, Kentucky.-Georgia:...

) in Lexington. It is open to the public (admission charged).

Henry Clay is credited with introducing the mint julep
Mint Julep
The mint julep is a mixed alcoholic drink, or cocktail, associated with the cuisine of the Southern United States.- Preparation :A mint julep is traditionally made with four ingredients: mint leaf, bourbon, sugar, and water. Traditionally, spearmint is the mint of choiceused in Southern states, and...

 drink to Washington, D.C., at the Willard Hotel during his residence as a senator in the city.

Monuments and memorials



  • Memorial column and statue at his tomb in Lexington, Kentucky
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

  • Henry Clay monument in Pottsville, Pennsylvania
    Pottsville, Pennsylvania
    Pottsville is the only city in and the county seat of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 15,549 at the 2000 census. The city lies along the west bank of the Schuylkill River, north-west of Philadelphia...

  • Clay Streets in numerous cities, including New Haven, Connecticut
    New Haven, Connecticut
    New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...

    , Richmond, Virginia
    Richmond, Virginia
    Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

    , and Vicksburg, Mississippi
    Vicksburg, Mississippi
    Vicksburg is a city in Warren County, Mississippi, United States. It is the only city in Warren County. It is located northwest of New Orleans on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and due west of Jackson, the state capital. In 1900, 14,834 people lived in Vicksburg; in 1910, 20,814; in 1920,...

  • Mount Clay
    Mount Clay
    Mount Clay is a peak located in Thompson and Meserve's Purchase in Coos County in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire...

     in the Presidential Range
    Presidential Range
    The Presidential Range is a mountain range located in the White Mountains of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Containing the highest peaks of the Whites, its most notable summits are named for American Presidents, followed by prominent public figures of the 18th and 19th centuries.Mt...

     of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire
    New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

     was named for Clay, since renamed Mount Reagan by the state legislature but not by the federal Board on Geographic Names
  • Fifteen Clay counties in the United States, in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. (Clay County, Iowa
    Clay County, Iowa
    -2010 census:The 2010 census recorded a population of 16,667 in the county, with a population density of . There were 8,062 housing units, of which 7,282 were occupied.-2000 census:...

     is named for his son.)
  • Ashland Ave. in Chicago
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

    , Illinois; Ashland, Virginia
    Ashland, Virginia
    Originally known as Slash Cottage, Ashland is located on the Old Washington Highway U.S. Route One and the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, a busy north-south route now owned by CSX Transportation...

    , Ashland County in Ohio and Wisconsin were named for his estate, as were the cities of Ashland in Kentucky, Alabama, and Pennsylvania.
  • In New Orleans: Uptown – Henry Clay Avenue, and Downtown – 20-foot-tall monument erected in 1860 at Canal Street and St, Charles/Royal Avenues, and moved to the center of Lafayette Square in 1901.
  • Henry Clay High School
    Henry Clay High School
    Henry Clay High School is the oldest public high school in Lexington, Kentucky, opened on Main Street in 1928. It was named in honor of the Kentuckian and United States statesman, Henry Clay. The Main Street location now houses the main offices of the Fayette County Public Schools system. The...

     in Lexington, Kentucky
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

    , Henry Clay Middle School in Los Angeles
    Los Ángeles
    Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

    , California, Henry Clay Elementary School in the Hegewisch neighborhood in Chicago
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

    , and Henry Clay Elementary School in his birthplace, Hanover County, Virginia
    Hanover County, Virginia
    As of the census of 2000, there were 86,320 people, 31,121 households, and 24,461 families residing in the county. The population density was 183 people per square mile . There were 32,196 housing units at an average density of 68 per square mile...

    .
  • The "Instituto Educacional Henry Clay" in Caracas
    Caracas
    Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

    , Venezuela
    Venezuela
    Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

    , a bilingual private school
  • The Clay Dormitory at Transylvania University
    Transylvania University
    Transylvania University is a private, undergraduate liberal arts college in Lexington, Kentucky, United States, affiliated with the Christian Church . The school was founded in 1780. It offers 38 majors, and pre-professional degrees in engineering and accounting...

     in Lexington, Kentucky
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

  • The Lafayette class submarine
    Lafayette class submarine
    The Lafayette class of submarine was an evolutionary development from the of fleet ballistic missile submarine, slightly larger and generally improved...

     USS Henry Clay (SSBN-625), the only ship of the United States Navy
    United States Navy
    The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

     named in his honor, although the USS Ashland
    USS Ashland
    USS Ashland may refer to:, a dock landing ship, launched in 1942 and struck in 1969., is a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship, launched in 1989 and currently in service....

     is named for his estate
  • Clay, New York
    Clay, New York
    Clay is a town in Onondaga County, New York, USA. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 58,805, making it Syracuse's largest suburb. The town was named after Henry Clay, statesman....

    , including the road Henry Clay Blvd.
  • Henry Clay Village, on the left bank of Brandywine Creek just outside Wilmington, Delaware
    Wilmington, Delaware
    Wilmington is the largest city in the state of Delaware, United States, and is located at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek, near where the Christina flows into the Delaware River. It is the county seat of New Castle County and one of the major cities in the Delaware Valley...

    , factory and mill worker's residences.
  • Clay is one of the many senators honored with a cenotaph
    Cenotaph
    A cenotaph is an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion...

     in the Congressional Cemetery
    Congressional Cemetery
    The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery located at 1801 E Street, SE, in Washington, D.C., on the west bank of the Anacostia River. It is the final resting place of thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century. Many members of...

    .
  • He has been honored by the United States Postal Service
    United States Postal Service
    The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

     with a 3¢ Great Americans series
    Great Americans series
    The Great Americans series is a set of definitive stamps issued by the United States Postal Service, starting on December 27, 1980 with the 19¢ stamp depicting Sequoyah, and continuing through 2002, the final stamp being the 78¢ Alice Paul self-adhesive stamp. The series, noted for its simplicity...

     postage stamp
    Postage stamp
    A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

    .
  • The town of Claysburg in central Pennsylvania is named in honor of Clay.

Primary sources

  • Clay, Henry. The Papers of Henry Clay, 1797–1852. Edited by James Hopkins, Mary Hargreaves, Robert Seager II, Melba Porter Hay et al. 11 vols. University Press of Kentucky, 1959–1992. vol 1 online, 1797–1814
  • Clay, Henry. Works of Henry Clay, 7 vols. (1897)

External links



}
}
    • Carl Schurz. Life of Henry Clay, 2 vols., 1899.

}
}}