Henry Clay, Sr. (1777 - 1852) MP

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Birthplace: Hanover, Virginia, United States
Death: Died in Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Occupation: Famous Statesman, Statesman, elected US Senator, Politician, Senator, us senator
Managed by: Catherine "Erin" Serafina Liora Spiceland
Last Updated:

About Henry Clay, Sr.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Clay

Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852), was a nineteenth-century American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker. He also served as Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829.

He was a dominant figure in both the First and Second Party Systems. As a leading war hawk, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war in 1812.[1] He was a major supporter of the American System, 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.[2] Dubbed the "Great Compromiser," he brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis and on the slavery issue, especially in 1820 and 1850, during which he was part of the "Great Triumvirate" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun. 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."[3] In 1957, a Senate committee chaired by Sen. John F. Kennedy named Clay as one of the five greatest Senators in U.S. history.[4] In his early involvement in Illinois politics, Abraham Lincoln was a great admirer of Clay.[5]


Childhood

Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, at the Clay homestead in Hanover County, Virginia in a story-and-a-half frame house, an above average home for a Virginia farmer of that time.[6] He was the seventh of nine children of the Reverend John Clay and Elizabeth Hudson Clay.[7] His father, a Baptist minister called "Sir John," died four years later (1781).[6] He left Henry and his brothers two slaves each and his wife eighteen slaves and 464 acres (1.88 km2) of land.[8]

She soon married Capt. Henry Watkins, who proved himself to be an affectionate stepfather to Clay. He moved the family to Richmond, Virginia[9] where Elizabeth had seven children with Watkins to add to the nine she had with John Clay.[8]

Education

In Richmond, Clay was hired as a shop assistant.[9] His stepfather later secured Clay employment in the office of the Court of Chancery, where he displayed an adeptness for understanding the intricacies of law.[10] There he became friends with George Wythe,[10] who was hampered by a crippled hand and chose Clay to be his secretary because of his neat handwriting.[10] While Clay was employed as Wythe's amanuensis, the chancellor took an active interest in Clay's future and arranged a position for him with the Virginia attorney general, Robert Brooke. Clay received a formal legal education at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, studying under George Wythe. Under Brooke, Clay prepared for the bar, to which he was admitted in 1797.[9]

Family

On April 11, 1799, Clay married Lucretia Hart at the Hart home in Lexington, Kentucky. She was a sister to Captain Nathaniel G. T. Hart, who died in the Massacre of the River Raisin in the War of 1812.[11] 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.(1811–1847), Eliza (1813–1825), Laura (October 1815-1817), James Brown (1817–1864), and John (1821–1887). Seven of Clay's children preceded him in death. By 1835 all six daughters had died of varying causes from whooping cough to yellow fever to complications of childbirth, and Henry Clay Jr. was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War. His wife Lucretia died in 1864 at the age of 83 and is interred with her husband in the vault of his monument at the Lexington Cemetery. Clay was a second cousin of emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay and the great-grandfather of suffragette Madeline McDowell Breckinridge.[12]

Legal career

Seeking to establish a lucrative law practice, Clay relocated in November 1797 to Lexington, Kentucky, near where his family then resided in Woodford County. He soon established a reputation for his legal skills and courtroom oratory.[13] Some of his clients paid him with horses and with land. Clay came to own town lots and the Kentucky Hotel. By 1812, Clay owned a lucrative 600-acre (240 ha) plantation dubbed "Ashland."[2] One of Clay's clients was his father-in-law, Colonel Thomas Hart, who was an early settler of Kentucky and a prominent businessman.[11] Clay's most famous client, however, was Aaron Burr in 1806 when United States District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daviess indicted him for planning an expedition into Spanish Territory west of the Mississippi River. Clay and his partner, John Allen, successfully defended Burr. Some years later Thomas Jefferson convinced Clay that Daviess had been right. Clay was so upset by this that many years later when he met Burr again, Clay refused to shake his hand.[14]

Early political career

In 1803 Clay was elected to serve as the representative of Fayette County in the Kentucky General Assembly. 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.[2] Clay also advocated moving the state capitol from Frankfort to Lexington. He also worked diligently to defend the Kentucky Insurance Company, which he saved from an attempt in 1804 by Felix Grady to repeal its monopolistic charter.[15] However, Clay's most famous deed in the assembly was the part he played in the passage of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which expressed opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts that were viewed as tyrannical.[2]

First Senate appointment and eligibility

Clay's influence in Kentucky state politics was great enough for him to be elected by the Kentucky legislature for the Senate seat to which John Breckinridge had initially been elected; Breckinridge resigned to become Attorney General of the United States, and at first John Adair was chosen to complete Breckinridge's term, but Adair had to resign his seat for his alleged part in the Burr Conspiracy.[16] Clay became a Senator on December 29, 1806 and served for less than one year.[17]

Clay was below the constitutionally appointed age of thirty when elected. However, this age discrepancy apparently was not noticed by any other Senator, and perhaps not even by Clay himself.[17] Three months and seventeen days into his Senate service, he reached the age of eligibility.[18] Such a thing has happened to only two other U.S. Senators.

Speaker of the State House and Duel with Humphrey Marshall

When he returned home in 1807, he was elected the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.[19] On January 3, 1809, Clay introduced to the Kentucky General Assembly a resolution requiring members to wear homespun suits rather than British broadcloth. Only two members voted against the patriotic measure. One of them 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. Clay and Marshall nearly came to blows on the Assembly floor and Clay challenged Marshall to a duel. The duel took place on January 9 in Shippingport, Indiana. They each had three turns. Clay grazed Marshall once, just below the chest. Marshall hit Clay once in the thigh.[20]

Second Senate appointment

In 1810, United States Senator Buckner Thruston resigned to serve as a judge on the United States Circuit Court and Clay was again appointed to fill his seat.

Speaker of the House

Early years

In the summer of 1811 Clay was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was chosen Speaker of the House 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.[21]

Before Clay's entrance into the House, the position of Speaker had been that of a rule enforcer and mediator. Clay turned the speakership into a position of power second only to the President of the United States. He immediately appointed members of the War Hawk faction (of which he was the "guiding spirit"[1]) to all the important committees, effectively giving him control of the House, quite a maneuver for a 34-year-old House freshman. The War Hawks, mostly from the South and the West, resented British violation of U.S. maritime rights and treatment of U.S. sailors. They advocated for a declaration of war against the British.[22]

As the Congressional leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, Clay took charge of the agenda, especially as a "War Hawk", supporting the War of 1812 with the British Empire. Later, as one of the peace commissioners, Clay helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent and signed it on December 24, 1814.[2] In 1815, while still in Europe, he helped negotiate a commerce treaty with Great Britain. Also during his early House service, he strongly opposed the creation of a National Bank, in part because of his personal ownership in several small banks in his hometown of Lexington. Later he changed his position and gave strong support for the Second National Bank when he was seeking the presidency.

Henry Clay helped establish and became president of the American Colonization Society, a group that wanted to send freed African American slaves to Africa and that founded Monrovia in Liberia for that purpose. 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."[23] Clay presided at the founding meeting of the ACS on December 21, 1816, at the Davis Hotel in Washington, D.C. Attendees also included Robert Finley, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, and Daniel Webster.

The "American System"

Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun helped to pass the Tariff of 1816 as part of the national economic plan Clay called "The American System," rooted in Alexander Hamilton's American School. Described later by Friedrich List, 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 of the United States Constitution.

Foreign policy

In foreign policy, Clay was the leading American supporter of independence movements and revolutions in Latin America after 1817. Between 1821 and 1826, the U.S. recognized all the new countries, except Uruguay (whose independence was debated and recognized only later). When in 1826 the U.S. was invited to attend the Columbia Conference of new nations, opposition emerged, and the American delegation never arrived. Clay supported the Greek independence revolutionaries in 1824 who wished to separate from the Ottoman Empire, 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". It brought in Maine as a free state and Missouri 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 36º 30' (the northern boundary of Arkansas) except in Missouri.

Election of 1824

By 1824, the unparalleled success of the National Republican Party had driven all other parties from the field. Thus, there were four major candidates seeking the office of president, one of whom was Clay. Because of the unusually large number of candidates, no candidate secured a majority and the tie between the two front runners, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, was broken in the House of Representatives, where Clay used his political clout to secure the victory for Adams, whom 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, his maneuver was called a "corrupt bargain" by many of Jackson's supporters and tarnished Clay's reputation.

Senate career

The Nullification Crisis

After the passage of the Tariff of 1828, dubbed the "tariff of abominations" which raised tariffs considerably in an attempt to protect fledgling factories built under previous tariff legislation, South Carolina 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 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.

Charlotte Dupuy's suit for freedom

During Clay's congressional and Secretary of State terms, he lived on Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, originally called the President's Park, in the house originally built for Stephen Decatur. When Clay relocated to Washington from Kentucky, he brought with him slaves Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy to work in his household, as well as their two children Charles and Mary Ann. Living there for nearly two decades, they enjoyed the relative freedoms of urban life as part of a community of blacks, both enslaved and free, in the city.

As Clay was preparing to leave Washington to return to Kentucky in 1829, Charlotte Dupuy had an attorney file a lawsuit in district court for her freedom. Her legal challenge to slavery preceded the more famous Dred Scott case by 17 years. Unlike the latter, it never reached the US Supreme Court. Dupuy accused Henry Clay of wrongful enslavement and demanded freedom for her and her children, based on a promise of freedom by her previous owner James Condon. Many details of the case are unknown, but there is evidence that the case received a fair amount of attention in the press. It lasted quite a while, and the court ordered that Charlotte Dupuy remain in DC until the case was settled. Clay returned to his plantation in Lexington with Aaron, Charles and Mary Ann Dupuy.

The Court ruled against Dupuy, arguing that any agreement with Condon did not bear on her next owner. Because she refused to return voluntarily to Kentucky, Clay had his agent arrest her. Dupuy 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. She worked there for another decade. Her daughter was sent to join her there.[24][25]

Dupuy's case has not been well known. The Decatur House Museum now has a permanent exhibit on urban slavery and Dupuy's legal challenge of her powerful master. Restored areas of the house museum include the kitchen, where Dupuy would most likely have worked.[25]

In 1840 Henry Clay finally gave Charlotte and her daughter Mary Ann Dupuy their freedom in New Orleans. He kept Charles Dupuy with him as a servant during his speaking engagements, frequently citing him as an example of how well he treated his slaves. Clay granted Charles Dupuy his freedom in 1844.[24]

Opposition to Jackson and creation of Whig Party

After the election of Andrew Jackson, Clay led the opposition to Jackson's policies. Those in Clay's camp included the National Republicans who were beginning to refer to themselves as "Whigs" in honor of their ancestors during the Revolutionary War, who opposed the tyranny of King George III just as they opposed the "tyranny" of Jackson. Clay strongly opposed Jackson's failure to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, advocating the passage of a resolution to censure Jackson for his actions.[26]

In 1832 Clay was unanimously nominated for the presidency by the National Republicans; Jackson, 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, Clay was a candidate for the Whig nomination, but he was defeated in the party convention by supporters of war hero William Henry Harrison. Harrison was chosen because his war record was attractive and he was seen as more electable than Clay. If the Whigs had been more aware of the political weakness of President Martin Van Buren, they would have probably selected Clay.

In 1844, Clay was nominated by the Whigs against James K. Polk, the Democratic candidate. Clay lost due in part to national sentiment for Polk's "54º40' or Fight" campaign, which was to settle the northern boundary of the United States with Canada, then under the control of the British Empire. Clay opposed admitting Texas as a state because he believed it would reawaken the slavery issue and provoke Mexico to declare war. Polk took the opposite view, supported by most of the public, especially in the Southern United States. Nevertheless, the election was close; New York's 36 electoral votes proved the difference, and went to Polk by a slim 5,000 vote margin. Liberty Party candidate James G. Birney won a little over 15,000 votes in New York and may have taken votes from Clay. Eventually, Clay's warnings came true. The US annexation of Texas led to the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), while the North and South came to increased tensions during Polk's Presidency over the extension of slavery into Texas and beyond.

The Compromise of 1850

After losing the Whig Party nomination to Zachary Taylor 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 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. David Wilmot, 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".[27]

On January 29, 1850, Clay proposed a series of resolutions that he saw as amenable to both Northern and Southern viewpoints in what would widely be called the Compromise of 1850. Originally intended by Clay 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, and on May 8 Clay, the chairman of the committee, presented an Omnibus bill linking all of the resolutions to the Senate floor.

These resolutions included:

Admission of California as a free state, ending the balance of free and slave states in the senate.[27]

Organization of the Utah and New Mexico territories without any slavery provisions, giving the right to allow or prohibit slavery to the territorial populations.[27]

Prohibition of the slave trade, not the ownership of slaves, in the District of Columbia.[27]

A more stringent Fugitive Slave Act.[27]

Establishment of boundaries for the state of Texas in exchange for federal payment of Texas's ten million dollar debt.[27]

A declaration by Congress that it did not have the authority to interfere with the interstate slave trade.[29]

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, however, was physically exhausted as the effects of the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him began to take its toll. Clay left the Senate to recuperate in Newport, Rhode Island, while Stephen A. Douglas wrote the separate bills and guided them through the Senate.[30]

Clay was still 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 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."[31]

Death and estate

Clay continued to serve both the Union he loved and his home state of Kentucky until June 29, 1852, when he died of tuberculosis in Washington, D.C., at the age of 75. Clay was the first person to lie in state in the United States Capitol. He was buried in Lexington Cemetery, and the eulogy was provided by Theodore Frelinghuysen, who ran as Clay's vice-presidential candidate in the election of 1844.[32] Clay's headstone reads simply: "I know no North — no South — no East — no West." The 1852 novel Life at the South; or, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" As It Is by W.L.G. Smith is dedicated to Clay's memory.[33]

Ashland, named for the many ash trees on the property, was his plantation and mansion for many years. He owned as many as 60 slaves at once. It was there he introduced the Hereford livestock breed to the United States.

Rebuilt and remodeled by his heirs, Ashland is now a museum. The museum includes 17 acres (6.9 ha) of the original estate grounds and is located on Richmond Road (US 25) in Lexington. It is open to the public (admission charged). For several years (1866–1878), the mansion was used as a residence for the regent of Kentucky University, forerunner of the University of Kentucky and present-day Transylvania University.

Henry Clay is credited with introducing the mint julep drink to Washington, D.C., at the Willard Hotel during his residence as a senator in the city.[34]

Monuments and memorials

Tomb in Lexington, KYMemorial column and statue at his tomb in Lexington, Kentucky

Henry Clay monument in Pottsville, Pennsylvania [35]

Clay Streets in numerous cities, including New Haven, Connecticut, Richmond, Virginia, and Vicksburg, Mississippi

Ashland Ave. in Chicago, Illinois, named after his estate

Mount Clay in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire was named for Clay, since renamed Mount Reagan by the state legislature but not by the federal Board on Geographic Names

Fifteen 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 is named for his son.)

The town of Ashland, Virginia located in the county of Clay's birth, Ashland County, Ohio and Ashland County, Wisconsin were named for his estate, as were the cities of Ashland, Kentucky, Ashland, Alabama, and Ashland, Pennsylvania.

In New Orleans: Uptown, Henry Clay Avenue, and Downtown 20-foot-tall monument at the center of Lafayette Square

Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky,[36] Henry Clay Middle School in Los Angeles, California, Henry Clay Elementary School in the Hegewisch neighborhood in Chicago, and Henry Clay Elementary School in his birthplace, Hanover County, Virginia.

The "Instituto Educacional Henry Clay" in Caracas, Venezuela, a bilingual private school

The Clay Dormitory at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky

The Lafayette class submarine USS Henry Clay (SSBN-625), the only ship of the United States Navy named in his honor, although the USS Ashland is named for his estate

Clay, New York, including the road Henry Clay Blvd.

Henry Clay Village, on the left bank of Brandywine Creek just outside of the city limits of Wilmington, Delaware, factory and mill worker's residences just downstream and across from the duPont powder mills and just upstream and across from the Joseph Bancroft textile mill. On its way back from Washington DC to Kentucky after his death in 1852, Clay's remains were laid in state briefly at the old Wilmington City Hall on Market Street.

Clay is one of the many senators honored with a cenotaph in the Congressional Cemetery.

He has been honored by the United States Postal Service with a 3¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

[edit] References in popular culture


Character actor Robert F. Simon portrayed Clay in the NBC series Profiles in Courage in the segment on Daniel Webster.

Henry Clay cigars were a popular pre-Cuban Revolution brand. The revamped brand still exists today in the American market and is distributed by Altadis.

Namesake of popular indie rock band The Henry Clay People

He is a major figure in Eric Flint's alternate history novel 1824: The Arkansas War. In the novel, Clay engineers a conflict between the United States and an independent Confederation of the Arkansas made up of Southern Indian tribes who had voluntarily relocated there (where in our universe they were forcibly driven there on the Trail of Tears), freedmen, runaway slaves and white abolitionists. Clay manages to whip up anti-negro sentiment with the assistance of John Calhoun and William Crawford and wins the heavily disputed 1824 Presidential Election after it was sent to the House of Representatives. Clay then prosecutes a war harshly against Arkansas with little popular support except in the Deep South while Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Richard Mentor Johnson and others form a new political party to oppose him after United States forces under the command of William Henry Harrison gain a Pyhrric victory against Arkansas at Arkansas Post. -------------------- U.S. Senator and known as the Great Compromiser. -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Clay

Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852), was a nineteenth-century American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker. He also served as Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829.

He was a dominant figure in both the First and Second Party Systems. As a leading war hawk, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war in 1812.[1] He was a major supporter of the American System, 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.[2] Dubbed the "Great Compromiser," he brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis and on the slavery issue, especially in 1820 and 1850, during which he was part of the "Great Triumvirate" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun. 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."[3] In 1957, a Senate committee chaired by Sen. John F. Kennedy named Clay as one of the five greatest Senators in U.S. history.[4] In his early involvement in Illinois politics, Abraham Lincoln was a great admirer of Clay.[5]

Childhood

Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, at the Clay homestead in Hanover County, Virginia in a story-and-a-half frame house, an above average home for a Virginia farmer of that time.[6] He was the seventh of nine children of the Reverend John Clay and Elizabeth Hudson Clay.[7] His father, a Baptist minister called "Sir John," died four years later (1781).[6] He left Henry and his brothers two slaves each and his wife eighteen slaves and 464 acres (1.88 km2) of land.[8]

She soon married Capt. Henry Watkins, who proved himself to be an affectionate stepfather to Clay. He moved the family to Richmond, Virginia[9] where Elizabeth had seven children with Watkins to add to the nine she had with John Clay.[8]

Education

In Richmond, Clay was hired as a shop assistant.[9] His stepfather later secured Clay employment in the office of the Court of Chancery, where he displayed an adeptness for understanding the intricacies of law.[10] There he became friends with George Wythe,[10] who was hampered by a crippled hand and chose Clay to be his secretary because of his neat handwriting.[10] While Clay was employed as Wythe's amanuensis, the chancellor took an active interest in Clay's future and arranged a position for him with the Virginia attorney general, Robert Brooke. Clay received a formal legal education at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, studying under George Wythe. Under Brooke, Clay prepared for the bar, to which he was admitted in 1797.[9]

Family

On April 11, 1799, Clay married Lucretia Hart at the Hart home in Lexington, Kentucky. She was a sister to Captain Nathaniel G. T. Hart, who died in the Massacre of the River Raisin in the War of 1812.[11] 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.(1811–1847), Eliza (1813–1825), Laura (October 1815-1817), James Brown (1817–1864), and John (1821–1887). Seven of Clay's children preceded him in death. By 1835 all six daughters had died of varying causes from whooping cough to yellow fever to complications of childbirth, and Henry Clay Jr. was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War. His wife Lucretia died in 1864 at the age of 83 and is interred with her husband in the vault of his monument at the Lexington Cemetery. Clay was a second cousin of emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay and the great-grandfather of suffragette Madeline McDowell Breckinridge.[12]

Legal career

Seeking to establish a lucrative law practice, Clay relocated in November 1797 to Lexington, Kentucky, near where his family then resided in Woodford County. He soon established a reputation for his legal skills and courtroom oratory.[13] Some of his clients paid him with horses and with land. Clay came to own town lots and the Kentucky Hotel. By 1812, Clay owned a lucrative 600-acre (240 ha) plantation dubbed "Ashland."[2] One of Clay's clients was his father-in-law, Colonel Thomas Hart, who was an early settler of Kentucky and a prominent businessman.[11] Clay's most famous client, however, was Aaron Burr in 1806 when United States District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daviess indicted him for planning an expedition into Spanish Territory west of the Mississippi River. Clay and his partner, John Allen, successfully defended Burr. Some years later Thomas Jefferson convinced Clay that Daviess had been right. Clay was so upset by this that many years later when he met Burr again, Clay refused to shake his hand.[14]

Early political career

In 1803 Clay was elected to serve as the representative of Fayette County in the Kentucky General Assembly. 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.[2] Clay also advocated moving the state capitol from Frankfort to Lexington. He also worked diligently to defend the Kentucky Insurance Company, which he saved from an attempt in 1804 by Felix Grady to repeal its monopolistic charter.[15] However, Clay's most famous deed in the assembly was the part he played in the passage of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which expressed opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts that were viewed as tyrannical.[2]

First Senate appointment and eligibility

Clay's influence in Kentucky state politics was great enough for him to be elected by the Kentucky legislature for the Senate seat to which John Breckinridge had initially been elected; Breckinridge resigned to become Attorney General of the United States, and at first John Adair was chosen to complete Breckinridge's term, but Adair had to resign his seat for his alleged part in the Burr Conspiracy.[16] Clay became a Senator on December 29, 1806 and served for less than one year.[17]

Clay was below the constitutionally appointed age of thirty when elected. However, this age discrepancy apparently was not noticed by any other Senator, and perhaps not even by Clay himself.[17] Three months and seventeen days into his Senate service, he reached the age of eligibility.[18] Such a thing has happened to only two other U.S. Senators.

Speaker of the State House and Duel with Humphrey Marshall

When he returned home in 1807, he was elected the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.[19] On January 3, 1809, Clay introduced to the Kentucky General Assembly a resolution requiring members to wear homespun suits rather than British broadcloth. Only two members voted against the patriotic measure. One of them 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. Clay and Marshall nearly came to blows on the Assembly floor and Clay challenged Marshall to a duel. The duel took place on January 9 in Shippingport, Indiana. They each had three turns. Clay grazed Marshall once, just below the chest. Marshall hit Clay once in the thigh.[20]

Second Senate appointment

In 1810, United States Senator Buckner Thruston resigned to serve as a judge on the United States Circuit Court and Clay was again appointed to fill his seat.

Speaker of the House

Early years

In the summer of 1811 Clay was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was chosen Speaker of the House 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.[21]

Before Clay's entrance into the House, the position of Speaker had been that of a rule enforcer and mediator. Clay turned the speakership into a position of power second only to the President of the United States. He immediately appointed members of the War Hawk faction (of which he was the "guiding spirit"[1]) to all the important committees, effectively giving him control of the House, quite a maneuver for a 34-year-old House freshman. The War Hawks, mostly from the South and the West, resented British violation of U.S. maritime rights and treatment of U.S. sailors. They advocated for a declaration of war against the British.[22]

As the Congressional leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, Clay took charge of the agenda, especially as a "War Hawk", supporting the War of 1812 with the British Empire. Later, as one of the peace commissioners, Clay helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent and signed it on December 24, 1814.[2] In 1815, while still in Europe, he helped negotiate a commerce treaty with Great Britain. Also during his early House service, he strongly opposed the creation of a National Bank, in part because of his personal ownership in several small banks in his hometown of Lexington. Later he changed his position and gave strong support for the Second National Bank when he was seeking the presidency.

Henry Clay helped establish and became president of the American Colonization Society, a group that wanted to send freed African American slaves to Africa and that founded Monrovia in Liberia for that purpose. 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."[23] Clay presided at the founding meeting of the ACS on December 21, 1816, at the Davis Hotel in Washington, D.C. Attendees also included Robert Finley, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, and Daniel Webster.

The "American System"

Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun helped to pass the Tariff of 1816 as part of the national economic plan Clay called "The American System," rooted in Alexander Hamilton's American School. Described later by Friedrich List, 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 of the United States Constitution.

Foreign policy

In foreign policy, Clay was the leading American supporter of independence movements and revolutions in Latin America after 1817. Between 1821 and 1826, the U.S. recognized all the new countries, except Uruguay (whose independence was debated and recognized only later). When in 1826 the U.S. was invited to attend the Columbia Conference of new nations, opposition emerged, and the American delegation never arrived. Clay supported the Greek independence revolutionaries in 1824 who wished to separate from the Ottoman Empire, 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". It brought in Maine as a free state and Missouri 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 36º 30' (the northern boundary of Arkansas) except in Missouri.

Election of 1824

By 1824, the unparalleled success of the National Republican Party had driven all other parties from the field. Thus, there were four major candidates seeking the office of president, one of whom was Clay. Because of the unusually large number of candidates, no candidate secured a majority and the tie between the two front runners, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, was broken in the House of Representatives, where Clay used his political clout to secure the victory for Adams, whom 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, his maneuver was called a "corrupt bargain" by many of Jackson's supporters and tarnished Clay's reputation.

Senate career

The Nullification Crisis

After the passage of the Tariff of 1828, dubbed the "tariff of abominations" which raised tariffs considerably in an attempt to protect fledgling factories built under previous tariff legislation, South Carolina 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 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.

Charlotte Dupuy's suit for freedom

During Clay's congressional and Secretary of State terms, he lived on Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, originally called the President's Park, in the house originally built for Stephen Decatur. When Clay relocated to Washington from Kentucky, he brought with him slaves Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy to work in his household, as well as their two children Charles and Mary Ann. Living there for nearly two decades, they enjoyed the relative freedoms of urban life as part of a community of blacks, both enslaved and free, in the city.

As Clay was preparing to leave Washington to return to Kentucky in 1829, Charlotte Dupuy had an attorney file a lawsuit in district court for her freedom. Her legal challenge to slavery preceded the more famous Dred Scott case by 17 years. Unlike the latter, it never reached the US Supreme Court. Dupuy accused Henry Clay of wrongful enslavement and demanded freedom for her and her children, based on a promise of freedom by her previous owner James Condon. Many details of the case are unknown, but there is evidence that the case received a fair amount of attention in the press. It lasted quite a while, and the court ordered that Charlotte Dupuy remain in DC until the case was settled. Clay returned to his plantation in Lexington with Aaron, Charles and Mary Ann Dupuy.

The Court ruled against Dupuy, arguing that any agreement with Condon did not bear on her next owner. Because she refused to return voluntarily to Kentucky, Clay had his agent arrest her. Dupuy 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. She worked there for another decade. Her daughter was sent to join her there.[24][25]

Dupuy's case has not been well known. The Decatur House Museum now has a permanent exhibit on urban slavery and Dupuy's legal challenge of her powerful master. Restored areas of the house museum include the kitchen, where Dupuy would most likely have worked.[25]

In 1840 Henry Clay finally gave Charlotte and her daughter Mary Ann Dupuy their freedom in New Orleans. He kept Charles Dupuy with him as a servant during his speaking engagements, frequently citing him as an example of how well he treated his slaves. Clay granted Charles Dupuy his freedom in 1844.[24]

Opposition to Jackson and creation of Whig Party

After the election of Andrew Jackson, Clay led the opposition to Jackson's policies. Those in Clay's camp included the National Republicans who were beginning to refer to themselves as "Whigs" in honor of their ancestors during the Revolutionary War, who opposed the tyranny of King George III just as they opposed the "tyranny" of Jackson. Clay strongly opposed Jackson's failure to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, advocating the passage of a resolution to censure Jackson for his actions.[26]

In 1832 Clay was unanimously nominated for the presidency by the National Republicans; Jackson, 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, Clay was a candidate for the Whig nomination, but he was defeated in the party convention by supporters of war hero William Henry Harrison. Harrison was chosen because his war record was attractive and he was seen as more electable than Clay. If the Whigs had been more aware of the political weakness of President Martin Van Buren, they would have probably selected Clay.

In 1844, Clay was nominated by the Whigs against James K. Polk, the Democratic candidate. Clay lost due in part to national sentiment for Polk's "54º40' or Fight" campaign, which was to settle the northern boundary of the United States with Canada, then under the control of the British Empire. Clay opposed admitting Texas as a state because he believed it would reawaken the slavery issue and provoke Mexico to declare war. Polk took the opposite view, supported by most of the public, especially in the Southern United States. Nevertheless, the election was close; New York's 36 electoral votes proved the difference, and went to Polk by a slim 5,000 vote margin. Liberty Party candidate James G. Birney won a little over 15,000 votes in New York and may have taken votes from Clay. Eventually, Clay's warnings came true. The US annexation of Texas led to the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), while the North and South came to increased tensions during Polk's Presidency over the extension of slavery into Texas and beyond.

The Compromise of 1850

After losing the Whig Party nomination to Zachary Taylor 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 in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. David Wilmot, 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".[27]

On January 29, 1850, Clay proposed a series of resolutions that he saw as amenable to both Northern and Southern viewpoints in what would widely be called the Compromise of 1850. Originally intended by Clay 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, and on May 8 Clay, the chairman of the committee, presented an Omnibus bill linking all of the resolutions to the Senate floor.

These resolutions included:

Admission of California as a free state, ending the balance of free and slave states in the senate.[27]

Organization of the Utah and New Mexico territories without any slavery provisions, giving the right to allow or prohibit slavery to the territorial populations.[27]

Prohibition of the slave trade, not the ownership of slaves, in the District of Columbia.[27]

A more stringent Fugitive Slave Act.[27]

Establishment of boundaries for the state of Texas in exchange for federal payment of Texas's ten million dollar debt.[27]

A declaration by Congress that it did not have the authority to interfere with the interstate slave trade.[29]

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, however, was physically exhausted as the effects of the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him began to take its toll. Clay left the Senate to recuperate in Newport, Rhode Island, while Stephen A. Douglas wrote the separate bills and guided them through the Senate.[30]

Clay was still 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 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."[31]

Death and estate

Clay continued to serve both the Union he loved and his home state of Kentucky until June 29, 1852, when he died of tuberculosis in Washington, D.C., at the age of 75. Clay was the first person to lie in state in the United States Capitol. He was buried in Lexington Cemetery, and the eulogy was provided by Theodore Frelinghuysen, who ran as Clay's vice-presidential candidate in the election of 1844.[32] Clay's headstone reads simply: "I know no North — no South — no East — no West." The 1852 novel Life at the South; or, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" As It Is by W.L.G. Smith is dedicated to Clay's memory.[33]

Ashland, named for the many ash trees on the property, was his plantation and mansion for many years. He owned as many as 60 slaves at once. It was there he introduced the Hereford livestock breed to the United States.

Rebuilt and remodeled by his heirs, Ashland is now a museum. The museum includes 17 acres (6.9 ha) of the original estate grounds and is located on Richmond Road (US 25) in Lexington. It is open to the public (admission charged). For several years (1866–1878), the mansion was used as a residence for the regent of Kentucky University, forerunner of the University of Kentucky and present-day Transylvania University.

Henry Clay is credited with introducing the mint julep drink to Washington, D.C., at the Willard Hotel during his residence as a senator in the city.[34]

Monuments and memorials

Tomb in Lexington, KYMemorial column and statue at his tomb in Lexington, Kentucky Henry Clay monument in Pottsville, Pennsylvania [35]

Clay Streets in numerous cities, including New Haven, Connecticut, Richmond, Virginia, and Vicksburg, Mississippi

Ashland Ave. in Chicago, Illinois, named after his estate

Mount Clay in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire was named for Clay, since renamed Mount Reagan by the state legislature but not by the federal Board on Geographic Names

Fifteen 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 is named for his son.)

The town of Ashland, Virginia located in the county of Clay's birth, Ashland County, Ohio and Ashland County, Wisconsin were named for his estate, as were the cities of Ashland, Kentucky, Ashland, Alabama, and Ashland, Pennsylvania.

In New Orleans: Uptown, Henry Clay Avenue, and Downtown 20-foot-tall monument at the center of Lafayette Square

Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky,[36] Henry Clay Middle School in Los Angeles, California, Henry Clay Elementary School in the Hegewisch neighborhood in Chicago, and Henry Clay Elementary School in his birthplace, Hanover County, Virginia.

The "Instituto Educacional Henry Clay" in Caracas, Venezuela, a bilingual private school

The Clay Dormitory at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky

The Lafayette class submarine USS Henry Clay (SSBN-625), the only ship of the United States Navy named in his honor, although the USS Ashland is named for his estate

Clay, New York, including the road Henry Clay Blvd.

Henry Clay Village, on the left bank of Brandywine Creek just outside of the city limits of Wilmington, Delaware, factory and mill worker's residences just downstream and across from the duPont powder mills and just upstream and across from the Joseph Bancroft textile mill. On its way back from Washington DC to Kentucky after his death in 1852, Clay's remains were laid in state briefly at the old Wilmington City Hall on Market Street.

Clay is one of the many senators honored with a cenotaph in the Congressional Cemetery.

He has been honored by the United States Postal Service with a 3¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

[edit] References in popular culture

Character actor Robert F. Simon portrayed Clay in the NBC series Profiles in Courage in the segment on Daniel Webster.

Henry Clay cigars were a popular pre-Cuban Revolution brand. The revamped brand still exists today in the American market and is distributed by Altadis.

Namesake of popular indie rock band The Henry Clay People

He is a major figure in Eric Flint's alternate history novel 1824: The Arkansas War. In the novel, Clay engineers a conflict between the United States and an independent Confederation of the Arkansas made up of Southern Indian tribes who had voluntarily relocated there (where in our universe they were forcibly driven there on the Trail of Tears), freedmen, runaway slaves and white abolitionists. Clay manages to whip up anti-negro sentiment with the assistance of John Calhoun and William Crawford and wins the heavily disputed 1824 Presidential Election after it was sent to the House of Representatives. Clay then prosecutes a war harshly against Arkansas with little popular support except in the Deep South while Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Richard Mentor Johnson and others form a new political party to oppose him after United States forces under the command of William Henry Harrison gain a Pyhrric victory against Arkansas at Arkansas Post. -------------------- U.S. Senator and known as the Great Compromiser.

-------------------- Famous stateman and author of the Missouri compromise. -------------------- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=203

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Henry Clay, Speaker, US.House, Senator, Sec'y of State's Timeline

1777
April 12, 1777
Hanover, Virginia, United States
1797
November 1797
Age 20
Lexington, Kentucky, United States
1799
April 11, 1799
Age 21
Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
1800
June 25, 1800
Age 23
Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
1802
July 3, 1802
Age 25
Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
1803
September 22, 1803
Age 26
Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
1803
Age 25
Kentucky, United States
1805
February 14, 1805
Age 27
Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
1806
1806
Age 28
Kentucky, United States
1807
April 15, 1807
Age 30
Ashland, Fayette, Kentucky, United States