|Birthplace:||Chesterfield County, Province of Virginia|
|Death:||Died in Hanover County, Virginia, United States|
Son of John Clay and Sarah Clay
|Occupation:||Baptist Preacher, Baptist Minister, Baptist Minister and farmer|
|Managed by:||Toscha Gayle Owen|
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About Rev. John Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852) was an American lawyer, politician, and skilled orator who represented Kentucky in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. He served three different terms as Speaker of the House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He lost his campaigns for president in 1824, 1832 and 1844.
Clay was a very dominant figure in both the First and Second Party systems. As a leading war hawk in 1812, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war in the War of 1812. In 1824 he ran for president and lost, but maneuvered House voting in favor of John Quincy Adams, who made him secretary of state as the Jacksonians denounced what they considered a "corrupt bargain." He ran and lost again in 1832 and 1844 as the candidate of the Whig Party, which he founded and usually dominated. Clay was the foremost proponent 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. 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" policy of Democrats, which cost him votes in the close 1844 election. Dubbed the "Great Pacificator," Clay brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis and on the slavery issue. As part of the "Great Triumvirate" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun, he was instrumental in formulating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850. 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, 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, John C. Calhoun, Robert La Follette, and Robert A. Taft.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. 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 in Virginia (those men who owned 20 or more slaves).
Henry was the seventh of nine children of the Reverend John Clay and Elizabeth (née Hudson) Clay. His father, a Baptist minister nicknamed "Sir John," died four years after the boy's birth (1781). The father left Henry and his brothers two slaves each, and his wife 18 slaves and 464 acres (188 ha) of land. Henry Clay was a second cousin of Cassius Marcellus Clay, who became a politician and an abolitionist in Kentucky.
The widow Elizabeth Clay married Capt. Henry Watkins, who was an affectionate stepfather. Henry Watkins moved the family to Richmond, Virginia. Elizabeth had seven more children with Watkins, bearing a total of sixteen.
Education His stepfather secured Clay employment in the office of the Virginia Court of Chancery, where the youth displayed an aptitude for law. There he became friends with George Wythe. Hampered by a crippled hand, Wythe chose Clay as his secretary. After Clay was employed as Wythe's amanuensis for four years, the chancellor took an active interest in Clay's future; he arranged a position for him with the Virginia attorney general, Robert Brooke. Clay read 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 was admitted to the bar to practice law in 1797.
Marriage and family
Henry Clay and his wife, Lucretia (née Hart) After beginning his law career, on April 11, 1799, Clay married Lucretia Hart at the Hart home in Lexington, Kentucky. She was a sister to Captain Nathaniel G. S. Hart, who died in the Massacre of the River Raisin in the War of 1812.
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 (1815–1817), James Brown Clay (1817–1864), and John Morrison Clay (1821–1887).
Seven of Clay's children died before him. 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, and complications of childbirth. Henry Clay, Jr. was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista 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 Madeline McDowell Breckinridge.
Early law and political career Legal career
View of Henry Clay's law office (1803-1810), Lexington, Kentucky In November 1797, Clay relocated to Lexington, Kentucky, the growing town near where his family then resided in Woodford County. 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-acre (240 ha) plantation, which he called "Ashland," and numerous slaves to work the land. He held 60 slaves at the peak of operations, and likely produced tobacco and hemp, the two chief commodity crops of the Bluegrass Region.
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 in 1806, after the US District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daveiss indicted him for planning an expedition into Spanish Territory west of the Mississippi River. Clay and his law partner John Allen successfully defended Burr. Some years later Thomas Jefferson convinced Clay that Daveiss 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.
State legislator In 1803, although not old enough to be elected, Clay was appointed a 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. Clay also advocated moving the state capitol from Frankfort to Lexington. He defended the Kentucky Insurance Company, which he saved from an attempt in 1804 by Felix Grundy to repeal its monopolistic charter.
First Senate appointment and eligibility Clay's influence in Kentucky state politics was such that in 1806 the Kentucky legislature elected him to the Senate seat of John Breckinridge. He had resigned when appointed as US Attorney General. The legislature first chose John Adair to complete Breckinridge's term, but he had to resign over his alleged role in the Burr Conspiracy. On December 29, 1806, Clay was sworn in as senator, serving for slightly more than two months that first time.
When elected by the legislature, Clay was below the constitutionally required age of thirty. His age did not appear to have been noticed by any other Senator, and perhaps not by Clay. His term ended before his thirtieth birthday. Such an age qualification issue has occurred with only two other U.S. Senators, Armistead Thomson Mason (aged 28 in 1816), and John Eaton (aged 28 in 1818). Such an occurrence, however, has not been repeated since. In 1934, Rush D. Holt, Sr. was elected to the Senate at the age of 29; he waited until he turned 30 (on the following June 19) to take the oath of office. In November 1972, Joe Biden was elected to the Senate at the age of 29, but he reached his 30th birthday before the swearing-in ceremony for incoming senators in January 1973.
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. On January 3, 1809, Clay introduced a resolution to require members to wear homespun suits rather than those made of imported British broadcloth. 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.
On January 4, 1809 Clay and Marshall nearly came to blows on the Assembly floor and Clay challenged Marshall to a duel, which then took place on January 19. Apparently to keep any possible blood from being spilled in their home state of Kentucky, the chosen dueling ground was in Indiana, directly across the Ohio River from what was then Shippingport, Kentucky and also near the mouth of Silver Creek.
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 resigned to serve as a judge on the United States Circuit Court, and Clay was again selected to fill his seat.
Speaker of the House
Portrait by Matthew Harris Jouett, 1818 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 (except for the first ever session of congress back in 1789). 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, 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 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, 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 Bank of the United States.
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" supporting the War of 1812 against the British Empire. Later, as one of the peace commissioners, Clay helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent 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, a group that wanted to establish a colony for free American blacks in Africa; it founded Monrovia, in what became Liberia, 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 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. Attendees included Robert Finley, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, and Daniel Webster.
The "American System" Main article: American System (economic plan) 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 36° 30' (the northern boundary of Arkansas and the latitude line) except in Missouri.
Presidential Election of 1824 and Secretary of State Main article: Election of 1824
Portrait of Henry Clay 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 of votes in the electoral college. According to the terms of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the top three electoral vote-getters advanced to the runoff in the House of Representatives. Having finished fourth, Clay was eliminated from contention; the top three were Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and William H. Crawford. Clay, who was Speaker of the House, supported Adams, and his endorsement ultimately secured Adams' win in the House.
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, his maneuver was called a "corrupt bargain" by many of Jackson's supporters and tarnished Clay's reputation.
Slave freedom suit Main article: Charlotte Dupuy As Secretary of State, Clay lived with his family and slaves in Decatur House on Lafayette Square. As he was preparing to return to Lexington in 1829, his slave Charlotte Dupuy 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 case by 27 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, 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 has been found for Aaron 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 in Washington, DC, a National Historic Landmark and museum on Lafayette Square near the White House, has exhibits on urban slavery and Charlotte Dupuy's freedom suit against Henry Clay.
Senate career The Nullification Crisis Main article: 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. Clay was by that time a U.S. Senator again, having been re-elected by Kentucky in 1831. His return to the U.S. Senate, after 20 years, 8 months, 7 days out of office, marks the fourth longest gap in service to the chamber in history.
In 1833, Clay 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
Portrait of Henry Clay After the election of Andrew Jackson, 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, and advocated passage of a resolution to censure Jackson for his actions.
In 1832 the National Republicans unanimously nominated Clay for the presidency, while the Democrats nominated the sitting President Jackson. 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 at 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 likely to win than Clay.
In 1844, Clay was nominated by the Whigs against James K. Polk, the Democratic candidate. Polk won by 170 to 105 electoral votes, carrying 15 of the 26 states. Polk's populist stances on territorial expansion figured prominently—particularly his opinion on US control over the entire Oregon Country and his support for the annexation of Texas. Clay opposed annexing Texas on the grounds that it would once again bring the issue of slavery to the forefront of the nation's political dialog and would draw the ire of Mexico, from which Texas had declared its independence in 1836. Despite Polk's populism, 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 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 and beyond.
The Compromise of 1850 Main article: 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".
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. Clay originally intended the resolutions to be voted on separately, but at the urging of southerners he agreed to the creation of a Committee of Thirteen to consider the measures. The committee was formed on April 17. On May 8, as chair of the committee, Clay presented an omnibus bill linking all of the resolutions. The resolutions included:
Admission of California as a free state, ending the balance of free and slave states in the senate. Organization of the Utah and New Mexico 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 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 that would eventually kill him began to take its toll. Clay left the Senate to recuperate in Newport, Rhode Island. Stephen A. Douglas 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 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's estate, Ashland, in Lexington, Kentucky Clay continued to serve both the Union he loved and his home state of Kentucky. On June 29, 1852, 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 Theodore Frelinghuysen, 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, by W.L.G. Smith, is dedicated to his memory, Clay's Will freed all the slaves he held. --Wikipedia
Rev. John Clay's Timeline
Chesterfield County, Province of Virginia
Hanover County, VA
Hanover, Virginia, United States
Hanover County, Province of Virginia
Hanover, Virginia, United States
April 12, 1777
Hanover, Hanover County, Virginia, United States
April 12, 1777
Hanover, Virginia, United States
Hanover County, Virginia, United States
Hanover County, Virginia, United States