On June 29, 1852, statesman Henry Clay, known as "the Great Compromiser" for his feats of legislative reconciliation between the North and the South, died at the age of seventy-five at the Old National Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Born on a farm in Virginia on April 12, 1777, Clay practiced law in Virginia and Kentucky before embarking on a political career. He represented Kentucky both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives and was a guiding force in American political life. He served as Speaker of the House of Representatives (as a Democratic Republican) from 1811-20 and again from 1823-24. He advocated U.S. entry into the War of 1812 with such nationalistic fervor that he earned himself the sobriquet "War Hawk." Clay also played a role in the negotiation of that war's peace as one of five commissioners who drafted the Treaty of Ghent.