Henry Clay Dies
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.
Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852) was a nineteenth-century American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He served as Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829.
He was a dominant figure in both the First Party System to 1824, and the Second Party System after that. Known as "The Great Compromiser" and "The Great Pacifier" for his ability to bring others to agreement, he was the founder and leader of the Whig Party and a leading advocate of programs for modernizing the economy, especially tariffs to protect industry, a national bank, and internal improvements to promote canals, ports and railroads.
He was a leading war hawk and, according to historian Clement Eaton, was "more than any other individual" responsible for the War of 1812. Clay was also called "Henry of the West" and "The Western Star."
Although his multiple attempts to become president were unsuccessful, to a large extent he defined the issues of the Second Party System. He was a major supporter of the American System, and had success in brokering compromises on the slavery issue, especially in 1820 and 1850.
He was part of the "Great Triumvirate" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun. In 1957, a Senate committee chaired by John F. Kennedy named Clay as one of the five greatest senators in U.S. history. In his early involvement in Illinois politics and as a fellow Kentucky native, Abraham Lincoln was a great admirer of Clay.
I implore, as the best blessing which Heaven can bestow upon me upon earth, that if the direful and sad event of the dissolution of the Union shall happen, I may not survive to behold the sad and heart-rending spectacle.”— Henry Clay
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