Collection of Benjamin Weiss
HENRY CLAY: ELOQUENT DEFENDER
WRIGHT, Charles Cushing: USA , 1852, Bronze, 77 mm
Henry Clay (1777-1852), American statesman and orator, was born in Virginia but spent most of his adult life in Kentucky. Over his lifetime he held various political positions, including those in the Senate and House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker. He also was Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams and was a strong presidential candidate in nearly every campaign between 1824 and 1848. He never attained this lifetime ambition, however. Along with John C. Calhoun, Clay became the foremost champion of the Democratic Republican Party in Congress. While he was involved in a wide variety of causes, Clay's career was connected most intimately with that of slavery. When only 22, Clay vainly urged an emancipation clause for the new constitution of Kentucky. He also congratulated the new South American republics on having abolished slavery. However, when the Southern States threatened to destroy the Union, he advocated the "Missouri Compromise" which kept slavery out of all of the the territory included in the Louisiana Purchase except Missouri itself. Also, as was seen so often among Southern politicians of the period, while he denounced slavery as an evil, he himself held slaves on his own plantation. His philosophy of compromise, which won him both friends as well as enemies, can be summed up in his own words: "All legislation, all government, all society is founded upon the principle of mutual concession..."
LINK to Missouri Compromise (from www.pbs.org)
LINK to "A Student's Guide to the Missouri Compromise" (suggested by Jake from Seattle)