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Henry Clay Edit Profile


Henry Clay, American senator.


Clay, Henry was born on April 12, 1777 in Hanover County, Virginia, United States. Son of John and Elizabeth (Hudson) Clay.


Moved to Lexington, Kentucky, 1797. Member Kentucky Legislature, 1803-1806, member, speaker, 1807-1810. Member United States Senate from Kentucky, 1806-1807 (even though he was less than required 30 years of age), 1810-1811, 31-42, 49-52.

Opposed rechartering of the United States Bank. Member United States House of Representatives from Kentucky, 12th-16th, 18th congresses, 1811-1821, 23-25, speaker, 1811-1820, 23-25. United States secretary of state under Adams, 1825-1829.


  • A leader of the War Hawks during 12th Congress, active supporter of President James Madison and War of 1812, member Ghent Peace Commission, 1814, developed American System (program of nationalism including internal improvements in transportation, re-chartering of national bank, tariff protection for American industries, a policy of national defense). Achieved bank charter and protective tariff of 1816. Organized campaign for recognition of South American states, 1818.

    Resigned as speaker to attack Andrew Jackson on floor of House of Representatives for his invasion of Florida, 1819. Earned title of Great Pacificator as result of Missouri Compromise of 1820. Secured passage highest protective tariff enacted to that time, 1824.

    Presidential nominee of Whig Party, 1824, threw his support to John Quincy Adams when defeat became evident, accused of secret alliance (charges strengthened when Adams appointed him to cabinet). Resolved crisis caused by South Carolina.’s nullification of Tariff Act of 1832 with Compromise of 1833. Unsuccessful Whig presidential candidate, 1832.

    Principle author series of resolutions known as Compromise of 1850 (by which he sought to avoid civil war).


Married Lucretia Hart, April 1799, 11 children including Thomas, James, and John.

John Clay

Elizabeth (Hudson) Clay

Lucretia Hart