Henry Clay Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: April 12, 1777 in Hanover County, Virginia
Died: June 29, 1852 in Washington, District of Columbia
Biography | show moreshow less
Clay (1777-1852), who became known as "the Great Pacificator", took office as Secretary of State under President John Q. Adams during less than peaceful circumstances. One of four Presidential hopefuls in the 1824 election, Clay had fewer electoral votes than Adams, Andrew Jackson or William Crawford and was forced to withdraw. Clay's 37 electoral votes determined the outcome of the election when, on the evening of Jan. 9, 1825, he visited Adams, and they struck a bargain. Adams won the election and the animosity of both Jackson and Crawford, who cried "corrupt bargain". Their charge gained credibility when Clay headed the list of Adams' Cabinet appointments. Clay also served as U.S. Senator (1806-1807, 1810-1811, 1831-1842, 1849-1852), Congressman (1811-1814, 1815-1821, 1823-1825) and Speaker of the House (all years in Congress except 1821). He set his bids on the presidency in two additional elections: as the National Republican (Whig) nominee in 1832 (losing to Jackson) and the Whig nominee in 1844 (defeated by Polk). When Clay died on June 29, 1852, he was sure that his last great work, the Compromise of 1850, had permanently averted a Civil War. Unfortunately, the compromise only delayed the inevitable for a decade.

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