Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010

Henry Clay

Henry Clay, (1777-1852) was a monumental figure in American politics in the middle part of the nineteenth century. A leading statesman and presidential aspirant, Clay's political intuition earned him the nickname "The Great Compromiser." He became a U.S. Senator in 1806, despite being younger than the constitutional age limit of thirty years. During the following years Clay was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, served as speaker of the House in his first term of office and also played a significant role in leading the nation to war in 1812. After the war, Clay advocated for improvements to internal infrastructure and to stabilize the national financial system. Cementing his political footprint, Clay brokered a temporary balance to the slavery dispute between the states of Maine and Missouri in a plan called the "Missouri Compromise" in 1820 and is also remembered for a series of resolutions he proposed in the Compromise of 1850, including a prohibition of the slave trade. Despite being named one of the five greatest Senators in U.S history by none other than former president John F. Kennedy, Henry Clay never made it to the Oval office. He was famously quoted as saying "I'd rather be right than be president."