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The War Hawks

Henry Clay

Henry Clay (born 1777, died 1852) was born near Richmond, Virginia. His father, a Baptist preacher, died when Henry was five years old. His mother married a second time, and removed to Kentucky, leaving Henry at work as clerk in a retail store in Richmond. He soon abandoned this position, however, and became a copyist in a law office. Licensed as a lawyer in 1797, he removed to Lexington, Kentucky, and soon established a flourishing practice through his remarkable power of influencing juries. Clay retired from public life in 1842, but in 1848 he was again sent to the Senate, where he struggled hard to avert the great battle on the slavery question. Unfortunately his health gave way, and in 1851 he was compelled to retire to private life, and in the following year, on the 29th of July, he died. Congress adjourned on the news of his death, and the following day eulogies were delivered in both Senate and House. New York and the chief cities of Kentucky honored the day of his funeral. [ Henry Clay, of Kentucky was the chief advocate of the (Missouri) compromise, and he used all his eloquence in calming the angry passions which the discussion had excited, and in promoting peace and brotherly confidence.]