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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Henry Clay (1777–1852)
Critical and Biographical Introduction by John Robert Procter (1844–1903)
 
HENRY CLAY must not be judged as an orator by his reported speeches, which are but skeletons of the masterly originals, but by the lasting effect of these speeches on those who heard them, and by his ability as an originator of important measures and his success in carrying these measures to a conclusion by convincing and powerful oratory. Judged by his achievements and by his widespread influence, he must take rank as a statesman and orator of pre-eminent ability. The son of a poor Baptist clergyman, with but scant advantages for acquiring an education; leaving home at an early age and going among strangers to a community where family ties and social connections were a controlling element;—this poor boy, with no family influence, assumed at once, by sheer force of character and ability, a leadership which he held undisputed until his death. And years after he had passed away, it was the “followers of Henry Clay” who kept Kentucky from joining the States of the South in their unsuccessful efforts to withdraw from the Union.  1
  Of his oratory Robert C. Winthrop wrote after a lapse of years: “I can only bear witness to an impressiveness of speech never exceeded, if ever equaled, within an experience of half a century, during which I have listened to many of the greatest orators on both sides of the Atlantic.” As a parliamentary leader, Rhodes calls him the greatest in our history. “His leadership,” says Mr. Schurz, “was not of that mean order which merely contrives to organize a personal following; it was the leadership of a statesman zealously striving to promote great public interests.”  2
  As a presiding officer he was the most commanding Speaker the National House of Representatives has ever had. Winthrop, who served long with him in Congress, said of him:—“No abler or more commanding presiding officer ever sat in the Speaker’s chair on either side of the Atlantic. Prompt, dignified, resolute, fearless, he had a combination of intellectual and physical qualities which made him a natural ruler over men.” He was six times elected Speaker, sometimes almost by acclamation; and during the many years which he presided over the House not one of his decisions was ever reversed.  3
  As a Secretary of State, during his term of four years the treaties with foreign countries negotiated by him exceeded in numbers all that had been negotiated by other secretaries, during the previous thirty-five years of our constitutional history. As a diplomat, he showed himself at Ghent more than a match for the trained diplomatists of the old world.  4
  And with all these he was—at his ideal country home, Ashland, surrounded by wooded lawns and fertile acres of beautiful blue-grass land—a most successful farmer and breeder of thoroughbred stock, from the Scotch collie to the thoroughbred race-horse. I have been told by one who knew him as a farmer that no one could guess nearer to the weight of a Shorthorn bullock than he. He was as much at home with horses and horsemen as with senators and diplomats. I have known many men who were friends and followers of Mr. Clay, and from the love and veneration these men had for his memory, I can well understand why the historian Rhodes says, “No man has been loved as the people of the United States loved Henry Clay.”  5
  Clay seemed to have had honors and leadership thrust upon him. Arriving in Kentucky in 1797, he at once advocated the gradual emancipation of slaves, regardless of the strong prejudices to the contrary of the rich slaveholding community in which he had cast his lot; yet, unsolicited on his part, this community elected him to the State Legislature by a large majority in 1803, and before three years of service he was chosen by his fellow members to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. And until his death in 1852, his constituents in Kentucky vied with each other in their desires to keep him as their representative in either the national Senate or House of Representatives. He entered the latter in 1811, and was selected as Speaker of that body almost by acclamation on the first day of his taking his seat. After a long life spent in his country’s service he was elected unanimously to the Senate in 1848, despite party strife and the fact that the two parties were almost evenly divided in Kentucky.  6
  No attempt can here be made to even recapitulate the events of importance connected with his long public services. I will call attention only to some of the most important measures which he carried by his magnificent leadership.  7
 
War of 1812

  Clay assumed the leadership of those who urged resistance to the unjust and overbearing encroachments of Great Britain, and he more than any one else was instrumental in overcoming opposition and forcing a declaration of war. This war—a second war for independence, which changed this country from a disjointed confederacy liable to fall asunder, to a compact, powerful, and self-respecting Union—will ever be regarded as one of the crowning glories of his long and brilliant career. He proved more than a match in debate for Randolph, Quincy, and other able advocates for peace. When asked what we were to gain by war, he answered, “What are we not to lose by peace? Commerce, character,—a nation’s best treasure, honor!”
  8
  In answer to the arguments that certificates of protection authorized by Congress were fraudulently used, his magnificent answer, “The colors that float from the mast-head should be the credentials of our seamen,” electrified the patriots of the country. There is but a meager report of this great speech, but the effect produced was overwhelming and bore down all opposition. It is said that men of both parties, forgetting all antipathies under the spell of his eloquence, wept together. Mr. Clay’s first speech on entering Congress was in favor of the encouragement of domestic manufactures, mainly as a defensive measure in anticipation of a war with Great Britain; arguing that whatever doubts might be entertained as to the general policy of encouraging domestic manufactures by import duties, none could exist regarding the propriety of adopting measures for producing such articles as are requisite in times of war. If his measure for the increase of the standing army had been adopted in time, the humiliating reverses on land during the early part of the war would have been averted. He carried through a bill for the increase of the navy, and the brilliant naval victories of the war of 1812 followed. In the debate on the bill to provide for a standing army, it was argued that twenty-five thousand could not be had in the United States. Clay aroused the people of Kentucky to such enthusiasm that fifteen thousand men volunteered in that State alone, and members of Congress shouldered their muskets and joined the ranks.  9
 
Treaty of Ghent

  Henry Clay’s faith in the destiny of his country, and his heroic determination that a continuation of the war was preferable to the terms proposed, prevented humiliating concessions. The American Commissioners were Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, Albert Gallatin, James A. Bayard, and Jonathan Russell, and the British Commissioners Lord Gambier, Henry Goulbourn, and William Adams. The news received by Clay on his arrival in Europe was not calculated to inspire him with hope. From Mr. Bayard he received a letter (dated April 20th, 1814) with news of the triumph of the allies over Napoleon, and stating:—
          “There is reason to think that it has materially changed the views of the British Ministry…. The great augmentation of their disposable force presents an additional temptation to prosecute the war.”
  10
  By the same mail Mr. Gallatin writes from London (April 22d, 1814):—
          “You are sufficiently aware of the total change in our affairs produced by the late revolution, and by the restoration of universal peace in the European world, from which we are alone excluded. A well-organized and large army is at once liberated from any European employment, and ready, together with a superabundant naval force, to act independently against us. How ill prepared we are to meet it in a proper manner, no one knows better than yourself; but above all, our own divisions and the hostile attitude of the Eastern States give room to apprehend that a continuation of the war might prove vitally fatal to the United States.”
  11
  Mr. Russell writes from Stockholm (July 2d, 1814):—
          “My distress at the delay which our joint errand has encountered has almost been intolerable, and the kind of comfort I have received from Mr. Adams has afforded very little relief. His apprehensions are rather of a gloomy cast with regard to the result of our labors.”
  12
  Mr. Crawford, our Minister to France, who with Clay favored a vigorous prosecution of the war, writes to him (July 4th, 1814):—
          “I am thoroughly convinced that the United States can never be called upon to treat under circumstances less auspicious than those which exist at the present moment, unless our internal bickerings shall continue to weaken the effects of the government.”
  13
  With discouraging news from home, the seat of government taken, and the Capitol burned, the Eastern States opposing the war and threatening to withdraw from the Union, and his fellow commissioners in the despondent mood evidenced by the above-quoted letters,—it is amazing that Clay, whom some historians have called a compromiser by nature, opposed any and all concessions and wished that the war should go on.  14
  By the third article of the treaty of 1783 it was agreed that citizens of the United States should not fish in the waters or cure fish on the land of any of the maritime provinces north of the United States after they were settled, without a previous agreement with the inhabitants or possessors of the ground.  15
  By the eighth article of the same treaty, it was agreed that the navigation of the Mississippi River should ever remain free and open to the subjects of Great Britain and the United States. It was then supposed that the British Canadian possessions included the head-waters of this river. By the Jay treaty of 1794 this was confirmed, and “that all ports and places on its eastern side, to whichsoever of the parties belonging, might be freely resorted to and used by both parties.” At this time Spain possessed the sovereignty of the west side of the river, and both sides from its mouth to 31° north latitude. The United States acquired by the Louisiana purchase of 1803 all the sovereignty of Spain which had previously been acquired by France.  16
  Gallatin proposed to insert a provision for the renewal to the United States of the rights in the fisheries, and as an equivalent to give to Great Britain the right to the navigation of the Mississippi River. This was favored by Gallatin, Adams, and Bayard, and opposed by Clay and Russell. Mr. Clay, seeing that he was in a minority, stated that he would affix his name to no treaty which contained such a provision. After his firm stand Mr. Bayard left the majority. Clay’s “obstinacy” in opposing concessions is well shown in Mr. Adams’s Journal:—
          “To this last article [the right of the British to navigate the Mississippi River] Mr. Clay makes strong objections. He is willing to leave the matter of the fisheries as a nest-egg for another war…. He considers it a privilege much too important to be conceded for the mere liberty of drying fish upon a desert, but the Mississippi was destined to form a most important part of the interests of the American Union…. Mr. Clay, of all the members, had alone been urgent to present an article stipulating the abolition of impressment. Mr. Clay lost his temper, as he generally does whenever the right of the British to navigate the Mississippi is discussed….
  “December 11th. He [Clay] was for war three years longer. He had no doubt but three years more of war would make us a warlike people, and that then we should come out of the war with honor…. December 22d. At last he turned to me, and asked me whether I would not join him now and break off negotiations.”
  17
  After five months of weary negotiations under most adverse conditions so far as the American commissioners were concerned, the treaty was signed on December 24th, 1814. During all these months Clay had resisted any and all concessions, and none were made. The Marquis of Wellesley declared in the House of Lords that the American commissioners had shown a most astonishing superiority over the British during the whole of the correspondence.  18
  During Mr. Clay’s absence at Ghent, his admiring constituents returned him to Congress by an almost unanimous vote. A year later in Congress, Clay referred to his part in the bringing on the war as follows:—
          “I gave a vote for a declaration of war. I exerted all the little influence and talent I could command to make the war. The war was made. It is terminated. And I declare with perfect sincerity, if it had been permitted to me to lift the veil of futurity and to foresee the precise series of events which had occurred, my vote would have been unchanged. We had been insulted and outraged and spoliated upon by almost all Europe,—by Great Britain, by France, Spain, Denmark, Naples, and to cap the climax, by the little contemptible power of Algiers. We had submitted too long and too much. We had become the scorn of foreign powers and the derision of our own citizens. What have we gained by the war? Let any man look at the degraded condition of this country before the war, the scorn of the universe, the contempt of ourselves; and tell me if we have gained nothing by the war? What is our situation now? Respectability and character abroad, security and confidence at home.”
  19
  Clay more than any other man forced the war. It was the successful military hero of this war—the victor of New Orleans—who defeated him in after years for the Presidency.  20
 
Missouri Compromise

  The heated struggle in Congress over the admission of Missouri into the Union first brought prominently forward the agitation of the slavery question. This struggle, which lasted from 1818 to 1821, threatened the very existence of the Union. Jefferson wrote from Monticello:—
          “The Missouri question is the most portentous one that has ever threatened the Union. In the gloomiest moments of the Revolutionary War I never had any apprehension equal to that I feel from this source.”
  21
  Mr. Schurz, writing of the feeling at the time, says:—
          “While thus the thought of dissolving the Union occurred readily to the Southern mind, the thought of maintaining the government and preserving the Union by means of force hardly occurred to anybody. It seemed to be taken for granted on all sides that if the Southern States insisted on cutting loose from the Union, nothing could be done but to let them go.”
  22
  The two sections were at this time so evenly balanced that the maintenance of the Union by force could not have been successfully attempted. The compromise which admitted Missouri to the Union as a slave State, and recognized the right of settlers to carry slaves into the territory south of 36° 30', was carried through by the splendid leadership of Clay, who thus earned the title of “the great pacificator.” Future historians will accord to him the title of the savior of the Union.  23
  Upon the adoption of the compromise measures Mr. Clay resigned his seat in Congress to give his attention to his private affairs, being financially embarrassed by indorsing for a friend. During his stay at home there was a fierce controversy over the issue of paper money and relief measures to favor debtors who had become involved through the recklessness following such inflation. Against what seemed to be an overwhelming popular feeling, Clay arrayed himself on the side of sound money and sound finance. In 1823 he was again returned to the House of Representatives without opposition, and was chosen Speaker by a vote of 139 to 42.  24
 
Internal Improvements

  Soon after his entrance into Congress Clay took advanced ground in favor of building roads, improving water-ways, and constructing canals by the general government, in order to connect the seaboard States with the “boundless empire” of the growing West. He became the leader, the foremost champion, of a system which was bitterly opposed by some of the ablest statesmen of the time as unauthorized by the Constitution. Clay triumphed, and during his long public service was the recognized leader of a system which though opposed at first, has been accepted as a national policy by both of the great political parties. That he was actuated by a grand conception of the future destiny of the country, and the needs of such improvements to insure a more perfect union, his able speeches on these questions will show. In one he said:—
          “Every man who looks at the Constitution in the spirit to entitle him to the character of statesman, must elevate his views to the height to which this nation is destined to reach in the rank of nations. We are not legislating for this moment only, or for the present generation, or for the present populated limits of the United States; but our acts must embrace a wider scope,—reaching northward to the Pacific and southwardly to the river Del Norte. Imagine this extent of territory with sixty or seventy or a hundred millions of people. The powers which exist now will exist then; and those which will exist then exist now…. What was the object of the Convention in framing the Constitution? The leading object was UNION,—Union, then peace. Peace external and internal, and commerce, but more particularly union and peace, the great objects of the framers of the Constitution, should be kept steadily in view in the interpretation of any clause of it; and when it is susceptible of various interpretation, that construction should be preferred which tends to promote the objects of the framers of the Constitution, to the consolidation of the Union…. No man deprecates more than I do the idea of consolidation; yet between separation and consolidation, painful as would be the alternative, I should greatly prefer the latter.”
  25
  Congress now appropriates yearly for internal improvements a sum far greater than the entire revenue of the government at the time Clay made this speech.  26
 
Spanish-American Independence

  It was but natural that Clay’s ardent nature and his love of liberty would incline him to aid the people of Central and South America in their efforts to free themselves from Spanish oppression and misrule. Effective here as in all things undertaken by him, his name must always be linked with the cause of Southern American independence. Richard Rush, writing from London to Clay in 1825, says: “The South-Americans owe to you, more than to any other man of either hemisphere, their independence.” His speeches, translated into Spanish, were read to the revolutionary armies, and “his name was a household name among the patriots.” Bolivar, writing to him from Bogotá in 1827, says:—“All America, Colombia, and myself, owe your Excellency our purest gratitude for the incomparable services which you have rendered to us, by sustaining our cause with sublime enthusiasm.”
  27
  In one of his speeches on this subject Clay foreshadows a great American Zollverein. The failure of the Spanish-American republics to attain the high ideals hoped for by Clay caused him deep regret in after years.  28
 
The American System

  The tariff law of 1824 was another triumph of Clay’s successful leadership, since which time he has been called the father of what has been termed the “American System.” It must be remembered that Clay was first led to propose protective duties in order to prepare this country for a war which he felt could not be avoided without loss of national honor. When in 1824 he advocated increased tariff duties in order to foster home industries, protection was universal; even our agricultural products were excluded from British markets by the Corn Laws. The man who would now advocate in Congress duties as low as those levied by the tariff law of 1824, would be called by protectionists of the present day a free-trader. When in 1833 nullification of the tariff laws was threatened, Clay, while demanding that the laws should be enforced and that if necessary nullification should be put down by the strong arm of the government, feared that the growing discontent of the South and the obstinacy of a military President threatened the Union, introduced and carried to a conclusion a compromise tariff measure that brought peace to the country.
  29
 
Secretary of State

  It was unfortunate that Clay temporarily relinquished his leadership in Congress to accept the premiership in the Cabinet of President Adams. Although the exacting official duties were not congenial, and proved injurious to his health, his administration of this high office was brilliant and able, as is well attested by the number of important treaties concluded, and by his brilliant state papers. His instructions to the United States delegates to the Panama Congress of American Republics will grow in importance in the years to come, because of the broad principles there enunciated,—that private property should be exempt from seizure on the high seas in times of war.
  30
  His chivalrous loyalty to President Adams was fully appreciated, and his friendship reciprocated. After the close of his administration Mr. Adams in a speech said:—
          “As to my motives for tendering him the Department of State when I did, let the man who questions them come forward. Let him look around among the statesmen and legislators of the nation and of that day. Let him select and name the man whom, by his pre-eminent talents, by his splendid services, by his ardent patriotism, by his all-embracing public spirit, by his fervid eloquence in behalf of the rights and liberties of mankind, by his long experience in the affairs of the Union, foreign and domestic, a President of the United States intent only upon the honor and welfare of his country ought to have preferred to Henry Clay.”
  31
  Just before the close of his administration President Adams offered him a position on the bench of the Supreme Court, which he declined.  32
 
His Position on African Slavery

  Clay was a slaveholder, a kind master—but through his entire public life an open advocate of emancipation. He probably received his early predilections against slavery from his association with Chancellor Wythe, before removing from Virginia, as indeed the best part of his education probably came from personal contact with that able man. The intellectual forces of the border slave States were arrayed in favor of emancipation, until, as Clay writes with some feeling in 1849, they were driven to an opposite course “by the violent and indiscreet course of ultra abolitionists in the North”; but Clay remained to his death hopeful that by peaceable means his country might be rid of this great evil. In the letter above quoted, writing of his failure to establish a system of gradual emancipation in Kentucky, he says:—
          “It is a consoling reflection that although a system of gradual emancipation cannot be established, slavery is destined inevitably to extinction by the operation of peaceful and natural causes. And it is also gratifying to believe that there will not be probably much difference in the period of its existence, whether it terminates legally or naturally. The chief difference in the two modes is that according to the first, we should take hold of the institution intelligently and dispose of it cautiously and safely; while according to the other it will some day or other take hold of us, and constrain us in some manner or other to get rid of it.”
  33
  As early as 1798, he made his first political speeches in Kentucky advocating an amendment to the State Constitution, providing for the gradual emancipation of the slaves. Referring to the failure to adopt this amendment, he said in a speech delivered in the capital of Kentucky in 1829:—
          “I shall never cease to regret a decision, the effects of which have been to place us in the rear of our neighbors who are exempt from slavery, in the state of agriculture, the progress of manufactures, the advance of improvements, and the general progress of society.”
  34
  In these days, when public men who should be leaders bend to what they believe to be the popular wishes, the example of Clay, in his bold disregard of the prejudices and property interests of his constituents, is inspiring.  35
  George W. Prentice was sent from New England to Kentucky to write a life of Clay, and writing in 1830 he says:—
          “Whenever a slave brought an action at law for his liberty, Mr. Clay volunteered as his advocate, and it is said that in the whole course of his practice he never failed to obtain a verdict in the slave’s favor…. He has been the slaves’ friend through life. In all stations he has pleaded the cause of African freedom without fear from high or low. To him more than to any other individual is to be ascribed the great revolution which has taken place upon this subject—a revolution whose wheels must continue to move onward till they reach the goal of universal freedom.”
  36
  Three years before this was written, Clay in a speech before the Colonization Society said:—
          “If I could be instrumental in eradicating this deepest stain upon the character of my country, and removing all cause of reproach on account of it by foreign nations; if I could only be instrumental in ridding of this foul blot that revered State which gave me birth, or that not less beloved State which kindly adopted me as her son, I would not exchange the proud satisfaction which I should enjoy for the honor of all the triumphs ever decreed to the most successful conqueror.”
  37
  He longed to add the imperial domain of Texas to this country, but feared that it would so strengthen the slave power as to endanger the Union; and when finally he yielded to the inevitable, the Free-Soilers threw their votes to Birney and thus defeated Clay for the Presidency. He deprecated the war with Mexico, yet gave his favorite son as a soldier, who fell at Buena Vista. He stood for the reception of anti-slavery petitions by Congress, against the violent opposition of the leading men of his own section. He continued steadfast to the end, writing in 1849 that if slavery were, as claimed, a blessing, “the principle on which it is maintained would require that one portion of the white race should be reduced to bondage to serve another portion of the same race, when black subjects of slavery could not be obtained.” He proposed reasonable schemes for gradual emancipation and deportation, which would, if adopted, have averted the war and settled peaceably the serious problem. He warned the Southerners in 1849 that their demands were unreasonable, and would “lead to the formation of a sectional Northern party, which will sooner or later take permanent and exclusive possession of the Government.”  38
  Seeming inconsistencies in Mr. Clay’s record on this subject will disappear with a full understanding of the difficulties of his position. Living in a State midway between the North and South, where slavery existed in its mildest and least objectionable form, yet fully alive to its evils, recognizing that the grave problem requiring solution was not alone slavery, but the presence among a free people of a numerous, fecund, servile, alien race; realizing that one section of the country, then relatively too powerful to be ignored, was ready to withdraw from the Union rather than to submit to laws that would endanger slavery; loving the Union with an ardor not excelled by that of any public man in our history; wishing and striving for the emancipation of the slaves, yet too loyal to the Union to follow the more zealous advocates of freedom in their “higher law than the Constitution” crusade,—Mr. Clay in his whole course on this question was consistent and patriotic in the highest degree.  39
 
The Compromise of 1850

  The crowning triumph of a long life of great achievements was his great compromise measures of 1850. These, with their predecessors of 1821 and 1833, have caused some writers to speak of Clay as a man of compromising nature. The reverse is true. Bold, aggressive, uncompromising, and often dictatorial by nature, he favored compromise when convinced that only by such means could civil war or a disruption of the Union be averted. And he was right. He averted a conflict or separation from the Union when the relative strength of the South was such as to have rendered impossible the preservation of the Union by force. The Constitution was a compromise, without which there would have been no union of States. That the compromise did not long survive him was no fault of Clay’s, but chargeable to the agitators of both sections, who cared less for the Union than for their pet theories or selfish interests.
  40
  Two years after his death the compromise measures were repealed, and the most destructive civil war of modern times and a long list of resultant evils are the result. Those who knew Henry Clay and had felt his wonderful power as a leader, are firm in the belief that had he been alive and in the possession of his faculties in 1861, the Civil War would have been averted. His name and the memory of his love for the Union restrained his adopted State from joining the South.  41
  The struggle over the passage of the compromise measures, lasting for seven months, was one of the most memorable parliamentary struggles on record. The old hero, Henry Clay, broken in health, with the stamp of death upon him, for six weary months led the fight with much of his old-time fire and ability. Sustained by indomitable will and supreme love of country, “I am here,” he said, “expecting soon to go hence, and owing no responsibility but to my own conscience and to God.”  42
  In his opening speech, which lasted for two days, he said:—
          “I owe it to myself to say that no earthly power could induce me to vote for a specific measure for the introduction of slavery where it had not before existed, either south or north of that line. Sir, while you reproach, and justly too, our British ancestors for the introduction of this institution upon the continent of America, I am for one unwilling that the posterity of the present inhabitants of California and New Mexico shall reproach us for doing just what we reproach Great Britain for doing to us.”
  43
  He upbraided on the one hand the ultra abolitionists as reckless agitators, and hurled defiance at disunionists of the South, while at the same time appealing to the loftier nature and patriotic impulses of his hearers:—
          “I believe from the bottom of my soul that this measure is the reunion of the Union. And now let us discard all resentments, all passions, all petty jealousies, all personal desires, all love of peace, all hungering after gilded crumbs which fall from the table of power. Let us forget popular fears, from whatever quarter they may spring. Let us go to the fountain of unadulterated patriotism, and performing a solemn lustration, return divested of all selfish, sinister, and sordid impurities, and think alone of our God, our country, our conscience, and our glorious Union.”
  44
  As described by Bancroft, Clay was “in stature over six feet, spare and long-limbed; he stood erect as if full of vigor and vitality, and ever ready to command. His countenance expressed perpetual wakefulness and activity. His voice was music itself, and yet penetrating and far-reaching, enchanting the listeners; his words flowed rapidly without sing-song or mannerism, in a clear and steady stream. Neither in public nor in private did he know how to be dull.”  45
  Bold, fearless, commanding, the lordliest leader of his day, he was yet gentle, and as an old friend wrote, “was the most emotional man I ever knew. I have seen his eyes fill instantly on shaking the hand of an old friend, however obscure, who had stood by him in his early struggles.” The manliest of men, yet his voice would tremble with emotion on reading aloud from a letter the love messages from a little grandchild.  46
  The following, told me by a gentleman who knew Mr. Clay, illustrates the true gentleman he was:—
          “When I was a small boy my father took me with him to visit Mr. Clay at his home Ashland. We found some gentlemen there who had been invited to dinner. Just before they went in to dinner my father told me privately to run out and play on the lawn while they were dining. As the gentlemen came out, Mr. Clay saw me, and calling me to him said, ‘My young friend, I owe you an apology.’ Turning to the gentlemen he said, ‘Go into the library, gentlemen, and light your cigars—I will join you presently.’ Taking me by the hand he returned with me to the table, ordered the servants to attend to my wants, and conversed most delightfully with me until I had finished my dinner.”
  47
  He had the faculty of making friends and holding them through life by ties which no circumstances or conditions could sever.  48
  When Clay passed away there was no one whose Unionism embraced all sections, who could stand between the over-zealous advocates of abolition of slavery on the one side and the fiery defenders of the “divine institution” on the other. Sectionalism ran riot, and civil war was the result. During the many years when the North and South were divided on the question of slavery, and sectional feeling ran high, Henry Clay was the only man in public life whose broad nationalism and intense love for the Union embraced all sections, with no trace of sectional bias. He can well be called “The Great American.”  49
 
  Selections are from ‘The Speeches of Henry Clay; Edited by Calvin Colton,’ New York: A. S. Barnes, 1857.  50
 
 
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