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P R E FACE
The biography of our country's most distinguished and honored statesmen is emi. nently fraught with encouragement and hope for her aspiring youth—especially for those who enter upon the stage of active life unportioned and unheralded by the partial voice of powerful friends and kindred. Of the eight citizens who have attained the honors of the Presidency, Washington was descended from a family of country squires, Adams from a Puritan ancestry of unpresuming worth and undistinguished talent, and Harrison immediately from a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and remotely from one of the Judges who condemned Charler 1. to the block. The others belong to that very large number who, in fashionable parlance, 'had no grandfathers'—that is, who achieved eminence for themselves, and did not receive it from pedigrees. From Franklin down to Hamilton, the master-spirits of the Revolution were men who could never have hoped to achieve distinction as the colonists of a distant monarchy. Each of these carved out for himself a lofty niche in the Temple of Fame ; but seldom have their lineal successors presented any claim to rival, much less heighten, the glory which still faintly irradiates their brows. Or how many of the Patriots and Sages of the past generation do we find the glory reflected in their descendants ?
Henry Clas is one of the many among our eminent men who, beside the disadvantages of poverty and obscurity, were fated to encounter that of early orphanage. His father, a clergyman of the Baptist persuasion, died while he was yet very young, leaving him nothing but a Christian example and an honest name. Yet he found friends to aid his acquirement of a knowledge of the Law, to which his powers were early dedicated; he found and attached friends in the new home in the wild west to which his footsteps were turned while yet in his minority ; and at an age when men have rarely ventured to aspire to political distinction, he who had so lately entered Kentucky an unknown and friendless stripling, had passed from a seat in the Legislature to the Speaker's chair, and thence to the Senate of the United States.