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THENEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY

189554
ASTOR, LENOX AND
TILDEN FOUNDATIONS.

1900,

Entered according to the act of Congtes: 18 the fear Eighteen Hundred & Fortyone, by RICHARD CHINEERS;' inahe obic& of chi Clerk of the District of Indiana.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

HENRY CLAY was born in Hanover county, Virginia, on the 12th of April, 1777. His father, a respectable clergyman, died whilst his son Henry was yet quite young. At an early age, Henry received a good common school education, and was placed in the office of Mr. Tinsley, Clerk of the High Court of Chancery, at Richmond, Virginia. His great intellectual powers and gentlemanly deportment brought him within the notice and acquaintance of men of talents and worth; among others, Governor Brooke and Chancellor Wythe, by whose advice, he commenced the study of the law. At the age of 20 he was admitted to the bar, and soon after removed to Lexington, Kentucky, with a design to pursue the practice of his profession.

Mr. Clay soon took high rank as a lawyer, although the Lexington Bar was then, as now, widely distinguished for learning and forensic eloquence. He early exhibited an intimate acquaintance with the principles of law, and his connexion with Mr. Tinsley had made him familiar with the practical learning of his profession. He made it an invariable rule to make himself intimately acquainted with all the details of his case, before the time of trial. These advantages, added to his forcible and perspicuous arguments,—his masterly, earnest and skilful appeals to the passions, rendered his success rapid and permanent. His practice soon became extensive and lucrative.

Kentucky was one of the first States of the Union which raised the voice of opposition against the odious alien and sedition law of the Federal party of 1798 and '99. Mr. Clay's devotion to the great cause of human rights and liberty was early exhibited in his eloquent and fearless denunciations of these high-handed measures. His bold vindications of the freedom of the press, the great bulwark of American liberty, the grace of his

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manner, and above all the power of his elocution, pointed him out as an ardent and successful defender of the democratic party and its principles. Democratic prin. ciples then predominated in Kentucky; and through all the mutations of party, this State has ever proven herself stedfast in her devotion to these principles, and has never faltered in her course. In 1803, when Mr. Clay was only 25 years of age, he was elected to represent Fayette county, in the more numerous branch of the State Legislature. On this extended theatre he met Kentucky's most eloquent and able men, and soon became a prominent member; in the course of a few sessions he was elected Speaker.

In 1806, he was elected by the Legislature of Kentucky to fill a vacancy in their delegation to the Senate of the United States; and thus was this young plebeian, afterwards known as the Great Commoner, at the early age of 29, without family and without patrimony, by the energy and faithful application of his talent and genius, and through his unwavering and eloquent support of popular rights, elevated to a seat in the most august: assembly of modern times.

In 1809, Mr. Clay was again elected to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. In 1811, at the expiration of his second term of service in the Senate, he became a candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives, and was, without difficulty, elected, and at the first session was chosen speaker of that body, a circumstance unparallelled in the history of legislation.

Mr. Clay was the champion of the Republican Democratic party, and supported the administration of Mr. Madison with all his influence and brilliant eloquence. He early discovered the necessity of a war with Great Britain, and boldly advocated that measure. foremost in devising and vindicating plans for the successful

progress of the nation through this crisis, and was instrumental in procuring from Great Britain an honorable peace. While absent in Europe, on his mission to Ghent, he was again elected to Congress, and declining from Mr. Madison either a mission to Russia, or a place in the cabinet, he resumed his seat in the councils of his

He was

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