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Clay, Henry

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Definition: Clay, Henry from

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

, Henry Known as “the Great Compromiser.” 1777–1852.


American politician who pushed the Missouri Compromise through the US House of Representatives (1820) in an effort to reconcile free and slave states.

Summary Article: Clay, Henry from The Columbia Encyclopedia
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852, American statesman, b. Hanover co., Va. Early Career His father died when he was four years old, and Clay's formal schooling was limited to three years. His stepfather secured (1792) for him a clerk's position in the Virginia high court of chancery. There he gained the regard of George Wythe, who directed his reading. Clay also read law under Robert Brooke, attorney general of Virginia, and in 1797 he was licensed to practice. Moving in the same year to Lexington, Ky., he quickly gained wide reputation as a lawyer and orator. He served (1803-6) in the Kentucky legislature and was (1805-7) professor of law at Transylvania Univ. Having spent the short session of 1806-7 in the U.S. Senate, he returned (1807) to the state legislature, became (1808) speaker, and remained there until he was chosen to fill an unexpired term (1810-11) in the U.S. Senate. Congressman...    Continue Reading
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