|United States Senator
March 5, 1849 – June 29, 1852
|Preceded by||Thomas Metcalfe|
|Succeeded by||David Meriwether|
November 10, 1831 – March 31, 1842
|Preceded by||John Rowan|
|Succeeded by||John J. Crittenden|
January 4, 1810 – March 4, 1811
|Preceded by||Buckner Thruston|
|Succeeded by||George M. Bibb|
December 29, 1806 – March 4, 1807
|Preceded by||John Adair|
|Succeeded by||John Pope|
|9th United States Secretary of State|
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
|President||John Quincy Adams|
|Preceded by||John Quincy Adams|
|Succeeded by||Martin Van Buren|
|8th, 10th and 13th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives|
March 4, 1823 – March 4, 1825
|Preceded by||Philip Pendleton Barbour|
|Succeeded by||John W. Taylor|
March 4, 1815 – October 28, 1820
|Preceded by||Langdon Cheves|
|Succeeded by||John W. Taylor|
March 4, 1811 – January 19, 1814
|Preceded by||Joseph Bradley Varnum|
|Succeeded by||Langdon Cheves|
|Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 3rd district
March 4, 1823 – March 4, 1825
|Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 2nd district
March 4, 1815 – March 4, 1821
March 4, 1813 – January 19, 1814
|Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 5th district
March 4, 1811 – March 3, 1813
|Born||April 12, 1777
Hanover County, Virginia
|Died||June 29, 1852 (aged 75)
|Spouse(s)||Lucretia Hart Clay|
|Children||Henrietta, Theodore, Thomas, Susan, Anne, Lucretia, Henry, Jr., Eliza, Laura, James Brown Clay, John Morrison Clay|
|Alma mater||College of William and Mary|
Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852) was an American lawyer, politician, and skilled orator who represented Kentucky in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. He served three different terms as Speaker of the House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He lost his campaigns for president in 1824, 1832 and 1844.
Clay was a dominant figure in both the First and Second Party systems. As a leading war hawk in 1812, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war in the War of 1812. In 1824 he ran for president and lost, but maneuvered House voting in favor of John Quincy Adams, who made him secretary of state as the Jacksonians denounced what they considered a "corrupt bargain." He ran and lost again in 1832 and 1844 as the candidate of the Whig Party, which he founded and usually dominated. Clay was the foremost proponent of the American System, fighting for an increase in tariffs to foster industry in the United States, the use of federal funding to build and maintain infrastructure, and a strong national bank. He opposed the annexation of Texas, fearing it would inject the slavery issue into politics. Clay also opposed the Mexican-American War and the "Manifest Destiny" policy of Democrats, which cost him votes in the close 1844 election. Dubbed the "Great Pacificator," Clay brokered important compromises during the Nullification Crisis and on the slavery issue. As part of the "Great Triumvirate" or "Immortal Trio," along with his colleagues Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun, he was instrumental in formulating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850. He was viewed as the primary representative of Western interests in this group, and was given the names "Henry of the West" and "The Western Star." A plantation owner, Clay held slaves during his lifetime but freed them in his will.
Abraham Lincoln, the Whig leader in Illinois, was a great admirer of Clay, saying he was "my ideal of a great man." Lincoln wholeheartedly supported Clay's economic programs. In 1957, a Senate Committee selected Clay as one of the five greatest U.S. Senators, along with Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert La Follette, and Robert A. Taft.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early law and political career
- 3 Speaker of the House
- 4 Presidential Election of 1824 and Secretary of State
- 5 Senate career
- 6 Death and estate
- 7 Monuments and memorials
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Early life and education
Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, at the Clay homestead in Hanover County, Virginia, in a story-and-a-half frame house. It was an above-average home for a "common" Virginia planter of that time. At the time of his death, Clay's father owned more than 22 slaves, making him part of the planter class in Virginia (those men who owned 20 or more slaves).
Henry was the seventh of nine children of the Reverend John Clay and Elizabeth (née Hudson) Clay. His father, a Baptist minister nicknamed "Sir John," died four years after the boy's birth (1781). The father left Henry and his brothers two slaves each, and his wife 18 slaves and 464 acres (188 ha) of land. Henry Clay was a second cousin of Cassius Marcellus Clay, who became a politician and an abolitionist in Kentucky.
The widow Elizabeth Clay married Capt. Henry Watkins, who was an affectionate stepfather. Henry Watkins moved the family to Richmond, Virginia. Elizabeth had seven more children with Watkins, bearing a total of sixteen.
His stepfather secured Clay employment in the office of the Virginia Court of Chancery, where the youth displayed an aptitude for law. There he became friends with George Wythe. Hampered by a crippled hand, Wythe chose Clay as his secretary. After Clay was employed as Wythe's amanuensis for four years, the chancellor took an active interest in Clay's future; he arranged a position for him with the Virginia attorney general, Robert Brooke. Clay read law by working and studying with Wythe, Chancellor of the Commonwealth of Virginia (also a mentor to Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall, among others), and Brooke. Clay was admitted to the bar to practice law in 1797.
Marriage and family
After beginning his law career, on April 11, 1799, Clay married Lucretia Hart at the Hart home in Lexington, Kentucky. She was a sister to Captain Nathaniel G. S. Hart, who died in the Massacre of the River Raisin in the War of 1812.
Clay and his wife had eleven children (six daughters and five sons): Henrietta (1800–1801), Theodore (1802–1870), Thomas (1803–1871), Susan (1805–1825), Anne (1807–1835), Lucretia (1809–1823), Henry, Jr. (1811–1847), Eliza (1813–1825), Laura (1815–1817), James Brown (1817–1864), and John (1821–1887).
Seven of Clay's children died before him. By 1835 all six daughters had died of varying causes, two when very young, two as children, the other two as young women: from whooping cough, yellow fever, and complications of childbirth. Henry Clay, Jr. was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War.
Lucretia Hart Clay died in 1864 at the age of 83. She is interred with her husband in the vault of his monument at the Lexington Cemetery. Henry and Lucretia Clay were great-grandparents of the suffragist Madeline McDowell Breckinridge.
Early law and political career
In November 1797, Clay relocated to Lexington, Kentucky, the growing town near where his family then resided in Woodford County. He soon established a reputation for his legal skills and courtroom oratory. Some of his clients paid him with horses and others with land. Clay came to own town lots and the Kentucky Hotel.
By 1812, Clay owned a productive 600-acre (240 ha) plantation, which he called "Ashland," and numerous slaves to work the land. He held 60 slaves at the peak of operations, and likely produced tobacco and hemp, the two chief commodity crops of the Bluegrass Region.
One of Clay's clients was his father-in-law, Colonel Thomas Hart, an early settler of Kentucky and a prominent businessman. Clay's most notable client was Aaron Burr in 1806, after the US District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daveiss indicted him for planning an expedition into Spanish Territory west of the Mississippi River. Clay and his law partner John Allen successfully defended Burr. Some years later Thomas Jefferson convinced Clay that Daveiss had been right in his charges. Clay was so upset that many years later, when he met Burr again, Clay refused to shake his hand.
In 1803, although not old enough to be elected, Clay was appointed a representative of Fayette County in the Kentucky General Assembly. As a legislator, Clay advocated a liberal interpretation of the state's constitution and initially the gradual emancipation of slavery in Kentucky, although the political realities of the time forced him to abandon that position. Clay also advocated moving the state capitol from Frankfort to Lexington. He defended the Kentucky Insurance Company, which he saved from an attempt in 1804 by Felix Grundy to repeal its monopolistic charter.
First Senate appointment and eligibility
Clay's influence in Kentucky state politics was such that in 1806 the Kentucky legislature elected him to the Senate seat of John Breckinridge. He had resigned when appointed as US Attorney General. The legislature first chose John Adair to complete Breckinridge's term, but he had to resign over his alleged role in the Burr Conspiracy. On December 29, 1806, Clay was sworn in as senator, serving for slightly more than two months that first time.
When elected by the legislature, Clay was below the constitutionally required age of thirty. His age did not appear to have been noticed by any other Senator, and perhaps not by Clay. His term ended before his thirtieth birthday. Such an age qualification issue has occurred with only two other U.S. Senators, Armistead Thomson Mason (aged 28 in 1816), and John Eaton (aged 28 in 1818). Such an occurrence, however, has not been repeated since. In 1934, Rush D. Holt, Sr. was elected to the Senate at the age of 29; he waited until he turned 30 (on the following June 19) to take the oath of office. In November 1972, Joe Biden was elected to the Senate at the age of 29, but he reached his 30th birthday before the swearing-in ceremony for incoming senators in January 1973.
Speaker of the State House and duel with Humphrey Marshall
When Clay returned to Kentucky in 1807, he was elected the Speaker of the state House of Representatives. On January 3, 1809, Clay introduced a resolution to require members to wear homespun suits rather than those made of imported British broadcloth. Two members voted against the measure. One was Humphrey Marshall, an "aristocratic lawyer who possessed a sarcastic tongue," who had been hostile toward Clay in 1806 during the trial of Aaron Burr.
Clay and Marshall nearly came to blows on the Assembly floor, and Clay challenged Marshall to a duel. The duel took place on January 9 in Shippingport, Kentucky. They each had three turns. Clay grazed Marshall once, just below the chest. Marshall hit Clay once in the thigh.
Second Senate appointment
Speaker of the House
In the summer of 1811, Clay was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was chosen Speaker of the House on the first day of his first session, something never done before or since (except for the first ever session of congress back in 1789). During the fourteen years following his first election, he was re-elected five times to the House and to the speakership. Like other Southern Congressmen, Clay took slaves to Washington, DC to work in his household. They included Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy, their son Charles and daughter Mary Ann.
Before Clay's election as Speaker of the House, the position had been that of a rule enforcer and mediator. Clay made the position one of political power second only to the President of the United States. He immediately appointed members of the War Hawk faction (of which he was the "guiding spirit") to all the important committees, effectively giving him control of the House. This was a singular achievement for a 34-year-old House freshman. During his early House service, Clay strongly opposed the creation of a National Bank, in part because of his personal ownership in several small banks in his hometown of Lexington. Later he changed his position and, when he was seeking the presidency, gave strong support for the Second Bank of the United States.
The War Hawks, mostly from the South and the West, resented British violations of United States (US) maritime rights and its treatment of US sailors; they feared British designs on US territory in the Old Northwest. They advocated a declaration of war against the British. As the Congressional leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, Clay took charge of the agenda, especially as a "War Hawk" supporting the War of 1812 against the British Empire. Later, as one of the peace commissioners, Clay helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent and signed it on December 24, 1814. In 1815, while still in Europe, he helped negotiate a commerce treaty with Great Britain.
Henry Clay helped establish and became president in 1816 of the American Colonization Society, a group that wanted to establish a colony for free American blacks in Africa; it founded Monrovia, in what became Liberia, for that purpose. The group was made up of both abolitionists from the North, who wanted to end slavery, and slaveholders, who wanted to deport free blacks to reduce what they considered a threat to the stability of slave society. On the "amalgamation" of the black and white races, Clay said that "The God of Nature, by the differences of color and physical constitution, has decreed against it." Clay presided at the founding meeting of the ACS on December 21, 1816, at the Davis Hotel in Washington, D.C. Attendees included Robert Finley, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Andrew Jackson, Francis Scott Key, and Daniel Webster.
The "American System"
Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun helped to pass the Tariff of 1816 as part of the national economic plan Clay called "The American System," rooted in Alexander Hamilton's American School. Described later by Friedrich List, it was designed to allow the fledgling American manufacturing sector, largely centered on the eastern seaboard, to compete with British manufacturing through the creation of tariffs.
After the conclusion of the War of 1812, British factories were overwhelming American ports with inexpensive goods. To persuade voters in the western states to support the tariff, Clay advocated federal government support for internal improvements to infrastructure, principally roads and canals. These internal improvements would be financed by the tariff and by sale of the public lands, prices for which would be kept high to generate revenue. Finally, a national bank would stabilize the currency and serve as the nexus of a truly national financial system.
Clay's American System ran into strong opposition from President Jackson's administration. One of the most important points of contention between the two men was over the Maysville Road. Jackson vetoed a bill which would authorize federal funding for a project to construct a road linking Lexington and the Ohio River, the entirety of which would be in the state of Kentucky, because he felt that it did not constitute interstate commerce, as specified in the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
In foreign policy, Clay was the leading American supporter of independence movements and revolutions in Latin America after 1817. Between 1821 and 1826, the U.S. recognized all the new countries, except Uruguay (whose independence was debated and recognized only later). When in 1826 the U.S. was invited to attend the Columbia Conference of new nations, opposition emerged, and the American delegation never arrived. Clay supported the Greek independence revolutionaries in 1824 who wished to separate from the Ottoman Empire, an early move into European affairs.
The Missouri Compromise and 1820s
In 1820 a dispute erupted over the extension of slavery in Missouri Territory. Clay helped settle this dispute by gaining Congressional approval for a plan called the "Missouri Compromise". It brought in Maine as a free state and Missouri as a slave state (thus maintaining the balance in the Senate, which had included 11 free and 11 slave states), and it forbade slavery north of 36° 30' (the northern boundary of Arkansas and the latitude line) except in Missouri.
Presidential Election of 1824 and Secretary of State
By 1824, the unparalleled success of the Democratic-Republican Party had driven all other parties from the field. Four major candidates, including Clay, sought the office of president. Because of the unusually large number of candidates receiving electoral votes, no candidate secured a majority of votes in the electoral college. According to the terms of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the top three electoral vote-getters advanced to the runoff in the House of Representatives. Having finished fourth, Clay was eliminated from contention; the top three were John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and William H. Crawford. Clay, who was Speaker of the House, supported Adams, and his endorsement ultimately secured Adams' win in the House.
Clay used his political clout to secure the victory for Adams, who he felt would be both more sympathetic to Clay's political views and more likely to appoint Clay to a cabinet position. When Clay was appointed Secretary of State, his maneuver was called a "corrupt bargain" by many of Jackson's supporters and tarnished Clay's reputation.
Slave freedom suit
As Secretary of State, Clay lived with his family and slaves in Decatur House on Lafayette Square. As he was preparing to return to Lexington in 1829, his slave Charlotte Dupuy sued Clay for her freedom and that of her two children, based on a promise by an earlier owner. Her legal challenge to slavery preceded the more famous Dred Scott case by 27 years. The "freedom suit" received a fair amount of attention in the press at the time. Dupuy's attorney gained an order from the court for her to remain in DC until the case was settled, and she worked for wages for 18 months for Martin Van Buren, the successor to Secretary of State and the Decatur House. Clay returned to Ashland with Aaron, Charles and Mary Ann Dupuy.
The jury ruled against Dupuy, deciding that any agreement with her previous master Condon did not bear on Clay. Because Dupuy refused to return voluntarily to Kentucky, Clay had his agent arrest her. She was imprisoned in Alexandria, Virginia, before Clay arranged for her transport to New Orleans, where he placed her with his daughter and son-in-law Martin Duralde. Mary Ann Dupuy was sent to join her mother, and they worked as domestic slaves for the Duraldes for another decade.
In 1840 Henry Clay finally gave Charlotte and her daughter Mary Ann Dupuy their freedom. He kept her son Charles Dupuy as a personal servant, frequently citing him as an example of how well he treated his slaves. Clay granted Charles Dupuy his freedom in 1844. While no deed of emancipation has been found for Aron Dupuy, in 1860 he and Charlotte were living together as free black residents in Fayette County, Kentucky. He may have been freed or "given his time" by one of Clay's sons, as Dupuy continued to work at Ashland, for pay.
Decatur House in Washington, DC, a National Historic Landmark and museum on Lafayette Square near the White House, has exhibits on urban slavery and Charlotte Dupuy's freedom suit against Henry Clay.
The Nullification Crisis
After the passage of the Tariff of 1828, dubbed the "tariff of abominations" which raised tariffs considerably in an attempt to protect fledgling factories built under previous tariff legislation, South Carolina declared its right to nullify federal tariff legislation and stopped assessing the tariff on imports. It threatened to secede from the Union if the Federal government tried to enforce the tariff laws. Furious, President Jackson threatened to lead an army to South Carolina and hang any man who refused to obey the law.
The crisis worsened until 1833. Clay was by that time a U.S. Senator again, having been re-elected by Kentucky in 1831. His return to the U.S. Senate, after 20 years, 8 months, 7 days out of office, marks the fourth longest gap in service to the chamber in history.
In 1833, Clay helped to broker a deal in Congress to lower the tariff gradually. This measure helped to preserve the supremacy of the Federal government over the states, but the crisis was indicative of the developing conflict between the northern and southern United States over economics and slavery.
Opposition to Jackson and creation of Whig Party
After the election of Andrew Jackson, Clay led the opposition to Jackson's policies. His supporters included the National Republicans, who were beginning to identify as "Whigs" in honor of ancestors during the Revolutionary War. They opposed the "tyranny" of Jackson, as their ancestors had opposed the tyranny of King George III. Clay strongly opposed Jackson's refusal to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, and advocated passage of a resolution to censure Jackson for his actions.
In 1832 the National Republicans unanimously nominated Clay for the presidency, while the Democrats nominated the sitting President Jackson. The main issue was the policy of continuing the Second Bank of the United States. Clay lost by a wide margin to the highly popular Jackson (55% to 37%).
In 1840, Clay was a candidate for the Whig nomination, but he was defeated at the party convention by supporters of war hero William Henry Harrison. Harrison was chosen because his war record was attractive, and he was seen as more likely to win than Clay.
In 1844, Clay was nominated by the Whigs against James K. Polk, the Democratic candidate. Polk won by 170 to 105 electoral votes, carrying 15 of the 26 states. Polk's populist stances on territorial expansion figured prominently - particularly his "54°40' or fight" mantra (supporting US control over the entire Oregon Country) and his support for the annexation of Texas. Clay opposed annexing Texas on the grounds that it would once again bring the issue of slavery to the forefront of the nation's political dialog and would draw the ire of Mexico, from which Texas had declared its independence in 1836. Despite Polk's populism, the election was close; New York's 36 electoral votes proved the difference, and went to Polk by a slim 5,000 vote margin. Liberty Party candidate James G. Birney won slightly more than 15,000 votes in New York and likely attracted votes that might have gone to Clay. His warnings about Texas proved prescient. The US annexation of Texas led to the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) (in which his namesake son died). The North and South came to increased tensions during Polk's Presidency over the extension of slavery into Texas and beyond.
The Compromise of 1850
After losing the Whig Party nomination to Zachary Taylor in 1848, Clay decided to retire to his Ashland estate in Kentucky. Retired for less than a year, he was in 1849 again elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky. During his term, the controversy over the expansion of slavery in new lands had reemerged with the addition of the lands ceded to the United States by Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. David Wilmot, a Northern congressman, had proposed preventing the extension of slavery into any of the new territory in a proposal referred to as the "Wilmot Proviso".
On January 29, 1850, Clay proposed a series of resolutions, which he considered to reconcile Northern and Southern interests, what would widely be called the Compromise of 1850. Clay originally intended the resolutions to be voted on separately, but at the urging of southerners he agreed to the creation of a Committee of Thirteen to consider the measures. The committee was formed on April 17. On May 8, as chair of the committee, Clay presented an omnibus bill linking all of the resolutions. The resolutions included:
- Admission of California as a free state, ending the balance of free and slave states in the senate.
- Organization of the Utah and New Mexico territories without any slavery provisions, giving the right to determine whether to allow slavery to the territorial populations.
- Prohibition of the slave trade, not the ownership of slaves, in the District of Columbia.
- A more stringent Fugitive Slave Act.
- Establishment of boundaries for the state of Texas in exchange for federal payment of Texas's ten million dollar debt.
- A declaration by Congress that it did not have the authority to interfere with the interstate slave trade.
The Omnibus bill, despite Clay's efforts, failed in a crucial vote on July 31 with the majority of his Whig Party opposed. He announced on the Senate floor the next day that he intended to persevere and pass each individual part of the bill. Clay was physically exhausted; the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him began to take its toll. Clay left the Senate to recuperate in Newport, Rhode Island. Stephen A. Douglas separated the bills and guided them through the Senate.
Clay was given much of the credit for the Compromise's success. It quieted the controversy between Northerners and Southerners over the expansion of slavery, and delayed secession and civil war for another decade. Senator Henry S. Foote of Mississippi, who had suggested the creation of the Committee of Thirteen, later said, "Had there been one such man in the Congress of the United States as Henry Clay in 1860–'61 there would, I feel sure, have been no civil war."
Death and estate
Clay continued to serve both the Union he loved and his home state of Kentucky. On June 29, 1852, he died of tuberculosis in Washington, D.C., at the age of 75. Clay was the first person to lie in state in the United States Capitol.
He was buried in Lexington Cemetery, and Theodore Frelinghuysen, Clay's vice-presidential candidate in the election of 1844, gave the eulogy. Clay's headstone reads: "I know no North — no South — no East — no West." Even though the 1852 pro-slavery novel Life at the South; or, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" As It Is, by W.L.G. Smith, is dedicated to his memory, Clay's Will freed all the slaves he held.
Ashland, named for the many ash trees on the property, was Clay's plantation and mansion for many years. He held as many as 60 slaves at the peak of the plantation operations. It was there he introduced the Hereford livestock breed to the United States.
By the time of his death, his only surviving sons were James Brown Clay and John Morrison Clay, who inherited the estate and took portions for use. For several years (1866–1878), James Clay allowed the mansion to be used as a residence for the regent of Kentucky University, forerunner of the University of Kentucky and present-day Transylvania University. Later the mansion and estate were rebuilt and remodeled by later descendants. John Clay designated his portion of the estate as Ashland Stud, which he devoted to breeding thoroughbred horses.
Maintained and operated as a museum, today Ashland includes 17 acres (6.9 ha) of the original estate grounds. It is located on Richmond Road (US 25) in Lexington. It is open to the public (admission charged).
Monuments and memorials
- Memorial column and statue at his tomb in Lexington, Kentucky
- Henry Clay statue and portrait in Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia
- Henry Clay monument in Pottsville, Pennsylvania
- Clay Streets in numerous cities, including New Haven, Connecticut, Richmond, Virginia, Vicksburg, Mississippi and Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.
- Mount Clay in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire was named for Clay, since renamed Mount Reagan by the state legislature but not by the federal Board on Geographic Names
- Fifteen Clay counties in the United States, in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. (Clay County, Iowa is named for his son.)
- Ashland Ave. in Chicago, Illinois; Ashland, Virginia, Ashland County in Ohio and Wisconsin were named for his estate, as were the cities of Ashland in Kentucky, Alabama, and Pennsylvania.
- Ashland, Missouri, was named after Clay's Lexington, Kentucky estate, and Henry Clay Blvd was named for him in the same city.
- In New Orleans: Uptown – Henry Clay Avenue, and Downtown – 20-foot-tall monument erected in 1860 at Canal Street and St, Charles/Royal Avenues, and moved to the center of Lafayette Square in 1901.
- Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky, Henry Clay Middle School in Los Angeles, California, Henry Clay Elementary School in the Hegewisch neighborhood in Chicago, Henry Clay School in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin and Henry Clay Elementary School in his birthplace, Hanover County, Virginia.
- The "Instituto Educacional Henry Clay" in Caracas, Venezuela, a bilingual private school
- The Clay Dormitory at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky
- The Lafayette class submarine USS Henry Clay (SSBN-625), the only ship of the United States Navy named in his honor, although the USS Ashland (LSD-1) and USS Ashland (LSD-48) are named for his estate
- Clay, New York, including the road Henry Clay Blvd.
- Henry Clay Village, on the left bank of Brandywine Creek just outside Wilmington, Delaware, factory and mill worker's residences.
- Clay is one of the many senators honored with a cenotaph in the Congressional Cemetery.
- Between 1870 and 1908, Clay was invariably included in the pantheon of Great Americans presented on U. S. definitive postage stamps: he appeared on the 12¢ denomination in the issues of 1870, 1873 and 1879 and on the 15¢ denomination in the issues of 1890, 1894, 1898 and 1902. He has since been honored by the United States Postal Service with a 3¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.
- The town of Claysburg in central Pennsylvania is named in honor of Clay.
- Cooper's Rock State Forest in West Virginia features a preserved nineteenth century iron furnace named in commemoration of Henry Clay.
- Clayville, Illinois was an active settlement during the statesman's life.
- Claysville, Alabama is named in honor of Clay.
- Eaton, Clement (1957). Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 25.
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- Henry Clay Biography: The Great Compromiser.
- Shearer Davis Bowman, "Comparing Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. 106 (Summer–Autumn 2008), 495–512.
- "The "Famous Five"". Retrieved 2007-01-29.
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- Schurz, Carl (1915). Henry Clay, Volume 1. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 8–9.
- Eaton, Clement (1957). Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 12.
- "Madeline McDowell Breckenridge (Women in Kentucky – Reform)". Kentucky Commission on Women. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
- "Death of Henry Clay: Sketch of His Life and Public Career", New York Times. June 30, 1852, p. 1.
- Elizabeth Shelby Kinkead (1896). A history of Kentucky. American book company. p. 111. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- Eaton, Clement (1957). Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 15.
- Henry Clay: Compromise and Ambition Outskirts Press 2013 Jerry Hensley page 79
- David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Henry Clay: The Essential American. (2010) pp 48–51.
- Smucker, Isaac. "Kentucky – Early History", National Magazine: A Monthly Journal of American History, Volume 12, page 462.
- Schurz, Carl. Life of Henry Clay, pages 38–39.
- See Finlay, Luke. "THE CASE OF HENRY CLAY.; Records of the Senate Show No Question Raised as to His Age", Letter to Editor, New York Times (1935-07-20): "How can we make a precedent of their unconscious failure to pass upon the matter?".
- 1801–1850, November 16, 1818: Youngest Senator. United States Senate. Retrieved November 17, 2007
- "Rand Paul & Joe Biden in Senate Chambers". January 10, 2011(original CSPAN2 airdate January 5, 2011). Retrieved January 13, 2011. Check date values in:
- Henry Clay – Famous American Biographies.
- Eaton, Clement (1957). Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 17.
- Eaton, Clement (1957). Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 23.
- "Aaron and Charlotte Dupuy", Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum of Lexington, Kentucky.
- Eaton, Clement (1957). Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 24.
- Eaton (1957) p. 133.
- "Charlotte Dupuy", 'Half Had Not Been Told Me': African American History of Lafayette Square (1795–1965), National Trust for Historic Preservation, Retrieved 21 April 2009.
- David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Henry Clay: The Essential American, New York: Random House: 2010, pp. 217–218, accessed 12 May 2011.
- Ostermeier, Eric (December 4, 2013). "Bob Smith and the 12-Year Itch". Smart Politics.
- Infoplease: Compromise of 1850.
- Eaton (1957) pp. 188–192. Remini (1991) pp. 732–750.
- William Y. Thompson, Robert Toombs of Georgia (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966), p. 61.
- Eaton (1957) p. 192–193. Remini (1991) pp. 756–759.
- Remini (1991) pp. 761–762.
- "Henry Clay. Eulogy Delivered by Hon. Theodore Frelinghuysen, at Newark, on July 13.". New York Times. July 15, 1852.
- Plot description (Life at the South).
- Book dedication (Life at the South), University of Virginia.
- "Round Robin Bar", Willard InterContinental Washington.
- Historical Society of Schuylkill County :: The Henry Clay Monument in Pottsville.
- Henry Clay High School Home Page.
- Baxter, Maurice G. Henry Clay and the American System (1995)
- Baxter, Maurice G. Henry Clay the Lawyer (2000).
- Bordewich, Fergus M. America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union (2012) excerpt and text search, on Compromise of 1850
- Bowman, Shearer Davis. "Comparing Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 106 (Summer–Autumn 2008), 495–512
- Brown, Thomas. Politics and Statesmanship: Essays on the American Whig Party (1985) ch 5
- Eaton, Clement. Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics (1957)
- Gammon, Samuel R. The Presidential Campaign of 1832 (1922) online free
- Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. Henry Clay: The Essential American (2010), major scholarly biography; 624pp
- Holt, Michael F. The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War (1999)
- King, Quentin S. Henry Clay and the War of 1812 (2014), scholarly biography
- Knupfer, Peter B. "Compromise and Statesmanship: Henry Clay’s Union." in Knupfer, The Union As It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectional Compromise, 1787–1861 (1991), pp. 119–57.
- Mayo, Bernard. Henry Clay, Spokesman of the West (1937)
- Peterson, Merrill D. The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun (1987)
- Poage, George Rawlings. Henry Clay and the Whig Party (1936)
- Remini, Robert. Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (1991), a standard scholarly biography
- Remini, Robert. At the Edge of the Precipice: Henry Clay and the Compromise That Saved the Union (2010) 184 pages; the Compromise of 1850
- Schurz, Carl. Life of Henry Clay, 2 vols., 1899. Outdated biography.
- Schurz, Carl (1911). "Clay, Henry". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Strahan, Randall. Leading Representatives: The Agency of Leaders in the Politics of the U.S. House. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007
- Strahan, Randall; Moscardelli, Vincent G.; Haspel, Moshe; and Wike, Richard S. "The Clay Speakership Revisited" Polity 2000 32(4): 561–593. ISSN 0032-3497
- Van Deusen, Glyndon G. The Life of Henry Clay (1937), scholarly biography
- Watson, Harry L. ed. Andrew Jackson vs. Henry Clay: Democracy and Development in Antebellum America (1998)
- Zarefsky, David. "Henry Clay and the Election of 1844: the Limits of a Rhetoric of Compromise" Rhetoric & Public Affairs 2003 6(1): 79–96. ISSN 1094-8392
- Clay, Henry. The Papers of Henry Clay, 1797–1852. Edited by James Hopkins, Mary Hargreaves, Robert Seager II, Melba Porter Hay et al. 11 vols. University Press of Kentucky, 1959–1992. vol 1 online, 1797–1814
- Clay, Henry. Works of Henry Clay, 7 vols. (1897)
- Sargent, Epes. The Life and Public Services of Henry Clay, Down to 1848 (1852).
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Media related to Henry Clay at Wikimedia Commons
- Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship (HenryClayCS.org)
- Clay's Ashland Home web site, (HenryClay.org)
- Henry Clay: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress
- Works by Henry Clay at Project Gutenberg
- Henry Clay at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Henry Clay at Find a Grave
- A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787–1825 For Henry Clay's election results.
- Henry Clay Letters, 1825-1851 at the Newberry Library
- Letters of Henry Clay
- Abraham Lincoln's Eulogy of Henry Clay at Teaching American History.Org
- Booknotes interview with Robert Remini on Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union, May 5, 1992.
- C-SPAN Q&A interview with David and Jeanne Heidler on Henry Clay: The Essential American, May 30, 2010
- "Henry Clay, Presidential Contender" from C-SPAN's The Contenders
- Texts on Wikisource: