Newt Kingrich released his required reading list for patriots who want to be gentle lambs of the Coming Kingdom. Anything on Henry Clay is not on the Newt Moon Deal list.
“I’ll tell you what NOT to read – when I’m good and ready. Right now I’m trying to make the Moon the 51st. State so that on our Amerian flag you will behold fifty stars – and one Full Moon. That’s me. That’s my new kingdom in the sky!
When you look up at the full moon, it is my face you will see. Rest assured, Big Brother Newt is watching – over you!”
Henry Clay was also Speaker of the House, and released his slaves in his Will.
Jon The Family Historian
The American System, originally called “The American box”, was a mercantilist economic plan that played a prominent role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century. Rooted in the ” American School” ideas of Alexander Hamilton, the plan “consisted of three mutually reinforcing parts: a tariff to protect and promote American industry; a national bank to foster commerce; and federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other ‘internal improvements’ to develop profitable markets for agriculture.” Congressman Henry Clay was the plan’s foremost proponent and the first to refer to it as the “American System”.
2 Main points
3 Annual Message of 1815 (Seven Points)
4 See also
5 Further reading
5.1 Modern Books
5.2 Other/older Books
6 Sources and Notes
A plan to strengthen and unify the nation, the American System was advanced by the Democratic-Republican Party and a number of leading politicians including Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun and John Quincy Adams. The System was a new form of federalism that included:
Support for a high tariff to protect American industries and generate revenue for the federal government
Maintenance of high public land prices to generate federal revenue
Preservation of the Bank of the United States to stabilize the currency and rein in risky state and local banks
Development of a system of internal improvements (such as roads and canals) which would knit the nation together and be financed by the tariff and land sales revenues.
Clay argued that the West, which opposed the tariff, should support it since urban factory workers would be consumers of western foods. In Clay’s view, the South (which also opposed high tariffs) should support them because of the ready market for cotton in northern mills. This last argument was the weak link. The South was never really on board with the American System and had access to plenty of markets for its cotton exports.
Portions of the American System were enacted by the United States Congress. The Second Bank of the United States was rechartered in 1816 for 20 years. High tariffs were maintained from the days of Alexander Hamilton until 1832. However, the national system of internal improvements was never adequately funded; the failure to do so was due in part to sectional jealousies and constitutional squabbles about such expenditures.
The American System did not enjoy universal success, however. In 1830, President Jackson vetoed a bill which would allow the federal government to purchase stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road Company, which had been organized to construct a road linking Lexington and the Ohio River, the entirety of which would be in the state of Kentucky. Jackson’s Maysville Road veto was due to both his personal conflict with Clay and his ideological objections.
 Main points
The establishment of a protective tariff, a 20%-25% tax on imported goods, would protect a nation’s business from foreign competition. Congress passed a tariff in 1816 which made European goods more expensive and encouraged consumers to buy relatively cheap American-made goods.
The establishment of a national bank would promote a single currency, making trade easier, and issue what was called sovereign credit, i.e., credit issued by the national government, rather than borrowed from the private banking system. In 1816, Congress created the Second Bank of the United States.
The improvement of the country’s infrastructure, especially transportation systems, made trade easier and faster for everyone. Poor roads made transportation slow and costly.
This program became the leading tenet of the Whig Party of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. It was opposed by the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan prior to the Civil War, often on the grounds that the points of it were unconstitutional.
Among the most important internal improvements created under the American System was the Cumberland Road.
Henry Clay’s “American System,” devised in the burst of nationalism that followed the War of 1812, remains one of the most historically significant examples of a government-sponsored program to harmonize and balance the nation’s agriculture, commerce, and industry. This “System” consisted of three mutually reenforcing parts: a tariff to protect and promote American industry; a national bank to foster commerce; and federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other “internal improvements” to develop profitable markets for agriculture. Funds for these subsidies would be obtained from tariffs and sales of public lands. Clay argued that a vigorously maintained system of sectional economic interdependence would eliminate the chance of renewed subservience to the free-trade, laissez-faire “British System.”
— United States Senate website
 Annual Message of 1815 (Seven Points)
Funds for national defense
Frigates for the Navy
A standing army and federal control of the militia
Federal aid for building roads and canals
A protective tariff to encourage manufacturers
Re-establishing the National Bank
Federal assumption of some state debt
 See also
National Policy, a similar economic plan used by Canada circa 1867-1920s
Import substitution industrialization, a key feature of the American System that was adopted in much of the Third World during the twentieth century
 Further reading
 Modern Books
Michael, Diaz, The Promise of American Life (2005-reprint)
Joseph Dorfman. The Economic Mind in American Civilization, 1606-1865 (1947) 2 vol
Eckes,Jr. Alfred E. “Opening America’s Market-U.S. Foreign Trade Policy Since (1995) University of North Carolina Press
Foner, Eric. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (1970)
Gill, William J. Trade Wars Against America: A History of United States Trade and Monetary Policy (1990)
Carter Goodrich, Government Promotion of American Canals and Railroads, 1800-1890 (Greenwood Press, 1960)
Goodrich, Carter. “American Development Policy: the Case of Internal Improvements,” Journal of Economic History, 16 ( 1956), 449-60. in JSTOR
Goodrich, Carter. “National Planning of Internal Improvements,” Political Science Quarterly, 63 (1948), 16-44. in JSTOR
John Lauritz Larson. Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the Early United States (2001)
Lively, Robert A. “The American System, a Review Article,” Business History Review, XXIX (March, 1955), 81-96. recommended starting point
Lind, Michael Hamilton’s Republic: Readings in the American Democratic Nationalist Tradition (1997)
Lind, Michael What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America’s Greatest President (2004)
Remini, Robert V. Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union. , 1991
Edward Stanwood, American Tariff Controversies in the 19th Century (1903; reprint 1974), 2 vols., favors protectionism
Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Nationalist, 1782-1828 (1944)
 Other/older Books
Born in south central Pennsylvania to a teenage mother, Gingrich was adopted in infancy by his stepfather, a career soldier. Gingrich received his undergraduate degree from Emory University, and then earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Tulane University. In the 1970s he taught history and geography at West Georgia College. During this period he mounted several campaigns for the United States House of Representatives, before winning the election of November 1978. He served as the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995.
Henry ClayFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
For other people named Henry Clay, see Henry Clay (disambiguation).
1818 portrait by Matthew Harris Jouett
8th, 10th and 13th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
March 4, 1823 – March 4, 1825
March 4, 1815 – October 28, 1820
March 4, 1811 – January 19, 1814
President James Madison
9th United States Secretary of State
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
Preceded by John Quincy Adams
Succeeded by Martin Van Buren
United States Senator
March 5, 1849 – June 29, 1852
November 10, 1831 – March 31, 1842
January 4, 1810 – March 4, 1811
December 29, 1806 – March 4, 1807
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
3rd district (1811–1813)
March 4, 1815 – March 3, 1821
March 4, 1811 – January 19, 1814
Born April 12, 1777 (1777-04-12)
Hanover County, Virginia
Died June 29, 1852 (1852-06-30) (aged 75)
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Lucretia Hart Clay
Children Henrietta, Theodore, Thomas, Susan, Anne, Lucretia, Henry, Jr., Eliza, Laura, James Brown Clay, and John Morrison Clay
Alma mater Did not attend college
Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852), was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives. He served three different terms as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829.
Clay was a dominant figure in both the First and Second Party systems. As a leading war hawk, he favored war with Britain and played a significant role in leading the nation to war in 1812. Later he was involved in the “Corrupt Bargain” of 1824, after which he was appointed Secretary of State by newly elected President John Quincy Adams. He 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 Compromiser,” 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 Taft.
1 Early life and education
1.3 Legal career
1.4 Marriage and family
2 Early political career
2.1 State legislator
2.2 First Senate appointment and eligibility
2.3 Speaker of the State House and duel with Humphrey Marshall
2.4 Second Senate appointment
3 Speaker of the House
3.1 Early years
3.2 The “American System”
3.3 Foreign policy
3.4 The Missouri Compromise and 1820s
3.5 Election of 1824 and Secretary of State
3.6 Slave freedom suit
4 Senate career
4.1 The Nullification Crisis
4.2 Opposition to Jackson and creation of Whig Party
4.3 The Compromise of 1850
5 Death and estate
6 Monuments and memorials
8.1 Primary sources
9 External links
 Early life and education ChildhoodHenry 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 Hudson Clay. His father, a Baptist minister nicknamed “Sir John,” died four years after his 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 an abolitionist in Kentucky.
The widow Elizabeth Clay married Capt. Henry Watkins, who was an affectionate stepfather. Henry Watkins then moved the family to Richmond, Virginia. Elizabeth had seven more children with Watkins, bearing a total of sixteen.
 EducationIn Richmond, Clay was hired as a shop assistant. His stepfather secured Clay employment in the office of the Court of Chancery, where he 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 received no formal legal education but, as was customary at the time, “read the 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 studied for the bar for a year under Brooke and was admitted to practice law in 1797.
 Legal careerIn 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 Daviess 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 Daviess 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.
 Marriage and family
Henry Clay and his wife, the former Lucretia HartAfter 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 (1809–1864), 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 as well as his wife. 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 suffragette Madeline McDowell Breckinridge.
 Early political career State legislator
View of Henry Clay’s law office (1803-1810), Lexington, KentuckyIn 1803 Clay was elected to serve as the 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 eligibilityClay’s influence in Kentucky state politics was quickly 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 less than one year 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. Three months and 17 days into his Senate service, he reached the age of eligibility. Such an age qualification issue has occurred with only two other U.S. Senators. Joe Biden was also elected to the Senate at the age of 29, but he had reached the required age of 30 before being sworn in.
 Speaker of the State House and duel with Humphrey MarshallWhen 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 appointmentIn 1810, United States Senator Buckner Thruston resigned to serve as a judge on the United States Circuit Court, and Clay was again selected to fill his seat.
 Speaker of the House Early yearsIn 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. 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 National Bank.
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”Main article: American System (economic plan)
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.
 Foreign policyIn 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), though Haiti remained unrecognized. 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 1820sIn 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.
Portrait of Henry Clay Election of 1824 and Secretary of StateMain article: Election of 1824
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 and the tie between the two front runners, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, was broken in the House of Representatives.
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 suitMain article: Charlotte Dupuy
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 17 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.
 Senate career The Nullification CrisisMain article: 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 when Clay, again a U.S. Senator re-elected by Kentucky in 1831, 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
Henry ClayAfter 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. Jackson was nominated by the Democrats. 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. Clay lost in part due to national sentiment in favor of Polk’s “54°40′ or Fight” campaign. This was to settle the northern boundary of the United States with Canada, then under the control of the British Empire. Clay opposed admitting Texas as a state because he believed it would reawaken the slavery issue and provoke Mexico to declare war. Polk took the opposite view, supported by most of the public, especially in the Southern United States. 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 1850Main article: 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. While Clay originally intended the resolutions to be voted on separately, at the urging of southerners, Clay agreed to the creation of a Committee of Thirteen to consider the measures. The committee was formed on April 17. Clay as chair of the committee, on May 8 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’s estate, Ashland, in Lexington, KentuckyClay 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).
Henry Clay is credited with introducing the mint julep drink to Washington, D.C., at the Willard Hotel during his residence as a senator in the city.
 Monuments and memorials