Henry Clay: America's Greatest Statesman

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Hachette Books, 2015 M09 29 - 336 pages
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In a critical and little-known chapter of early American history, author Harlow Giles Unger tells how a fearless young Kentucky lawyer threw open the doors of Congress during the nation's formative years and prevented dissolution of the infant American republic.

The only freshman congressman ever elected Speaker of the House, Henry Clay brought an arsenal of rhetorical weapons to subdue feuding members of the House of Representatives and established the Speaker as the most powerful elected official after the President. During fifty years in public service-as congressman, senator, secretary of state, and four-time presidential candidate-Clay constantly battled to save the Union, summoning uncanny negotiating skills to force bitter foes from North and South to compromise on slavery and forego secession. His famous "Missouri Compromise" and four other compromises thwarted civil war "by a power and influence," Lincoln said, "which belonged to no other statesman of his age and times."

Explosive, revealing, and richly illustrated, Henry Clay is the story of one of the most courageous-and powerful-political leaders in American History.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nbmars - LibraryThing

Henry Clay of Kentucky was elected to the post of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 1811. The seventh Speaker in the nation’s history, he was the youngest man, and the only ... Read full review

Henry Clay: America's Greatest Statesman

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

In this nimble portrayal of “the first true American leader,” prolific biographer Unger (John Marshall) depicts Clay as a consummate politician and a champion of the union. Clay was born in Virginia ... Read full review


List of Illustrations
Spitting in the Face of Congress
No Fighting Here
An Imperious Despot
They Will Foment War No More
The Great Pacificator
Corrupt Bargain
A Mask of Smiles
Blackguards Bankrupts and Scoundrels
Double Dealing
Get Out Da Way
On Board Our Omnibus
Selected Bibliography


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About the author (2015)

Acclaimed historian Harlow Giles Unger is a former Distinguished Visiting Fellow at George Washington's Mount Vernon. He is the author of twenty-six previous books, including twelve biographies of America's Founding Fathers and three histories of the early Republic. He lives in New York City.

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