Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union

Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union

5.0 2
by Robert V. Remini

"Great biography leaves an indelible view of the subject. After Remini's masterful portrait, Clay is unforgettable." —Donald B. Cole, NewsdaySee more details below


"Great biography leaves an indelible view of the subject. After Remini's masterful portrait, Clay is unforgettable." —Donald B. Cole, Newsday

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
By the distinguished biographer of Andrew Jackson, this is the first major study of the ``great compromiser'' in half a century. Henry Clay's prolonged feud with Jackson and his failed quest for the White House are traced in detail, with Remini showing how the unfounded charge of political collusion when Clay was appointed secretary of State contributed significantly to that failure. The author explains Clay's role in the Missouri Compromise of 1820; and later, when the country faced the slavery question over territory acquired in the Mexican War, his role in shaping the Compromise of 1850. Thus tension between North and South was eased and civil war delayed for a decade. Remini points out that many historians have argued that had secession and war occurred in 1850 the South ``undoubtedly'' would have won its independence. This majestic work brings into sharp focus the private and public Henry Clay (1777-1852): gambler, drinker, duelist, as well as brilliant orator, a man with a ``gift for the outrageous,'' and savior of the Union. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Award-winning historian Remini has written the definitive biography on controversial 19th-century politician Clay of Kentucky. Remini's work, which uses a rich array of primary sources, especially letters uncovered by the Henry Clay Papers publication project, surpasses earlier studies of Clay by Glyndon Van Deusen ( The Life of Henry Clay , Greenwood, 1979) and Clement Eaton ( Henry Clay & the Art of American Politics , 1962). All facets of Clay's life are examined, especially much new information about his private life and how it influenced his public political career. Remini analyzes why an accomplished political leader such as Clay could never be elected president, though he ran for the office five times. Clay's political success came from his extraordinary talents as the engineer who directed three major compromises between 1820 and 1850 through Congress, thus averting civil strife and keeping the Union together. This is an excellently written, superbly crafted, and long-needed biography that is suitable for academic and large public libraries.-- Charles C. Hay III, Eastern Kentucky Univ. Archives, Richmond
Michael Hope
Splendidly researched, vividly written, and generally compelling... Remini recounts with verve and surprisingly fresh insights the familiar events of Clay's long career.
— University of Virginia, in Chicago Sun Times
Brian Richard Boyland
[A] powerful, long overdue biography.... A lucid, dramatic revelation of a forgotten giant of American history.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
From Remini (History/Chicago; The Life of Andrew Jackson, 1988, etc.)—a definitive, magisterial biography of the great statesman who dominated the public life of the early American republic but who could never attain its highest office. Clay emerges here as a man of paradoxes—a lifelong slaveholder who hated slavery and campaigned for its abolition; a politician who helped destroy the First Bank of the United States but who later made the Second Bank the cornerstone of his "American System" and fought bitterly, and vainly, with Andrew Jackson for its recharter; a statesman who won the love of his contemporaries but who failed to win the presidency in three attempts; a successful politician who suffered a sad and miserable personal life. Relying on primary sources, Remini details Clay's familiar roles as the Great Compromiser, the founder of the Whig party, the opponent of the Mexican War, and the champion of tariffs, internal improvements, and a strong Union. The author also describes some aspects of Clay's public life that may be unfamiliar to most readers (for instance, as Speaker of the House, that Clay was an eminent "War Hawk" who goaded a timid President Madison into the nearly disastrous War of 1812, and was also a member, with John Quincy Adams, of the American delegation that ended the war). As a man, Clay appears pompous, caustic (his trenchant humor frequently got him into duels), vain, and arrogant, but also sincerely devoted to his duty as he saw it. Remini's moving description of Clay's personal sorrows (of eleven children, only four survived him, and two went insane), his troubled marriage, and the great unhappiness occasioned by his multiple failures toachieve the presidency rounds out this superior portrait. A fine, absorbing biography that does justice to its great subject. (Photos—not seen.)

Michael F. Holt - Chicago Sun-Times
“Splendidly researched, vividly written, and generally compelling. . . . Remini recounts with verve and surprisingly fresh insight the familiar events of Clay's long career.”
Brian Richard Boyland - Los Angeles Times
“[A] powerful, long overdue biography. . . . A lucid, dramatic revelation of a forgotten giant of American history.”

Read More

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >