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tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 1, 2016 8:00pm-9:29pm EDT

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support them, but make sure the individual nations provide those assets for the broader good, rather than having a big collective program. >> can i just ask, building off of that, you mentioned in your remarks about working with the u.s. on rotational, asw, npa in particular out of -- if i'm saying that correctly. do you think there's opportunity there to move beyond u.s./uk and have a broader sort of opportunities for exercises or rotational operations out of that location? >> yeah, absolutely. i think that's probably for the future we need one or two countries to make some important decisions first. assuming they do, certainly. >> okay, i want to thank everyone for coming this morning. i want to thank in particular our research team, andrew, lisa sam, i see kathleen back there, one of our former interns who helped us on this, and the full
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team here at csis. i also want to thank our panelists, bryan clark, steve mccarthy, olga oliker. please feel free to follow up with our research team if you have further questions. please, join me in thanking our panelists. now the contenders. our series on key political figures who ran for president and lost but nevertheless changed political history. next, we feature former house speaker henry clay of kentucky, known as the great compromiser. the program was recorded at clay's ashland estate in lexington, kentucky, and is about 90 minutes. this 14-week series is airing at 8:00 p.m. eastern, august 1 through august 14th here on american history tv on c-span3. this is a portrait of kentucky's henry clay, known to
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us from history books as the great compromiser. during his 49-year political career, clay served as secretary of state, speaker of the house, and as a u.s. senator. and he was a contender, making sure presidential bids including the election of 1824. 1832 against andrew jackson, and 1844, when he ran against james k. polk. tonight we are on location at ashland. henry clay's home in lexington, kentucky. for the next 90 minutes, we will explore the life and legacy of this man. unsuccessful in his long quest for the white house, yet having an outsized influence on american history. we are in henry clay's parlor. let me introduce you to jim klotter, 25 years now as kentucky state historian. thanks for being with us. >> glad to be here. >> why henry clay? why is he relevant to americans living in our time? >> think a couple of counts.
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first of all, his famous counts, "i would rather be right than be president," still speaks to us. it's a clarion call to people across whatever we're doing. whether we're in politics or something else, is to do the right things. he also said, you know, that in a sense that the politicians need to remember the country and sacrifice for the country. i think that is still something we need to remember, as well. the man known as the great compromiser. a man that forged compromises that not only kept the nation together but were constructive. those kind of things i think are the things we need to remember about henry clay, as well as all the things that he did in his life. again, a clarion call over and over to us, to say to us again and again that we can do a lot of things if we just do and try, as a self-made man did, henry clay. >> we're going to try to fits 49 years of rich political history during a very complex and
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interesting time of american history into our program tonight. let's start with basics of his biography, where and when was he born, and how did he get to kentucky? >> he was born in 1777, seventh child. his father died very young. clay's mother remarried to a younger man. clay liked to think of himself as a self-made man, a mill man, carrying corn to the mill, working to the bone. came from poor ranks. but he came from a well-to-do family. they had slaves. it was part of the persona that clay personified himself. from there, his family basically came to kentucky, leaving him in virginia when he was 14 years old to be on his own. from there, he was back in kentucky when he was 20 years old as a young lawyer, married well. the easiest way to get rich is to marry well, and he did that. this is an example of what he did with his start and with his
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promise. and he made himself into somebody that all americans knew. >> whom did he marry? >> lecretia clay, lecretia hart-clay. an early family in kentucky. she was a family in kentucky, also gave him entry into the political circles that would have been defied him. he also -- she brought with that marriage some money and they basically had the connections because her family knew a lot of people and he used those connections to move forward but once he got his foot in the door that he could open the door himself through his own skills and abilities. >> if henry clay were through time travel standing here today, what will we see? what did he look like? what did he sound like? >> clay would have -- i don't think anybody would sit down with henry clay and not leave without liking henry clay. he was a man -- not a handsome man, everybody says he was ugly. they always commented about his large mouth.
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they said his mouth was so large he couldn't spit properly. he was a man who liked the ladies, as they said and somebody at the time said he could kiss them out of one side of his mouth while he was resting out of the other side of his mouth. but as soon as he opened the mouth a great oratory came out. he could charm you. he had that charisma that if there was a person of the opposite party that one time came to henry clay's home and to a party that clay was doing and it was a room filled with people, a room bigger than this and the man said to this man from the other party, he said "wouldn't you like to meet the famous mr. clay?" and this democrat said about the whig clay "no, sir, no, sir, i do not choose to subject myself to the spell of his fascination." because he knew that henry clay would suck him into his orbit if he just met henry clay because he had that personality, that charisma, that charm that anybody who met him would like him one on one. >> was this a genetic gift or did he school himself to be an orator? did he have a mentor? where did he get this from? >> he heard patrick henry speak
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in virginia and he was just amazed by the force of henry's oratory and he wanted to be like that. he worked at it. he talks about giving speeches to the cows in the field as practice and he came to kentucky as a lawyer, you almost had to convince your juries through the force of your words not necessarily the law itself so he developed it. but he was almost a self-made orator, too, because over time -- he could turn on a minute and speak on the issue. he was impossible to challenge clay in a debate because he would get out on the spur of the moment and come up with the facts and figures and win the argument. john c. calhoun once prepared a talk for two weeks and clay got up and demolished it instantly. that's the kind of man clay was and had he been able to appear on television he could have really been a very effective
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politician. of course at that time you didn't campaign for president, there was no radio so you had to -- that force of the oratory was lessened and only in congress would he have the full force of that. >> when we've been talking with historians and people here at ashland about him they keep telling us he was the equivalent of a rock star in his time. everybody in the country knew him. now, in a country without mass communication, how was it possible for everybody to know who henry clay was? >> everyone -- politics was the sports of that time. it was the game that everybody followed. there were no organized sports as we know it, things like that. there wasn't any musical things except in the church so the
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politics and oratory, everybody wanted to follow that as closely as they could and the speeches of a clay or webster, young boys in school and girls without write these down and would practice them over and over again. they wanted to be like a henry clay. but he was like a rock star. he would be followed by adoring people. he would go into towns and there's an example of 100,000 people turning out to hear him speak in dayton, ohio, he had children named for him, steamboats named for him, everything named for him. he was a man people wanted to see to savor the excellence of henry clay. >> politicians still talk about henry clay today. let's listen into kentucky's senior senator mitch mcconnell referencing henry clay. >> henry clay was the greatest statesman that my home state ever produced. he served the people as speaker of the kentucky house of representatives. speaker of the united states house of representatives and of course was one of the greatest senators to walk through the capitol. he was also honored to receive the party's nomination for president three times, in 1824,
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1832 and 1844. the essence of legislating in the senate as 100 view points are brought together to create one law is compromise, henry clay became known as the great compromiser by forging the compromise that would keep his precious union together clay did not compromise in the sense of forsaking his principles, rather his skill was to bring together disparate ideas and forge consensus among his colleagues. that's a skill we could certainly use more of now. >> during the great debates we just went through this summer over the debt ceiling and the budget there was so much talk
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about compromise in washington, whether or not it's a lost art. talk to us in that context about henry clay as the great compromiser and what sort of skills he brought to bear there. >> clay, if he wanted something to happen, would work very hard to make it happen. he would sit down with people, he would find out what they wanted, he would go to the other side, see what they would want and try to find some common ground somewhere in the middle. there's a -- it cost him, though, because as they say about compromisers, there's a sign in the attorney general's office in the 1960s that said "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall catch hell from both sides." and in a sense clay caught that problem from both sides and it hurt him politically, at the same time he felt he had to do this because the nation required it. the nation had been founded on compromise. the constitution is a compromise and the nation did not compromise on these issues it would tear itself apart and so clay had an urgency behind everything he did. he compromised some of his principles for the sake of the
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union in the 1833 compromise. he gave up his beloved tariff issues for the sake of keeping the union together and not having secessionists break off and fight a war against andrew jackson. but at the same time, the greater thing he would not compromise on was the union. he said at one time "if anybody wants to know the key to my heart, the union is the key to my heart." that was the thing he would never compromise on. >> when we're talking about echoes of today, the american system, which is something he promoted, had major component which is include tariffs, you just referenced, spending the money from the tariffs on building american infrastructure and then also the big debate over a national bank. we're still discussing how effective these things are in today's economy. what was the country like then and what was the level of debate over issues such as the tariff and the national bank? >> very philosophical issues that were issues from the very start of the nation. they were still issues when
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henry clay came around, they're still issues today. do we have a strong central government or a strong state government? these are the issues that clay spoke on, he thought a national government should do things for the nation, the states could not accomplish these and he spoke out about that and people spoke against him for that and it hurt him in a lot of ways politically as well. but he felt like these roads, these canals, these internal improvements were necessary to tie the country together otherwise it would fragment into east, west, north, south. his comment was "i know no north, no south, no east, no west. to him it was one country indivisie and these would be ways to keep it together. a tariff would protect american industry, he thought and allowed to grow. he didn't say a tariff would be there all the time but it would help american industry be strong so it could compete against britain. then a bank of the united states, at a time the united states was being formed, hard money was the only legal currency.
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the government didn't print paper money, banks did but they could be weak banks and the money would go away so clay wanted to make central bank that would really we wouldn't have until the federal reserve system was set up in the 20th century and that bank of the united states became very controversial as well and hurt him politically when he supported that. he thought all of this was necessary for the good of the nation. >> henry clay sounds like a pretty good guy. he was said to have a lot of enemies. and he had vices. what were his vices? >> you talk about the age we were in, those vices became more prominent as he aged. in his youth he was known as a person who liked to gamble. he said it was a good political tool. he could sit down when he was making a peace treaty with the british in the war of 1812 and sit across from the british and play poker with them and see how much they would like to bluff or how much they would call his
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bluff so he saw it as a tool in some ways. he loved to gamble as a lot of people did. he would lose huge amounts of money one night, win them back the next night. his wife lucretia, when somebody chided her about her husband being a man who liked to gamble so much she said "oh, i don't know, he usually wins." so he did win a lot. but he liked the spirit of the gamble but as he got older he didn't do that as much. he liked to drink as most americans did at that time at a time when water was not safe to drink. he preferred wine but never got drunk. he enjoyed it. all those things were used against him by the moral side of america that thought that clay was a womanizer, a blasphemer, a duellist, and a drinker. so those would be used against him at different times in his life. it was much exaggerated. it became part of the stereotype of henry clay. >> clay died in 1852 so the 50-year career we're talking about spans the first half of
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the 19th century in america, a great year -- many years full of formation of the nation and also sectionalism and the fights over slavery. we have so much to talk about and during this program we will be opening up our phone lines for your participation. i'll give you the phone numbers now if you want to get in the queue. it will be a little bit of time before we get to calls but if you're interested and anxious to do so you can get in line. if you live in mountain or pacific time zones, 202-737-0002. we welcome your questions, your comment, it makes the discussion richer. we want to also listen to the views of kentucky's junior senator rand paul about henry clay. >> henry clay's life is at best a mixed message. one could argue he rose above all strife to keep the union
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together, to preserve the union, but one could argue he was morally wrong and that his decisions on slavery, to extend slavery, were decisions that may have even ultimately invited the war that came, that his compromises meant that during the 50 years of his legislative career he not only accepted slavery, but he accepted the slave trade. in the name of compromise henry clay was by most accounts not a cruel master but he was a master nonetheless of 48 slaves most of which he did not free during his lifetime and some of which he only freed belatedly 28 years after his death. he supported the fugitive slave law throughout his career. he compromised on the extension of slavery. when he was the speaker of the house, there was a vote on extending slavery into arkansas and the vote was 88-88. he came down extraordinarily from the speaker's chair to vote in favor of extending slavery into arkansas.
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before we eulogize henry clay, we should acknowledge and appreciate the contrast with contemporaries who refused to compromise. william lloyd garrison toiled at a small abolitionist press for 30 years, refusing to compromise with clay, with clay's desire to send the slaves back to africa. garrison was beaten, chased by mobs and imprisoned for his principled stand. frederick douglass travelled the country at the time. he was a free black man but he traveled at great personal risk throughout the countryside and he proved ultimately that he was the living, breathing example that intellect and leadership could come from a recently freed slave. >> and we are back and we are with another guest. i'd like to introduce a history professor from the university of louisville and welcome to our discussion of henry clay.
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before we get into the area which you have spent a lot of scholarship which is slavery at that time period and henry clay, talk about the general sense of your impression. what are your views of this man? >> i think the image of him as a rock star and popular candidate, political figure, is very impressive. he is a lightning rod. he seems to get people up for or against him. he has the ability to inspire, and even on the abolitionist issues he takes more heat than people, senator who were actually more -- a john c. calhoun, for instance. clay is probably a lot more talked about, written about, focused upon than some of the more prominent political figures. >> we've spent talking about his basics and haven't devilled into his position about slavery.
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explain what his philosophical positions were about slavery. >> philosophically he was against the idea of slavery. for his time period he would have been considered extremely liberal and for a long time he was touted as an abolitionist, emancipationist. he did not believe in slavery but he also didn't think african-americans could survive in america as citizens so the whole idea of the american colonization society, freedom outside the united states sort of became his platform that he stuck to throughout his presidency although he never -- i'm sorry, i'm making him president, throughout his political career. he never did deny the fact that african-americans felt they should have their freedom. he was just not willing to risk -- he knew the political damage anti-slavery could do to his political career and to the country.
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>> he was a slaveholder, correct? >> he was a slaveholder and an anti-slavery man and that caused him great grief all his life because in the north he would be criticized as a slaveholder, in the south he was criticized for his anti-slavery views and had he taken one side or the other he might have been much better off as a politician. as abraham lincoln in the north did, got elected president with the northern votes but no southern votes and had clay done that, had he freed his slaves it may have helped him as a politician. >> and the fact that he wasn't willing to do it and the fact he was stuck to his emancipation ideas despite the criticism. so that says a lot. >> what do we know about the number of slaves he held here at ashland and how he treated them? >> he reported at the height of having 35. i think when he dies he still is holding slaves. he emancipates some, those that he -- most famous case is charlotte who is his servant in washington who doesn't want to return to kentucky when he wants
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to come back, and who stays. she takes him to court and loses. he also gets credit for freeing charles and the other slaves on the estate but in the long run -- he's a -- he buys slaves, too. he spends time at the market here in lexington purchasing slaves and is known for the quality of slaves that he purchases so, again, he's one of those people that's dual nature. >> it's one of those things that people used to talk about slavery in kentucky being the mildest but it didn't matter. it was still slavery and abolitionists came to kentucky and said "people say slavery here is the mildest, there's still enough here to cause the very heart to sicken." and that's what slavery was. as somebody said, they heard the lash on the back and heard the screams of the slave and that was the death knell of liberty and that was a part of clay he
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could never see or pick up on as much as the other parts of his life. >> i want to spend a minute more on this american colonization society. i read at its first meeting some pretty famous american names around the table, andrew jackson, his nemesis, daniel webster, james monroe, francis scott key who wrote the star spangled banner. how popular was the american colonization movement in this country? >> well, it was extremely popular and clay is considered one of the major if not the founder of -- he gets federal funding for it to buy the land in liberia for the resettlement, he promotes the idea of resettling african-americans in haiti and canada. he is known for this, this is what -- he becomes the lightning rod in the free black community in the north because this is what causes them to unite against henry clay in the sense that why should we have have to leave the united states? it's popular in the white community, not popular in the
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south. >> liberia was a death trap and the people in america that had been slaves or were slaves, their forefathers had been here longer than a lot of white people, their owners so they were more american in a sense, why would we go back? why should we leave our home? >> no connections to african-american whatsoever and the fact that clay was trying to remove primarily free blacks, the colonization society represented removal of free blacks from the country, not slaves. that was another controversial part. >> we're going to introduce the third person to our discussion. ashland is open for tours and interprets the life of henry clay and we have a special guest avery malone who is the director of tour operations here and avery, before you take our viewers on a tour of the first part, let's get a little bit of sense of place. ashland today is in what part of lexington? >> we are within the ring called
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new circle road. we're about a mile and a half from downtown and about a mile and a half from new circle road so we're on the southeast edge of town in a beautiful residential area of lexington. >> and how many acres does the house have today and how many did henry clay have at his zenith. >> today we sit on about 17 acres. at its height it was 670 acres. >> we should learn more about his family before we go on tour here as well. he and his wife had how many children all together? and did they all live here? >> they had 11 children however they did not all live here at the same time. there was a lot of tragedy in the family. all six of henry and lucretia's daughters would die, only two made it into early adulthood and one of the sons died as well
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during henry and lucretia's lifetime, so there was a fair bit of tragedy here. >> now the house interprets henry clay at what period in his life? >> the house would interpret henry clay throughout his lifetime. we mentioned when he was born and show a picture of his birthplace and go to his death in 1862. so we talk about his span of his life, his family and political career as well as his farming and legal career. >> what we're going to see now is what visitors to ashland would see as they tour the first floor of the estate so take us on a bit of a tour if you would. >> we here in the foyer right now. this is where the clay family would have welcomed their guests and the clay family established a long legacy of welcoming guests here at ashland. we have next the drawing room where the family entertained their guests. this is where we're filming tonight. many of the clay's important guests would have come to this room. it was the most formal room in
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the house, and we also have the dining room where you can see lucretia's ice cream service set on the table. the orange-and-white china service was given to her by her sister and it was a gift purchased in france and lucretia was particularly known for her strawberry ice cream. i'd like to take you next into the study and in the original house this room was used by henry clay like a home office for his three careers. henry, of course, was a farmer, a lawyer, and a statesman. i would like to draw attention to henry clay's portfolio and document box. currently we have the portfolio on loan to us from the supreme court and henry clay would have used these items when he went to washington, d.c. we also have a pair of stirrups that say "h. clay" and as a farmer, henry clay believed in breeding the best to the best and because of this philosophy 11 kentucky derby winners can
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draw their bloodlines back here to ashland. next we have the library. henry clay began his legal career in 1797. we have his law license up here on the wall and this was issued in 1797 in virginia. henry clay would turn to his legal career throughout his life as a source of revenue or income and his legal career and his great oratory really helped define who he was. >> well, we will be back with you throughout the program. you'll be back to answer our viewer questions and take us on a tour of the other places in the house, avery malone, so thank you very much for this view of ashland in henry clay's period. who were some of the famous people he may have hosted here? >> several presidents came here. william henry harrison met with
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clay here, martin van buren came here two years before -- they thought they'd be running against each other in 1844 and he stayed four or five days. it's a question, really, did they talk about trying to make the texas issue go away? they both issued letters later on saying they opposed the annexation of texas which became a fierce issue of that campaign. did they meet in rooms like this and talk over that? we don't know. basically, a lot of famous people including lafayette and others have been through this area and those people wanted to see henry clay, all the foreign visitors who came to america wanted to come to lexington, the athens of the west, the cultural center of the west, because it was also the political center of the west with henry clay here. >> we'll mix in our first viewer phone call from brian in springfield, illinois. welcome to our conversation about henry clay. >> caller: good evening. i want to thank c-span for this series, it's a great idea. i'm calling from springfield illinois with a non-lincoln themed question. i wanted to ask the panel about
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1824 and the corrupt bargain charge against henry clay when he backed john quincy adams against jackson and accepted the secretary of state position. do you think that's the reason why we're referring to henry clay as contender instead of president? >> the 1824 election. >> that was used against henry clay the rest of his life, and it was one of his major political mistakes. there were four people in that race, the constitution says the top three vote getters if there's not a majority will go to the house of representatives where each state will have one vote. henry clay ended up number four on that list. he probably should have been on the list because if he'd gotten in as speaker of the house he would have been able to use his vast popularity to win the president by one on one campaigning in the house of representatives, but he didn't so he became the president maker, not the president and before he left kentucky, before he left ashland, he said he favored john quincy adams for the presidency.
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adams had the same view points. at that time jackson he called a mere general and clay always feared the napoleons of the world. he feared america would elect these generals and they would use some pretext to take over and become dictator like napoleon in his lifetime. so clay went to washington knowing he was going to support adams. his mistake was not supporting adams, that may have been his best compromise was getting enough states to vote for adams to be president because adams didn't carry nine states and 13 were needed. clay did that, adams was elected then clay made his big mistake, he accepted the offer of the secretary of state position from john quincy adams that was a stepping stone to the presidency. half people said he should do it. half his advisors said he he shouldn't, but he couldn't turn it down and that was then used against him as a corrupt bargain. >> andrew jackson was his great nemesis. what was jackson's position on slavery? >> much more hostile than probably one of the first presidents.
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he marched into florida mainly to clear out what he considered a threat from florida. he's -- one of his major campaigns into florida was the issue of free blacks with british support living in florida along with native americans who were raiding into american territories, taking slaves out of the united states. so he's very hostile toward any idea of freedom, and much more so than our presidents. >> next telephone call is from scott who's watching from boston. hello, scott. >> caller: hi, how are you? >> great, thanks, do you have a henry clay question for us? >> caller: i do. i went to high school in eastport, maine, on moose island, kind of a cool, foggy, little bit dreary island there, very close to canada and we all knew in eastport that henry clay had insisted after the war of 1812, the island had been taken by the british, he had insisted when he negotiated the end of
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the treaty that the island be returned to the united states even when john quincy adams, another negotiator, was willing to let the -- let canada have -- let british have the island and i'm wondering if any historians would know why he was so adamant on the return of moose island in eastport to america. >> i don't know if you know the specifics of -- >> god, i'm not an expert on moose island and why clay -- i do know that clay when making the treaty in the war of 1812, he took the strongest position of all the american delegates, he wanted america to have a strong position. adams was afraid they would not get a treaty if they took such positions so clay tended to get everything he could and i'm not sure on moose island. i hope another historian could tell us. >> allison, we talked before we got live about antipathy and antagonism towards the british. >> yes. >> the what can you tell us
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about that in a general point of his philosophy? >> well, he felt, of course, that the british were still trying to hold on, punish america with the war of 1812, he definitely wanted a war with england. he felt america, despite the fact we had a very small army, small navy, could still beat england, so i don't know if that was a source of pride or ego or what that was with clay but i often wondered if it had something to do with the british asking african-americans to fight against americans during the war of 1812, if that could have been a part of it. >> there's also when he was a young man and apparently his father's grave had just been dug supposedly british soldiers came into the household and they were trying to raid the household and they thrust their swords into the freshly dug grave thinking there might be goods hidden there so he had an antipathy toward the british very early. he said the kentucky militia alone can capture canada when the war of 1812 started. he was wrong as he was on other
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things but when he got to britain after the peace treaty had been signed, he stayed there several months and met all the british important people. and he came back with much little different view of the british. he still feared them and thought they would try to bully america but he now became known as prince hal because he's associated with royalty so much that maybe he -- they felt it rubbed off on him. >> let's talk about the 1832 election, talking about andrew jackson, when he faced off against him for the presidency. >> in 1832 it was probably one of those elections that clay couldn't win. jackson was popular still. the things that make historians upset with andrew jackson, like his indian policy, his policy towards african-americans and groups like that, those were positives for andrew jackson in his era and in the south particularly, and in 1832 clay also faced the fact there was a
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third party that would take a sizable percentage of the vote, probably mostly for the whig party or the party that would become the whigs and that was the party known as the anti-masonic party. the whole issue of masonry, which we still hear today with movies and things like that about it. the anti-masonic party thought the masons should be done away with. >> clay was a mason. >> clay was a mason and andrew jackson was a mason. clay was not a practicing mason at the time, so it was the lesser of two evils but the third party took votes away from him. he probably would have had a hard time winning anyway. jackson was popular, but then the bank issue came up, jackson vetoed it and clay thought it would be a popular issue that people would go to him and say this is the right thing to do but he didn't realize that jackson's veto message was a great political message because it made andrew jackson speak for the people and against this corporate monopoly, this bank, and clay couldn't win on that issue so clay lost on several levels.
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>> how close was the election? >> clay got 49 electoral votes, i think jackson got 219. >> c-span has a web site with more details, we have other video you won't see during our live production and we have details about their losing presidential elections and the outcomes. it's if you're wanting to learn more history along the way with us here. let's return to avery malone, the tour operations director at ashland, now on the second floor. avery, what do you have for us? >> we're in the henry clay bedroom right now and you can see the bed behind me. this is henry clay's 1830s bed and we even have a letter where he talks about how comfortable this bet was and that it didn't even have bedbugs. upstairs we also have henry clay's duelling pistols. these were purchased in 1799 and later altered a bit. we believe that these went to war with his son in mexico. henry was in two duels, one with humphrey marshall and one with john randolph and the duel with
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john randolph actually takes us back to henry clay as speaker of the house. when henry was chosen as speaker of the house, he was chosen partly because they thought here's a man who can meet john randolph on the floor or on the field. and it happened that they met on the field. john randolph compared henry clay to a character in the novel "tom jones" and basically called him a card cheat on the senate floor. henry wasn't there to defend himself and felt that no man should have to endure such a dishonor, so he challenged john randolph to a duel. unfortunately for henry clay, randolph was really a great shot with pistols and clay was not. but randolph decided that he didn't want to deprive lucretia or the nation of henry clay and decided to shoot at the ground. fortunately, nobody was seriously injured in either of henry clay's duels. >> how long did dueling -- was it part of american political life? >> duels continued in kentucky in the 1860s. >> 1860s?
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>> yeah, last ones. >> and henry clay knew he wasn't a great shot, so why did he get involved in this? >> it was honor. clay had a real sense of honor and if your honor was attacked, you had to defend it. sometimes he would defend it through newspaper stories and letters, he wrote to many of those but sometimes it got so bad he thought the only way to defend it was to challenge someone and if they answered the challenge, then he twice went to the dueling grounds and that would be used against him as well. randolph was particularly -- >> and this is senator john randolph of roanoke? >> yes, randolph of roanoke, a man who was very eccentric, had one of the great quotes, though, about henry clay, it may have been applied to other people, too, but he said that "henry clay is like a rotten mackerel in the moonlight, he both shines and stinks." and that's a great vision there that clay both shines and stinks and randolph disliked they for things he did, but he admired clay because clay had the ability toll do things and even in the last part of his life randolph as a dying man wanted
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to come to the floor of the senate so he said he could listen to this magnificent voice one more time. >> our next telephone call is from david, san francisco. david, welcome. >> caller: thank you. i have one quick comment and that is that anybody who thinks that today's politics is overly divided should really take a look at the political verbiage in the jacksonian era. but then the question is this, particularly to dr. clotter, do you find it a bit ironic that the republican party, which was formed out of the whig party, has evolved from a party founded by henry clay on the basis of public works and federal investment in local projects into one that opposes all that, and particularly with mitch mcconnell's comments? thank you. >> yes, hi, david.
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basically the whig party evolved into the republican party. abraham lincoln himself had been a wig and became a republican. it had many aspects of the whig party but in modern days, parties have aspects of both of those. the democratic party has a lot of the central factions of the whig party. some of the republican business oriented sections come from the whig philosophy so in a sense henry clay lives on in both parties and maybe doesn't live on enough in both parties but he still lives on in both parties. >> comments on that question. >> well, and certainly the -- you mentioned 1830s. you have the rise of the anti-slavery, a new england anti-slavery society. and he does develop some democratic ideals. he definitely supports -- against the idea of the gag rule in congress which many of the southerners and northerners want. and for the sake of freedom, he definitely overrules that idea.
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he wants these petitions, even though he doesn't support it, he wants it heard. >> before we get too far into the 1830s, we really haven't spent time on one of the first three great compromises that he's known for, the missouri compromise. will you talk a little about the politics around that? >> missouri wanted to come into the union, 1820. missouri wants to come into the union. the question is slave state or not. maine is about to enter at the same time. it ends up with the two come in. one is slave and one is free. that's not necessarily going to be decided at the beginning. the whole question of slavery is like when the -- slavery question arises it has been smoldering like a fire and now the missouri compromise feeds that fire and brings it to the forefront of the debates and debate.
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slavery, will it continue? will it go on? will it be everywhere in the nation? somewhere in the nation? limited? there's attempts to limit it completely. clay is not really the man who makes the first compromise. a lot of the ideas were here. came from other people. works to get through. it is not his compromise. once it is through everything seems like it is done. missouri passes a law that says free blacks in missouri. united states constitution as american citizens can go anywhere. so this is the compromise clay -- everything else is getting ready to fall apart. clay works out a very convoluted answer to that that satisfies everybody and satisfies nobody. at the same time it ends the crisis. he hopes the amendment slavery will not be an issue because to clay slavery is the real thorn in his side. he can never come up with a solution on that. and if it's -- if it is -- if it is a wound it is a self-inflicted wound because clay was a slave holder. >> that makes it difficult to please. he starts out people believing he is an emancipationist and is
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on the north side. and then over time, he's hated by both the north and the south. it is a no-win situation for him. >> we are halfway through our 90-minute discussion on the life and times of the contender, henry clay who ran for the white house throughout most of his political career. five times in total. three times as his party's nominee. unsuccessful all the while. but the great effect on the direction and future of his country. we are going to take a very short break and be back at ashland, his home in lexington, kentucky, to talk more. welcome back to ashland. the home of henry clay in lexington, kentucky. a place that has been preserved and is open for tours so people who -- spend their professional lives helping to curate this place will come down and visit. let me row reintroduce you to
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our guests. alicestyne, tell us about your college. will you, please? >> i'm a professor at the university of louisville. one of 13 pan african in the country. >> you were colleagues in georgetown? >> we were colleagues at georgetown college and that's where i teach american history now. >> where is georgetown? >> 12 miles northwest. very close. >> when you were colleagues, did you debate a lot? >> we did. we did. but it is hard to debate someone like jim clotter. he definitely is a scholar on kentucky history. i try to keep up. >> and 25 years of kentucky state historian, what does the job entail? >> basically self-defined job. to me it involves writing history of the state. i try to do that. it involves working with people who are writing about kentucky's history and helping them, aiding them, offering advice, suggestions.
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trying to stay out of the their way sometimes. also entails going around and giving talks to the state and tell the story of the state and people that live here. >> the director of tour operations here at ashland, avery, would you tell us about how many people come to this place, every year how it's financed and how it's operated? >> well, it varies by season how many people you will find visiting ashland. certainly, the tourists come when the leaves change and keeneland is in full swing, and in christmas and throughout summer. we have somewhere around 15,000 a year come to see us. we are financed through a variety of methods and means. and we are very fortunate to have all of our visitors and all of friends of ashland's who donate to keep us open and for us to tell the public about henry clay and compromise. >> what year did the place open for tours? >> we opened in 1950 for tours.
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and this was only two years after nanette bullock died. she was henry clay's great granddaughter. she was the one that preserved ashland by starting the henry clay memorial foundation. so just two years after she passed away. and her son lived here until 1959, so we were only open downstairs, and then after he moved out, we opened throughout the house. >> all three of our guests available for your questions. let's take another one. this is from shelby watching us in sacramento, california. >> caller: yes. hello. i'm also a great grandson of a mr. lauer, who had help with the anti-slavery movement and before i get to my main question, i would like to say that he had a hardware store and when slaves would come into town and they needed to be housed his secret and magical phrase to his
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neighbors were we have some two penny nails in. and my grandmother, myrtle lauer james, knew there was kind of magical significance to that. she was given a horse, she named the horse two penny nails. so perhaps we could remember all of those slaves that were able to find freedom and what a great country this is and what a terrific thing to have c-span. i'm grateful to participate in this series. >> we appreciate it. we do need your question. we have a lot of callers in line. >> caller: yes, yes. i saw masonry emblems on the buildings in the beautiful city of louisville, kentucky. my question was -- could you tell us, please, what association henry clay may have had with that city? thank you. >> okay. with the city of louisville. >> clay's son, henry clay jr, lived in louisville and lexington. clay jr. used some of his life's money again to basically buy a
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lot of property when louisville on the rise. he became quite wealthy as a young man. that son -- ended up being killed in the mexican war. killed by mexican lances. clay would visit there and help his son and it was a rival of lexington, though. louisville clipped the population in 1830 for the first time. the river now -- riverboats there made louisville the artery of communication and transportation. lexington was in the back for the water system. so the connection with louisville was a mixed one. it generally supported the whigs' side. >> next phone call is from willie. willie in columbus, ohio, you are on. >> caller: thank you. i would like to note real quickly any connection, any association, i have always been under the impression former heavyweight champion cassius
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clay always said that was his slave name. any association at all? thank you. >> certainly, the name cassius marcellus clay stands out for americans because he was considered an abolitionist and anti-slavery advocate in lexington. ran an anti-slavery newspaper. however, it is my understanding and maybe jim knows better than i, but i don't think there was a real family connection with cassius marcellus clay. >> i did some research on that. the man known as muhammad ali was originally cassius marcellus clay. he was named for the abolitionist leader. but -- his family that he came from was from western kentucky. they just took that name because distant cousin of henry clay, abolitionist man, in the a slavery man certainly. they thought that was a good name to take when they had freedom.
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>> the election of 1840, clay tries once again for his whig party's nomination. he was defeated by whom? >> harrison. >> harrison turned around and offered clay, vice president? >> i'm not sure he offered him the vice president. offered him a choice of cabinet positions. >> i'm thinking here is this chance to get that close because of the way fate played with the harrison president. why did he offer him the choice of cabinets? >> they had been rivals. here is another general, a man who said he hadn't voted for 30 years. he had positions in indiana territory and other places, some history of accomplishments. not a great deal. clay is expecting to get the president -- time when the wigs think they will win because america is in a depression. wig policies look like they are the things you need to get you out of the depression. whoever they put out there will have a very good shot at beating
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the incumbent martin van buren. this is one of those examples where henry clay is not a good politician. he is good in congress. he's not a good manager. he is not a good campaign -- doesn't have a campaign manager. trusts his own instincts too much rather than just the advice of other people. he basically is outmaneuvered. they get a rule changed in the convention itself so clay -- had the majority of the votes, now said instead of voting by number, they're going to vote by state delegation. the whole state goes to that person. that negated his advantage and loses out to harrison. harrison realized clay was very important in the wig party, obviously. he wants to make peace. didn't want clay on the opposite side. that's why he offered clay these positions. clay basically says he rather stay where he is and thinks he has more important things to do there. he doesn't really want to be associated with harrison presidency really. >> our next caller is bill here in lexington, kentucky. hi, bill.
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>> caller: hi. calling from washington. i'm actually a teacher at henry clay high school which is right up the street where you are all sitting right now. i would like to ask whether the panelists think henry clay's reputation as a compromiser hurt his chances of being president. and whether or not his -- three-time loser actually made it possible for him to have a greater impact on a more positive one on the country through his long legislative career? thank you. >> i'm going to ask all three of our guests very briefly to answer that question. we will start with you. >> i think being a compromiser, yes, by 1840 it definitely does hurt him. he is unwilling to change his position. his stand on anti-slavery upsets new england and the northerners. he's trying to straddle the fence and i think it does hurt
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him more than help him. >> avery, the question on his years as a compromiser ultimately hurt him in his quest important the presidency. what do you tell people? >> i'm not sure but bag compromiser is not universally popular when someone is seeking a position of power. people usually want you to take a strong stance. >> and your thoughts? >> emerson said that a foolish -- clay was not consistent all of his life. one time opposed when he was a rung man and favored one later on. and he changed the little one, different positions over time. his enemies used that against him and said he wasn't consistent but would compromise and trim his sail stos -- sails to anything as long as he was
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getting votes. i don't think that was the case. i think -- but he's willing to take a change and make a change and say that he had been wrong. that's hard for a politician to do. >> we had an earlier caller that wanted to -- referenced this and talked about henry clay's views of the british. we'll see what was called the gent code in a moment. what was the significance of the treaty? >> ends the war of 1812 which americans are not winning at the time the delegates over there and it gets worse because they thought the british would be fighting napoleon and napoleon is out of the way by the time the treaty's deliberations start. the americans have not -- not negotiated from a place of strength. but in a sense, they get about the best treaty they can. they do as well as they can. it is one of our best delegations ever. john quincy adams, henry clay, three other people of importance there. and it draws out and takes a long time to come about that they -- given the fact they didn't have a lot to work with, they came back with a very strong treaty for america.
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it was hailed that way, too. it didn't hurt and andrew jackson won the battle of new orleans after the treaty had been signed. there's almost like would things came at the same time. looked like we won the war. even though the treaty had been signed before the battle. >> avery, you have the gent jacket. can you tell us about it and its significance? >> yes. we have the jacket here. this is the diplomatic issue jacket henry clay would have been given to go to gent and negotiate peace. this jacket is very significant it is one of the few pieces in the collection we have that belong to henry clay. this jacket also served as an artifact during the time the kentucky a&m was here. forerunner to uk. they used this jacket as an artifact then as well. >> we are going back to telephone calls. next is from denver, michael. >> caller: good evening. my family and i grew up in milwaukee, wisconsin. and in the '50s we all went to henry clay elementary school for seven years. he's always been a source of fascination for me.
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i used to come to lexington on business and i'm sorry i didn't realize you guys were there. i have a very simple question. this very bestselling but -- bestselling biography on him. called henry clay, the essential american by david hidler. it is very popular. i'm wondering if you read it. would it be a good choice for me to learn about henry clay? do you have something else to suggest? thank you very much. >> well, we just happen to have that book here. it is one of the several books available in the bookstore. they have a number of biographies. i'm going to ask both of you, what would be the book you would pick out about henry clay? >> that's the most recent biography and has a lot of strengths on his human side of henry clay. and it's the newest biography. if you want political emphasis, probably robert's book on clay is about the same size. but if you want to start out on
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something smaller, there's a book with a chapter on henry clay and has a good introduction on henry clay. he has a very good view. you want to compare clay and calhoun and webster, peterson did a book in the '70s. it is a good balanced book on all three men. kind of gives you a nice comparison to start with. lindsey apple did a book on the family legacy of henry clay. apple's book is excellent and it also takes clay's family beyond just his lifetime. >> what would you pick up? for him or for the period? >> for him, remini and definitely the triumphant are things i read because it does bring in daniel webster and some of the other important figures of the time, for african-americans it puts it in perspective as far as what's going on in the country and what
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the great debates are about. so definitely -- i have not read the newer version. i'm waiting for jim's book that's coming out. that will be the next one that i will pick up to read. >> when and what is the next book? >> the great rejected, henry clay and the american presidency. >> how about that? perfect timing. >> great rejected is a quote that was said about clay at the end of his life. he was the great rejection by the people. he stood out because of that. i'm about to finish writing it this month, early next month. then i have to go to the publication process. about a year away, i hope. >> the current speaker of the house has many of his powers, i think that he can look back to. to the speakership of henry clay. and he spoke about henry clay recently. let's listen to speaker john boehner. >> henry clay was the first -- what i call strong speaker of
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the house. the real leader of the house. when -- when our country was founded and congress was put together, the first speakers of the first 20 years or so came out of the english parliament system. they were more of a referee. didn't have any real power. but clay was the first real speaker of the house that had power. and there's a lot of things you can say about roles and the speaker, henry clay was clearly a very strong speaker. and if you look at the period from 1820 to 1860 there was no one person in the united states more responsible for holding our union together than henry clay. >> by the way, that was from an event that was organized by the folks here at ashland where they invited all living speakers to come and talk about the role of speakers. and that was held at the
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university here and it is -- on our video library. if you would like go back and watch it. quite an interesting event that they hosted here bipartisan discussion about the role of speakers. to both of you, how did henry clay enhance the powers of the speaker? >> force of his personality, i think the mere -- no one wanted to debate him. certainly he had the force to win the argument. so i think that alone had great influence and power. i don't know if any other speaker would be compared to. >> he also understood the power of committee assignments. >> the committees -- as i say the committees basically -- he understood the speaker had the power to put the people he want on the committees. when something important -- he was known to be a fair man as speaker. that was very important. both sides of the aisle respected him. respected his opinions.
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he was never overridden in his rulings. and he -- he basically was fair in the makeup of the committee. but -- he knew there was a certain issue coming up you can see a slight inclination to put the -- to that issue he wanted the issue to go a certain way. he understood very early that and changed the rules, changed with his backing and gave the speaker more power and limit debate. things like that. allowed him to be a much more important powerful figure than anybody before. his force and his will had made it as important as anything else. >> next phone call is from raymond, kalamazoo, michigan. hi, raymond. raymond, we are going to move on. let's take a call from lonny, chevy chase, maryland. you are on the air. >> caller: good evening. lincoln referred to clay as his ideal as a statesman. i always believed that the two men had never met. however, recently i came across a web page which purported to show a book, i believe it was
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inscribed by clay to lincoln. could the panel comment on this? what's the thinking now? did clay and lincoln ever meet? >> we don't know basically. there's one person who left a memoir about the turn of the -- between 19th and 20th century that said that person had seen the two in lexington. abraham lincoln married mary todd lincoln. mary todd who was from lexington. and her family was very closely aligned with the clays. so her family knew the clays. lincoln came to kentucky several times in connection with the family in the states. and he certainly heard -- heard henry clay speak. whether they met is unknown. imagine what a great time it would have been had -- you have to think they tried to meet if nothing else.
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had lincoln come to ashland and the two of them sit here in the parlor and clay would say, you know, something to and mr. lincoln say and that reminds me of a story and go back and forth. lincoln never said he met clay. so i think that's very possibly he would have said that. he did say clay was his idea of an ideal statesman. when he wrote his inaugural, he did four things with him in -- to write the inaugural with. one of those four items was henry clay's speech in the compromise of 1850. clay's effect on abraham lincoln was important during the douglas debates. lincoln said his views of the -- views of clay were his views of abraham lincoln as well. >> we're going to take a call and we must spend some time talking about the 1844 election. so let's listen to a question from charles. whittier, california. >> caller: hello. my question is this. i'm a kentuckian, born and
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raised in the home of rosemary clooney. and i understand from the panel, your two guests, henry clay is considered the favorite son of kentucky. although he and lincoln were members of the whig party, i don't understand how he could be the favorite son and not abraham lincoln. who -- when he met harriet beach ever stowe, said to her, you are that lady that started this great war. she had never mentioned nor is uncle tom who is -- i consider the greatest christian in american literature. neither are mentioned ever as being great in their time. and yet on the times in which they lived and even today, their influences is greatly felt. especially by many african-americans who are historically informed. why is not lincoln? >> your response, please?
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>> abraham lincoln certainly -- kentucky, he may have started off as being friends in kentucky. certainly when the emancipation proclamation is issued, he becomes a much hated figure here in kentucky. so henry clay, who considered himself a westerner, but many southerners would have -- would choose him over abraham lincoln who is certainly considered a traitor to the kentucky cause. you mentioned harriet beacher stowe who is a popular kentucky figure. we read and study her. lincoln in that relationship, he is much more popular in the north of new england than he ever becomes in the south. particularly at the end of the civil war. >> lincoln in 1860 running on the northern ticket received i think five votes in his wife's home county. even his in-laws didn't vote for him. he received a thousand votes in the entire state of kentucky.
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to vote for lincoln in 1860 for kentucky, like voting for a communist in the 1950s. he was a radical republican, a red republican, and just didn't have any support here. and kentucky -- to begin the war, wanted union and slavery. when he decides the war by the middle of the war is a war against slavery finally, that turns many kentuckians against the administration. the state had been union began the war becomes almost pro-confederate by the end of the war. so lincoln and his party are on the outs in kentucky for a long period of time. it is only in the 20th century kentucky starts reclaim abraham lincoln with the building of the memorial of his birthplace, then lincoln commissioned created in the 21st century. so kentucky reclaimed lincoln. he was on the wrong side after the war. >> how far from where we are physically is the lincoln birthplace? >> it is probably an hour and 15 minute drive straight down the interstate. >> in that time period how long
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would it have taken to cross? >> it took -- it took henry clay to go from lexington, frankfurt, 25 miles all day sometimes in the mud. that's why he was so much in favor of putting better roads and canals using federal government aid. >> by the way, during this discussion of lincoln, we had a brief picture of an artifact that you have here in the collection which has an inscription. can you tell us what we're looking at? >> yes, this is called "the life and speeches of henry clay." there is an inscription that says to abraham lincoln with constant regard to friendship. ashland h. clay, 1847. we believe that this book was given to abraham lincoln from clay as sort of a gift to lincoln in exchange for what we believe lincoln would have given a condolence gift to henry clay after his son henry jr. was killed in the mexican/american war. >> we don't know those were delivered personally? >> we don't.
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we don't know if they ever met. there's no documentation to say that they have. we know at least that henry clay did know abraham lincoln. there must have been some type of a relationship based on this artifact. >> we have a little less than 20 minutes left in our 90 minutes on henry clay. first of our 14 contenders in our look at american history. let's take our next telephone calls from louisville. this is rob watching us nearby. hi, rob. >> caller: actually, it's robin. >> i'm sorry, robin. >> caller: i have three questions. i will go really fast and get out of the way. your guest mentioned clay's contradictions. the connection to abolitionists early on. i want to know whether he changed his mind or political posturing in your opinion or a lie? another caller mentioned the two cassius clays. i'm curious as to whether it is
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known whether or not henry clay or any of the household members or immediate family members had any known slave descendants, like jefferson. third question, politicians often have political or aristocratic lineage. i'm curious to know if it is known if any other prominent politicians share henry clay's lineage. now i'm out of your way. thank you. >> before you go, have you been here? to the house? we lost her. she lives so close by. was wondering if she had been here. abolitionists and whether or not his position changed or posturing. >> i think it would be wrong to call henry clay an abolitionist. he was definitely not an abolitionist. he was for the idea of emancipation. and no, he never changed his position on that. and as we discussed earlier, especially in the election of 1840, it hurts him.
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the fact that he does -- tries to waffle. but, no, he never backs away from his idea of emancipation. >> cassius clay. >> 1799, clay speaks out the first time publicly in kentucky against slavery. letter to the local paper. and -- 50 years later, when he does the same thing again, kentucky trying to adopt a new constitution and hope to get slavery abolished but doesn't happen. he takes the same stance. over a 50-year period consistent. thing is over that 50 years the world -- his views are still the same. >> her question about cassius clay? >> i know of no -- question about whether or not they are african-american, no. i'm not aware of that. >> whether or not he had any descendants african-americans. >> there were at least one story that appeared 40 years after henry clay's death that -- a woman said that she had been a mistress of henry clay's.
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but i have found nothing to substantiate that story. there were also several henry clays in this area. it may have -- mixed up with somebody else. there's a list of -- i mean, you can -- pretty much compiled a list of the clays' slaves and i didn't see her name there anywhere. i don't think that happened. cassius clay probably not either as far as i know. there was off spring but in russia. offspring showed up at his door one day in white hall. cassius clay home here in kentucky. and the shock of that caused his wife to eventually end up divorcing henry cassius clay. >> do you remember her exact question? >> if anybody, i think, she said was -- if anybody -- politicians have the same connection, connection to clay as far as being related to clay, i'm not sure that there -- know of anybody else. >> no family dynasty in politics. >> i don't think so. >> all right. moving on. we are going to run out of time.
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1844 election. against james poke. he was successful in securing the whig nomination. everything i read about it said it was one of the dirtiest campaigns conducted. what were the issues? was it real personal politics? or both? >> well -- clay goes in as a favorite on this for a change. and james polk is the first dark horse candidate for the presidency. he went in hoping to be the vice president and he ends up being the nominee for the democrats. democrats are scrambling. clay had been organizing the campaign important two years. biographies everywhere. sheet music with clay's picture and name. all kinds of ribbons and buttons and metals. the democrats coming from behind have to attack and they attack clay pretty heavily on all those issues. 1844 is a perfect storm of bad
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things happening to henry clay. writes too many letters and says too many things. looks like he's waffling on the issue of texas annexation. issues of drinking and gambling comes back against him, used against clay. and i think it is -- it is more of the combination of things that defeat clay than -- standard view is that the texas annexation issue, polk takes that and says we need to annex texas, northern abolitionists and others of the north believe it will bring war with mexico, which it does. clay opposes it unless it takes place on peaceful basis. he is going against america's manifest destiny. he is going against the mood and i don't think that defeats him. he wins votes because of his stand on that as well and loses some votes. it is more of a whole slew of issues and then there's issues of fraud and bad luck and
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things like that which claim every election he goes through as well. >> you hear a lot about this being an example of the early example of the politics of the personal destruction. was this on both sides? was henry clay a practitioner of those kinds of politics? >> i think he was his own worst enemy. he trusted the wrong people, i think in 1844 campaign. he doesn't listen to his adviser. this is still a problem for him in 1844. he believes his own press that he is the favorite and he doesn't see the challenges as serious so he is not really campaigning. so yeah. he shoots himself in the foot a couple of times. >> he opposed texas annexation predicting it would lead to war with mexico. he was correct. his son goes to fight in that war. what happens to his son? >> his son is killed in the war. his son lost his wife a few years before. almost -- was very depressed for a period of time. almost like he was trying to go off to fight to -- forget as much as anything else. he's wounded and tells his men to leave him and retreat and they do. he's killed. some parts are sent back to clay
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from the killing of his son. it hits him very hard. and clay makes this anti-war speech. he basically says i support the troops but i oppose the war. it is a speech that many people consider very courageous speech because it was going against the national mood in the south particularly which is one of his constituents areas. >> let's take another call. this is molly from bridgeton, new jersey. hi, molly. >> caller: hello. i was wondering if you -- your panelist could talk about the relationships between john quincy adams and henry clay. >> thank you. >> molly, clay and adams were very mismatched couple. adams is the new england puritan background. if you read his diary, he is critical of everybody including himself.
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i think he can only be happy in some ways talking to himself, and even then not happy. he's critical. he's a man of great talent. he speaks many foreign languages. he's well versed in the presidency, son of a president. there's a great passage about his diaries where when -- adams is getting up at 4:00 in the morning. henry clay is coming in from a night of card playing. adams looks -- frowns with this and says this is the debauchery of henry clay. henry clay is a very different kind of a person. and they -- they constantly tweaked each other and talked to each other and didn't like each other in a lot of ways. but they respected each other. when clay makes john quincy adams president of the united states 1825, everybody expected they would fight and would break away from each other. clay is a very loyal secretary of state. and adams gave more respect to clay and clay has more respect
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for adams. they may not -- may not be friends but certainly respectful of each other the rest of their lives. >> we're reaching back into the earlier part of henry clay's career. this is a good time to look at one of ashlands' most prized possessions, the washington goblet. will you tell us about it? >> yes. we do have the washington goblet here. and this was the item of greatest patriotic inspiration in henry clay's home. you can see that it is chipped or broken and this is how henry clay received it. and he wrote about how he had received this from the elderly lady as a gift. it had belonged to george washington through most of the revolutionary war. he used this like an artifact in his house. and really used it to connect us to our early nationhood and as an object to venerate george washington. he felt washington as many throughout the country did was a great inspiration to our country. and hoped to inspire patriotism in people that visited here in
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ashland. >> we are quickly running out of time here. since we have you, let me ask youable henry and clay and his wife and how often they lived here together. he had such a long political career. required him to be in washington so frequently. did his family move to washington with him? did they remain behind most of the time? >> his family did go with henry clay to washington early on. but around the 1830s was really the last time she would go with henry clay to washington. she had plenty here on the farm to keep her busy. there were children and grandchildren here to occupy her time. she was never one to really enjoy the limelight. she was not heavily into fashion and attention. so she did enjoy the solace ashland provided here. in the later part of henry clay's life, last half, believed he was gone as much as he was home. and -- some surmised henry clay was addicted to travel. which is one thing we probably
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all like to do more of. but henry was gone quite frequently to campaign, henry was gone working washington. and on trips, for instance to see his daughter in new orleans. >> next call from kentucky, paducah, gerald. >> caller: hi there. really enjoying the program. >> thanks. >> caller: my last name is watkins. gerald watkins. henry clay was my seventh cousin. his grandmother was a sister to my fifth great grandfather. so i'm real proud of henry clay in that connection. my question is -- the three times he won the nomination, it seemed like the timing was really not good for his candidacy. they seemed doomed. was there a presidential election that he could have won the presidency? >> i think they could have won in 1840 pretty reasonably, and in 1848 zachary taylor is going
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to be the whig nominee, and henry clay opposed any general. clay particularly opposed zachary taylor because taylor had done nothing other than be a general, and he had never voted even before he ran for president. clay very reluctantly tries to get the nomination in 1848 and fails. clay got that nomination and i think he would have won, too. the democrats were divided that year. clay was quoted by someone as saying, you know, that years he could get the nomination he can't. his friends are basically deserting him because john jay critna of kentucky was a backer of zachary taylor and clay saw that almost as a betrayal of all of the things he had done. >> since we fast forwarded to 1848, let's move ahead to 1850. henry clay's last big effort on public policy and the compromise of 1850. what was that compromise all
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about? set the stage for us about what was happening in this country. >> 1850, this decision about the expansion -- how slave states, whether they come in as free or slave holding. the idea of strengthening the fugitive slave law, of course, becomes one of the breaking points. the idea of california, of whether or not -- so the decision ends up being california can make its own decision about whether or not slaves can be held in the state. missouri comes in -- new mexico and arizona, exactly. so, again, we are now truly into the manifest destiny where the united states reaches from coast to coast. for african-americans, the strengthening of the fugitive slave law becomes a major issue in american politics leading up to the civil war.
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>> jim, we have about four minutes left. on the compromise of 1850, henry clay was not successful. he was reaching the end of his strength in health. how did all it turn out? >> it says something about henry clay in 1849 he comes back to the senate after his defeat in 1844. he'd been at home leaving this quiet and piece and serenity of ashland. he has nothing to gain, and he's not running for president anymore. he comes out of retirement to save the country in his mind one more time in 1850 with the compromise. in missouri he'd broken all the little pieces up and got them passed one by one. in 1850 he listened to someone they put it altogether in the omnibus bill. it doesn't pass. clay goes off to rhode island to take the waters, and bill does pass piecemeal under steven douglas. clay thought and was supported on this, it will bring peace in his life. it did because he died later. within a decade of that, the
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civil war begins. >> he dies in 1852 and buried where? >> in lexington in the cemetery. >> right nearby. we have video of his grave site. his funeral was quite an event. a thousand mile train cortage. >> his trusted servant charles is still at his side to the very end with the funeral pyre. he's viewed people come from all over. the trains are coming in, and thousands of people in lexington for the funeral. so it's national news. >> i think the thing about that monument, there's monuments to clay. i think he's got more images in the nation's capital than any other individual, atlantic magazine in 2006 was one of the most influential americans of all time. the best to clay is not those things. i think it's the fact that henry
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clay kept a divided nation together. the nation is still one nation divided. still a working democracy, still trying hard to live up to the spirit of henry clay. >> we've time for a very quick call from bowling green, kentucky. do you have a quick question for us? >> caller: my question is why do you suppose henry clay was not interested in a woman's perspective on slavery? the reason i ask that question, european victorian woman by the name of harriet martineu had traveled to kentucky in 1835 and she visited -- >> i'm going to interrupt you. we understand the history, and we have very little time. >> harriet is sent by britain, so that's enough for clay not to like her. i would certainly say that just his southern principles about women's place.
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>> yeah. he loved women. had women been able to vote, henry clay would have been president many times, because by all the estimates, women of america liked henry clay. everybody uniformly says that women liked henry clay and would have voted for him. she came to ashland and stayed here. she didn't like the clay children, but she liked henry clay when she got here, even though she had problems with henry clay. that was part of america of his time, too. the contradictions and the controversy around henry clay. >> we heard jim's views of why henry clay was important for our country. would you close with yours? >> he was important for the country because he polarized and made america make a decision on slavery. the 1850 compromise, which did pass, african-americans fled to canada. it increased the public awareness of slavery in america. so that was his major contribution, i think. >> we just skimmed the surface of a 49-year political career for henry clay, our first of 14 contenders men who didn't
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achieve their quest for the presidency but changed american history. i'm going to say thanks to our guests and the tour director for helping us better understand henry clay's life. also a couple other quick thanks, the henry clay memorial foundation for preserving ashland and sharing it with all of us around the country tonight. deborah core, who is the executive director and eric brooks and their colleagues, both volunteers and staff at ashland. a personal thank you to c-span's former board chairman bob myron and his spouse diane who traveled to kentucky to be with us. history buffs that they are, as we kick off the first of our contenders series. thanks for being with us as we learned more tonight about the life of henry clay.
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our profiles of presidential candidates continues tomorrow night on american history tv, with a look at james blaine, republican presidential candidate in the 1884 election against grover cleveland. that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern time here on c-span3. the c-span radio app makes it easy to continue to follow the 2016 election wherever you are. it's free to


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