Sen. Mitch McConnell Lecture on Henry Clay (#734)
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell visited the University of Kentucky on Sept. 6 to give a speech titled "Henry Clay: Kentucky Titan." Bill Goodman presents excerpts from the speech.
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Henry Clay (1777-1852), known as the Great Compromiser, led efforts to preserve the Union in disputes over the expansion of slavery to new territories. In 1850, Southern states were threatening to secede if California were admitted to the Union as a free state. A respected statesman and orator, Clay, then 72 years old, gave an impassioned speech in the Senate that lasted two days, arguing for concessions on both sides and laying the groundwork for the Compromise of 1850.
He served in Congress for almost 40 years. He represented Kentucky at various times in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was elected Speaker of the House, a position he held longer than anyone until Sam Rayburn in the 20th century.
Clay, famous for saying "I would rather be right than president," ran for president in 1824, 1832, and 1844.