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Henry Clay

Unidentified Artist
Copy after
Paige & Beach
Blanchard P. Paige, active c. 1840 - c. 1863
Henry Clay, 12 Apr 1777 - 29 Jun 1852
c. 1850 (after 1848 copy daguerreotype)
Quarter-plate daguerreotype
Case Open: 11.9 × 18.8 cm (4 11/16 × 7 3/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Hanover County, Virginia
Between 1820 and 1850, charismatic statesman Henry Clay championed a series of legislative compromises that for a time forestalled the breakup of the Union. Clay’s first success as a mediator and conciliator came with ratification of the Missouri Compromise (1820), which preserved the existing balance of slave and free states. In 1833, when South Carolina challenged federal authority and threatened to secede, it was Clay who crafted the compromise that averted this crisis. His crowning achievement in mediating the opposing interests of the North and South came during his final term in the Senate, when he orchestrated passage of the Compromise of 1850.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection