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Henry Clay

Nice closing sentiment and signature clipped from a letter

Henry Clay, 1777–1852.  United States Senator and Representative from Kentucky; 9th United States Secretary of State.  Autograph closing and signature, H. Clay, on a 3½" x 3" piece clipped from a letter.

This is a nice example of Clayʼs holograph and signature from the close of a letter.  Clay writes, "I am respectfy  /  Your friend & ob servt  /  H. Clay."  Clay has signed in brown and added a large paraph beneath his signature.

Clay, a giant of 19th Century American politics, represented Kentucky, in one form or another, for more than 40 years.  He served as a Senator four times, 1806–1807, 1810–1811, 1831–1842, and 1849–1852, and as a Representative three times, 1811–1814, 1815–1821, and 1823–1825.  He was Speaker of the House of Representatives three times and spent four years in the executive branch as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams, 1825–1829.

Clay was hawkish on opposing Great Britain in 1812 and was a leading force behind leading the United States into the War of 1812.  He later became known, however, as the "Great Pacificator" for his work in brokering compromises on nullification and slavery.  Together with Massachusettsʼ Daniel Webster and South Carolinaʼs John C. Calhoun, the Whig Clay was instrumental in formulating the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850. 

Abraham Lincoln, at the time the Whig leader in Illinois, called Clay "my ideal of a great man."  In 1957, a Senate Committee named Clay one of the five greatest United States Senators.

This piece is tipped to a larger piece irregularly cut from an album page.  Glue stains show at some of the edges, and a bit of bleed-through that affects the “I" in Clayʼs closing and shows at the upper right edge above "servt."  Overall the piece is in fine condition.




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