The U. S. Senate in 1957 was called upon to name the five greatest previous senators. Clay was among them, along with Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert M. LaFollette and Robert A. Taft. But one of the senators voting on that occasion told the author personally that if they had been required to vote for the single greatest senator in the total history of that body, it would have been Henry Clay of Kentucky.
It was an outline of hope for the future and one that is relevant for the twenty-first century.
Any biography of Henry Clay's 46 year political career quickly becomes entangled with his monumental, though youthful, political leadership of the War Hawks in urging the Madison Administration to arm the United States for war with Great Britain. He continued to advise in the war's progress and ended by being one of the five distinguished Americans to treat for peace with a difficult team of mediocre British envoys. There has been no detailed treatment of his major role in this early American war until this present work.
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