Description

    Henry Clay Autograph Letter Signed "H. Clay," as U.S. Senator from Kentucky, one page, 8" x 10". Washington, June 28, 1838. To ten named Whig leaders of Philadelphia. In full, "I am greatly obliged by the invitation to unite with the Whigs of the City and County of Philadelphia, in the celebration of the approaching anniversary of American Independence, which, as a Committee in their behalf, you did me the honor to transmit, and by the friendly expressions with which you have accompanied it. The day, the recent rejection of the Government Bank, after the most persevering exertions of the Federal Administration to pass it, against the manifest opinion of the people, and the encouraging prospect before me of better and brighter times, would have added greatly to the pleasure which I should have derived from meeting you on an occasion so agreeable; but my public duties detain me here, and will not allow me the gratification of joining you. Under these circumstances, I request permission to transmit a sentiment, which I hope may be acceptable to our friends: The rejection of the Government Bank - a triumph of the People, achieved by their love of Liberty, unheralded from their ancestors, who immortalized this glorious day."
    On February 19, 1838, Senator Henry Clay passionately spoke for 4½ hours on the Senate floor against the passage of the Sub-Treasury bill which would establish a Government bank managed by the Treasury Department, controlled by the Democratic administration of Martin Van Buren. Calvin Colton in The Life and Times of Henry Clay (New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1846) writes that this speech "stands like the tallest pyramid in the Egyptian sands, when regarded as an enduring structure, and like Atlas for its firmness and imposing aspects...History never before demanded precisely such an argument, and will probably never again furnish an exactly similar occasion." Notwithstanding Clay's oratory, on March 26th, the Senate approved the bill 27-25. But, on June 25, 1838, after long debate, by a vote of 125 to 111, the House defeated it. Three days later, a jubilant Henry Clay wrote this letter. He extols the "triumph of the People." It should be remembered that before 1914, the people only elected members of the House; state legislators elected U.S. Senators. On watermarked paper with circular wax seal remnants on verso showing through in blank areas. Fine condition.


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