DescriptionSenator Henry Clay Autograph Letter Signed "H. Clay." One page with integral blank, 8.25" x 10.25", New Orleans, December 19, 1846. Kentucky Senator Henry Clay began his long career in the United States Congress when he was elected to the Senate in 1806. By 1842, he had been in public service for nearly forty years, serving in both the House and Senate with an additional four year run as secretary of state, when he resigned his Senate seat to organize what would be another failed run for the presidency. In 1846, he wrote this letter to his friend, Kentucky-born newspaper editor Thomas B. Stevenson, regarding the use of his name in the recent Senate election, in part:
"I took a formal and final leave of the Senate more than four years ago. I not only have no desire, but I entertain a positive disinclination, to return to it. I have given no authority nor countenance to the use of my name as a candidate. I could not reappear, as a member of the Senate, without at least an apparent inconsistency; and I cannot conceive a state of things in which I would consent to go back. . . . I have not said that, if elected, I would not serve, because such a prior declaration, in advance of an election, seemed to me unbecoming and indelicate; but if my anxious desire is regarded, and if my feelings and interests are at all consulted, the attention of the General Assembly will be wholly withdrawn from me, and concentrated upon some other person."
Despite his reluctance to return, Clay was again elected to the U.S. Senate in 1849, in what would arguably be his most trying term. The following year, he drafted a bill he hoped would end the division between the free and slave states over the status of newly acquired territory gained from Mexico after the Mexican War. When the bill failed, Senator Stephen Douglas broke the bill into five smaller bills - the Compromise of 1850 -- which then passed.
The edges are chipped with paper loss along the main vertical fold. There is separation at the edges of the folds, which also show some small tears. Two small tears (one .75" and the other .5") at the lower edge near Clay's signature. The smaller of the two touches Clay's paraph under his name. Unevenly toned, though the text remains bright and wholly legible.
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