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Henry Clay: The Essential American af David…

Henry Clay: The Essential American (original 2010; udgave 2010)

af David S. Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
4611250,952 (4.04)18
Speaker of the House, senator, secretary of state, five-time presidential candidate, and idol to the young Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay is captured in full in this rich and sweeping biography that vividly portrays all the drama of his times.
Titel:Henry Clay: The Essential American
Forfattere:David S. Heidler
Andre forfattere:Jeanne T. Heidler
Info:Random House (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 624 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

Henry Clay: The Essential American af David S. Heidler (2010)


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History, American History, Biography, Henry Clay ( )
  Jural | Apr 29, 2020 |
Henry Clay is a singularly unfashionable figure for our times. A professional politician, he was a firm believer in compromise and celebrated as the greatest practitioner of it. Though he hungered for the presidency, he repeatedly reiterated his belief in legislative supremacy and opposed Andrew Jackson’s concentration of power in the executive. And when faced with the growing moral divide over slavery, he attempted to straddle the issue in a manner that would invite derision from both sides of the issue. Yet as David and Jeanne Heidler show, his death in June 1852 triggered nationwide mourning, a tribute to his long career and testimony to the esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries.

How he came to earn such passionate devotion is only partly covered in this biography, however, which focuses primarily upon Clay’s political career. This in itself more than justifies the hundreds of pages the authors devote to it, spanning as it does over half a century, from the early days of Kentucky’s statehood to the last major effort at political compromise before the Civil War. Much of this career was focused on becoming president, yet the Heidlers argue that he never really came close to the office, leaving instead an unfulfilled ambition that has given his distinguished career an aura of failure despite his many achievements.

The Heidlers lay our Clay’s career in admiring prose that conveys with clarity many of the issues and battles of his day. Yet is their book really necessary? There are no new arguments about Clay’s career within its pages, merely a lengthy narrative that does little to improve upon Robert Remini’s [b:Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union|379234|Henry Clay Statesman for the Union|Robert V. Remini|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1388964751l/379234._SY75_.jpg|369051], the yardstick by which Clay biographies must be judged. In most respects the Heidlers’ effort is much inferior, particularly in its coverage of the nonpolitical aspects of Clay’s life and in the frequent use of ahistorical (and ungrammatical) labels that are more reflective of modern-day partisanship than the politics of Clay’s time. Such issues mean that this is merely the latest Clay biography rather than the best, and that readers seeking to understand Clay’s life would be better served picking up Remini’s superior work instead. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
One—if not the most—of the most influential politicians in American history who never became President, though he tried several times, was praised and vilified throughout his life then slowly forgotten in the century and a half after his death. Henry Clay: The Essential American by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler follows the dramatic political rise, the stunning setbacks, and tragic family life of the man who became Andrew Jackson’s great enemy and Abraham Lincoln’s great hero.

The Heidler’s begins moments after Clay’s death and describes the journey of his body to Lexington with the outpouring of honor along the way then turn their attention as to how Clay became so honored. Born in eastern Virginia as a scion of a long-time colonial family and fatherless early in life, Clay was fortunate to have a stepfather and several mentors who gave him opportunities which he took hold off and used to establish himself in the legal profession in Kentucky. Though idealistic early in his political career, especially on the issue of slavery in the state, Clay downplayed it sooner after to gain connections especially through marriage and accumulation of wealth in which slaves were an important facet though he would continue to advocate for his brand for emancipation throughout his life. Clay’s time in the Kentucky legislature foreshadowed the parliamentary advancements he would bring to the House and later the Senate, especially the Committee of the Whole which allowed Clay as Speaker of both the Kentucky and U.S House to join debates. A staunch Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican, Clay’s views and future policies would shift to include several Hamiltonian policies like a National Bank and tariffs but in Republican language. Upon his arrival in Washington in 1811 until his death 41 years later, Clay would be the most influential man in the city even though he never resided in the White House which would be occupied by either his allies or his avowed enemies though he would campaign for the Presidency either actively or with the am to from 1824 to 1848. Three times during his time in Washington, he championed the Union in the 1820 Missouri Compromise, the 1833 Nullification crisis, and the Compromise of 1850 his final political act as slavery threatened to ripe the country apart.

First and foremost this was a political biography which the Heidlers expertly detailed for the reader, however Clay was a family man with a particularly tragic tinge as all of his daughters predeceased their parents with Clay’s namesake dying in the Mexican-American War while another was to spend half his life in an asylum. The issue of slavery is given significant space in various parts of the book as the Heidlers put Clay’s views in context of their time and how he was as a slaveowner, but don’t excuse him for hold human beings as property. Though not stated explicitly this was also a light history of the Whig party primarily because, until slavery tore it apart, Henry Clay embodied the party even when younger members decided to jettison its ideological center for Presidential victory.

Henry Clay: The Essential American details the life of the most important politician of the Antebellum era. The husband-wife historian team of David S. and Jeanne Heidler write a very scholarly yet lively history of the man and his times that gives the reader a view of how important their subject was during his time on the national scene. ( )
  mattries37315 | Mar 8, 2020 |
The Great Compromiser is well-served by this biography. I know there are others on him but this is the only one I have read. From his great success as Speaker of the House in 1810 to his five failed attempts at the presidency Harry of the West was a dominant player in politics for 40 years. He dealt with slavery, the War with Mexico, the War of 1812, the tariffs, the Bank of the United States, etc. He was the head of the Whig Party for many years. He was Abraham Lincoln's hero. He was a major player in the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1833, and the Compromise of 1850. Tragically, he had to bury seven children. Perhaps, the authors spend too much time on these deaths. When he died, there was an enormous outpouring of grief which the country would not see again until the death of Lincoln. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
Henry Clay was involved in politics from the time of President John Adams (#2) until President Millard Fillmore (#13). He served in the Senate (even before he was legally old enough), the House of Representatives (most of the time as Speaker), and as Secretary of State to John Quincy Adams (despite holding differing political views). He cast such a long shadow of influence over the nation that Abraham Lincoln later cited him as one of his greatest influences and heroes. He was the heart and soul of the Whig party and renowned for his speaking prowess - frequently packing the galleries with people eager for the chance to hear him speak. And yet he ran unsuccessfully for president 4 times, being undermined by those in his own party who thought him unelectable. He was "an otherwise good and decent man" with "a fundamental flaw" (pg 448) - he was a slave owner (which troubled abolitionists) who favored gradual emancipation (which troubled Southerners).

This lengthy biography (almost 500 pages) on a little-remembered but highly influential politician is surprisingly readable. The focus is almost completely on his political career, and details on his personal and family life are few and usually only included as they bear upon his career. With that emphasis comes a sometimes uncomfortable unveiling of the ugliness of politics, and this heavy focus on politics was the only negative for me; I generally prefer biographies with a more personal note. But for Henry Clay, politics was personal and it was his life. And the Heidlers have done an excellent job of pulling together massive amounts of information and sorting out the myths and legends. While the book may not have broad appeal, it will certainly appeal to those seeking to understand the early history of the US and into the Jacksonian era as the country plunged toward Civil War. ( )
1 stem J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
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"The problem with these informative books runs deeper than the criticism that they concentrate on dead white men. The stress on individuals, especially on whether they were likable or not, and the emphasis on compromise as an unqualified good, assumes that issues can — and should — be resolved politically."
"A comprehensive biography of Lincoln’s political idol, the man said to have declared, 'I had rather be right than be President.'"
tilføjet af bookfitz | RedigerKirkus Reviews (Feb 15, 2010)

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Heidler, Jeanne T.Forfatterhovedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
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Speaker of the House, senator, secretary of state, five-time presidential candidate, and idol to the young Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay is captured in full in this rich and sweeping biography that vividly portrays all the drama of his times.

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