I am showcasing unlikely pairs of historical figures in the National Statuary Hall who have things in common with each other in this new series called “Snapshots from the National Statuary Hall at the U. S. Capitol.”
In the first segment of this series, I paired Michigan’s Gerald Ford, a former President of the United States, and Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis, the former President of the Confederate States of America; and in the second segment, I paired Dr. Norman Borlaug, Ph.D, often called the “Father of the Green Revolution; and Colorado’s Dr. Florence R. Sabin, M.D, remembered as a pioneer for women in science; and in the last segment I paired Louisiana’s controversial Governor, Huey P. Long, and Alabama’s Helen Keller, a deaf-blind woman who gain prominence as an American author, lecturer, political activist, and disability rights activist.
In this segment, I am pairing Henry Clay, described as an attorney and statesman from Kentucky, and Lewis Cass, described as an American military officer, politician and statesman from Michigan.
They were both contemporaries and major players in historical events during the time period in American history between Henry Clay’s birth in 1777 and death in 1852; a; and the birth of Lewis Cass in 1782 and his death in 1866.
I am taking an in-depth look at who is represented in that National Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, in a series which I am approximately halfway through in which sculptures of prominent American historical figures are housed, two for each state.
My attention was drawn to it as worth investigating because I encountered two historical figures in my research who are represented in the National Statuary hall – Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit Missionary and Cattle rancher, for Arizona, and Mother Joseph Pariseau, who we are told was a Catholic sister and self-taught architect, for Washington State.
The appearance of these two historical characters in the National Statuary Hall made wonder who else was chosen to be represented there and what could possibly be going on here.
Henry Clay represents the State of Kentucky in the National Statuary Hall.
Henry Clay was an attorney and statesman, who served in both houses of Congress; as the ninth U. S. Secretary of State; ran for U. S. President three times; and helped establish both the Whig Party and the Republican Party.
Henry Clay was born in April of 1777 at the Clay Homestead in Hanover County, Virginia, the 7th of 9 children born to the Baptist minister John Clay and his wife Elizabeth.
His father died in 1781, and his mother subsequently remarried, to Captain Henry Watkins, a successful planter.
When Watkins moved the family to Kentucky in 1791, Henry Clay remained in Virginia.
He ended up becoming a clerk at the Virginia Court of Chancery, where he got the attention of George Wythe, a professor at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, signer of the Declaration of Independence, mentor of Thomas Jefferson, and judge on Virginia’s High Court of Chancery.
Wythe chose Clay to be his secretary, a position he held for four years.
During this time, Wythe influenced Clay’s view that the United States could help spread freedom around the world.
Clay finished his legal studies with Virginia Attorney General Robert Brooke; was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1797; and moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he set up his law practice.
Henry Clay married Lucretia Hart in April of 1799, the daughter of Colonel Thomas Hart, a prominent businessman and early settler of Kentucky, and they lived at first in downtown Lexington.
We are told the Clays started building Ashland, a plantation outside of Lexington, in 1804.
Ashland encompassed over 500 acres (or 200 hectares), on which Henry Clay’s slaves planted crops of corn, wheat, rye, and hemp, the chief crop of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region.
He also imported Arabian horses, Maltese Donkeys, and Hereford Cattle as livestock.
The Maltese donkeys were one of the large breeds of donkeys bred by Henry Clay, and George Washington among others, to produce the American Mammoth Jackstock to be used as work animals.
Shortly after arriving in Kentucky, Henry Clay entered politics, and was a member of the what was called the “Democratic-Republican Party,” also known as the “Jeffersonian Republican Party,” that championed republicanism, agrarianism, political equality, and expansionism.
He clashed with state “Democratic-Republican Party” leaders over a state constitutional convention.
Clay was an advocate for direct election of public officials and the gradual emancipation of slavery in Kentucky.
The 1799 Kentucky Constitution included direct election of public officials, but not Clay’s plan for gradual emancipation, and instead retained the pro-slavery provisions of the original Kentucky Constitution of 1792, under which Kentucky was accepted as the 15th State admitted to the Union by the U. S. Congress.
Clay won election to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1803, where he was quite active, among other things initiating the partisan gerrymander of Kentucky’s electoral college districts, which insured that Kentucky’s electors voted for Thomas Jefferson in the 1804 presidential election.
Clay’s influence in Kentucky politics was such that the Kentucky Legislature elected him to the U. S. Senate in 1806, which he served in for two-months before returning to Kentucky, at which time he was elected as Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
In 1810, Henry Clay was selected by the Kentucky Legislature to fill the U. S. Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of Buckner Thruston to become a federal judge.
Clay quickly became a “War Hawk,” favoring expansionist policies.
He was a fierce critic of British attacks on American shipping and supported going to war against Great Britain…
…and advocated for the annexation of Spanish West Florida.
Henry Clay was elected as Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives for the 12th Congress, held between March 4th of 1811 and March 4th of 1813.
Both Houses of Congress had a Democratic-Republican Majority in the 12th Congress.
Historical events that took place during the 12th Congress included:
The Battle of Tippecanoe fought on November 7th of 1811 in Battle Ground, Indiana, where William Henry Harrison defeated Tecumseh’s forces of a confederacy of tribes opposed to European-American settlement of the American Frontier…
…the New Madrid Earthquake on December 16th of 1811…
…Louisiana was admitted to the Union as the 18th state on April 30th of 1812…
…the War of 1812 began when the United States declared war on Great Britain on June 18th of 1812…
…Detroit surrendered to the British on August 16th of 1812…
…and the Battle of Queenston Heights in Upper Canada took place on October 13th of 1812, the first major battle in the War of 1812, resulting in a British victory.
Altogether, Henry Clay was elected to seven terms in the House of Representatives, and was elected Speaker of the House six times.
Henry Clay’s first run for the Presidency of the United States was in the 1824 election.
There were five candidates representing the Democratic-Republican Party, including Clay, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson.
Clay fell behind in state electoral votes, effectively knocking him out of the race, and he threw his support behind John Quincy Adams, who was elected President by the House of Representatives, and Henry Clay became Adams’ Secretary of State.
Followers of John Quincy Adams became known as National Republicans, and followers of Andrew Jackson became known as Democrats, and Andrew Jackson won the 1928 Presidential election.
It was during the Jackson Administration that the U. S. Congress authorized, and the President signed into law, the Indian Removal Act of 1831, which authorized the administration to relocate Native Americans to land west of the Mississippi River, something which Henry Clay was opposed to.
Henry Clay returned to Federal office in 1831, when he won election in the Kentucky Legislature to the U. S. Senate, and with Adams’ defeat in the 1928, Clay became the leader of the National Republicans, who nominated Clay for President in the 1832 election.
Jackson, a popular sitting President, won re-election.
Several of the things that happened during the second Jackson Administration revolved around banking and financial matters.
One of the policies pursued by President Jackson and has Secretary of the Treasury, Roger Taney, involved removing all federal deposits from the national bank and placing them in state-chartered banks, a policy seen as illegal by many since federal law required the president to deposit federal revenue in the national bank so long as it was stable.
This policy of removing deposits united Jackson’s opponents into one political party, which became known as the Whig Party, which had been the name of an earlier British political party opposed to absolute monarchy.
The American Whig Party base consisted of wealthy businessmen, professionals, and large planters.
Clay chose not to run in the 1836 election because of the death of one of his daughters, and the Whigs were not organized enough to nominate a single candidate.
Despite the presence of multiple Whig candidates, Martin Van Buren, a Democrat, won the 1836 presidential election.
Van Buren’s Presidency was negatively impacted by the Panic of 1837, a financial crisis that touched off a depression until the mid-1840s.
Clay and other Whigs argued that Jackson’s policies had encouraged speculation and caused the panic.
As the 1840 Presidential election came closer, many thought the Whigs would gain the presidency because of the economic crisis.
Though Henry Clay ran in this election, he faced a number of issues facing his electability, and the Whig party member William Henry Harrison was elected that year.
Harrison had the shortest presidency in U. S. history, dying from pneumonia 31-days after his inauguration in 1841.
Harrison was succeeded by his Vice-President, John Tyler, another Whig.
Tyler disappointed his fellow Whigs by not signing a bill to reestablish the National Bank, an important part of the Whig Party platform, and they ended up voting to expel him from the party.
Clay won the Whig presidential nomination in 1844, and faced Democrat candidate James Polk, who won the election that year.
Henry Clay returned to his career as an attorney after the election of 1844.
The Mexican-American War started in 1846 over the disputed border region between Mexico and Texas.
Clay gave a speech in November of 1847 in which he was highly critical of the war and attacked President Polk for fomenting the conflict with Mexico.
Also, by 1847 General Zachary Taylor, who commanded American forces during the war, emerged as one of the Whig candidates for the Presidency.
Henry Clay announced his candidacy for the nomination in April of 1848.
Taylor ended up winning the Whig nomination at the 1848 Whig National Convention, and the ultimately the Presidency that year, with Millard Fillmore as his running mate.
Interesting to note that Zachary Taylor died in July of 1850, allegedly after consuming copious amounts of raw fruit and iced milk at a July 4th fundraising event at the Washington Monument, became severely ill with a digestive ailment, dying several days later, and Millard Fillmore became president.
Henry Clay accepted re-election to the U. S. Senate in 1849, and was directly involved in formulating the Compromise of 1850, a package of bills that defused a political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of U. S. territories gained as a result of the Mexican-American War.
Henry Clay died from tuberculosis in June of 1852 in his room at the National Hotel in Washington, DC.
The National Hotel building was demolished in 1942.
Henry Clay was the first person to lie in-state in the U. S. Capitol Rotunda.
The remains of Henry Clay and his wife Lucretia are encased in marble in the mausoleum in the center of the Lexington Cemetery, with the 120-foot, or the 37-meter, -high Henry Clay Memorial towering above the mausoleum.
Some interesting points of information I found in researching Henry Clay.
One was that he was a Master Mason.
Another was that Henry Clay’s cousin was another influential 19th-Century Kentucky politician Cassius Marcellus Clay…
…the namesake of Cassius Marcellus Clay, better known to history as the famous 20th-century boxer Muhammed Ali, who was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky.
No indication there was a direct connection, just that the more recent Cassius Marcellus Clay was named after the famous 19th-century Kentuckian, but definitely find this to be interesting nonetheless.
Lewis Cass represents the State of Michigan in the Statuary Hall.
Lewis Cass, an American military officer, politician and statesman, was a U. S. Senator for Michigan and served in the cabinets of two Presidents, Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan.
Cass was born in October of 1782 in Exeter, New Hampshire, near the end of the Revolutionary War.
His father Jonathan was an officer who had fought under George Washington at the Battle of Bunker Hill which took place in June of 1775.
This illustrated view of the Bunker Hill Monument was circa 1848, and said to have been built between 1824 and 1843, and credited to the architect Solomon Willard as the first monumental obelisk erected in the United States.
Cass attended the Phillips-Exeter Academy, established in 1781 by Elizabeth and John Phillips, a wealthy merchant and banker of the time.
His nephew, Samuel Phillips Jr, had established the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in 1778, making it the oldest incorporated school in the United States.
These two schools have educated several generations of the Establishment and prominent American politicians.
The Cass family moved to Marietta, Ohio, in 1800.
Marietta was the first permanent U. S. settlement in the newly established Northwest Territory, which was created in 1787, and the nation’s first post-colonial organized incorporated territory.
The Northwest Indian War took place in this region between 1786 and 1795 between the United States and the Northwestern Confederacy, consisting of Native Americans of the Great Lakes area.
The Territory had been granted to the United States by Great Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris at the end of the Revolutionary War.
The area had previously been prohibited to new settlements, and was inhabited by numerous Native American peoples.
The British maintained a military presence and supported the Native American military campaign.
While the Northwestern Confederacy had some early victories, they were ultimately defeated, with the final battle being the “Battle of Fallen Timbers” in August of 1794 in Maumee, Ohio, which took place after General Anthony Wayne’s Army had destroyed every Native American settlement on its way to the battle.
Outcomes were the 1794 Jay Treaty, named for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, the main negotiator with Great Britain.
As a result, the British withdrew from the Northwest Territory, but it laid the groundwork for later conflicts, not only with Great Britain, but also angering France and bitterly dividing Americans into pro-Treaty Federalists and anti-Treaty Jeffersonian Republicans.
The 1795 Greenville Treaty that followed forced the displacement of Native Americans from most of Ohio, in return for cash and promises fair treatment, and the land was opened for white American settlement.
Lewis Cass studied law in Marietta under Return Meigs, Jr, who among other accomplishments, became the first Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court in 1803, and Cass started his law practice in Zanesville, Ohio.
Cass was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1806, and the following year, President Thomas Jefferson appointed him as the U. S. Marshal for Ohio, the oldest U. S. Federal Law Enforcement Agency having been established by the Judiciary Act of 1789 during President George Washington’s administration to assist federal courts in their law enforcement functions.
Cass joined the Freemasons as an Entered Apprentice, the first degree of Freemasonry, at a lodge in Marietta in 1803 , and by May of 1804, he achieved the Master Mason degree, the third-degree of Freemasonry.
He was a charter member of the Lodge of Amity No. 5 in Zanesville, admitted in June of 1805…
…and was one of the founders of the Grand Lodge of Ohio in January of 1808, serving as its Grand Master multiple years.
During the War of 1812, Cass rose through the officer ranks to become a Brigadier General in the U. S. Army in March of 1813.
He took part in the Battle of the Thames, also known as the Battle of Moraviantown near Chatham, Ontario, and today’s Moravian on the Thames First Nation reserve, a branch of the Lenape who were converted to Christianity by Moravian missionaries from Pennsylvania, one of the oldest Protestant denominations.
At the time of the battle, the community of this First Nation, known as the Christian Munsee, was burned to the ground and rebuilt at its current location.
The Battle of the Thames in Ontario was an American victory in the War of 1812 against Tecumseh’s Confederacy, a confederation of Native people’s from the Great Lakes region, and their British allies.
As a result of the battle, Tecumseh was killed, his confederacy fell apart, and the British lost control of southwestern Ontario.
Cass was appointed as the Governor of the Michigan Territory by President James Madison in October of 1813, a position in which he served until 1831.
During this time, he travelled frequently to negotiate treaties with Native American tribes in Michigan, in which they ceded substantial amounts of land.
Cass was one of two commissioners who negotiated the Treaty of Fort Meigs, also called the Treaty of the Maumee Rapids, resulting the ceding of nearly all the remaining lands in northwestern Ohio, and parts of Indiana and Michigan, of the Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa, helping to open up Michigan to settlement by white Americans.
In return, land was allocated for reservations and financial compensation via annuities of various amounts for different lengths of time.
Other examples of the involvement of Lewis Cass with these land-acquiring treaties included, the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw with the chiefs and members of the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi Tribes, in which they ceded 6-million acres of land, for which they were promised up to $1,000/year forever, and hunting and fishing rights on the land.
Cass was also involved with the 1821 Treaty of Chicago, in which he travelled to Chicago to try and get more land from tribal nations in Michigan.
As a result of this treaty, more Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa tribes ceded land – this time nearly 5-million acres of the Lower Peninsula .
In return, they were promised about $10,000 in trade goods, $6,500 in coins, and a 20-year payment valued at about $150,000.
And where did all these treaties land them, like the Potawatomi?
A very long way from home!!!
Cass resigned as the Governor of Michigan in 1831 to become President Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of War, a position he would hold for the next 5-years.
As President Jackson’s Secretary of War, Cass was central in implementing the Indian Removal policy of the Jackson administration after Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830.
The Indian Removal Act was directed specifically at the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeastern United States – the Cherokee, Creeks, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw – though it also affected tribes in Ohio, Illinois and other areas east of the Mississippi River.
Most were forced to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.
Cass was appointed as the U. S. Minister to France by President Jackson, starting in 1836, and he held this position until 1842.
Then in 1844, Cass stood as a Democratic candidate for the Presidential nomination, but lost the nomination that year to James Polk, who defeated the Whig candidate Henry Clay to became the 11th President of the United States, serving from 1845 to 1849.
Cass was then elected by the Michigan State Legislature in 1845 to serve as its United States Senator, a position he held until 1848 when he resigned in order to pursue an unsuccessful run for President that year.
He was a leading supporter of the Popular Sovereignty doctrine, which held that the American citizens of a territory should decide whether or not to permit slavery there as a middle position on the slavery issue.
Popular sovereignty was applied in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which passed Congress in 1854, but was most notable for stoking national tensions over slavery on the road to the American Civil War and leading to “Bleeding Kansas,” a series of violent confrontations between 1854 and 1859 over a political and ideological debate over the legality of slavery in the Proposed state of Kansas.
After his loss to Zachary Taylor in the 1848 election, Cass was returned to the
U. S. Senate by the Michigan State Legislature, serving from 1849 to 1857.
He ran and lost for President a third-time in 1852, losing the Democratic nomination that year to Franklin Pierce, who became the 14th U. S. President.
A few years later, in March of 1857, President James Buchanan appointed an elderly Lewis Cass to serve as the Secretary of State in his administration around the same time he was retiring from the Senate.
During his term of service as Secretary of State, Cass delegated most of his responsibilities either to an Assistant Secretary of State or to the President, though he was involved in negotiating a final settlement to the 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, which limited U. S. and British control of Latin American Countries.
Cass died in June of 1866 in Detroit, and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan’s oldest continuously operating non-denominational cemetery, having been dedicated in October of 1846.
Interesting to see so many classical-looking stone masonry tombs in Elmwood that are entombed in the earth surrounding them.
Descendents of Lewis Cass included great-grandson Augustus Cass Canfield, long-time President and Chairman of the Harper & Brothers Publishing Company (later known as Harper & Row)…
…and grandson Lewis Cass Ledyard, a New York City lawyer, personal counsel to financier J. P. Morgan, and a President of the New York Bar Association.
I am showcasing unlikely pairs of historical figures who are represented in the National Statuary Hall who have things in common with each other, as mentioned at the beginning of this post.
In this pairing, Henry Clay and Lewis Cass were both acknowledged Freemasons…
…both men served as Secretary of State, Henry Clay during the administration of President John Quincy Adams, and Lewis Cass during the administration of President James Buchanan…
…and both men unsuccessfully ran for President three times, Henry Clay in 1824, 1832, and 1844; and Lewis Cass in 1844, 1848, and 1852.
The next unlikely pairing from the National Statuary Hall that I am going to showcase for things in common is Dr. John Gorrie for Florida and William King for Maine.