He Should Have Been President
God rules in the affairs of men, and decides who will or will not be President. I have to admit, from a finite human perspective, it seems Henry Clay was born and bred to be our President. In reading the biographies of the Presidents, one name keeps recurring in the leaders of the early 1800s. Henry Clay seemed to be omnipresent.
They called him the Great Pacificator (we would say peacemaker). Four times he came up with compromises that held our union together under almost impossible odds. He bought the USA time, enough time to allow the north to become strong enough to end slavery and win the Civil War.
His greatest contribution was his profound influence on Abraham Lincoln. The latter said every major political idea he had was based on the teachings of Henry Clay. Lincoln quoted Clay often, and grieved profoundly each time Clay lost the Presidency (thrice) and when Clay died (in 1852).
For me, the biggest surprise of his life was how his American System was so bitterly opposed by southerners. Clay wanted to build roads, canals, and do whatever else could be done to improve national transportation. These are things we now take for granted, but the South fought him tooth and nail on this one. They did not want means of transportation that would bring northerners south more often, and let fugitive slaves travel north more easily.
I was deeply touched by Unger's biography of Clay. He was a reckless partying man through much of his life, but after several of his children had died, he came to faith. He felt he could find solace only in God. Amen.