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Henry Clay: A Resource Guide

Compiled by Kenneth Drexler, Digital Reference Specialist
Henry Clay, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front
Henry Clay, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front.
1 photograph: half plate daguerreotype.
[between 1850 and 1852]
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with Henry Clay. This resource guide compiles links to digital materials related to Clay such as manuscripts, letters, broadsides, government documents, and images that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on Clay and a bibliography containing selected works for both a general audience and younger readers.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Featured Digital Collection

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains a large selection of congressional material related to Henry Clay's political career as a U.S. senator (1806-07, 1810-11, 1831-42, and 1849-52), member of the House of Representatives (1811-25), diplomat, and secretary of state (1825-29). Search this collection by date and publication to find materials related to Clay.

A selection of Clay's speeches:

Digital Collections

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

Alfred Whital Stern (1881-1960) of Chicago presented his outstanding collection of Lincolniana to the Library of Congress in 1953. Begun by Mr. Stern in the 1920s, the collection documents the life of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) both through writings by and about Lincoln as well as a large body of publications concerning the issues of the times including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and related topics. The collection contains more than 11,100 items, including two letters written by Henry Clay and twelve additional items that reference Clay.

Andrew Jackson Papers

The Andrew Jackson Papers contain three letters by or to Henry Clay.

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The Douglass Papers contain two items related to Henry Clay.

James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

The James Madison Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 12,000 items captured in some 72,000 digital images. The Madison Papers contain sixteen letters written to Henry Clay.

Among the collection’s Clay-related materials are:

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820 to 1860

This collection consists of over 15,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the years 1820 to 1860, including over forty pieces about Henry Clay. These works include:

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history.

Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years

In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, including four items related to Henry Clay.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1789-1924. Search this collection to find newspaper articles that reference Henry Clay from this time period.

A selection of articles related to Clay includes:


The African-American Mosaic: African-American Culture and History

This exhibit marks the publication of The African-American Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History and Culture. The Colonization section contains information on Henry Clay's involvement in the American Colonization Society.

American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Compromise of 1850

Exhibit on Senators John C. Calhoun's and Daniel Webster's speeches from the Compromise of 1850 debate.

Manuscript Division

Manuscript Division Finding Aids Online

A finding aid for the Henry Clay Family Papers collection in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division can be found online as an HTML or a PDF (103 Kb / Download Adobe Reader for PDFs) document.

Prints & Photographs Division

Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)

Search PPOC using the subject heading Clay, Henry,--1777-1852 to find prints, photographs, political cartoons, and other digital images related to Clay. Search all text fields in PPOC using the phrase Henry Clay to locate additional images.

Built in America: Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1933-Present

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and design in the United States, including Henry Clay's Ashland estate in Lexington, Kentucky.


There are approximately 700 daguerreotypes in the Prints & Photographs Division. The majority of the images are portraits, including two of Henry Clay.

Today in History

January 13

President Andrew Jackson wrote Vice President Martin Van Buren expressing his opposition to South Carolina's defiance of federal authority during the Nullification Crisis. The crisis was resolved without bloodshed in March 1833. Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, who had left the vice presidency at the end of 1832 to serve South Carolina in the Senate, drafted a reduced tariff agreement that pacified South Carolina while allowing the Federal government to stand firm.

March 7

Senator Daniel Webster delivered his famous "Seventh of March" speech urging sectional compromise on the issue of slavery. Following the lead of Senators Henry Clay and Stephen Douglas, Webster endorsed Clay's plan to assure sectional equilibrium in Congress.

June 29

On June 29, 1852, statesman Henry Clay, known as "the Great Compromiser" for his feats of legislative reconciliation between the North and the South, died at the age of seventy-five at the Old National Hotel in Washington, D.C.

November 5

On November 5, 1844, Democratic candidate James K. Polk defeated Whig Party candidate Henry Clay to become the eleventh president of the United States.

Virtual Programs and Services

Digital Reference Section Web Guides

Primary Documents in American History

This site offers a list of some of the most important documents in American history from 1763 to 1877, including documents related to Clay such as the Treaty of Ghent, Missouri Compromise and Compromise of 1850.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate

Henry Clay's estate, Ashland, is a registered National Historic Landmark located in Lexington, Kentucky. This site contains information about the history and architecture of Ashland, as well as biographical information on Clay.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Henry Clay

This publication contains a short biography of every member of Congress from 1774 to the present, including Henry Clay. It also provides a selected bibliography and a list of research collections related to Clay.

Digital Public Library of America: Henry Clay: The Great Compromiser

This site presents a primary source set on Henry Clay compiled by the Digital Public Library of America. It also provides a teaching guide and links to additional resources.

United States Senate

The Art and History section of the U.S. Senate's Web site contains the following information on Henry Clay:

Selected Works by Henry Clay

Chambers, Richard, ed. Speeches of the Hon. Henry Clay, of the Congress of the United States. Cincinnati: Stereotyped by Shepard & Stearns, 1842.
LC Call Number: E337.8 .C65 [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Colton, Calvin, ed. The Private Correspondence of Henry Clay. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1855.
LC Call Number: E338 .C68 [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

-----. The Speeches of Henry Clay. 2 vols. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1857.
LC Call Number: E338 .C68 [Catalog Record] [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2] External Link

-----. The Works of Henry Clay, Comprising His Life, Correspondence and Speeches. 10 vols. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904.
LC Call Number: E338 .C68 [Catalog Record] [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2] [Vol. 3] [Vol. 4] [Vol. 5] [Vol. 6] [Vol. 7] [Vol. 8] [Vol. 9] [Vol. 10] External Link

Hopkin, James, et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Clay, 1797-1852. 11 vols. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1959-92.
LC Call Number: E337.8 .C55 1959 [Catalog Record]

Swain, James B., ed. The Life and Speeches of Henry Clay. 2 vols. New York: Greeley & McElrath, 1843.
LC Call Number: E337.8 .C59 [Catalog Record] [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2] External Link

Selected Biographies and Other Studies of Clay

Baxter, Maurice G. Henry Clay and the American System. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 B39 1995 [Catalog Record]

-----. Henry Clay the Lawyer. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000.
LC Call Number: KF368.C575 B39 2000 [Catalog Record]

Clay, Thomas Hart. Henry Clay. Philadelphia: G.W. Jacobs Co., 1910.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 C62 [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Colton, Calvin. The Last Seven Years of the Life of Henry Clay. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1856.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 C7 [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

-----. The Life of Henry Clay: The Great American Statesman. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1856.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 C745 [Catalog Record] [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2] External Link

Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler. Henry Clay: The Essential American. New York: Random House, 2010.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 H45 2010 [Catalog Record]

Peterson, Merrill D. The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
LC Call Number: E339 .P47 1987 [Catalog Record]

Remini, Robert V. At the Edge of the Precipice: Henry Clay and the Compromise that Saved the Union. New York: Basic Books, 2010.
LC Call Number: E423 .R46 2010 [Catalog Record]

-----. Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union. New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1991.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 R46 1991 [Catalog Record]

Shankman, Kimberly Christner. Compromise and the Constitution: The Political Thought of Henry Clay. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 1999.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 S427 1999 [Catalog Record]

Younger Readers

Burgan, Michael. Henry Clay: The Great Compromiser. Chanhassen, Minn.: Child’s World, 2004.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 B87 2004 [Catalog Record]

Tibbitts, Alison. Henry Clay: From "War Hawk" to the "Great Compromiser". Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2003.
LC Call Number: E340.C6 T53 2003 [Catalog Record]

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  June 6, 2018
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