A Brief Biography of Henry Clay
The issues, however, which thrust him into the political limelight were the Missouri Compromise, the banking issues, opposition to Andrew Jackson, and promotion of his American System.
Rise to Prominence
No doubt the most important of these was the negotiation of the Missouri Compromise which was fundamental in maintaining American unity, providing some kind of workable sectional policy regarding slavery expansion, and some kind of western policy. At heart Henry Clay favored the gradual abolition of slavery as demonstrated in his strong support of the American Colonization Society attempt. There burned deeply in the Clay psyche a yearning to be President of the United States.
He made his first gamble for this office in with only a remote chance of winning. In he once again attempted to be elected president. He suffered his most disappointing loss for the office in At the moment Henry Clay lay dying in Washington, he must have looked back upon his career as lawyer, state representative, United States Senator, Congressman, Speaker of the House, a peace commissioner, Secretary of State, on the Missouri Compromise, the compromise tariff bill revision in , his American System, the Texas question, and the Compromise of , his greatest victory.
Through the bitter raw political years in American history, Henry Clay prevailed. Even in the face of great family tragedy, he prevailed. Contemporaries branded him with numerous political epithets, but these he survived. Few American politicians could claim so many victories, or engage in so many gambles, and still claim an exalted place in political history. The name of Henry Clay was stamped deeply on the American political scene during his lifetime.
The labourer, loyal and hardworking, respects the master for his superior qualities. Successful pioneering, in Clay's view, depended on the harmony of this relationship while abandoned clearings, violence and theft were the outcome of its breakdown. Clay's best work is to be found among the short poems in this volume: 'Fallen in the Woods', a dramatic account of a kangaroo hunt; 'Avenged', inspired by the spectacle of a ravaged sheep and a poisoned wild dog; 'Hobbled Out', a tribute to an old horse which had faithfully served the community as a conveyor of mail, of fabrics 'fresh from the ship' and of the travelling tailor and doctor.
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These poems and others give particular and accurate attention to detail and show that the author was intrigued and inspired by his new surroundings. Though derivative in style, the content of the verse was new and deeply felt. Clay also wrote about poverty in England and the hounded slave in America, poems which differ greatly in mood from the verse inspired by the heroic aspects of colonial life.
During his lifetime Clay acquired a reputation in the colony as a writer, especially for his religious verse, but his work in general was received without enthusiasm by the colonial press. His faults were more apparent than his early originality of purpose.
Saddened by the response Clay remarked on 'the saucy badinage of amused spectators and the practical indifference of friends'. Tintsman, in had entered into a partnership with Joseph Rist and A. Morgan to buy up some acres of coal land in the nearby Connellsville area. The soft bituminous coal in which the region abounded apparently had little industrial use except for the manufacture of coke.
In only twenty-five coke plants were in operation in the country, but even that limited production exceeded the demand; iron manufacturers wanted anthracite coal and the few steel mills used charcoal. Tintsman and his partners soon regretted their venture. Frick, however, aware of recent technological innovations in the manufacture of steel, had the vision to foresee that the new Bessemer process would provide an expanded market for coke. When Morgan dropped out, Frick asked to join the enterprise. He then persuaded the others to expand their operations.
On borrowed money they bought up more acres of coal land, and in they formed a company bearing the name Henry C. Frick Coke Company. From that moment on, Frick was obsessed with buying up all the Connellsville coal lands and building as many coke ovens as he could finance. Undoubtedly to the surprise of Frick and even of Mellon himself, the banker provided the loan.
It was the beginning of a long and profitable association between the Mellon family and Frick. The depression of caused the price of coke to drop to 90 cents a ton, and there were few purchasers even at that price.
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Frick never wavered in his belief that steel was the key product in industrial development, and coke was the key ingredient for the manufacture of steel. He kept a sharp watch as Andrew Carnegie , also undeterred by economic depression, was building the J. Edgar Thomson steel plant. Like his future partner, Frick saw bad times as a good time for expansion. Again with money borrowed from Mellon, he acquired more land and ovens by buying out timid competitors. In he married Adelaide Childs of Pittsburgh.
While in New York on their wedding trip, the Fricks were invited to a dinner given by Carnegie and his mother. Even if caught off guard by this surprise announcement, Frick was not displeased. He knew what Carnegie wanted—an assured source of the best coke made in America.
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Within a month after Frick returned home to Pittsburgh, the partnership was effected. Carnegie initially received 11 percent of the company, which through a generous use of capital he increased to over 50 percent. Frick now had the funds for which he previously had had to beg. Carnegie and Frick held the same views on the proper management of a business, which augured well for this partnership. The reduction of the cost of production was what mattered.
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Profits would then result, but the gains made in the marketplace were not to be distributed as dividends but rather used for larger and more efficient production. Both men believed in expanding in those times when their competitors were cutting back, and both held fast to the limited partnership organizational structure so as to ensure control of company policy. In personality and temperament, however, the two were poles apart. Neither man ever understood or particularly liked the other as a person.
Carnegie concurred with the opinion of another partner whom he did find interesting, Charles M. No man on earth could get close to him or fathom him.