From Henry Clay
Lexington 8th Sept. 1816
Mr. Alvan Stewart, who will deliver to you this letter, being desirous of the honor of your acquaintance, and of visiting Monticello, has asked of me a letter of introduction. Altho’ I am sure, with his objects, it is altogether unnecessary, I have no hesitation in Soliciting your favorable reception of him. I comply the more readily with his request as it affords me an opportunity of tendering to you assurances of my high respect and Consideration.
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 15 Oct. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Patrick Gibson, 12 Dec. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello.”
Henry Clay (1777–1852), attorney and public official, was a native of Hanover County. Having studied law under George Wythe in Richmond, he was admitted to the bar in 1797. Shortly thereafter Clay moved to Kentucky, where he established a legal practice. During a long political career, he served in the lower house of the Kentucky legislature, 1803–06 and 1807–10; the United States Senate, 1806–07, 1810–11, 1831–42, and 1849–52; the United States House of Representatives, 1811–14, 1815–21, and 1823–25 (holding the post of Speaker throughout these discontinuous terms); as one of the Ghent peace commissioners, 1814–15; and as secretary of state, 1825–29. Clay lost bids for the presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844. A staunch nationalist, he was successively a leader of the National Republican and Whig parties. Consistently favoring protective tariffs, a strong central bank, and government-sponsored internal improvements, Clay also supported war with Great Britain in 1812, Latin American independence, the gradual elimination of slavery through compensation and colonization, and political compromise as a way to preserve the Union. His efforts during controversies over Missouri statehood, the Nullification crisis, and the debate over the admission of territories acquired as a result of the Mexican War helped to save the United States from civil war during his lifetime. Clay died of tuberculosis in Washington (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Clay, Papers description begins James F. Hopkins and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay, 1959–92, 11 vols. description ends ; Robert V. Remini, Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union ; David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Henry Clay: The Essential American ; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 30 June 1852).
Alvan Stewart (1790–1849), attorney and abolitionist, was born in South Granville, New York. After attending several sessions at the University of Vermont and working for a number of years as an educator in Vermont, Canada, and New York, he undertook a journey, 1815–16, that took him to Kentucky, where he met Clay, and Virginia, where he visited TJ at Monticello. Stewart returned thereafter to New York, was admitted to the bar, and resided first in Cherry Valley and, from 1832, in Utica. In his latter years he tirelessly promoted the cause of abolition. Stewart helped organize and served as president of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society, raising money, giving speeches, and advocating more aggressive tactics than the moral suasion favored by William Lloyd Garrison. In an 1845 test case before the supreme court of New Jersey, he forcefully challenged the constitutionality of slavery. A fervent supporter of protectionism, a national bank, public education, federally funded internal improvements, and temperance, Stewart ran unsuccessfully for governor of New York on the ticket of the abolitionist Liberty Party in 1840 and 1844. He died in New York City (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Levi Beardsley, Reminiscences , 167–8; Luther Rawson Marsh, ed., Writings and Speeches of Alvan Stewart, on Slavery ; New York Weekly Herald, 5 May 1849).
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