Clay, Cassius Marcellus

Clay, Cassius Marcellus, 1810–1903, American politician and diplomat, b. Madison co., Ky. Although he came from a slaveholding family, Clay early came to abhor the institution of slavery. In 1845 he established at Lexington, Ky., the True American, an abolitionist paper. His press was moved by his enemies to Cincinnati, and he continued its publication there and at Louisville. He served as a captain in the Mexican War and was captured and for a time imprisoned. In 1851 he was an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Kentucky on an antislavery ticket; he captured enough votes, however, to cause the defeat of the Whig candidate and thus hastened the collapse of the Whigs in Kentucky. He was minister to Russia (1861–62, 1863–69) and served briefly in the Civil War as a major general of volunteers.

See his autobiography (1866); his writings, ed. by H. Greeley (1848, repr. 1969); biographies by D. L. Smiley (1962) and W. H. Townsend (1967).

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