Historical Figures

Who was the "Great Compromiser"?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Henry Clay of Kentucky is known as the "Great Compromiser". Clay served in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, where he was elected speaker of the house six times. Prior to Clay holding the position, the speaker of the house had a minor role, but Clay shaped the speakership into a very important and influential job. Clay received his nickname with his masterful negotiation of issues that threatened to tear the relatively new country apart. In 1820 and 1821, he crafted the Missouri Compromise to defuse debate over slavery; the compromise allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state if Maine entered as a free state. In 1833, he held off federal troops that wanted to march into South Carolina over a nullified tariff by upholding the tariff but setting a date for its expiration. His third great negotiation came in 1850, when issues of slavery had to be decided in new states that had been ceded by Mexico.

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