Cassius Marcellus Clay

Cassius Marcellus Clay was born on his father's estate, White Hall, in Madison County, Kentucky, October 19, 1810. Rebellious against authority from an early age and turbulent in his relations with everyone, he was graduated from Yale in 1832 after spending a year there. Although his father was a slaveholder, Clay hated slavery and was embittered by defeat in his 1836 campaign for the Kentucky legislature. In 1845 he established an antislavery newspaper in Lexington, which his fellow-townsmen got rid of by shipping its physical properties to Cincinnati in Clay's absence. In 1846 Clay volunteered for the Mexican War—in contradistinction to his stand against annexation of Texas, a natural result of his opposition to slavery. He performed capably as a captain of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry, was captured by the Mexicans, and ultimately freed. In the years prior to 1860, Clay became an outstanding figure in the Republican party in Kentucky and thus claimed the gratitude of Abraham Lincoln after the latter's election. Reportedly, Lincoln offered Clay the ministry at Madrid to pacify him for the loss of the vice-presidency Clay had anticipated. He declined this appointment, but later accepted the Russian ministry, at the same time rejecting a commission as major general of volunteers because of the government's failure to abolish slavery. From April 11, 1862, until he resigned on March 11, 1863, he was a duly commissioned major general of United States volunteers. Clay was in Russia from 1863 until 1869. He soon fell out with the new President, U. S. Grant and from then until his death at ninety-two was in constant disagreement with every recognized form of authority, changing from one political party to another. After marrying a young girl and fortifying his home against attack, he was adjudged a lunatic. He died at White Hall, on July 22, 1903, and was buried in nearby Richmond Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.