Henry Clay was known as The Great Compromiser for his ability to bring opposing factions together in agreement. Clay's nickname was "Prince Hal", and his feud with President Andrew Jackson was legendary. Clay ran for president himself five times, but never won. Clay transformed the position of Speaker of the House into a position of influence and prominence, holding that position longer than anyone else in the 19th century. As a member of the Whig party, Clay favored federally funded internal improvements such as roads and canals, a national bank, and high protective tariffs, which could protect fledgling American industries from European competitors.
For modern readers who wish to understand the Civil War, and the political philosophy of Abraham Lincoln, they have to have an understanding of Lincoln's political hero, Henry Clay. Clay is famous for the compromises his pushed through congress, such as the Missouri Compromise of 1820, to the Compromise of 1850, which was certainly controversial, but which managed to perhaps hold the union together for another decade.
Although he never managed to win the presidency, Clay was perhaps more powerful and influential than many presidents of the time.
This report prepared by Nathaniel Ford