15 November 2011
Henry Clay had very complicated beliefs when it came to slavery. He believed that it should be eradicated from the face of the earth, but at the same time, he owned slaves himself. Clay said that because of the current state of the economy of the United States, slavery was a necessary evil, but should nevertheless be removed from society. Later in his life, Clay had bought sixty slaves to serve in the fields of his plantation, Ashland. Clay said that "I need a large labor force to till my lands, and the slave market is the only place I can get it." While he was a slave owner, Clay still tried to make life as bearable as possible for his slaves. He treated them well and in some cases released them for faithful service. He was not afraid to discipline slaves who had misbehaved, but he treated his slaves so well that very few tried to escape.
Clay was the Speaker of the House when the Missouri Compromise was written. At that point in his career, Clay believed that gradual emancipation would succeed in every slave state in the union. Therefore, Clay supported the Missouri Compromise because he thought that Missouri would eventually adopt a policy of gradual emancipation, and slavery would be eradicated from the United States. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Clay believed that slavery, if left alone, would rip white society apart. He was afraid that the United states would fall apart if both slavery and free blacks remained in America, and that the American System would never succeed in such a country. As a solution to those problems, Clay and a few other philanthropists founded the American Colonization Society. The Society was designed to send freed blacks to the lands of their fathers in Africa. The Society wanted to rid the country of slavery, and saw a way to do so by removing slaves from America as they were emancipated. Clay believed that states would be more...