Henry Clay was born in Virginia in 1777. His parents were middle class. Clay went to school and studied to be a lawyer. When he was twenty, he moved to Kentucky. In Kentucky he became a successful lawyer. He was well liked by many people.
In 1811, he was elected to Congress. He was voted Speaker of the House. Clay supported the War of 1812. He also helped write the treaty that ended the war.
Clay would spend more than thirty years in Congress. While there, he was a strong defender of the Union. While he was in Congress, slavery began to tear the United States apart. He helped to end arguments and keep the country together.
The first was when Missouri tried to become a state. They wanted to allow slavery. The Northern states did not like this idea. At the time, there were eleven free states and eleven slave states. If Missouri became a state, there would be more slave states. The slave states would control Congress.