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Cassius Marcellus Clay

A. Significance

  • minister to Russia, architect of "strange friendship" with Czar Alexander II
  • prevents mediation efforts of Napoleon III and Palmerston
  • represents Lincoln's war aim of abolitionism

    B. Kentucky Abolitionist

  • cousin of Henry Clay; veteran of Mexican War; governor of Kentucky
  • married Mary Jane Warfield of Lexington 1832
  • helped created Republican Party 1856
  • sought VP nomination 1860, but lost to Hannibal Hamlin of Maine
  • lived near Lexington at Whitehall

    C. Minister To Russia 1861-62

  • Lincoln rewarded Clay with appointment
  • Clay from key border state, yet too volatile for Cabinet
  • left for Russia May 1, 1861 with wife, children, nurse, bowie knives
  • instructions: support Russia with "athletic Western argument"
  • mingled well with aristocracy, lavish parties, duels
  • met "liberator" Czar Alexander II July 14

    D. Poland Rebellion 1862

  • Foreign Minister Gortchakov - needed U.S. friendship
  • expansion southeast into Caucusus, northeast into Poland
  • Czar suppressed revolt by Jan. 1863, ended Polish autonomy
  • Napoleon appealed to Brit., Austria, U.S. for intervention
  • Garibaldi revolt in Italy, hero in U.S. to Italian brigades
  • French troops withdrawn from Italy
  • to face Bismarck, new president of Prussia Sept. 1862
  • Prussian and Austria invade Denmark 1864

    E. Minister to Russia 1863-69

  • Russian fleet sent to U.S. July 26, 1863
  • Brit. and French fear alliance
  • Atlantic Fleet under Admiral Lisovski arrived NYC Sept. 24
  • Russian sailors photographed by Brady
  • Pacific Fleet under Admiral Popov arrived SF Oct. 12
  • Popov on alert in Dec. against possible CSA attack
  • but Gortchakov instructed Popov to stay neutral
  • Welles: "God bless the Russians"
  • Dr. Lincoln to Smart Boy of the Shop: "Mild applications of Russian Salve for our friends over the way, and heavy doses - and plenty of it - for our Southern patient"
  • Clay returned to US 1869 with Russian boy Launey Clay
  • divorced Mary 1878, married 13-year-old shortly before death at 93

    revised 10/29/03 by Schoenherr | Cassius Clay in the Civil War