Clement Claiborne Clay

From Find A Grave

Clement Claiborne Clay, from "The Clay Family"

 Legislator, Lawyer, Strong Advocate of Secession.

Born:December 13, 1816, Huntsville, AL
Died:January 3, 1882, Died at "Wildwood," near Gurley, Madison Co., AL
Buried:Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, AL
Son of:Clement Comer Clay
Brother of:Hugh Lawson Clay
Brother of:John Withers Clay
Husband of:Virginia Clay Clopton


•  Huntsville native, Clement Claiborne Clay, was pictured on the Confederate $1 bill -

•  "He was graduated from the University of Alabama, B. A., 1834, A.M., 1837, and served as private secretary to his father during the latter's term as governor of Alabama, 1835-1837. Later he studied law in the University of Virginia, was admitted to the bar in 1840, and began to practice law in Huntsville." - Alabama Biography

•  Editor of the "Huntsville Democrat." - Alabama Biography

•  "He was elected to the State legislature in 1842, and was re-elected in 1844 and 1845. During the session of 1842, he offered resolutions instructing the senators and representatives in congress to vote for the bill refunding to Gen. Jackson the amount of the fine imposed upon him by Judge Hall, at New Orleans, in 1815, for establishing martial law in the city, under which the judge was imprisoned for discharging a member of the Louisiana legislature committed to prison by Gen. Jackson. During his last session in the legislature, Mr. Clay was elected judge of the county court of Madison County. He held that office for two years, resigning in 1848. In 1853, he was a candidate for the lower house of congress, but was defeated by Hon. W. R. W. Cobb, of Jackson. When the legislature met that winter, his party in that body nominated him for a seat in the U. S. Senate, and he was elected for a term of six years to succeed Col. Clemens. He at once took his seat in the senate and held it for nine years. He was re-elected in 1859, receiving every vote cast. In the senate, Mr. Clay was distinguished for his advocacy of the doctrine of state sovereignty and for his adherence to the school of constitutional interpretation, of which Mr. Calhoun was a great champion. He advocated the admission of Kansas as a state under the Lecompton pro-slavery constitution. When Alabama dissolved her relations with the United States, he withdrew with his colleagues, January 1861. Upon the organization of the government of the C. S. A., a few months later, Mr. Clay was elected a senator, and was a member of the first congress of the Confederacy until 1863, when he was superseded by the Hon. Richard W. Walker. In April, 1864, he represented the C. S. A. in Canada, returning in January, 1865. When the surrender of the armies in Virginia and North Carolina took place, he started on horseback for Texas, but hearing that he was charged with complicity in the murder of President Lincoln, and that a reward was offered for his apprehension, he rode one hundred and fifty miles to surrender himself to the federal authorities at Macon, Ga. He was taken to Augusta, and placed on the same boat with Jefferson Davis, and confined with the latter in Fortress Monroe. He was held for twelve months without being brought to trial, and finally through the efforts of his wife, who had personal interviews with the president and the secretary of war of the United States, he was released, May, 1866. From that time until his death, he practiced law in Huntsville and planted in Jackson County." - Alabama Biography

•  Married: February 1, 1843, at Tuscaloosa, Virginia Caroline Tunstall , daughter of Dr. Peyton Tunstall, formerly of Virginia; a near relative of Mrs. Collier, wife of Chief Justice Collier of Tuscaloosa, at whose home she was married. - Alabama Biography

•  "Judge Clay married the daughter of Dr. P. E. Tunstall, then of Baldwin, a lady of fascinating attributes of mind, and elevated qualities of heart. While her husband was in Washington Mrs. Clay was one of the brightest ornaments of society there." - Brewer's Alabama History

•  "In 1864 he was sent by President Jefferson Davis on a secret mission to Canada. His mission was to attempt to develop formal negotiations of peace between the sections. Unsuccessful in his endeavors, Clay, upon the assassination of President Lincoln, was placed in jail along with Davis. He was kept in solitary confinement for almost a year." - Alabama Past Leaders

•  "Judge Clay is of ordinary height, and frail and thin appearance. His features are of the refined and intellectual mould, and his eyes brown, with a meditative expression. His manner is easy without cordiality, and grave without austerity. He is a cultivated scholar, whose mind has been ripened by study, reflection, and experience. His letters and speeches are few in number, but models of their kind. He is moderate and prudent in council, and, as Lord Bacon said, 'not strong headed, but stout-hearted.' His moral character unites all the qualities of a Christian gentleman, and who commands the respect of every one. His influence in matters of public import, as well as otherwise, has been always for good." - Brewer's Alabama History

•  "He was Commissioner, with Honorable Jacob Thompson, to Canada on a secret mission in behalf of the Southern Confederacy; returned to the South in 1865, just before the close of hostilities; was shipwrecked off Charleston Harbor, and narrowly escaped drowning. Mr. Clay had made all arrangements for leaving the country at the close of the war, when, at Lagrange, Georgia, he read a proclamation charging him with complicity in the assassination of President Lincoln, and offering one hundred thousand dollars reward for his arrest. Indignant and horrified at such an accusation, he, against the remonstrances of his friends, surrendered himself to the nearest Federal Officer, General Wilson, at Macon, Georgia. He was taken to Savannah, Georgia, and, with his gifted and devoted wife and President Davis and family, was carried to Fortress Monroe, May, 1865, and there incarcerated until May, 1866, when, through the influence of prominent officials, among them General U. S. Grant, and the importunities of his wife, he was released by President Andrew Johnson. The case against him never came to trial. The charges were utterly false." - Clay Family

•  US Senator, CSA Senator - Alabama Biography

•  "He was graduated from the University of Alabama, B. A., 1834, A.M., 1837, and served as private secretary to his father during the latter's term as governor of Alabama, 1835-1837. Later he studied law in the University of Virginia, was admitted to the bar in 1840, and began to practice law in Huntsville." - Alabama Biography

•  "He declined to be the first Confederate Secretary of War, but was a confederate senator from 1861 until 1863. In 1864 he undertook a highly secret mission to Canada on behalf of the Confederacy, the results of which are still not completely known." - Letters from Florida

•  Son of Governor Clement Comer and Susanna Claiborne (Withers) Clay - Alabama Biography

•  "He was a U. S. Senator at the point of secession and made a withdrawal speech for the State of Alabama. 'Mr. President, I rise to announce that the people of Alabama have adopted an ordinance whereby they withdraw from the Union, formed under a compact styled the United States, resume the powers delegated to it, and assume their separate station as a sovereign and independent people.
     His likeness was used on the Confederate one dollar bill from 1862 to 1863. After the death of Lincoln he was accused of complicity and was hunted by the Union Army. He rode 150 miles to turn himself in and was imprisoned with Jefferson Davis at Fortress Moultrie for one year after the war.
     Duke University purchased the entire collection of letters of the Clay family." - Comer Family Tree - Comer Family Tree

•  "On October 24, 1862, Clement C. Clay Jr. wrote to Confederate secretary of war G. W. Randolph advising him about disloyalty in north Alabama. 'The disloyal [residents] stand in open defiance of constitutional authority. . . . Men are here who during the stay of the enemy sold them cotton and bought it for them, acted as their agents, as spies, informers, and depositaries, openly declaiming for the Union and even signing calls for Union meetings, and who are now trading with them at Nashville, passing uninterruptedly between that place and this city.' Clay went on to suggest that 'if examples could be made of the leading traitors here, or if they could be restrained from commerce with the enemy, it would have a most salutary effect.' Local Confederates, he concluded, needed 'something to assure the people of the existence of our Government, and of its power to protect or to punish.' O.R., ser. 4, vol. 2, pp. 141-42. Senator Clay would also appeal to Gen. Braxton Bragg to arrest disloyal civilians, as evidenced in Bragg's response that he could only make arrests for military offenses; Bragg to Clay, January 10, 1863. Evidence of J. Withers Clay's desire to punish those he deemed disloyal is found in Clement C. Clay Jr.'s letter to Susanna Claiborne Clay on February 18, 1863 (Clay Papers), suggesting that J. Withers should cease his assaults on Hickman, as well as on rival editor William B. Figures, fearing that these efforts would create a backlash in public opinion. In addition, witnesses in Hickman v. Jones would testify, as Joseph C. Bradley did, to 'some unpleasantness between defendant Clay and Hickman' and note that Hickman attempted by publishing his circular to defend himself against Clay's attacks. Hickman blamed J. Withers Clay for his arrest by Bate. Testimony of Joseph C. Bradley, Richard H. Barham, Hickman v. Jones.' - Clay Letters - Clay Letters

Related Links:

•  Alabama Biography - History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 3 by Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, © 1921, pp 341-2.

•  Alabama Past Leaders - By Henry S. and Marsha Kass Marks, Strode Publishers, Huntsville, Alabama 35801, © 1982, pp. 58-9.

• - Page owned by Robert F. Hale Jr. and requires membership to view. (Originally found at

• - House - Painting of the house added by Robert F. Hale Jr., Oct. 25, 2007 Requires membership to view. (Originally found at

• Letter - Letter added by Robert F. Hale Jr. Requires membership to view. (Originally found at

•  Brewer's Alabama History - Alabama, Her History, Resources, War Record, and Public Men: From 1540 to 1872 By Willis Brewer, © 1872, p. 357.

• - Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll photo by Norm Walker

• (Originally found at

•  Clay Family - The Clay Family: Part First; The mother of Henry Clay, by Hon. Sachary Frederick Smith, Mary Katherine Rogers Clay, © 1899, pp. 128-9.

•  Clay Letters - Posted by Robert F. Haley Jr. and requires paid membership to view. (Originally found at

•  Comer Family Tree - Braxton Bragg Comer, His Family Tree From Virginia's Colonial Days, by Anne Kendrick Walker, © 1947.

•  Duke University Libraries - Inventory of CCClay items in the Duke Library

•  Encyclopedia of Alabama - Encyclopedia of Alabama

•  FindaGrave - Maintained by Find A Grave with photos by "The Mystery Man" & Barbara Lee Parsons. (Originally found at From Find a Grave.)

•  Flickr: Graves - Maple Hill Cemetery graves and story by oldshouldvideo taken November 13, 2009.

•  Letters from Florida - Letters from Florida in 1851, edited by Olin Norwood. The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4, Apr., 1951.

•  Wikipedia

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Alabama Biography
•  Brewer's Alabama History
•  Clement Comer Clay
•  Hugh Lawson Clay
•  John Withers Clay
•  Virginia Clay Clopton