Clement Comer Clay

 Soldier, Author, Politician: Governor (1835-1837), US Senator (1837-1941), US Congressman 1829-1835, 1837-1854.

Born:December 17, 1789, Halifax County, VA
Died:September 6, 1866, Huntsville, AL
Buried:Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, AL
Father of:Clement Claiborne Clay
Son-in-law of:Henry W. Collier
Father of:Hugh Lawson Clay
Father of:John Withers Clay
Husband of:Susannah Claiborne Withers


•  Clay was not part of the Georgia/Princeton group (LeRoy Pope and associates) but he quickly connected with them and became a part of their circle. - Editor's note

•  CCClay Moved to Huntsville in 1811 and was already licensed to practice law. The population for the entire county of Madison was only 4,000 people. He lived in Huntsville fifty-five years. - Brewer's Alabama History

•  In 1823, soon after he settled in Huntsville, Clay had a disagreement with Dr. Waddy Tate of Limestone Country that resulted in a duel with Dr. Waddy Tate. They were both wounded. Clay temporarily resigned from public service. - Alabama State Archives

•  Clay fought a duel with Dr. Waddy Tate, Sr. The following is about Tate: "Dr. Waddy Tate, Sr. served in the AL State Legislature in 1825. In February, 1818 Dr. Tate and four other men, Dr. Henry Chambers, William Adair, Thomas Bibb and Thomas White, founded a land company and established the town of Triana, just across the Limestone County line in Madison County." - - Tate

•  He shot Tate in the leg - rootsweb

•  "In 1815 Mr. Clay married Susannah Claiborne Withers, daughter of Mr. John Withers, and sister of General Jones M. Withers; a woman of brilliant family, good person, and strong mind, who lived with her husband most affectionately for fifty years and assisted him in rearing one of the best educated families in North Alabama." - Early Settlers of Alabama

•  Was a Freemasion. - Alabama Lodge of Research

•  His life and political career encompass much of Alabama's territorial and early state history; he served in the Creek War, helped draft the state's first constitution, and was the state's first chief justice of its Supreme Court. His long political career included turns as a state legislator, U.S. congressman, governor, and U.S. senator. - Encyclopedia of Alabama: Clement Comer Clay

•  Education: Blount college, predecessor of the University of Tennessee - Encyclopedia of Alabama: Clement Comer Clay

•  "Clement Comer Clay was the first of the Comer family to migrate to Alabama from Virginia. He arrived near Huntsville in 1811. The few people on Huntsville's main street one December afternoon little thought as they saw a frail, delicate young man, not quite 22 years old, ride horse-back into the town, that the future first chief justice of Alabama and the future drafter of the State's first constitution had arrived. But the young rider, viewing the town with dark and restless eyes, was Clement Comer Clay, destined to become the most popular statesman of his period, and to hold the people's confidence during a singurlely long period and brilliant public career." - Comer Family Tree

•  "He had a home in Huntsville called 'Castle Clay' and entertained President Monroe just before Alabama was admitted into the Union in 1819. In 1835 he was elected Governor of Alabama during the Creek Indian uprising. He took the field personally and won the confidence of the principal chiefs. He resigned to take a United States Senate seat before the expiration of his term as governor." - Comer Family Tree

•  One of the early pioneers to Alabama from Virginia. -

•  "Son of William and Rebecca (Comer) Clay, the former a soldier in the Revolutionary war, enlisted at the age of sixteen years, took part in several battles and was at the siege of Yorktown, after the war moved to Grainger County, Tenn., and became a planter; grandson of James Clay, a Virginian of English descent, and of Samuel Comer, also a Virginian of English ancestry, who married a Miss Claiborne." - Alabama Biography

•  "He was only a few years old, when his parents located in Tennessee, and he grew to manhood on the plantation in Grainger County, beginning his education in the ordinary private schools of the day, and completing it with his graduation from the East Tennessee University, Knoxville, 1807." - Alabama Biography

•  "He read law with Hon. Hugh Lawson White, at Knoxville, Tenn., and was admitted to the bar, December, 1809. Two years later, he moved to Alabama, arriving in Huntsville with one negro manservant, two horses, his law books in his saddle-bags and a small sum of money, enough for a few days subsistence. He soon built up a law practice in that place." - Alabama Biography

•  "At the beginning of the Creek war in 1813, he volunteered in a Madison County battalion as a private, was promoted to adjutant of the regiment and assigned to the frontier, south of the Tennessee River, to repel the Indian attacks." - Alabama Biography

•  "Career: Mr. Clay was elected a member of the territorial legislature of Alabama in 1817, which met at St. Stephens, then the capital of the state. In 1819, he was a delegate from Madison County to the first constitutional convention at Huntsville, and was appointed the chairman of a committee of fifteen to draft the constitution, which was afterward adopted as the fundamental law of the state. In December, 1819, he was elected without opposition, by the legislature, one of the four circuit judges of the state, and although the youngest of the number, was elected chief justice of the state by his three associates, the four circuit judges constituting the supreme court. In 1823, he resigned that position to resume his law practice. Mr. Clay was elected to the State legislature from Madison County, 1827, and on his arrival at Tuscaloosa, then the capital, was unanimously elected speaker of the house. The year after, he was elected to congress, defeating Capt. Nicholas Davis of Limestone County, after a warm canvass; and was reelected without opposition, serving through the Twenty-first, Twenty-second and Twenty-third congresses, in all, from 1825 to 1831. One of his services while in that body was the securing of the passage of laws for the relief of purchasers of land in Alabama. He opposed the effort to recharter the United States bank, and conspicuously advocated the measures of Jackson's administration in 1835, he was nominated as Democratic candidate for governor, and was elected over Gen. Enoch Parsons, by thirteen thousand votes, the largest majority given any candidate for that office up to that time. During his administration as governor, the Creek Indians within the limits of Alabama became hostile. As commander-in-chief of the state, Gov. Clay ordered out troops and took the field in person, in active cooperation with Maj. Gen. Scott and Maj. Gen. Jesup of the U. S. Army, who subsequently took command of the volunteers from Alabama and the adjoining states, to operate against the Indians. His administration was also disturbed by the financial crisis of 1837. Before the expiration of his term in 1837, Gov. Clay was chosen to the U. S. senate, to fill the vacancy made by the appointment of Senator John McKinley to the supreme bench. He took his seat at the extra session called by President Van Buren in September, 1837, and served, supporting the administration, until after the extra session of 1841, when sickness in the family caused him to resign. Mr. Clay was appointed to make a digest of the laws of Alabama, and at the session of 1842, reported the manuscript to the legislature, which, after examination by the judiciary committee, was accepted and approved. In 1843, it was published, and has been used as authority in the courts since that time. In 1843 he served a few months in the supreme court to fill a vacancy, and in 1846 was elected one of the commissioners to wind up the affairs of the state bank. After the completion of those duties, he resumed the practice of law, in partnership with his two sons." - Alabama Biography

•  "He favored the secession movement in 1861. When the Federal troops invaded north Alabama during the War of Secession, his home was seized, soldiers were quartered on him, and he was kept under military arrest for some time." - Alabama Biography

•  He was a Democrat. - Alabama Biography

•  "Children: 1. Clement Claiborne; 2. John Withers; 3. Hugh Lawson, d., lawyer, b. January 24, 1823, captain in the Mexican war, member of the staff of Gen. E. Kirby Smith, and colonel, C. S. Army, m. Celeste Comer." - Alabama Biography

•  Last residence: Huntsville. - Alabama Biography

•  "Gov. Clay was of medium size, but erect, and with dark and restless eyes. His bearing was naturally austere, and, though sociable with a few, he was intimate with none. He was honorable in all the relations of life, and sensitive of the slightest imputation derogatory thereto. As a jurist and public officer he was very laborious and energetic, and his official career was characterized by a proper sense of responsibility, dignity, and fidelity." - Brewer's Alabama History

•  Son of William C. Clay (1760-1841) and Rebecca Comer (1762 - 1851) -

•  "Clay was a man of a high sense of honor and unfortunately very sensitive about it." - Governors of Alabama

•  "Clement C. Clay - of Huntsville, Madison County, Ala. Born in Halifax County, Va., December 17, 1789. Second cousin once removed of Matthew Clay (1754-1815) and Green Clay; third cousin of Henry Clay (1777-1852), Porter Clay, Matthew Clay (1795?-1827), Brutus Junius Clay (1808-1878) and Cassius Marcellus Clay; third cousin once removed of Thomas Hart Clay, James Brown Clay and Brutus Junius Clay (1847-1932); father of Clement Claiborne Clay, Jr.; third cousin twice removed of Henry Clay (1849-1884)." - Political Graveyard

Related Links:

•  Encyclopedia of Alabama: Clement Comer Clay - Bio

•  Alabama State Archives - Bio from the State Archives

•  Wikipedia

•  Alabama Archives - Brief bio

•  Early Settlers of Alabama - Early Settlers of Alabama by James Edmonds Saunders & Elizabeth Saunders Blair Stubbs, printed 1899, pages 283-7.

•  Find A Grave - Find A Grave

•  Alabama Biography - History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume 3 by Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owen, © 1921, pp. 342-3.

• - Page owned by Robert F. Hale Jr. and 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.

• - Photo and bio posted by Norm Walker (Originally found at

•  Encyclopedia of Alabama: Broad River Group - Clement Comer Clay was a leader in the Broad River Group and this entry explains how that played out in the development of Alabama

• - Detailed Biographical material

•  Governors of Alabama - By John Craig Steward © 1975, pages 71-5.

•  Political Graveyard

• - Tate - Posted by Lee Freeman, September 14, 2010. (Originally found at

•  rootsweb - Contributed to USGenWeb by Carolyn Golowka © 2006.

•  Alabama Lodge of Research - Was a Freemasion. (Originally found at

•  Flickr: Grave - Maple Hill Cemetery photo by oldsouthvideo, July 24, 2009

•  Flickr: Stroll - Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll photo by oldsouthvideo, October 18, 2010.

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Early Settlers of Alabama
•  Alabama Biography
•  Brewer's Alabama History
•  Clement Claiborne Clay
•  Henry W. Collier
•  Hugh Lawson Clay
•  John Withers Clay
•  Susannah Claiborne Withers