Clement Comer Clay

Clement Comer Clay
United States Senator
from Alabama
In office
June 19, 1837  November 15, 1841
Preceded by John McKinley
Succeeded by Arthur P. Bagby
8th Governor of Alabama
In office
November 21, 1835  July 17, 1837
Preceded by John Gayle
Succeeded by Hugh McVay
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1829  March 3, 1835
Preceded by Gabriel Moore
Succeeded by Reuben Chapman
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1789-12-17)December 17, 1789
Halifax County, Virginia
Died September 7, 1866(1866-09-07) (aged 76)
Huntsville, Alabama
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susanna Claiborne Withers (1798–1866) (her death)
Alma mater East Tennessee University
Profession Politician,Governor of Alabama
Religion Southern Baptist

Clement Comer Clay (December 17, 1789 – September 7, 1866) was the eighth Governor of the U.S. state of Alabama from 1835 to 1837. An attorney, judge and politician, he also was elected to the state legislature, as well as to the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

Early years

Clay was born in Halifax County, Virginia. His father, William Clay, was an officer in the American Revolutionary War, who moved to Grainger County, Tennessee. Clay attended the local schools and graduated from East Tennessee College in 1807. He was admitted to the bar in 1809 and moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where he began a law practice in 1811.

Marriage and family

Clay married Susannah Claiborne Withers on April 4, 1815.[1] They had three sons: Clement Claiborne Clay, John Withers Clay, and Hugh Lawson Clay.

Alabama House of Representatives

Clay served in the Alabama Territorial Legislature in 1817–1818. He was a state court judge and served in the Alabama House of Representatives.

In 1828 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from March 4, 1829 and through re-elections until March 3, 1835, when he started as governor of Alabama.[2]

Governor of Alabama

In 1835 Clay was elected Governor. Clay's term as governor ended early when he was appointed by the state legislature to the United States Senate in 1837 (this was before popular election of senators).

Spring Hill College

In 1836, Governor Clay signed a legislative act which chartered Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States. The charter gave it "full power to grant or confer such degree or degrees in the arts and sciences, or in any art or science as are usually granted or conferred by other seminaries of learning in the United States." The college resulted from the strong French Catholic traditions in the city, founded as a French colony.

Creek War of 1836

Clay’s term in office was dominated by the Creek War of 1836 arising from resistance to Indian Removal, which had taken place in the Southeast since 1830. During Clay’s administration, the United States Army removed the Creek Indians from Southeastern Alabama under the terms of the 1832 Treaty of Cusseta. The Creek were relocated to the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) west of the Mississippi. Confrontations between Indians and white settlers occurred.[3]

Panic of 1837

During the Panic of 1837, the United States suffered a financial crisis brought on by speculative fever. This crisis caused a run on the Bank of the State of Alabama. Clay ordered the bank to provide a detailed report of its finances, but it was unable to do so.[4]

United States Senate

After election by the state legislature, Clay served in the United States Senate from June 19, 1837 until his resignation on November 15, 1841.

In the year after the end of the Civil War, Clement died of natural causes in September 1866, aged 76. His wife Susanna had died earlier the same year.


  1. Alabama Marriage Collection, 1800-1969 Record
  2. The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, pp. 89-92
  3. "Clement Comer Clay". Alabama Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  4. "Clement Comer Clay". Alabama Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2012-06-28.


Legal offices
New title Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of Alabama

Succeeded by
Abner Smith Lipscomb
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gabriel Moore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1835
Succeeded by
Reuben Chapman
Political offices
Preceded by
John Gayle
Governor of Alabama
Succeeded by
Hugh McVay
United States Senate
Preceded by
John McKinley
United States Senator
from Alabama
(Class 3)

with William R. King (1837–1841)
Succeeded by
Arthur P. Bagby
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