Lion of White Hall: The Life of Cassius M. Clay

Lion of White Hall: The Life of Cassius M. Clay

Lion of White Hall: The Life of Cassius M. Clay

Lion of White Hall: The Life of Cassius M. Clay

Excerpt

For forty years, when the American people were engaged in heated disputes over slavery, the Civil War, and the pangs of Reconstruction, Cassius M. Clay of Kentucky was a dramatic and controversial participant in the conflict. Even in his youth the tales of his colorful deeds had become legendary, and in his eccentric old age the myths grew until they overshadowed the bizarre personality of the man himself. There was sufficient factual basis for the fanciful tales. Clay was widely feared as a fighter who wielded a mighty knife with which he disembowelled his political opponents and carved off ears and excavated eyes in gory combat.

The notorious fighting, however, was but a part of the strange story of Cassius M. Clay. A cousin of the more restrained Henry Clay, Cassius was a man of paradoxes. No simple description could convey the complexity of his personality. He was an abolitionist who, almost alone, remained in the heart of slave territory. He fought under the banner of humanitarian and liberal reform and expected to win personal rewards for it. He was an industrial promoter in the land of the plantation, and a pioneer Republican in a Democratic stronghold. He was a rough-and-tumble fighter who . . .

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