The next "Polk's America" program will be held on Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. in the parish hall of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in downtown Columbia. Dr. Kevin Tanner will present "On the Campaign Trail of 1844: Cassius M. Clay's Defense of Union and Freedom."
In 1844, Cassius Clay canvassed the North from Ohio to Boston and spent much of his time in New York State speaking at Whig rallies. His opposition to the annexation of Texas, his recent rejection of slavery, and his loyalty to kinfolk guided him north to give stump speeches for his distant cousin Henry Clay who was once again vying for the presidency. Northern Whigs, who feared that the Liberty Party would siphon off votes and tip the scales from Henry Clay to James K. Polk, welcomed the antislavery Cassius and his message that Henry Clay stood for “Union and Freedom.” In return, the Liberty Party used Cassius Clay’s abolitionist views to attack Henry Clay as a hypocrite who could not be trusted. Before leaving for New York, Cassius consulted Henry who advised him to go; nevertheless, in a fit of rage after the election, Henry accused Cassius and the abolitionists, especially the Liberty Party, for his defeat. Dr. Tanner will examine Cassius Clay's impact on the election, and attempt to explain why Henry Clay lost New York State.
Dr. Kevin Tanner is an Associate Professor of History at Austin Peay State University where he teaches courses on Early American History. He has edited Faces of Valor: Volume IV and Volume V that honor the veterans of Montgomery County, TN for the Kiwanis Club of Clarksville. His research often focuses on religion, politics, and reform of the 18th and 19th centuries. He has written biographical sketches on reformers such as George Washington Gale and John Hiram Lathrop as well as the essay “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Religious Populism and Spiritual Capitalism.”
Held on the fourth Tuesday of every month except December, "Polk's America" is free and open to the public. Refreshments are served