Henry Clay’s lessons for today

One of the ironies that besets any institute devoted to the study of the US Senate is that mulling today’s Senate is akin to contemplating a patient in a long-term coma. The Senate can’t function well without compromise — and in today’s political climate, compromising is often seen as selling out. In a far more polarized era, however, Clay found a way to make the Senate work.

David and Jeanne Heidler, authors of Henry Clay: The Essential American, have tried to make sense of Clay’s stance on slavery. They tell NPR’s Steve Inskeep that it wasn’t until he fell under the tutelage of George Wythe, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, that Clay began to think seriously about the issue