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Henry Clay (1777–1852) was one of the most powerful statesmen in America between 1811 and 1852.
Born in Kentucky, Clay served briefly in state government before being elected to the Unites States House of Representatives in 1811. He served as Speaker for most of the 12 years he served in the House of Representatives (1811–1821, 1823–1825). He served on the diplomatic team that negotiated the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812, and he served as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams between 1825 and 1829. He sat in the United States Senate from 1831 to 1842 and 1849 to 1852. He campaigned unsuccessfully for the presidency of the United States in 1824, 1832, 1840, and 1844.
As a member of Congress, Clay advocated a series of economic policies labeled the American System. These included protective tariffs on European imports, federal spending on internal improvements, and conservative land policies designed to limit urban flight to the West. Through these measures, Clay hoped to strengthen America's manufacturing sector, foster more restrained growth of the nation's agricultural sector, and link the two together through improved roads and canals.
DeWitt Clinton (1769–1828) was a New York statesman and one of the most ardent advocates for the construction of the Erie Canal.
Clinton attended Columbia and was admitted to the New York bar in 1788. Introduced into politics by his uncle, New York Governor George Clinton, he served in the state assembly and senate before serving briefly in the United States Senate in 1802. He was elected mayor of New York City in 1803 and filled this office for ten of the next 12 years. He served as governor of the state from 1817 to 1823 and 1825 to 1828.
As commissioner for the Erie Canal project from 1810 to 1824, Clinton was responsible for surveying the route for the proposed waterway. As governor, he convinced the state legislature to provide funding for the canal's construction. So linked were the canal and governor in the public's eye, the canal was labeled "Clinton's Big Ditch" by their critics.
Clinton presided over the opening of the canal in 1825 and proved to be more far-sighted than canal opponents. Construction costs were soon recovered by tolls collected for canal use and within just a few years, the economy of the state boomed as a result of improved inland transportation.
Charles Grandison Finney (1792–1875) was the most prominent evangelical preacher of the Second Great Awakening. Born in Connecticut and trained as a lawyer, Finney turned to evangelical preaching after a soul-wrenching conversion in 1821. Although he never attended a seminary, Finney was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1824.
During the Second Great Awakening, Finney took the evangelical message and emotional styles of popular revivalists like Lorenzo Dow and Barton Stone to the more staid congregations of middle class churches.
Finney's message that individuals controlled their own salvation—that God's saving grace was available to all those who genuinely sought it—brought American religion more in sync with the broader message of individual empowerment within American society. Finney's demand that "sanctification" follow salvation—that once saved, individuals had a holy responsibility to reform their behavior and improve their communities—provided a religious basis for philanthropy and good behavior.
Finney's doctrinal message still forms the basis of American evangelicalism.
Sylvester Graham (1795–1851) was a dietary reformer and lecturer who cultivated an extensive following between 1832 and his death in 1851. Born in Connecticut, and ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1826, Graham began to acquire an audience for his dietary reforms in 1832, as Americans anxiously anticipated the spread of Europe's cholera epidemic to America.
Graham believed that poor diet inhibited the body's ability to resist disease. He therefore discouraged the consumption of meat, spices, and stimulants, like alcohol, coffee, and tobacco. Instead, he advocated a diet of course-grain bread and vegetables.
Graham's dietary advice was matched by behavioral recommendations that emphasized moderation and self-regulation. He encouraged strict sexual restraint and condemned masturbation on the premise that wasting bodily fluids led to physical weakness. Graham also recommended more frequent bathing, loose fitting clothes, and improved ventilation.
Among his legacies? The Graham Cracker.
Francis Cabot Lowell (1775–1817) was a Massachusetts textile manufacturer and an industrial visionary. He was born in Newburyport and graduated from Harvard in 1793.
Although born into a prominent mercantile family, Lowell traveled to Great Britain in 1810 to study British textile technology in hopes of finding safer investment opportunities. Memorizing the technical details of the power looms at a textile plant in Lancashire, England, Lowell introduced the technology at a factory built at Waltham, Massachusetts in 1814.
Lowell formed the Boston Manufacturing Company to underwrite his plans for an expanded New England textile industry. Selling shares of stock in his joint-stock company to other prominent New England merchants and bankers, Lowell provided an investment model soon imitated by other American entrepreneurs. Lowell also introduced an innovative labor model at his factory at Waltham: he hired young, single women, housed them in chaperoned dormitories, and promised to transfer traditional paternal labor relations to his new large scale operation.
After Lowell's death in 1817, the Boston Manufacturing Company developed several new mills north of Waltham in a factory town named Lowell after the innovative entrepreneur. While Lowell's investment model survived, his labor model did not. By mid-century, Irish immigrants had replaced the native women formerly employed at Lowell.