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Cassius Marcellus Clay
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    (October 19, 1810-July 22, 1903)
    Born in Madison County, Kentucky
    Abolitionist and politician
    Served in the Kentucky House of Representatives (1835-41)
    Founded the abolitionist newspaper 'The True American' (1845)
    Founding member of the Republican Party in Kentucky
    US Ambassador to Russia (1861-62,1863-69)
    Namesake of boxer Cassius Clay
    He unsuccessfully sought to be named Lincoln's running mate, a cabinet position, or appointment as ambassador to England or France before accepting the post as minister to Russia.
    Lincoln said that he had 'a great deal of conceit and very little sense.'
    His adopted son Henry may have actually been his biological son from an extramarital affair while he was in Russia.
    He divorced his wife of 45 years when she refused to continue tolerating his infidelities (1878).
    He then married a fifteen-year-old girl.
    His famed namesake changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
    As an abolitionist in a slave state, he was targeted for assassination more than once, and each time fended off his attackers with a Bowie knife.
    He donated land to fellow abolitionist John G. Fee, who used the land to found the town of Berea as a haven for free blacks (1853).
    After Lincoln's inauguration, he organized a group of 300 volunteers to protect the White House and Naval Yard from possible attack until Federal soldiers arrived in Washington, DC.
    Lincoln asked him to assess opinions in border states on freeing the slaves before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.
    As minister to Russia, he persuaded Tzar Alexander II to dispatch the Atlantic and Pacific fleets to the East and West Coasts of the US as an implicit warning to Britain and France to not intervene in the US Civil War on the side of the Confederacy.
    He helped negotiate the purchase of Alaska from Russia.

Credit: C. Fishel

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