Henry Clay was born in Hanover County, Va., in 1777, studied law under the great George Wythe, and became a practicing lawyer in 1797. He moved from Virginia to Kentucky, Quickly gained a reputation as a lawyer and orator, and served as a state and national legislator. Clay served in the House of Representatives with various interruptions from 1811 to 1825, was a leader of the "War Hawks," and acted as spokesman for western expansionist interests. Much of the time serving as speaker, he wielded great power through the formulation of his American system, and was responsible for the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Clay ran for the presidency in 1824; and after helping to swing the election to John Quincy Adams in the House of Representatives, served as Adams' Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He was elected to the Senate in 1831 and beaten by Jackson in the presidential election of 1832. During his years in the Senate Henry Clay fought for the National Bank and internal improvements and was a chief bulwark of the Whig party. His efforts to prevent sectional conflict, culminating in the Compromise of 1850 earned him the name "The Great Compromiser." In 1844 Polk defeated him in his third try for the presidency. He continued his efforts to save the Union until his death in 1852, closing 50 years of service which won him a permanent place in history as one of America's greatest statesmen.
Henry Clay (SSBN-625) was launched 30 November 1962 by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; sponsored by Mrs. Green B. Gibson, great-granddaughter of Henry Clay; and commissioned 20 February 1964, Comdr. J. C. Lewis (gold crew) and Comdr. T. A. Bryce (blue crew) in command.
A modern atomic-powered submarine designed to fire the second generation Polaris ballistic missile, Henry Clay conducted shakedown off the coast of Florida beginning 28 February 1964. She completed her first submerged firing 6 April 1964 and returned to Newport News 29 May 1964. The submarine then sailed to her new home port, Charleston, S.C., and departed for her first deployment 17 August 1964. Joining America's strong and mobile deterrent force beneath the seas, she began her operations in the protection of the free world. By January 1987 she had completed 11 patrols as a ready and powerful deterrent to aggression. At present assigned to Submarine Squadron 14, Henry Clay in mid-1967 continues to cruise the depths of her assigned patrol areas where she serves both as an instrument of peace and, at a moment's notice if need be, as a lethal weapon of war.