He soon came to be recognized as one of the foremost debaters on those economical and commercial questions which at that time so much occupied the attention of parliament; and the most prejudiced and bitter of his opponents were fain to acknowledge that they had to deal with a man whom the most practised and powerful orators of their party found it hard to cope with, and to whose eloquence, indeed, the great statesman in whom they put their trust was obliged ultimately to surrender.
He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1776-1780 and again in 1787-1788, and in 1787 was a member of the convention that framed the Federal Constitution, and as one of its ablest debaters took an active part in the work.
By his contemporaries Clayton was considered one of the ablest debaters and orators in the Senate.
From then on he was one of the most eloquent and frequent debaters among his colleagues, and in 1859, almost without opposition, he was re-elected to the Senate as a member of the Republican party, in the organization of which he had taken an influential part.
The intellectual firepower will make them sharp debaters of policy options.