Born on April 12, 1777, Henry Clay was raised in Hanover Country, Virginia. His father, a Baptist minister who went by the name Sir John, owned 22 slaves, which made him part of the “planter” class, (class of men who owned 20 or more slaves). Henry’s father died when he was 4 years old, and left Henry an inheritance of 2 slaves. Henry was the 7th born of of 9 children. He grew up in an above average house, and his mother owned 18 slaves and 474 acres of land after her husbands death.
Henry’s stepfather got him a job in the office of the Virginia Court of Chancery. This job got Henry interested in Law. While on the job, Clay met a man named George Wythe. George Wythe had a crippled hand, so he appointed Clay as his secretary. After about four years of working under Wythe, Clay started “reading the law”, by working and studying with Wythe and Robert Brooke. Henry was allowed to practice law in 1797.
After beginning his career in law, Clay married a woman named Lucretia Hart. Together, they had 11 children, (5 sons and 6 daughters). Out of all 11 of his children, 7 died before him and his wife. Henry’s wife died in 1864 at 83 years old.
Henry moved to Lexington, Kentucky in November 1797. He quickly gained a reputation for his legal skills. His clients would pay him with land and horses. After awhile he owned a few town lots and the...
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...ds ceded to the U.S. by Mexico.
After his re-election, Clay kept serving the Union and his home state of Kentucky. On June 29th, 1852, He died of Tuberculosis in Washington D.C. at the age of 75. Henry was the first person to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol. (tradition where coffin is placed on view to allow the public at large to pay their respects to the deceased). He was buried in the Lexington Cemetery, where Theodore Frelinghuysen gave the eulogy. His headstone reads, “I know no North - no South - no East - no West.”. Henry’s will freed all the slaves he held, and gave his two surviving sons, James Brown Clay, and John Morrison Clay, portions of the Ashland estate for use. Today the Ashland estate is maintained and operated as a museum, and includes 17 acres of the original estate grounds. It is located on Richmond Road in Lexington and is open to the public.
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