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Henry Clay Papers
1793-1852 (bulk 1815-1848)
Transylvania University Special CollectionsLexington, Kentucky 40508 USA
Open to researchers.
[Identification of item], Henry Clay Papers, 1793-1852 (bulk 1815-1848), MSC 9,Special Collections, Transylvania University, Lexington.
ca. 3cubic ft.
Henry Clay, a native of Hanover, Virginia, came to Lexington, Kentucky in 1797 and engaged in the practice of law. He was particularly active in land dispute litigation and as a criminal defense lawyer. Active politically in Kentucky, Clay was a state legislator (1803-1806, 1807-1810), a United States senator (1806-1807, 1810-1811, 1831-1842, 1849-1852), a member of the United States House of Representatives (1811-1814, 1815-1821, 1823-1824). He also served as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. A nationally known political figure, Clay is perhaps best known for his efforts to avoid dissolution of the Union over the issue of slavery which resulted in the Missouri Compromise (1820) and the Compromise of 1850. Clay also played an important role in the growth of Transylvania University in Lexington. Appointed to its faculty as a professor of law in 1805, he taught two years before resigning his position upon his election to the United States Senate. Clay served as a member of Transylvania's Board of Trustees at various times during the next two decades, was actively involved in the selection of faculty and presidents, and frequently acted as a general spokesman for the institution in the East. On the death of Lexington businessman and Transylvania University trustee James Morrison in 1823, Clay acted as executor of his estate, which left $20,000 to the university and also endowed a sizable trust fund. As a result, Clay was involved in numerous suits made by claimants against the Morrison estate over the next six years.
This collection is comprised of correspondence and legal papers relating predominantly to Clay's law practice in Lexington, Kentucky, his membership on the Transylvania University Board of Trustees, and to his personal affairs. Materials include correspondence, legal depositions, notes, estate accounts, and other documents. The bulk of correspondence concerns Clay's role as executor of the estates of James Morrison, James Weir, and James Brown, Clay's brother-in-law. Correspondence of Clay with members of the Transylvania University Board of Trustees concerning the Morrison bequest, presidential selection, and other administrative affairs is also present, as are letters written by Clay to legal clients, politicians, and friends. Among persons addressed are Charles Jared Ingersoll, James Brown, and Richard H. Bayard. Letters include discussion of political issues important to Clay, particularly the tariff question. Contents list and card catalog. Transcribed in: Clay, Henry. THE PAPERS OF HENRY CLAY. Edited by James F. Hopkins, Mary W. M. Hargreaves, Robert Seager, and Melba Porter Hay. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1959-1992. Condition of material: fair (acid damage). Variant title: Henry Clay collection.
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