Henry Clay Letter Collection


Henry Clay Letter Collection


Clay, Henry, 1777-1852


Henry Clay was one of Kentucky's most prominent political figures. He was born in Virginia in 1777 but moved to Lexington, Kentucky to practice law in 1797. Clay became became active in state politics and soon gained prominence in the U.S. Congress. From 1806 until his death in 1852, Clay was regularly one of Kentucky’s delegates to the House of Representatives or the Senate. He was known for finding compromise and middle ground during an era of increasingly divided politics. He was instrumental in the adoption of the Missouri Compromise of 1821, the Compromise of 1833, and Compromise of 1850. From 1825 to 1829, Clay served as Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams. He was also a perennial presidential candidate, first as a National Republican and later as a Whig. Clay died on June 29, 1852.

This online collection shares nearly 174 items from the Filson's Henry Clay miscellaneous manuscript collection. Most of the items are letters written by Clay over the course of his adult life, both personal letters to friends and professional correspondence to colleagues in the spheres of law and politics. The collection also includes documents that Clay wrote when representing clients or himself in legal matters. Other items include a ribbon supporting Clay for a political campaign and a passport he used in 1851.


Clay, Henry, -- 1777-1852 -- Correspondence.
Politicians -- Kentucky -- Correspondence.
United States -- Politics and government -- 1815-1861.


Filson Historical Society Manuscript Collection


1797 - 1851


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Letters, documents, ephemera






Henry Clay Miscellaneous Collection [Mss. C C]

Collection Items

Broadside "Reception of the Remains of Hon. Henry Clay," 6 July 1852
Copy of a broadside calling upon the young men of Louisville, regardless of party affiliation, to meet at the courthouse to make arrangements for the reception and transportation of the body of Henry Clay to Ashland.

Letter from Henry Clay to the General Assembly of Kentucky. Washington, 17 December 1851
Resigning the office of a Senator of the United States from the State of Kentucky, this resignation to take effect on the first Monday of September 1852.

Letter from Henry Clay to Ben J. Adams, Louisville, Ky. Ashland, Ky., 19 May 1851
Letter covering enclosure of letters of recommendation and introduction for a Mr. Fellows, friend of Adams, stating that he regrets not adding same to "our Ministers at London and Paris" but believes he has imposed on them enough in the past. The…

Henry Clay Passport, 8 March 1851
For Henry Clay of Ashland (with his servant James Marshall, a free colored person). Signed by Daniel Webster, Secretary of State. Visa on reverse for visit to Havana.

Letter from Henry Clay to Hamilton Fish. Washington, D.C. 23 February 1851
Comments on a dispute between Fish and Mr. Maxwell and on Mr. Beckman, a New York state senator. "I believe that the substantial preservation and vigorous enforcement of the Fugitve slave law, involve the safety, if not the existence, of the Union "…

Letter from Henry Clay to Charles Lobdell. Lexington, Kentucky, 11 November 1850
Despite his rule not to send his autograph, he thanks Lobdell for his compliments and since Lobdell wants to follow Franklin's profession, he hopes he will "emulate his virtues, and attain to his fame and greatness."

Letter from Henry Clay to The Honorable A. H. H. Stuart. Ashland, 22 October 1850
Recommending Col. William Henry Russell of California for an Indian agency in that State.

Letter from Henry Clay to Alexander H.H. Stuart, Washington. "Ashland," 4 October 1850
Letter of recommendation for J. Morrison Harris for a public job in California. Clay notes that Harris was a member of the Baltimore Bar and that he was a "personal and political friend."

Letter from Henry Clay to J. Morrison Harris, n.p. [Baltimore]. "Ashland," 4 October 1850
Notes that he did not receive Harris' last letter in Washington but received it in Lexington. He also notes that he did not enclose a letter to the Secretary of the Interior but will if it would "afford" him any help.

Letter from Henry Clay to J. Morrison Harris, Baltimore. Washington, 18 September 1850
Clay informs Harris that he learned from the senators from California that the U.S. District Attorney for that state would, indeed, be a citizen of California.
View all 174 items