The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

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


These images are issued by The Filson Historical Society. Property rights in the collection belong to The Filson Historical Society. The user is responsible for copyright issues. Permission for use of this image for ANY reason should be obtained by contacting Filson's Collections Department via


Letters, documents, ephemera






Henry Clay Miscellaneous Collection [Mss. C C]

Collection Items