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The Family Legacy of Henry ClayIn the Shadow of a Kentucky Patriarch$
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Lindsey Apple

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813134109

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813134109.001.0001

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Legacy of Service

Legacy of Service

(p.210) Chapter 10 Legacy of Service
The Family Legacy of Henry Clay

Lindsey Apple

University Press of Kentucky

Henry Clay felt a keen sense of duty to nation, state, and community. Generally shunning politics, his descendants served in the military—every engagement from the Mexican War through Vietnam—both as professional and citizen soldiers. Family members also supported progressive era reform, woman's suffrage, and the treatment of tuberculosis and mental illness. In the late nineteenth century, a duty to service developed as a sense of noblesse oblige, assuring philanthropic efforts and direct aid to the less fortunate, notably African Americans. Madeline McDowell Breckinridge might well have filled the shoes of her great grandfather had society given her the right to vote and hold office and if she had escaped the Clay legacy of illness and untimely death. Unfortunately, noblesse oblige also included a sense of paternalism. The Clay story reflects the tortured history of race relations in the United States.

Keywords:   sense of duty, military, progressive era reform, woman's suffrage, tuberculosis, mental illness, noblesse oblige, philanthropy, African Americans, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, race relations

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