Henry Clay's legacy proved to be both blessing and curse. Too frequently great pressure was brought to bear on young members of the family. Clays seemed excessively tied to place in the sense that Bertram Wyatt Brown described the term in his seminal work, Southern Honor. However, in the early twentieth century, the family farms were sold or developed as residential property, and in 1950 Nanette McDowell donated Ashland to be a memorial to Henry Clay and his descendants. With the transfer of “place” family members seemed less in the shadow of the Patriarch. The legacy became less a burden and more a gift. Descendants now share artifacts with the Henry Clay Estate, conduct research in a more objective manner, and take pride in their heritage. Henry Clay could take pride in a family that has struggled with his demons and been good stewards of the legacies they inherited.
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