Called a wretched father by biographer Robert Rimini, the records reveal Henry Clay as a father of prodigal sons instead. Exhibiting traditional values, he left the greatest responsibility to Lucretia, allowed children significant freedom, and married his daughters young. Education and the financial establishment of sons were his responsibility and he labored to accomplish them. Advice to his sons—avoid alcohol, gambling, and dissipation, shun bad company, and embrace “meaningful” work—would have surprised his critics given his own reputation. No perfect father, his frustrations with dissipation, lack of focus, and alcohol abuse by his oldest sons frequently showed. Yet, there is also evidence of a caring father. Blessed with five prodigal sons, at his best, Henry Clay knew his sons as individuals and sought to emphasize strengths and minimize weaknesses.
Kentucky Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.