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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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(p.1) Introduction
The Family Legacy of Henry Clay

Lindsey Apple

University Press of Kentucky

Much has been written about Henry Clay's political career. Scholars have studied his family, however, only as afterthought, suggesting that it contributed to his failure to win the presidency. This study investigates both how Henry Clay's career affected the family and how his family influenced his political life. Henry Clay expended as much energy establishing his family as he did serving the nation, creating a legacy of family loyalty, love of risk, and a duty to serve. He also bequeathed intelligence, energy, and passion, forces that lead to great contributions but could also produce overconfidence and reckless behavior. Having a famous ancestor gave Clay descendants no crystal ball through which to foresee the vast changes in American life. This study tracks the impact of change, a susceptibility to physical and mental illness, and tragedy. As a family they illustrate the strengths, weaknesses, and resilience of an American family.

Keywords:   political career, family, loyalty, risk, service, reckless behavior, mental illness, tragedy, resilience

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