The Family Legacy of Henry Clay: In the Shadow of a Kentucky Patriarch
Known as the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay earned his title by addressing sectional tensions over slavery and forestalling civil war in the United States. Today he is still regarded as one of the most important political figures in American history. As Speaker of the House of Representatives and secretary of state, Clay left an indelible mark on American politics at a time when the country’s solidarity was threatened by inner turmoil, and scholars have thoroughly chronicled his political achievements. However, little attention has been paid to his extensive family legacy.
In The Family Legacy of Henry Clay: In the Shadow of a Kentucky Patriarch, Lindsey Apple explores the personal history of this famed American and examines the impact of his legacy on future generations of Clays. Apple’s study delves into the family’s struggles with physical and emotional problems such as depression and alcoholism. The book also analyzes the role of financial stress as the family fought to reestablish its fortune in the years after the Civil War. Apple’s extensively researched volume illuminates a little-discussed aspect of Clay’s life and heritage, and highlights the achievements and contributions of one of Kentucky’s most distinguished families.
Lindsey Apple, retired professor and chair of history at Georgetown College, is the editor of Scott County: A History and author of Cautious Rebel: A Biography of Susan Clay Sawitzky. He lives in Georgetown, KY.
“Readers will discover that this great politician faced not only major public disappointments but also demons of his own making. The successes and ruined lives of so many members of Clay’s immediate family did not end with his death. We need more family histories of this extraordinary caliber.”—Bertram Wyatt-Brown, author Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South
"Apple's book is more than just a biography . . . as he delves into the Clay family in Kentucky and its descendants. In focusing on Clay's family members, Apple reveals the untold back story of an American Family and the struggle that some of its members had with success, fame, depression, alcoholism, and mental illness." -- The Tucson Citizen
"Apple's writing is smooth and easy, and he handles Clay's nearly 100 descendants in a conversational style."--Bowling Green Daily News
"Reveals the family's struggles, including those shared by many Lexington and Kentucky families with differing views of the Civil War."--Kentucky Monthly
"Apple's book is at its best when it shows how generations of Clays struggled to reconcile the family image of Henry with changing times."--Ohio Valley History
"A long overdue (and wonderfully readable) family biography."--H-Net Reviews
“Apple . . . offers a long overdue (and wonderfully readable) family biography.”