|Affiliation||No Party Affiliation
|Name||Lucretia Hart Clay|
Lexington, Kentucky , United States
|| March 18, 1781
|| April 06, 1864
Jun 15, 2010 09:32pm
|Info||Lucretia Hart was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, on March 18, 1781 and was the youngest daughter of Colonel Thomas and Susanna Gray Hart. She married Henry Clay, (1777-1852) who had a long political career and was U.S. Diplomat, U.S. Congressman, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate. |
In Lucretia's great granddaughter's journal, it is noted, "Henry Clay, a young lawyer, came to Lexington in 1797. Although penniless and almost friendless in the midst of a distiguised Bar, he was full of courage and of hope. Very soon he was a constant and welcome visitor at the hospitable home of Colonel Hart where two charming unmarried daughters and the first piano brought to Lexington, made an attractive social center; and when young people gathered at her home, Lucretia played for them to dance. Two time-stained piedes of music, The Lexington Grand Waltz and The Ashland Quadrilles, dedicated to Mrs. Henry Clay by Professor Wilhelm Iucho, are tributes to her musical ability." (Simpson, Letter to)
"Clay surely did not choose Lucretia because of her 'good face, form, or personal appearance' since she, like her husband, lacked physical beauty. Far more important were her amiable disposition and family connections, for the marriage placed Clay among the best and most influential economic and political circles in Kentucky. He now had impeccable connections that allied him to some of the most eminent families in the state. He married as well as his highest expectations could have demanded. Dark-eyed and dark-haired, lively and plain-looking indeed, 'a very plain and unadmired woman' by eastern standards - she nonetheless captured Clay's fancy. In describing her, all observers, even the most sophisticated and cynical in Washington, said she was 'kind,' 'good,' and 'above all discreet.' During the many years she lived in the capital it was reported that she never made a single enemy." (Remini)
"After a brief courtship Lucretia agreed to marry young Henry Clay. She was eighteen at the time of her marriage, and the wedding took place in her home on Mill Street in Lexington. It proved to be a successful marriage, and Lucretia made a dutiful and loving wife. A spirited woman, she nonetheless tolerated her husband's swearing and his periodic gambling and drinking bouts. In fact, she was once asked if she minded her husband's habitual gambling. 'Doesn't it distress you,' sniffed a Boston matron, 'to have Mr. Clay gamble?' Lucretia looked surprised at the question. 'Oh! dear, no!' she replied very innocently, 'he most always wins.'"(Remini)
"Lucretia also proved to be a most competent manager and businesswoman, selling milk, butter, and cured hams to earn additional money when necessary. Because of her husband's frequent absences from home, she necessarily took over the management of their property. She made a practical study of agriculture when they later moved to a plantation. She supervised the overseer and became something of an 'oracle' among farmers in the vicinity where they lived. It was reported that every time Clay left home he gave her a large check with which to manage their home. Upon his return she invariable returned the check to him with the remark that she had found no use for it. Lucretia loved her home and all the domestic chores associated with running it. She hated the social whirl in Washington that so attracted her husband later on."(Remini)
Lucretia was an adoring mother of the eleven children she bore her husband. "Henrietta, the oldest child died when she was still a little girl. Theodore, the oldest son, was injured when he was a boy and had to live in an asylum. Thomas Hart married Marie Mentelle and was a farmer. They lived at a beautiful place called 'Mansfield' on part of Ashland farm. Susan Hart, Mrs. Martin Duralde, died as a young married woman of twenty-one. Ann Brown married James Erwin and died when her child was born. They lived at the 'Woodlands' (then a part of Ashland farm, now a part of Woodland Park).
Lucretia Hart died at fourteen, and Eliza died at the age of twelve while on the way to Washington with her family. Another daughter, Laura, died at the age of three months. Henry Clay, Jr., married Julia Prather after graduating at West Point. Their home was called 'Maplewood'. Henry Clay, Jr., was killed at the battle of Buena Vista during the war with Mexico. At the time of his death, he was leading a charge of his troops. James Brown Clay married Susan Jacob of Louisville and became a lawyer and congressman. They lived at 'Clay Villa', now in Bell Court. After fighting in the Confederate Army, he died in Canada. John Morrison Clay married Mrs. Josephine Russell Erwin, the widow of Henry Clay's grandson.
It was very sad for Henry and Lucretia to lose all their daughters when they were young. In fact, of the eleven children, only four sons lived longer than their father. But while they lived, they had gay times in Ashland. It was a great event when their father came home from Washington, often bringing important guests with him. Among those were James Monroe, Aaron Burr, Martin Van Buren, Daniel Webster, Lafayette and Lord Morpeth. When the members of the family were separated, they kept up a lively correspondence." (Simpson, The Cat)