Henry Clay might be considered Lexington’s most famous politician. While the statesman and orator made his mark in Washington in the 19th century, his legacy is still discussed today.
Lexington is celebrating Henry Clay week. Young people from all over are participating in the Henry Clay Center Statesmanship Student Congress at Transylvania and the University of Kentucky. On Friday night, the current Speaker of the House and three former speakers are expected to talk about a job once held by Clay. Transylvania President Owen Williams says Clay was chosen to lead the U.S. House on the first day of his first session, something not likely to happen again.
“You never want to say impossible, but it seems extraordinarily unlikely that his experience would be replicated as to the age at which he became speaker or the point in his career that he became speaker,” said Williams.
Clay was a professor at the law school and served on the university’s board for years. He also helped bring a young Bostonian minister, Horace Holley, to Lexington to serve as president of Transy in 1818. Current president Owen Williams says Holley made a major educational mark on Kentucky.
“There are those who say Horace Holley was the most important educator throughout all of 19th century American history. It was a marvel to a lot of people that Transylvania was able to induce this man to come here from Boston where he was a prominent educator,” said Williams.
Modern day speakers of the house will talk about Clay and the job Friday night at Transy. Current Speaker John Boehner (BAY-nur), along with former speakers, Nancy Pelosi, Jim Wright, and Dennis Hastert are scheduled to participate in a discussion Friday night to a sold out audience.