11.18.2014

Lucretia Clay

Lucretia Clay and husband, popular politician Henry Clay

Wife of U.S. Senator Henry Clay

Lucretia Hart was born March 18, 1781 in Hagerstown, Maryland into a wealthy and socially prominent family. She moved to Kentucky with her parents in 1784. Henry Clay was born on April 12, 1777, in Hanover County, Virginia to a middle-class family. Clay studied for the bar with the eminent George Wythe [link], and at age 20, moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he developed a thriving practice and met his future wife.

Image: Lucretia and Henry Clay

After a brief courtship, Lucretia Hart married Henry Clay April 11, 1799 at her family home in Lexington, Kentucky. Though Lucretia was not physically attractive, neither was Clay. Far more important were her family connections, which placed Clay among the best and most influential political circles in Kentucky. That he loved to drink and gamble was no drawback in an age that admired both vices.

11.11.2014

Antebellum Slavery in Virginia

The first Africans in Virginia brought to Jamestown in 1619 were quickly purchased on the same terms as English indentured servants: after seven years of labor, they were free. By 1625, there were said to be twenty-three Africans serving in Virginia; twenty-five years later, there were 300.

women and children waiting to be sold at the slave market
Image: Slaves Waiting For Sale in the Richmond Slave Market
Oil Painting by Eyre Crowe

Slavery in Colonial Virginia
Blacks were not automatically slaves in early Virginia. Some held property, married and raised families outside the institution of slavery. Before 1660, most slaves in Virginia lived on plantations with two or three others, and most slaves were male. Interactions with whites were common and restrictions based exclusively on race were not rigid.

11.03.2014

Catherine Coffin

Conductor on the Underground Railroad

Quakers Levi and Catherine Coffin helped thousands of fugitive slaves to safety in Newport, Indiana and Cincinnati, Ohio through the Undergound Railroad, a network of more than 3,000 homes and other stations that helped runaway slaves travel from southern states to freedom in northern states and Canada.

abolitionist who fed and clothed runaway slavesleader of the Underground Railroad and savior of slaves
Image: Catherine Coffin and her husband Levi

On October 28, 1824, Levi Coffin married Catherine White, sister of his brother-in-law and long-time friend. The Coffins and the Whites were Quakers and abolitionists who opposed slavery. Catherine's family is believed to have been involved in helping runaway slaves, and it is likely she met Levi while taking part in these activities. Catherine gave birth to Jesse, the first of their six children, in 1825.