Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)



Advisor/Committee Chair

Richard Hamm, Ph.D.


This paper explores how the image of Henry Clay has developed in the American mind from his death in 1852 to the1980s. The memory of Henry Clay has received little attention from scholars. The few studies that exist look at the memory of Clay was used by the North and South during the Civil War. Most works on Clay have focused on Clay’s biography, his “American system,” and his part in shaping the Compromises of 1820 and 1850. A memory study gives an understanding of how Americans have reinterpreted Clay to fit their needs. Four distinct images of Henry Clay have existed in the American mind during that time: Clay the Economic Patriot, Clay the Unionist, Clay the Pan-American, and Clay the Federalist. Economics, war, international commerce, and conservatism have heavily influenced American’s formation of these images. This work draws primary on the use of newspapers, biographies, eulogies, magazine articles, and the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation papers.