Kentucky Historical Society


Moments in Kentucky
Legislative History

22. Monument to Henry Clay (1854)

On March 1, 1854, the General Assembly approved "an act to aid in the erection of a Monument over the grave of Henry Clay." Ten thousand dollars were to be appropriated for the benefit of the Clay Monument Association "out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, to aid in the erection of a suitable monument over the grave of Henry Clay."

Design for Clay monument. Clay monument, Lexington Cemetery.

Over one hundred designs for the monument were submitted by artists from across the nation. According to an 1855 issue of Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion, this design (above left) by J. R. Hamilton of Cincinnati was selected by the Clay Monument Association. Hamilton incorporated the eagle and stars national emblems into the Gothic design. It would be a "thirteen-sided temple representing the thirteen original states of the confederacy." A large room in the upper part of the building was supposed to hold Clay relics. A statue of Clay would be inside the building, but visible from the exterior. The design holds little resemblance to the towering monument (above right) erected in 1857, with Clay's statue on top, that overlooks the Lexington Cemetery today. Kentucky Historical Society Collections.

Kentucky Unbridled Spirit

Kentucky Historical Society, 100 W. Broadway, Frankfort, KY 40601
502-564-1792 •
An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet