One of Henry Clay's Ghosts
Ashland, an impressive early 19th Century Federal style estate in Lexington, was the home of the celebrated 19th-century Kentucky politician Henry Clay. Clay, who served as a Senator from Kentucky, as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as Secretary of State for John Quincy Adams, is still considered a leading figure in Kentucky history, and an important figure in the early days of the republic. Popularly known as "The Great Compromiser", Clay habitually did his best to seek out common ground on difficult issues. Clay seemed to embody some of the contradictions himself. A slave owner who favored emancipation. a war hawk who aggressively pushed the War of 1812, and then played a key role in negotiating peace. Clay was a key player in many of the most important crises in American politics during the first half of the 19th Century. He began construction on Ashland, his beloved estate located on the Eastern edge of Downtown Lexington, in 1804, and lived between there and Washington until he died of tuberculosis in 1852. Some people say you can still see him there today.
Clay was a notoriously hard worker, who spent house in his study going over papers, writing letters, and puttering about in the ink stained business of early American politics. When he took a break from his labors, it was Clay's habit to stretch out and lean against the mantelpiece in his study.
It's in the room that many people have claimed to see the pale figure of a distinguished, white-haired man, dressed in a finely tailored black of the style of the mid-19th Century. This figure is reported to look much like Henry Clay must have looked towards the end of his life.
Is the ghost of Henry Clay haunting Ashland? Is he leaning up against the fireplace in his study, taking a well-deserved break from his labors? Or is he waiting for someone to bring him the next crisis to solve. Ashland is a historic site open to the public, if you go for yourself you may find some answers.
Interestingly, this is only one of the ghosts of Henry Clay. Oaklawn Manor, the home of Clay's great friend Senator Alexander Porter, and a home that Clay visited many times during his life, also claims to be visited by the spirit of Henry Clay. A figure with the same description as the ghost at Ashland is often seen strolling the plantation house. Perhaps this double haunting is Clay's last compromise. Torn between his duties to his home and his loyalty to his friend, Clay's spirit somehow found a way to haunt two different houses.