Henry Clay, born in Virginia in 1777, came to Lexington at the age of twenty and quickly established a successful law practice. In 1799 he married Lucretia Hart, daughter of one of this city's most prominent families.
He served six years in the Kentucky House of Representatives, part of that time as a speaker and filled two unexpired terms in the United States Senate before being elected to the U.S. House in 1811.
There he was speaker until 1814 and again from 1815 to 1820 and 1823 to 1825. In 1814 he was one of the country's ministers to Ghent, where the treaty with Great Britain was written, ending the War of 1812.
From 1825 to 1829 he was Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams, and from 1831 to 1842 and 1849 to 1852 was a U.S. Senator.
Throughout his long career, Clay was famed as one of America's greatest statesman and orators; and was a candidate for President of the United States in 1824, 1832 and again in 1844.
After his death in Washington in 1852 his remains were brought to Lexington for burial as he had instructed. The Clay Monument Association financed and erected this memorial, which was completed in 1861 and which contains the sarcophagi of Henry Clay and Mrs. Clay, who died in 1864.
In July, 1976, the weather-worn monument, restored by state and local governments,
was rededicated and enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places.