LEXINGTON, Ky.—Transylvania University enjoyed a close relationship during its formative years with well-known statesman Henry Clay. The “Great Compromiser” served as a professor in Transylvania’s law school for two years beginning in 1805 and was elected a trustee in 1807, a position he retained on and off for many years.
In 1818, Clay was part of a committee that brought young Bostonian minister Horace Holley to Lexington to serve as president of the university. Under Holley’s leadership, Transylvania’s reputation rose in prominence and its law and medical departments rivaled those of schools in the northeast.
Clay oversaw the construction of Old Morrison (1833), which is now home to the university’s administrative offices. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is featured on the city seal of Lexington. Clay remained a trustee and friend of the university until his death in 1852.
As Lexington celebrates its first ever Henry Clay Week June 18-24, Transylvania will have a chance to reflect on its history with Clay as it hosts a special event that will end the week. “The Role of the Speaker of the House: A Tribute to Henry Clay,” will feature a moderated conversation with Speaker of the House John Boehner, former Speaker and current House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Speakers Dennis Hastert and Jim Wright on Friday, June 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Haggin Auditorium. The Speakers will discuss their respective times in the position, how the position has or has not changed through the years and examples of times they have been able to find beneficial compromise.
“Transylvania University is delighted to host the current and former House Speakers at this event honoring the 200th anniversary of Henry Clay becoming Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in 1811,” said President R. Owen Williams.
Historians have said that it was Henry Clay who made the Speakership the powerful position it is today. Clay served as Speaker three times during his tenure in Congress and served in the position longer than anyone else in the nineteenth century.
“This event offers the public a once in a lifetime opportunity to see our current and former Speakers share the stage in an effort to pay tribute to both Clay and the Office itself,” said Robert Clay, co-chair of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. “The tribute is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Henry Clay and to reflect upon the role of the Office of the Speaker in a non-partisan manner.”
Henry Clay Week and the tribute event are sponsored by The Henry Clay Memorial Foundation and the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship.
Update: Tickets are now sold out.
Founded in 1780, Transylvania is the nation’s sixteenth oldest institution of higher learning and is consistently ranked in national publications as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.