LEXINGTON, KY (February 8, 2005) In celebration of Black History Month, the Kentucky Horse Park wishes to draw attention to its International Museum of the Horse. The museum offers a permanent “Buffalo Soldiers” exhibition which has been placed on the African American Heritage Trail. In addition to this tribute, the museum will also open an historical exhibition this spring called Kentucky Bloodlines: The Legacy of Henry Clay.
Although a slave holder himself, Henry Clay wrote, “Slavery is undoubtedly a manifest violation of the rights of man." According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia, Henry Clay “was only twenty-two, when, as an opponent of slavery, he vainly urged an emancipation clause for the new constitution of Kentucky, and he never ceased regretting that its failure put his state, in improvements and progress, behind its free neighbors.”
According to the U.S. State Department, “In 1816 a group of white Americans founded the American Colonization Society to deal with the ‘problem’ of the growing number of free blacks by resettling them in Africa. Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John Randolph and Fernando Fairfax were among the best known Members. Ex-President Thomas Jefferson publicly supported the organization’s goals, and President James Madison arranged public funding for the Society.” Thus, the country of Liberia was founded, with its capital, Monrovia, named for President Monroe.
The new Kentucky Bloodlines exhibition will include a reproduction of a rather controversial American Colonization Society certificate involved in establishing Liberia as a settlement for free slaves from America in West Africa. Although the motives of the Society members were perhaps questionable, Clay was, nonetheless, instrumental in establishing the Society, and served as its president from 1836 to 1849.
Open from April 1 to October 31, the exhibition will focus most of its attention on the outstanding achievements and legacy of Clay’s Ashland Stud in the horse industry. This is the most recent installment by the museum that brought international blockbuster exhibitions Imperial China and All the Queen’s Horses to the United States.
While the world remembers Henry Clay as one of the most significant and effective politicians and statesmen of his day, a good-natured bon vivant, charismatic communicator and controversial character, few realize that he was equally skilled as a progressive agrarian and stockman (he was the first to import Hereford cattle to the U.S. and introduced Gingko trees to the Midwest). In addition to an astute mind and famous quick wit, Clay was also possessed of a keen eye for fine horses, Thoroughbreds in particular, and was one of the leaders in establishing the Bluegrass region of Kentucky as the nation’s premier Thoroughbred breeding center.
Clay’s stock was some of the finest in the Bluegrass, as he imported mares from Virginia and jacks and jennies from Spain and Malta to his Ashland Stud (also known as Ashland Thoroughbred Stock Farm.
No less impressive, the blood of his foundation mares pulsed through the veins of 11 Kentucky Derby winners, two of which were foaled at Ashland Stud.
The Kentucky Bloodlines exhibition is being offered in association with Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate, the Kentucky Historical Society, Keeneland Library, UK Libraries Special Collections, Dr Lindsey Apple at Georgetown College, the Simpson and LaBach families, Jeff Meyer, Sue Andrew and the Lexington Public Library.
It will bring a fresh perspective to the fascinating story of Clay and his heirs, through their role in the development of Kentucky as a horse breeding mecca. It will be a rich and exciting opportunity for every Kentuckian to pay homage to its most famous native son, and for the horse industry to pay respect to one of its founding fathers.
Included in this fascinating exhibition are racing trophies, original pieces of Henry Clay’s furniture, silver and paintings, along with Civil War and horse related artifacts from his descendants.
For more information on the Kentucky Bloodlines exhibition, contact Bill Cooke, Director of the International Museum of the Horse, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-259-4231.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the park hosted 913,000 visitors and 80 special events and horse shows in 2003. The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington. The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.