White Hall-Clermont Foundation
White Hall State Historic Site
White Hall State Historic Site
Ask A Tour Guide 2

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Question: The Bluegrass State is well known for horse breeding. Did Cassius Clay breed race horses?

Let’s join a tour already in progress at White Hall and find out…

Tour Guide: During the 1860’s, it appeared Cassius M. Clay preferred political causes and Foreign Service to farming. His wife, Mary Jane Warfield Clay had the responsibility of overseeing

Cassius with Sheep

the renovation of the house in his absence, but she also maintained the family farm including its many barns, fences and livestock. White Hall’s extensive acreage and excellent pasturage provided ideal grazing for livestock. During the Civil War, Mary Jane was able to raise money by trafficking horses and mules for the Union Army. Because she had had trouble from Southern Sympathizers in the past, she invited the Union army to graze horses on her property for a fee. This not only provided her income, but protection at the same time!

Guest: Excuse me, but I have a question. We all know the Bluegrass State is well known for its horses, including the thoroughbred. Did Cassius breed race horses?

Tour Guide: The city of Lexington, known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” is less than ten miles from White Hall. Mary Jane’s father, Dr. Elisha Warfield, was a champion horse breeder who bred the famous race horse named Lexington. Cassius and his father Green Clay indeed owned their fair share of horses. However, history tells us they preferred raising sheep instead of breeding race horses.

Sheep Reciept
Southdown Sheep Advertisement

Guest: What kind of sheep did they raise?

Tour Guide: Cassius M. Clay mentions in his Memoirs that Green Clay raised sheep, but does not state what kind. Cassius preferred the Southdown breed. Southdown sheep originated in the British Isles and have been raised in the Sussex Downlands for hundreds of years. Southdowns were most popular in the late 1700’s until around the first part of the twentieth century. Southdown sheep make good small or large flocks because they are docile and easy to handle. This type of sheep is also hardy and able to survive when other sheep would starve. 

In this display you will see a picture of Cassius with his sheep taken in the later part of the 19th century. We also have a copy of a newspaper advertisement for Clay’s Southdown sheep and a handwritten bill of sale referring to nine sheep that Cassius sold in 1889. The bill of sale reads:

I have this day sold and delivered to P.S. Barber of Bardstown Ky. Nine yearling ewes –Eartag “A. 202”- Do 108-159-248-188-106-171-131-9 ewes “A. S. Down Association Record” nos. in 3rd Vol. Not out yet. They are in lamb by my two year old Buck…from time of payment Aug. 3d to this 24th Sept. Inst. 1889.

Cassius M. Clay
White Hall
Madison Co. Ky.

Question: Was Cassius Clay an abolitionist or an emancipationist?

Let’s join a tour already in progress at White Hall and find out…

Tour Guide: Cassius M. Clay was, to say the least, a colorful and controversial figure in Kentucky history. His work in helping to build the Republican Party, his service as Minister to Russia during the administrations of Lincoln and Johnson, and his long fight against slavery as an emancipationist constitute an important and often neglected story. Do we have any questions so far?

Guest: Yes, I have one question. You called Clay an emancipationist. I’ve also read that he was an abolitionist. Do the two terms have the same meaning?

Tour Guide: That’s a very good question. Even though many people will use the two terms interchangeably, they are not the same. Cassius is often labeled as an abolitionist when, in truth, he was an emancipationist.

Guest: So what is the distinction between an abolitionist and an emancipationist?

Tour Guide: Well, for one thing, abolitionists were far more radical than emancipationists. Abolitionists wanted to end slavery immediately—no matter what the cost—even if it meant breaking the law (hence the underground railroad). Emancipationists wanted a gradual emancipation of the slaves and demanded a constitutional or legal ending to slavery. Cassius M. Clay’s plan of emancipation is best set forth in his own words. In a copy of his newspaper, The True American, we read about Clay’s plan for emancipation and a denial of the accusation that he was an agent of the northern abolitionists. 

The editorial, taken from an August 16, 1845 issue of Cassius M. Clay’s paper The True American, reads: “As my opponents notwithstanding my sickness, will not wait to hear my plan of emancipation, and seem determined to precipitate measures to extremity without giving me hearing, and as they insist upon branding me as an abolitionist—a name full of unknown and strange terrors and crime to the mass of our people—I will make a brief statement of my plan of emancipation. Although I regard slavery as opposed to natural right, I consider law, and its inviolate observance, in all cases whatever, as the only safeguards of my own liberty and the liberty of others. I therefore, have not given and will not give, my sanction to any mode of freeing slaves, which does not conform strictly to the Laws and Constitution of my state.” 

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White Hall State Historic Site
500 White Hall Shrine Road     Richmond, KY 40475-9159
Telephone: 859-623-9178               Fax 859-626-8489

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