James Brown Clay
1817 – 1864
Who was James Brown Clay?
Born in Washington, D.C., while his father, Henry Clay, was serving in the United States Congress, James Brown Clay was named for the husband of his maternal aunt, James Brown. His brothers were Henry Clay, Jr. and John Morrison Clay. Clay attended a boys’ school associated with Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. Later, Clay attended Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. He worked at a countinghouse in Boston from 1832 to 1834 before studying law and being admitted to the bar. He practiced law with his father in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1843, Clay married Susan Maria Jacob, the daughter of Louisville's first millionaire and sister of its later mayor, Charles Donald Jacob. The couple eventually had ten children.
Clay served as Chargé d'Affaires to Portugal from August 1, 1849, to July 19, 1850. He farmed in Missouri in 1851 and 1852 before returning to Lexington. Clay had been a lifelong member of the Whig Party — the party of his father. But when the Whig Party disintegrated following Henry Clay’s death, James B. Clay joined the Democratic Party.
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