Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Share and Retribution

Today's entry is from the New York Times, September, 29, 1861, written by an unidentified ardently pro Union man attacking the descendants of two of the country's most revered politicians, George Washington and Henry Clay.  These descendants were John A. Washington great nephew of George Washington and James B. Clay son of Henry Clay, both Confederates.

John A. Washington owned Mount Vernon and had sold it a couple of years prior to the outbreak of the war to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, thus saving it from a state of disrepair.  This group still oversees Mount Vernon today. Washington served as an aide-de-camp on the staff of General Robert E. Lee during the war.

James B. Clay was the son of Henry Clay.  The house that Clay originally built was deteriorating, so James B. Clay tore it down and built a new house, which still stands today.  James B. Clay also was  Kentuckian who sympathized with the Confederates, and was arrested and charged with treason.  He eventually ended up in Canada, where he died from tuberculosis.

JOHN A. WASHINGTON, as heir to the Father of his Country, became the owner of Mount Vernon, the spot of all others which the American people hold most sacred, for there lived and died the great WASHINGTON, and there his remains are entombed.

In Kentucky is another consecrated spot, a Mecca towards which the pilgrimages of American patriotism must always tend, for there lived HENRY CLAY, and there is his grave. His home, with its surroundings, and the tomb of the honored dead, passed into the hands of his son and heir, JAMES B. CLAY.

JOHN A. WASHINGTON made merchandise of his inheritance, speculating through its agency upon the patriotism of the American people, -- levying black mail upon their affection for the memory of his great ancestor! It was fit that such a man should be a traitor. Without treason against the Union, his mercenary soul would lack the rounded proportions of perfect degeneracy, and the dishonor and shame which he brought upon the name he bore would be incomplete. He therefore became a traitor.

JAMES B. CLAY tore away and bartered for money, even the beams of his father's house, fashioned into canes and snuff-boxes, making his slaves the vendors -- exacting from them a rigid accounting at night for their sale of the sacred relics during the day. It was fit that he, too, should be a traitor, that the gulf between his name and the fame of his illustrious father should be wide as eternity.

JOHN A. WASHINGTON was killed in an ignoble skirmish which his treason occasioned, but which even his cowardice could not enable him to shun.

JAMES B. CLAY, having been detected in his treason and arrested in his flight, is on his way to prison at Fort Lafayette, where he will remain to be pointed out among hundreds of other rebels as the man who was traitor to his name as well as to his country the least excusable and the meanest of them all.
John A Washington from

James B Clay from

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