Tuesday, August 04, 2009

New Exhibit At White Hall State Historic Site Opens Aug. 20

White Hall State Historic Site will be unveiling a new exhibit that will highlight Abraham Lincoln memorabilia as well as the important role that enslaved African Americans played at the historic home.

White Hall served as the home of Cassius Marcellus Clay, an emancipationist who was a friend of Lincoln’s and served as his ambassador to Russia. The home near Richmond was built in 1798-99 and was renovated in the mid-1860s.

The new exhibit is funded from a grant from the Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. A ceremony opening the exhibit will be Aug. 20 at 10 a.m. at the site’s welcome center.

Among the items featured will be the document Lincoln signed appointing Clay ambassador, a page from Harpers Weekly about Lincoln as a candidate for president and a dress worn by Clay’s wife, Mary Jane Clay, which she wore when she was presented to the Czar of Russia. These items will be featured at the welcome center and the mansion.

The portion of the exhibit on the slaves, called “…Lest you forget my name,” will include excerpts from Clay’s father, Green Clay, on what was to be done with 105 slaves.

The exhibit features a tree with an outline of Africa at the base. Hanging from the tree's branches are torn pieces of paper with the Green Clay slaves listed on them--symbolizing the fact that these people were torn from their families.

The exhibit will also provide details of the life of one slave named Mary who lived at the estate and reportedly worked with Cassius Clay in the garden. The discovery of the foundation of a two-room outbuilding in 2006 spurred interest in the life of slaves at the home. White Hall is located in Richmond, off I-75 at exit 95.

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