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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Henry Clay Oak, Raleigh

  • Type

    Marker

  • Subjects

    Historic Political Figures

  • City

    Raleigh

  • County

    Wake

  • Description

    The marker consists of an unfinished granite block with an arched top and two bronze plaques. The upper plaque with the inscription denoting the spot Henry Clay wrote his famous “Raleigh Letter” has a serpentine shaped top and includes the symbol for the Daughters of the American Revolution. The lower plaque denotes the site as historic property.

    Images: Bronze plaques

  • Inscription

    Upper plaque: HENRY CLAY OAK / HENRY CLAY, ON A VISIT TO THIS CITY, WROTE / THE FAMOUS RALEIGH LETTER, APRIL 14, 1844, / OPPOSING THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS. MANY / AUTHORITIES BELIEVE THAT THIS STATEMENT / COST HIM THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1844. / ACCORDING TO TRADITION CLAY WROTE THE LETTER / WHILE SITTING UNDER THIS OAK TREE, IN THE YARD / OF COLONEL WILLIAM POLK, AT WHOSE HOME HE / WAS A GUEST. / ERECTED BY COLONEL POLK CHAPTER / D.A.R. / 1939

    Lower plaque: RALEIGH / HISTORIC PROPERTY / THE HENRY CLAY OAK / CIRCA 1650

  • Custodian

    City of Raleigh

  • Dedication Date

    1939

  • Decade

    1930s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.784670 , -78.636770 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Associated Press. "Raleigh to lose old oak tree," The Dispatch [Lexington, N.C.], September 25, 1991, (accessed November 10, 2015) Link

      Clay, Henry. Papers Volume 10. University of Kentucky Press, 1959, p. 41-46. [Clay's letter to the Editors of the Washington Daily National Intelligencer from Raleigh, April 17, 1844.]

      Morris, John. “Memorializing A Magnificent Oak And The Great Pacificator,” Goodnight Raleigh, http://goodnightraleigh.com/, (accessed November 11, 2015) Link

      Murray, Elizabeth Reid. 2006. "Henry Clay Oak," NCpedia.org, (accessed July 27, 2013) Link

      North Carolina State Department of Archives and History. The North Carolina Historical Review Volume XXXVI, No. 1 (January 1960). Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Historical Commission, 5, (accessed July 27, 2013) Link

      “Henry Clay Oak,” The Historical Maker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed November 11, 2015) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Bronze, granite

  • Sponsors

    Colonel Polk Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution

  • Subject Notes

    A Whig presidential candidate Henry Clay is claimed to have penned his famous "Raleigh letter," while sitting under an oak tree that once stood at this site. The letter supposedly cost him the presidential election of 1844. The widely read letter opposed annexation of Texas and predicted a war with Mexico. The tree, thought to be between 200 and 300 years old, was so diseased that it was destroyed on October 9, 1991.

  • Location

    The marker is located on the north side of East North Street just to the west of the intersection with North Blount Street. The marker is just off the sidewalk on the southwest corner of an empty lot where the William Polk House once stood. It is on the same side of the street and near the Andrews-Duncan House historic property located at 407 N. Blount Street but a photo from 1965 shows a house since removed between the marker and the Andrews-Duncan house.

  • Landscape

    The marker is located on the grass just off the sidewalk.

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