Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Clay, and the Immigrant Family Who Educated Antebellum Kentucky
Drawing on newly translated materials and previously overlooked primary sources, Randolph Paul Runyon explores the life and times of the important but understudied pair in this intriguing dual biography. He illustrates how the Mentelles' origins and education gave them access to the higher strata of Bluegrass society even as their views on religion, politics, and culture kept them from feeling at home in America. They were intimates of statesman Henry Clay, and one of their daughters married into the Clay family, but like other immigrant families in the region, they struggled to survive.
Throughout, Runyon reveals the Mentelles as eloquent chroniclers of crucial moments in Ohio and Kentucky history, from the turn of the nineteenth century to the eve of the Civil War. They rankled at the baleful influence of conservative religion on the local college, the influence of whiskey on the local population, and the scandal of slavery in the land of liberty. This study sheds new light on the lives of a remarkable pair who not only bore witness to key events in early American history, but also had a singular impact on the lives of their friends, their students, and their community.
About the Author
"Randolph Runyon brings to life in The Mentelles the trials, tribulations and contributions of an exceptional French couple who emigrated to the United States in the early years of the republic. Previously the story of Charlotte and Waldemar Mentelle has been little more than a footnote in the lives of Kentucky luminaries such as Mary Todd Lincoln and Henry Clay. Now in a biography based on new material the story of the couple's emigration, their life first in Ohio, then in Kentucky adds to our understanding of many aspects of social history, especially that of education."—Jean H. Baker, author of Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography
"Runyon's work is an excellent social history in that it studies the impact of ordinary people on otherwise extraordinary ones."—Mark A. Neels, Journal of Southern History
Other Titles by Randolph Paul Runyon
Other Titles in HISTORY / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV)