Henry Clay took an interest in politics at an early age, he enjoyed learning about the writing of Virginia’s leaders and enjoyed listening to many important men across the state making public speeches and meeting them. Clay was only four when his father died and a year later his mother remarried Henry Watkins. Watkins took a special interest in Henry’s bright mind and willingness to work. When the family in 1791 moved from Virginia to Kentucky, they felt Clay should stay in Virginia at the time. At the age of fourteen he stay in Virginia to continue his studies for a career in law. His stepfather asks for help from a friend Colonel Thomas Tinsley, who brother was a clerk of the Virginia High Court of Chancery in Richmond. With a little pressure from his stepfather, Henry was hired by the Chancery. Henry became well liked and gain the experience he needed. A vital part of his job was to record every word exactly as the lawyers read them to him, many of the documents were copied by hand numerous times for distribution, his meticulous handwriting was perfection. His hard work and perfection to detail did not go unnoticed, the chancellor George Wythe hired him (Wythe’s had arthritis in his hands & was looking for someone with Henry skills) as his private secretary. Wythe was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and for many years he had been a law professor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Wythe and Henry had many conversation about the state future. Wythe offered Henry books from his own library to help broaden his education. Whyte often invited Henry to dinners and parties where he met educated, wealthy, well-connected social leaders of Richmond. This help Henry polish his social skills, broaden his political views, and taught him to relax in any situation.
A few years later he left the Chancery and accepted a job to work for the Attorney General Robert Brooke, a Revolutionary War hero. He lived in Brooke home. Brooke also help Henry prepare for the bar exam. Henry passed and received his law license in 1797. Soon after he moved to Central Kentucky to be closer to family. He filed a request to practice law in Kentucky; he took the required oaths and received his license. Within a year he became an expert on solving land disputes, he was paid with land and horses. Resolving land disputes were very important to Kentucky economy. He also became a very skilled criminal attorney, he preferred defending the accused. Clay was very effective in the courtroom, with his deep voice, dramatic gestures and powers of persuasion. He paid very close attention to detail. His reputation grew as he won more and more cases. He also earned acceptance into the small circle of Kentucky’s finest lawyers.
His interest in politics stirred, he attended a rally against the Alien