Charlotte Dupuy

Charlotte “Lotty” Dupuy was born in Maryland around 1788. As a teenager, Charlotte was transported to Lexington, Kentucky, and labored in her enslavers tailor shop in downtown Lexington. While there, Charlotte met Aaron Dupuy. Aaron was enslaved by Henry Clay, who had hired him out to labor in a nail factory downtown. 

Charlotte married Aaron, and in 1806, to be with her husband, she convinced her enslaver to sell her to Henry Clay. Henry Clay paid $450 to buy Charlotte. In the Clay household, Charlotte labored as a cook, housekeeper, and caretaker to the family. She and Aaron had two children, Charles and Mary Anne.

In 1829, Charlotte brought a lawsuit against Henry Clay for her freedom and the freedom of her children. By this time, Henry Clay had been Secretary of State since 1825. Charlotte and her children had traveled with the Clays to Washington, D.C., and were living at Decatur House at the time of her lawsuit. Although Charlotte’s freedom suit went to trial, the court found that she and her children had no rightful claim to freedom. After losing her suit, Charlotte refused to return to Ashland and was jailed as a result. Clay later sent Charlotte to New Orleans, Louisiana to labor for his relatives. Charlotte was separated from her family for over three years. 

In 1840, Charlotte and her daughter Mary Ann were freed by Henry Clay. In 1844, Clay freed Charlotte’s son Charles. Charlotte’s husband Aaron was never freed by the Clays. The date of Charlotte’s death and the place where she is buried are unknown.

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