Kentucky, state in the east central United States, bordering the Ohio River. Kentucky is one of four states that bear the name commonwealth, and its full title is the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky. Lexington-Fayette is the largest city, and Louisville is the center of the state’s largest metropolitan area.
Kentucky has had a rich and varied history since frontier times, when it was the haunt of Daniel Boone and other famous pioneers. Kentucky entered the Union on June 1, 1792, as the 15th state. Located on the border between the historical U.S. regions of the North and the South, the state officially remained in the Union during the American Civil War (1861-1865). But the state was a contested area, and a considerable number of its citizens fought with the Confederate army. Significantly, the key Civil War political figures of the Union and the Confederacy, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, were both born in Kentucky. Kentucky slowly recovered from the war, and in the remaining decades of the 19th century, its people began to develop the manufacturing sector of the state’s economy that remains its cornerstone today.
The name of the state is derived from a Cherokee name for the area south of the Ohio River. The early pioneers spelled the name in many ways, including “Kaintuckee” and “Cantuckey.” Its meaning is disputed, but some historians believe it means “meadowland.” The state’s official nickname is the Bluegrass State, which is derived from the famed bluegrass grown in pastures in central Kentucky. The grass, while green itself, has buds with a purplish-blue hue, which give pastures a bluish tint when seen from a distance. The nickname also recognizes the role that the Bluegrass region has played in Kentucky’s economy and history.
Kentucky is the 37th largest state in the Union, with an area of 104,659 sq km (40,409 sq mi), including 1,764 sq km (681 sq mi) of inland water. The state has a maximum extent, from east to west, of 679 km (422 mi) and a maximum dimension north to south of 293 km (182 mi). Because the state’s borders are in part formed by three rivers which often adjust their course, the state’s boundaries are somewhat indeterminate. The approximate mean elevation is 230 m (750 ft).
Kentucky includes portions of three major natural regions, or physiographic provinces, of the eastern United States: the Appalachian Plateaus, the Interior Low Plateau, and the Gulf Coastal Plain. Each of these three regions is part of a larger physiographic division. The Appalachian Plateaus are part of the Appalachian Region, or Appalachian Highland. The Interior Low Plateau is part of the Interior Plains, and the Gulf Coastal Plain is part of the Coastal Plain.
The Appalachian Plateaus, which cover eastern Kentucky, include parts of the Allegheny and the Cumberland plateaus. These plateaus, worn down by erosion, contain heavily forested ridges and narrow valleys. This region is sometimes called the Cumberlands. The term Cumberland Mountains is usually used to denote the high narrow mountain belt that forms part of the Kentucky state line and that is separated from the Cumberland Plateau by the Cumberland River Valley. This mountain belt, also called the Cumberland Front, includes several ranges and ridges, most of them less than about 900 m (about 3,000 ft) above sea level. Among them are the long ridge known as Cumberland Mountain and the Black Mountains, which rise to 1,263 m (4,145 ft) above sea level at Black Mountain, the highest point in the state.
The Cumberland Mountains are crossed by several gaps but only one major pass, Cumberland Gap, a narrow pass that reaches 500 m (1,650 ft) above sea level. North and west of the Cumberlands the mountains give way to the hilly rugged terrain of the Allegheny and Cumberland plateaus.
The Interior Low Plateau region can be subdivided into three main sections, the Lexington Plain section, the Shawnee section, and the Highland Rim section.
The Lexington Plain section covers the northeastern portion of this region. In Kentucky it is usually called the Bluegrass region, Bluegrass section, or simply the Bluegrass. This section, comprising about one-fifth of the state, is primarily a gently rolling plain from 240 to 300 m (800 to 1,000 ft) above sea level. The Inner Bluegrass, the very fertile central area lying in Bourbon, Fayette, Jessamine, and Woodford counties, is the most prosperous farming district in the state. It is encircled by relatively infertile hilly land, which in turn is encircled by the Outer Bluegrass, which closely resembles the Inner Bluegrass.
The Shawnee section, which in Kentucky is usually called the Western Coal Field, lies in the northwest. Much of it is made up of level or rolling plains from 180 to 240 m (600 to 800 ft) above sea level, with wooded ridges and rocky cliffs rising above the general level of the land, especially in the east. In the southeastern part of this section, which is underlain by limestone rock formations, is a district noted for its sinkholes and its numerous caves. The coal deposits of the Shawnee section are a continuation of those in adjoining Illinois and Indiana.
The Highland Rim section occupies the remainder of the Kentucky portion of the Interior Low Plateau. In the north it includes a narrow band of isolated coneshaped hills and knobby ridges, which rim the western, southern, and eastern edges of the Bluegrass region. The Knobs, as they are called, form a scenic but infertile area of shallow soils and bare rock outcrops. The remaining parts of the Highland Rim section are generally termed the Mississippian Plateau but are known locally as the Pennyroyal, or Pennyrile. The Pennyroyal has numerous underground caves, including Mammoth Cave, and sinkholes.
The Gulf Coastal Plain covers all of western Kentucky west of the Tennessee River. This region is an area of low rolling hills separated by broad, flat, often poorly drained lowlands. Along the Mississippi River is Kentucky’s lowest point, 78 m (257 ft) above sea level.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
Kentucky lies entirely within the drainage basin of the Mississippi River, which borders western Kentucky. All the major rivers in Kentucky eventually flow either northward or northwestward to the Ohio River, one of the major tributaries of the Mississippi River. The Ohio joins the Mississippi at the point where the state lines of Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri meet. Along the northern rim of Kentucky the state line follows the north bank of the Ohio River.
Within Kentucky are sections of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, two of the chief tributaries of the Ohio River. The Cumberland River flows through southeastern Kentucky before passing into Tennessee, re-entering Kentucky in the southwest prior to joining the Ohio. The other principal rivers in Kentucky are the Big Sandy, Licking, Kentucky, and Green rivers.
There are no large natural lakes in Kentucky. The largest lakes are reservoirs behind dams. Chief among these are Kentucky Lake, on the Tennessee River behind Kentucky Dam; Lake Barkley, behind Barkley Dam on the lower Cumberland River; Lake Cumberland, behind Wolf Creek Dam on the upper Cumberland River; and Buckhorn Lake, behind Buckhorn Dam on the middle fork of the Kentucky River. Other lakes include those behind the Rough River, Nolin, Barren River, and Green River dams, all of which are on the Green River or its tributaries. The oldest reservoir is Herrington on the Dix River, a branch of the Kentucky River.
The climate of Kentucky is characterized by warm or hot summers and cool winters. Throughout the year, temperatures do not vary greatly from place to place, although they are generally slightly lower in the Appalachian Plateaus region than elsewhere in the state. Average July temperatures are usually from 24° to 27°C (76° to 80°F) in the central and western areas and from 23° to 24°C (74° to 76°F) in the east. January averages range from below 1°C (34°F) in the northern Bluegrass region to more than 3°C (38°F) in parts of the south. Temperatures below freezing are common throughout the state during winter, although extended periods of very cold weather do not occur every year.
Precipitation is, for the most part, dependable and well distributed throughout the year. Precipitation ranges from less than 1,070 mm (42 in) in the northern Bluegrass region to more than 1,270 mm (50 in) in the extreme south.
The growing season, or period from the last killing frost in spring to the first killing frost in fall, varies from less than 180 days in the north and in the farming areas of the Appalachian Plateaus region to more than 210 days in the Mississippi River valley.
The most productive soils in the state are found in the Kentucky sections of the Mississippi and lower Ohio river valleys and in the famous Inner Bluegrass region. The soils of the river valleys are flood-deposited alluvial soils that are very fertile when drained. The Inner Bluegrass region, the most prosperous farming area in Kentucky, has red and yellow podzolic soils that were formed from phosphatic limestone. These deep fertile soils have a high content of minerals, especially phosphorus, and of organic matter.
The gray-brown soils, called inceptisols, of the Outer Bluegrass and of parts of the western Pennyroyal and the Western Coal Field have been made quite productive by the use of fertilizers and by the adoption of good soil management techniques. Generally poor soils are found in the eastern Pennyroyal, the Knobs, the land between the Inner Bluegrass and the Outer Bluegrass, and in nearly all of the Appalachian Plateaus region.
Before Kentucky was extensively settled, forests covered nearly all of the region. Forests now cover 50 percent of the state’s land area. However, much of the forest land is made up of second growth timber. Most of the forest lands in Kentucky include numerous species of trees. In the Appalachian Plateaus region the dominant species are the tulip poplar, or tulip tree (the official state tree), the American beech, white basswood, sweet buckeye, red oak, white oak, and sugar maple. The scarce Kentucky coffee tree (the official state tree until 1994) is also found here. The eastern hemlock is plentiful on the Cumberland and Allegheny plateaus and on the lower mountain slopes. Birches are common on the highest slopes. Pitch pines and other species of pine grow on sandy mountain slopes and ridges in the Cumberlands. White pines are now common, but are not native to the state.
In most of the areas to the west of the Appalachian Plateaus region the forests tend to be dominated primarily by species of oak, pine, gum, and hickory. In the limestone areas of the Highland Rim section and the Western Coal Field section there are extensive stands of redcedars and numerous pine oak barrens.
The patterns of plant life of the Bluegrass region and the Gulf Coastal Plain are distinctive. In the sparsely forested Bluegrass region the trees tend to be widely spaced and many stand amid rich pastures or croplands. These trees include the bur oak, sycamore, white oak, blue ash, white ash, hackberry, sugar maple, black walnut, Kentucky coffee tree, honey locust, and shagbark hickory. In the Gulf Coastal Plain the bald cypress occurs in the swamplands and the black willow, silver maple, river birch, and eastern cottonwood are common in stream valleys. Other trees that are found in the lowlands include the red maple, sweet gum, hackberry, swamp cottonwood, pecan, and sycamore.
Growing in the shade of large forest trees and in small forest clearings throughout much of the state are such colorful flowering shrubs and small trees as the redbud, dogwood, mountain laurel, azalea, rhododendron, holly, sassafras, and species of magnolia. In the spring the forests and woodlands are brightened by wildflowers, such as the bloodroot, bluebell, bird’s-foot, violet, dogtooth violet, rue anemone, and species of trillium, bellwort, and lady’s slipper. In the fall numerous areas, especially the open fields, are carpeted with species of goldenrod, which is the state flower, and of coreopsis, or tickseed, aster, ironweed, ageratum, lobelia, and ruellia. The pennyroyal is a small aromatic herb that grows abundantly in the Pennyroyal area, which is named for this plant.
Until the early part of the 19th century, large mammals were common in the Kentucky region. White-tailed deer and black bear are still found, although bears are very rarely seen. The red wolf was recently reintroduced to the western part of the state. Among the many small mammals found in the state are the red fox, gray fox, beaver, Virginia opossum, woodchuck, fox squirrel, red and gray squirrel, cottontail, mink, muskrat, skunk, and raccoon.
Among the great variety of resident birds found in Kentucky are the cardinal, which is the state bird, and the bluejay, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, crow, white-breasted nuthatch, several species of hawks, owls, woodpeckers, and sparrows. Common migratory birds include the catbird, brown thrasher, great crested flycatcher, slate-colored junco, golden-crowned kinglet, yellow-bellied sapsucker, cedar waxwing, and many species of warbler. Popular game birds include the bobwhite, woodcock, ring-necked pheasant, rock dove, wild turkey, and waterfowl.
Fish common to the lakes and rivers of Kentucky include the crappie, bluegill, largemouth black bass, smallmouth black bass, and catfish. In addition, muskellunge and rainbow trout have been introduced.
Reptiles found in Kentucky include a few poisonous snakes, such as the timber rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead, and many nonpoisonous species, such as the pilot black, bull, chicken, and king snakes. Other common reptiles include turtles and lizards.
Conservation programs in Kentucky are largely focused on flood control and soil conservation. Other programs, such as Kentucky Water Watch, seek to prevent water pollution and to preserve plantlife and wildlife resources. Federal agencies that administer conservation programs in Kentucky include the United States Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Park Service, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The major state agency active in conservation is the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.
In 2006 the state had 14 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list due to their severity or proximity to people. Progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; in the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 21 percent.
In the early 1970s nearly three-quarters of Kentucky’s rivers and streams were polluted enough to prohibit drinking and many other uses. Attempts to control pollution sources have met with some success in cleaning Kentucky’s waterways. However, in the mid-1990s more than one-quarter of monitored waters were still impaired by pollution. Runoff pollution from farms, urban areas, and abandoned mines poses some of the most widespread water quality problems. Air quality also has been improving. Only the Louisville metropolitan region had days in which federal air quality standards for ozone were exceeded in the mid-1990s. Regulatory reforms passed in the early 1990s have led to the closure of a number of substandard solid waste landfills, and all counties have garbage collection ordinances. However, some of these are voluntary programs, so a problem of illegal trash dumping continues.
Until the 20th century, farming was the main source of income in Kentucky, and manufacturing was limited largely to processing agricultural commodities and timber resources. A shift toward manufacturing began in the 1930s and increased markedly after 1945. The state’s success in attracting new industries was in part due to the abundance of coal and the availability of low-cost hydroelectricity. In the late 1990s manufacturing was Kentucky’s dominant economic activity, followed by the service, government, and financial sectors.
Kentucky had a workforce of 2,039,000 in 2006. The biggest share of them, 33 percent, were employed in the diverse services sector doing such jobs as working in restaurants or computer programming. Another 20 percent worked in wholesale or retail trade; 18 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 13 percent in manufacturing; 3 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; 5 percent in construction; 21 percent in transportation or public utilities; 15 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; and 1 percent in mining. In 2005, 10 percent of Kentucky’s workers were unionized.
There were 84,000 farms in Kentucky in 2005, the fourth largest number among the states, after Texas, Missouri, and Iowa. Some 37 percent of farms had annual income of more than $10,000. Many of the rest were sidelines for operators who held other jobs. In 2005 farmland covered 5.6 million hectares (13.8 million acres). Some 61 percent of the farmland was devoted to crops, while much of the remainder was used as pasture for grazing cattle or horses. Many farms kept a portion of their land in woodlots.
Tobacco is the leading source of crop income. Kentucky ranks second among the states, after North Carolina, in the production of tobacco and usually accounts for one-quarter of the annual U.S. tobacco crop. Tobacco is grown throughout Kentucky, but the greater part of the harvest comes from the Bluegrass region and the Pennyroyal. The principal types of tobacco grown in Kentucky are burley and dark leaf.
Kentucky’s other important cash crops are corn and soybeans, which are grown mainly in the western part of the state, and hay, particularly in the central part of the state. Wheat and forest products are also significant sources of farm income.
Cattle and calves, the most valuable type of livestock in the farm economy, are raised throughout the state. Production of beef cattle is concentrated mainly in the Bluegrass and Pennyroyal areas, which have the best pasturelands in the state. The Bluegrass area is best known, however, for its Thoroughbred horses. Horse breeding, a valuable component in Kentucky’s farming sector, is concentrated in the Inner Bluegrass region in the vicinity of Lexington. Hogs are raised in many areas of central and western Kentucky but are most numerous in the Western Coal Field and adjoining sections of the Pennyroyal. Sheep are grazed on the rich pasturelands of the Bluegrass region.
Lumbering, although no longer the major economic activity it was in the 19th century, is still important in eastern Kentucky. Most of the timber cut is hardwood, much of it oak. Beech, yellow poplar, and pine are also commercially important. Most of the forest lands are privately owned and are divided into small farm woodlots.
Bituminous coal, by far the most valuable mineral produced in Kentucky, accounted for four-fifths of the state’s total mineral production, by value, in the late 1990s. Other valuable minerals produced are natural gas, oil, crushed stone, lime, cement, clays, and gemstones.
In 1997 Kentucky ranked third among the states in quantity of bituminous coal produced, behind Wyoming and West Virginia. Coal is mined in Kentucky’s Eastern Coal Field and Western Coal Field. The eastern field is larger and contains a better quality coal, and consequently is the source of the largest share of production. While some surface, or strip, mining is done, most coal comes from a few, very large underground mines.
Oil deposits underlie much of both coalfield areas and also the southern part of the Pennyroyal. The leading oil-producing areas are Union, Henderson, Daviess, Hopkins, and Webster counties in the western part of the Western Coal Field and Lee County on the Cumberland Plateau. Most of the state’s output of natural gas comes from gas fields in the easternmost part of the Appalachian Plateaus region.
Crushed stone, lime, and portland cement were the top nonfuel minerals by value of production in 1997. Stone, sand, and gravel are produced throughout the state. The production of lime, used as the binding agent in cement and concrete, is centered in the north of the state. Clays are produced in the Gulf Coastal Plain, where there are high-grade clays suitable for pottery making, and in the northern part of the Appalachian Plateaus region, where fireclays for use in blast furnaces are mined. Kentucky consistently ranks among the top states in the production of gemstones.
The metals and metal-related industries dominated Kentucky’s manufacturing in the late 1990s. The largest employers are the automotive and home appliance industries. The manufacture of automobiles and parts for the automotive industry accounted for nearly one-fourth of all the value added by Kentucky’s industries in 1996. Other leading manufactures include the making of chemicals, including chemicals for use by other industries, paints, plastics and resins, and adhesives; and the manufactures of industrial machinery, including heating and cooling equipment, computer peripheral equipment, conveyors, trucks and tractors used by industry, and air compressors. Other industries contributing significantly to the state’s economy are food processing; printing and publishing; and the manufacture of electronic devices. The Louisville metropolitan area constitutes by far the state’s most important industrial center.
Beverages account for nearly one-fourth of the income generated by food-processing industries located in the state. The single most important beverage produced is bourbon, a whiskey that has been called Kentucky’s most distinctive product. Kentucky produces more whiskey than any other state. Whiskey distilling is carried on in many places, but the principal center is the Louisville area. Other centers are Owensboro, Frankfort, Lawrenceburg, and Bardstown.
Machinery and electrical equipment, including farm and textile machinery, transportation equipment, especially automobiles, and radio, electronic, and X-ray equipment, are manufactured in the Louisville area and in Covington, Lexington, Paducah, Owensboro, Georgetown, and Bowling Green. Ashland is an important center for heavy industry, particularly the manufacture of steel, coke, chemicals, oil products, and bricks. The manufacture of cigarettes and other tobacco products is concentrated in the Louisville area. This area makes much of the state’s metal products and chemicals. It is also the chief publishing and printing center.
Kentucky’s extensive coal reserves and abundant water supply provide the state with excellent resources for the generation of electricity. Thermal plants, fueled almost exclusively by coal, generated 97 percent of the electricity in 2005.
Most of the electricity generated in the state is produced at publicly owned power plants, which include those operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Some 3 percent of electricity was produced at a number of hydroelectric generating stations in the state. Among the largest such stations are those at dams on the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee and Dix rivers.
Kentucky’s first major transportation routes were formed by part of the famous Wilderness Road and by the Ohio River valley. These routes were used by migrants traveling westward to Kentucky and beyond the Mississippi River. They also served as trade routes for commerce between Kentucky and the states on the Atlantic seaboard.
After the Civil War, the construction of numerous railroad lines gave the state an excellent transportation system. This system provided the state with its most widespread network of routes until the great increase in the use of the automobile and truck began in the 1920s. Western and central Kentucky have excellent transportation facilities, and the eastern part of the state has acquired adequate facilities. Louisville is the principal transportation center in Kentucky.
Kentucky is served by an extensive highway network that includes the state turnpike system, other state highways, federal interstate highways, and U.S. highways. In 2005 Kentucky had 125,561 km (78,020 mi) of roads, including 1,226 km (762 mi) of federal interstate highway.
Railroads provide freight service to most of the state’s major urban and industrial centers. Western and central Kentucky are well served by a relatively dense network of railroad lines. Several railroad lines cross Kentucky from north to south, but no one line crosses the state from east to west. In 2004 Kentucky had 4,249 km (2,640 mi) of railroad track. Coal accounted for 76 percent of the tonnage of goods shipped by rail and originating in the state in 2004.
Waterways still play a major role in the movement of bulk goods between Kentucky and other states. The Ohio River is the most important waterway. The state’s principal ports, all of them on the Ohio, are Louisville, Covington, Paducah, Owensboro, and Ashland.
The major cities of Kentucky are all served by airports and feeder lines link most of the urban centers within the state. Kentucky had 6 airports in 2007, many of which were private airfields. Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Louisville International Airport in Louisville, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport near Covington were the state’s busiest.
Louisville is by far the leading wholesale and retail trade center located in the state. However, much of Kentucky’s wholesale trade is centered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Together, Louisville and Cincinnati supply most of the retail businesses in Kentucky. Other important retail trade centers in the state, in addition to Louisville, are Lexington, Owensboro, Paducah, Ashland, and Covington.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF KENTUCKY|
According to the 2000 census, Kentucky ranked 25th among the states, with a population of 4,041,769. This figure represents an increase of 9.7 percent over the 1990 census figure of 3,685,296. Kentucky’s average population density in 2006 was 41 persons per sq km (106 per sq mi); considerably higher densities occurred in the north central and western parts of the state.
Whites comprised the largest share of the population in 2000, with 90.1 percent of the people. Blacks were 7.3 percent of the population; Asians were 0.7 percent, Native Americans were 0.2 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 1.6 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 1,460. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 1.5 percent of the people.
In the 1960s Kentucky’s population became predominantly urban for the first time. By 2000 some 56 percent of the population lived in urban areas, compared with 45 percent in 1960. The decline in rural population and growth of urban areas have been constant since the 1940s. These shifts in population have been largely a result of people moving from rural to urban areas in search of better employment. In addition, there has been an outflow of people, especially from eastern Kentucky, to urban and industrial centers in other states.
Louisville, home to the Kentucky Derby horse race and many of Kentucky’s industries, is the center of a metropolitan region that extends into Indiana. The city itself had a population of 248,762 in 2003. The Louisville metropolitan area, which comprised Jefferson, Bullitt, and Oldham counties in Kentucky and Clark, Floyd, Harrison, and Scott counties in Indiana, had 1,222,216 inhabitants in 2006. In the heart of the Bluegrass region, Lexington-Fayette had 268,080 inhabitants in 2005. The metropolitan area had a population of 436,684. It extends over Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Jessamine, Madison, Scott, and Woodford counties. Owensboro had 55,459 residents. Covington, with a population of 42,811, and the adjoining city of Newport, which had a population of 15,911, formed part of the metropolitan area of Cincinnati, Ohio. Other major cities in Kentucky are Bowling Green, Hopkinsville, Paducah, Henderson, and Ashland. Frankfort, the state capital, had a population of 27,210 in 2005.
During the 1780s, churches were organized in the Kentucky region by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. By 1792, when Kentucky was admitted to the Union, there were more than 40 churches there. However, membership in these churches totaled only about 3,100, out of a total population for the state of more than 73,000.
In 1797 a great religious revival began in Logan County under the leadership of James McGready, a Presbyterian minister from South Carolina. This revivalist movement spread rapidly throughout Kentucky and the surrounding area. Out of the revivalist gatherings of this period developed the camp meeting, a great outdoor evangelical meeting (see Revivals, Religious). For decades the camp meeting was a popular social, as well as religious, function in Kentucky and other nearby areas. In the early 19th century a group of Shakers, a Protestant sect, was attracted to Kentucky by the revivalist movement, although it was not a part of it. The Shakers settled at Shakertown, or Pleasant Hill, and South Union. The Shakertown settlement lasted until the early decades of the 20th century.
Kentucky has remained a predominantly Protestant state. The Baptists are by far the most numerous of the Protestant denominations, representing about two-fifths of church members, followed by the Methodists and the Disciples of Christ. Members of the Roman Catholic church are numerous in Kentucky, with about one-sixth of all church members. There are also small Jewish congregations in the state, most of them in Louisville and Lexington.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
The first Kentucky school was opened at Harrodsburg in 1775 by Mrs. William Coomes, a pioneer schoolteacher. Many private schools were founded in the Kentucky region during the 1780s and 1790s. More than 50 county academies, all of them short-lived, were established between 1794 and 1820 with endowments of land granted by the state. The first attempts to organize a statewide educational system failed, although a state law providing for public schools was passed in 1838. In 1847, Robert J. Breckinridge was appointed state superintendent of public instruction. As a result of his efforts, provision was made in the state constitution of 1850 for the establishment of a public school system. The development of the system was interrupted by the American Civil War (1861-1865) and later was hampered by lack of funds. With an increase in state aid in 1908 and codification of the school laws in 1934 an efficient statewide school system became a reality. To equalize educational opportunities, an amendment to the state constitution in 1953 permitted distribution of school funds to counties on the basis of need, as well as population.
School attendance in Kentucky is compulsory for all children from the ages of 6 to 16, and children must have parent or guardian approval to leave school between ages 16 and 18. For many years separate schools were maintained for white and black students, but after 1954, integration of the schools proceeded with little opposition. Some 12 percent of Kentucky’s children attend private schools.
In the 2002–2003 school year Kentucky spent $7,012 on each student’s education, compared to the national average of $ 9,299. There were 16.1 students per teacher (the national average was 15.9). Of those people older than 25 years of age in the state in 2006, 80 percent had a high school diploma, compared to a national norm of 84 percent.
In 2004–2005 Kentucky had 31 public and 45 private institutions of higher education. Transylvania University, in Lexington, is the oldest institution of higher education west of the Allegheny Mountains. Chartered in 1780, it was opened near Danville in 1783 as Transylvania Seminary and later was moved to Lexington. Other long-established schools in the state are Georgetown College; the University of Louisville; the University of Kentucky, in Lexington; and Kentucky State University, in Frankfort. Other institutions in the state include Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond; Western Kentucky University, in Bowling Green; Morehead State University, in Morehead; Murray State University, in Murray; Northern Kentucky University, in Highland Heights; Berea College, in Berea; and Centre College, in Danville.
There are 116 tax-supported public library systems in Kentucky. Each year the libraries circulate an average of 5.4 books for every resident. The largest public library is the Louisville Free Public Library, which is noted for its extensive computer resources and other service programs. The Lexington Public Library, which was founded in 1795, houses an outstanding collection of early Kentucky newspapers. Notable college libraries include those of the University of Kentucky, Berea College, the University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University, and Western Kentucky University. Transylvania University has a noted collection of books on medicine and natural history. Among the special libraries in Kentucky are those of the Filson Club Historical Society in Louisville and of the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, both of which include fine collections of Kentuckiana. The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, near New Haven, houses a noted collection of Roman Catholic literature, available to scholars by appointment.
The Speed Art Museum, in Louisville, is noted for exhibits of European art, Native American artifacts, and Kentucky art. Other noted art museums include the University of Kentucky Art Museum and the Allen R. Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville. Bardstown is the site of the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. The Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia is in Elizabethtown, and the National Corvette Museum is in Bowling Green. In Louisville is the Kentucky Derby Museum. There is also the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington. The United States Army maintains Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor at Fort Knox.
There were 21 daily newspapers published in Kentucky in 2002. The state’s first newspaper was the Kentucky Gazette, founded in Lexington in 1787. The Louisville Courier-Journal was formed in 1868 by the merger of the Journal, the Courier, and the Democrat. Under the editorship of Henry Watterson it became one of the leading Southern newspapers. It now has a larger circulation than any other daily newspaper in the state. Among other major Kentucky dailies are the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Covington Kentucky Post, the Frankfort State Journal, the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, and the Paducah Sun.
The first commercial radio station in Kentucky, WHAS, began broadcasting in Louisville in 1922. WAVE-TV, the first television station in the state, commenced operations in the same city in 1948. In 2002 there were 96 AM and 120 FM radio stations and 31 television stations serving Kentucky.
|E||Music and Theater|
Much of the nation’s treasury of folk music has come from the mountains of eastern Kentucky, where traditional English, Scots, and Irish ballads have been handed down for generations and where many indigenous American folk songs have evolved.
Louisville supports a symphony orchestra that is noted for having its own recording label. In addition, community concert programs are held regularly in Lexington and Louisville. The Actors Theatre of Louisville was designated the state theater in 1974. There are many active little-theater groups in the state, including those at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
Facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and other forms of outdoor recreation are found throughout the state, especially in the various units of the state park system. Many of these units lie on rivers, lakes, or reservoirs and are popular areas for swimming, boating, fishing, and water-skiing. Hunting and fishing are two very popular pastimes. The Kentucky countryside, noted for its scenic diversity, is considered one of the state’s principal tourist attractions. In addition, Kentucky is noted for its numerous places of historical interest.
The four units administered by the National Park Service are among the state’s most popular attractions. The underground passages of Mammoth Cave National Park are still being mapped by explorers. Mammoth Cave itself is a series of limestone chambers and narrow passages on five separate levels. It connects with two other cave systems that together extend 560 km (348 mi), making it the longest explored cave system in the world. In this vast subterranean world are giant vertical shafts, including the towering Mammoth Dome. Some passages and rooms are decorated with sparkling white gypsum crystals, while others are fitted with the sculpted shapes of stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations. Underground rivers, with names like Echo River and the River Styx, flow through Mammoth’s deepest chambers.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, located near Hodgenville, includes a 19th-century log cabin representing the home in which Lincoln might have been born. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park was established in 1940 to preserve the historical Cumberland Gap area, a route through the Appalachian Mountains used by pioneers to enter the Kentucky territory. A portion of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on the Cumberland River is located in southeastern Kentucky. The free-flowing river passes through scenic gorges and valleys containing a variety of natural features.
Daniel Boone National Forest covers 271,000 hectares (670,000 acres) of the Appalachian Plateaus region of Kentucky. The forest, a relatively narrow ribbon of land, extends across the region from the Tennessee state line to within about 30 km (about 20 mi) of the Ohio state line. Within the forest is the Red River Gorge, a protected geological area. Kentucky also contains a small section of Jefferson National Forest, most of which is in Virginia.
Kentucky maintains a widespread system of 50 state parks, 17 of which are resort parks. The Pennyrile Forest State Park is located south of Dawson Springs. Grouped around the vast Kentucky Lake, which lies on the Tennessee River behind Kentucky Dam, are Kenlake and Kentucky Dam Village state resort parks. Situated in the western part of the state, both of these state parks provide excellent facilities for fishing and water sports. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest, is on the Cumberland River. The Cumberland Falls, the park’s principal attraction, are 38 m (125 ft) wide and have a drop of 21 m (68 ft). They are known for their moonbow, a rainbow that forms at full moon in the mist over the falls. In Natural Bridge State Resort Park, which is also surrounded by the national forest, is a spectacular, natural stone arch. The Kentucky Horse Park at Lexington features a great variety of horses and international competition.
In addition, there are units of the park system that are noted for their historic associations. Jefferson Davis Monument State Historic Site, at Fairview, in southwestern Kentucky, commemorates the birthplace of Jefferson Davis, who served as the only president of the Confederacy. John James Audubon State Park, near Henderson, in northwestern Kentucky, is named for the famous 19th-century naturalist and artist John James Audubon, who lived and worked in Henderson. In the park are a bird sanctuary and a museum that houses some of Audubon’s famous works.
At Bardstown, about 50 km (about 30 mi) southeast of Louisville, is My Old Kentucky Home State Park, one of the state’s most famous landmarks. The park preserves Federal Hill, the mansion where, according to tradition, Stephen Foster was inspired to write the famous song for which the shrine is named. This song is now the state song of Kentucky.
Old Fort Harrod State Park, at Harrodsburg, commemorates the first permanent white settlement in Kentucky. It includes a reconstruction of the original Fort Harrod, which was built in 1775, the year after the first settlers arrived. The site of a settlement organized by Daniel Boone is in Fort Boonesborough State Park. In Levi Jackson State Park, near London, in southeastern Kentucky, are reproductions of pioneer buildings. Two other units, Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, in central Kentucky, and Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, northeast of Lexington, commemorate the bloodiest battles that occurred in Kentucky during the Civil War and the American Revolution (1775-1783). Other state park units include Columbus-Belmont Battlefield State Park, which marks the site of a Civil War engagement; Dr. Thomas Walker State Historic Site, which is dedicated to the first white person to discover the Cumberland Gap; and William Whitley House State Historic Site, in which is preserved what is said to be the first brick house built west of the Allegheny Mountains. The house, which has been restored, was completed in 1794.
There are six state forests, which cover a total area of about 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres). The largest is Pennyrile State Forest, which covers 6,260 hectares (15,470 acres). The others are Dewey Lake Forest and Kentenia, Kentucky Ridge, Tygart, and Olympia state forests.
|E||Other Places to Visit|
Among the state’s most interesting places to visit are the houses associated with famous Kentuckians. Ashland, in Lexington, was the home and estate of the noted statesman Henry Clay. Also in Lexington are the childhood home of Mary Todd, who became the wife of Abraham Lincoln, and the home of John Hunt Morgan, a famous Confederate cavalry officer.
About 30 km (about 20 mi) southwest of Lexington is the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, a restored community that was founded in about 1805 by members of a religious society known as Shakers. Also in the Lexington area are the famous horse farms of the Bluegrass region. Many of the farms are open to visitors. In a cemetery at Frankfort, the state capital, are the graves of the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone and his wife, Rebecca. Near Louisville is the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, where Zachary Taylor, 12th president of the United States, and members of his family are buried. Taylor, although born in Virginia, grew up in Kentucky on a farm his father bought after the American Revolution. The Lincoln Heritage Trail, which traces sites associated with Lincoln through Illinois and Indiana, begins near Hodgenville.
Horse races are held at several racetracks in Kentucky almost continuously from spring to fall. The most famous horse race, which is also Kentucky’s best-known annual event, is the Kentucky Derby. Held the first Saturday in May, the derby is a race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, and has been held annually at Louisville’s Churchill Downs since 1875. It is part of the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival. Horse shows are common in Kentucky during the summer months and are often combined with county fairs. The Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen’s Fair, in Berea, is held in May. The Festival of the Bluegrass is held in Lexington in June. In July a Shaker festival is held at Auburn. The Kentucky State Fair is held at Louisville in August. In October the Daniel Boone Festival is held at Barbourville and the Allen County Singing Convention meets at Scottsville.
The present constitution of Kentucky was adopted in 1891. It is the state’s fourth constitution, succeeding documents adopted in 1792, 1800, and 1850. To become law, proposed amendments to the constitution must be approved by at least three-fifths of the elected membership of each house of the state legislature and then must be approved by a popular majority in a statewide election. The constitution may also be revised by constitutional convention.
The governor, the chief executive officer of Kentucky, is elected to a four-year term. The governor may veto proposed legislation, but the state legislature can override a veto by a majority vote of the elected membership of each of its two houses. The governor appoints the adjutant general, the chief administrator, and leaders of the state’s 13 cabinets.
In addition to the governor, state officials elected to office include the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor of public accounts, commissioner of agriculture, and the three members of the Kentucky railroad commission. All are elected for four years and cannot succeed themselves.
The Kentucky state legislature, called the General Assembly, is made up of a 38-member Senate and a 100-member House of Representatives. State senators are elected to four-year terms and state representatives to two-year terms. The General Assembly convenes at Frankfort on the Tuesday after the first Monday in January in even-numbered years. Regular sessions are limited to 60 legislative days. In addition, the governor is empowered to call special sessions.
Kentucky’s supreme court is the highest court in the state. It consists of seven justices, each of whom is elected to an eight-year term from one of the state’s supreme court districts. The chief justice is elected by the other justices for a term of four years. The clerk of the supreme court is elected by the voters of Kentucky and serves a four-year term. The next highest court is the court of appeals, with a chief justice and 13 associate justices, all elected to eight-year terms. Below the court of appeals are the circuit courts. The circuit court judges are also elected for terms of eight years. Below the circuit courts are the district courts. Judges of the district courts are elected for terms of four years.
As in a number of other Southern and border states, county government in Kentucky is largely the responsibility of the local judiciary. The chief governing body in each of the 120 counties is called the fiscal court. It is made up of either the county judge and justices of the peace elected in magisterial districts within the county or of the county judge and a board of three commissioners who are elected for four-year terms. The county judge serves as the chief executive officer in each county. Other county officials elected on a countywide basis are the county attorney, sheriff, coroner, clerk of the county court, county clerk, and tax commissioner.
Most of the municipalities in Kentucky have the mayor and city council form of government. However, some of the municipalities in the state are governed by a commission or by a council and city manager.
Kentucky voters elect six members to the U. S. House of Representatives and two members to the U.S. Senate. The state has eight electoral votes in presidential elections.
In ancient times, several different Native American cultures flourished in Kentucky. Nomadic hunters, whose culture is called Paleo-Indian by archaeologists, were present as early as 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Divided into small bands, they ranged widely over the land, hunting many now-extinct animals. In the later Archaic culture, from about 10,000 to 3,000 years ago, woven baskets and highly specialized stone tools abounded. The Adena era, beginning about 3,000 years ago, was marked by the practice of horticulture, mound building, and the making of clay pottery. Remains of later Mound Builders cultures, the Hopewell and Mississippian, are found in the west along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
The number of mounds and dwelling sites found in Kentucky suggests that it once had a sizable Native American population. However, most permanent residents were gone by the time the first European explorers arrived in the 17th century. Warfare was one reason for the depopulation; another may have been the spread of new diseases, introduced to the continent from Europe, to which the Native Americans had no immunity. The only peoples living within the present state borders at that time were a few Shawnee, Iroquois, and Delaware. Around 1700 the Shawnee were pushed north of the Ohio River by the Chickasaw people, who then claimed western Kentucky as a hunting ground but did not settle it. Other peoples claimed hunting rights in Kentucky and defended them vigorously against white encroachment. The early white explorers and settlers were subject to Native American raids, mainly from across the Ohio River, until after the American Revolution.
In the early 1670s the English sent explorers westward from their colony of Virginia across the Appalachian Mountains. At least one of these explorers, Gabriel Arthur, entered Kentucky in 1674. Although the French had no particular interest in Kentucky at the time, it was part of the vast Mississippi River drainage basin, which the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, claimed for France in 1682. However, neither the French nor the English made any efforts to explore Kentucky extensively for more than 50 years.
|C||The 18th Century|
In the early decades of the 18th century, France and Great Britain (a union of three countries headed by England) vied for control of the strategic valley of the Ohio River. To strengthen the British position, officials in Virginia granted large tracts of land west of the Appalachians to newly organized land settlement companies. Virginia did not actually own the land it was granting, which few whites had ever seen. Virginia could only grant the rights to explore, trade, use economic resources, and occupy land not already occupied. The grants were not good against the Native Americans’ rights to the lands they lived on; if whites wanted to own the land, they had to buy it. Furthermore, France, on the basis of La Salle’s claim, denied that Virginia had any rights at all west of the Appalachians.
The Virginia companies dispatched explorers to survey their acquisitions. One of these explorers, Thomas Walker of the Loyal Land Company, in 1750 found a pass through the Cumberland Mountains (a part of the Appalachians), which was given the name Cumberland Gap and which later became the main land route for settlers coming from the Atlantic Seaboard. The next year, Christopher Gist of the Ohio Company made his way down the Ohio Valley and explored much of northern Kentucky. However, the land companies failed to attract settlers, largely because of the French and Indian War, which broke out in 1754 between Britain and France. The immediate cause of that war was a clash between the powers over the same disputed border, the Appalachian Mountains.
In 1763 the French and Indian War was concluded by a treaty that gave Great Britain all the territory east of the Mississippi, including what is now Kentucky. About the same time, the Native American raids temporarily subsided. These developments prompted a number of “long hunters,” so called because of their extended hunting trips, to venture into the vast western region that included Kentucky. One long hunter was Daniel Boone of North Carolina, probably the most famous early American frontier adventurer. Boone made his first trip into Kentucky in the winter of 1767 and 1768 to hunt and trap and also to find a route to the fertile Bluegrass region of central and northern Kentucky, which he had heard about from a man who had been there. However, he failed to penetrate beyond the Cumberlands. Later, in the spring of 1769, Boone passed through Cumberland Gap. He then followed a Native American path, known as the Warriors’ Path, northward to the Bluegrass region. Later, Boone ranged over much of central and eastern Kentucky, hunting and exploring until 1771.
Surveyors, land speculators, and settlers followed the long hunters into Kentucky. In the spring of 1774 James Harrod, accompanied by a small group of settlers, established Harrodstown (now Harrodsburg), the first permanent white settlement in Kentucky. Fort Harrod was built near Harrodstown in 1775. In the same year, Judge Richard Henderson of North Carolina, head of the Transylvania Company, engaged Daniel Boone to supervise the cutting of a trail to the Bluegrass region and establish a settlement there. Following in part the old Warriors’ Path, Boone blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap and on into central Kentucky. The trail, known as Boone’s Trace, was later widened to form a leg of the famous Wilderness Road from western Virginia to central Kentucky.
At the end of his trail, Boone established a settlement, later known as Boonesborough, on the Kentucky River about 72 km (45 mi) east of Harrodstown. Soon other settlements were established in the Bluegrass region and, together with Harrodstown and Boonesborough, began to attract settlers from other colonies.
At this time white settlement west of the mountains without the agreement of the Native Americans was forbidden by proclamation of Britain’s king. Harrod’s party ignored the proclamation. Henderson’s company, however, made a treaty with the Cherokee people, securing control of 6.88 million hectares (17 million acres). The Virginia legislature later reduced this to 80,900 hectares (200,000 acres).
In May 1775 Henderson called together at Boonesborough representatives from the various Kentucky settlements. They passed laws, drafted articles vesting governmental power in the Transylvania Company, and petitioned the Continental Congress for recognition of a colony, called Transylvania, that would encompass all the Kentucky settlements and would have status equal to that of the other 13 colonies. Congress, however, ignored the petition.
Many Kentucky settlers opposed the establishment of an independent colony. Meeting in Harrodstown in June 1776, they dispatched George Rogers Clark and John Gabriel Jones to the Virginia legislature at Williamsburg. Mainly as a result of the influence of Clark and Jones, the legislature declared the Transylvania Company illegal and designated Kentucky a county of Virginia.
|C5||The American Revolution|
During the American Revolution (1775-1783), the British incited their Native American allies to attack the settlements of the Kentuckians. The most massive attack was by the Shawnee against Boonesborough in September 1778. Although heavily outnumbered, the Boonesborough defenders, under Boone’s leadership, managed to repulse the attackers. Meanwhile, Clark, who had become a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia militia, had embarked on a campaign to wrest control of the territory north of the Ohio River from the British.
British forces made two major forays into Kentucky in the latter part of the revolution. In 1780 British troops and Native Americans captured several outposts on the Licking River but failed to press their advantage. In 1782 the entry of another force of British and Native Americans into that region produced Kentucky’s last and bloodiest battle of the war, which took place at Blue Licks. The Kentuckians lost that battle, but the Native Americans retreated and never again mounted a serious assault on Kentucky settlements.
After the revolution, thousands of settlers from the East migrated to Kentucky, venturing down the Ohio River or across the Cumberlands by way of the Wilderness Road. By 1790 the region had a population of more than 73,000. As the number of settlers grew, there were increased demands for separation from Virginia. From 1784 to 1790, nine conventions were held at Danville to resolve issues related to separation. Finally, at the ninth convention, the delegates voted to accept the terms of separation offered by Virginia and petitioned the Congress of the United States for statehood. At a final convention in 1792, a state constitution was drafted. On June 1, 1792, Kentucky entered the federal Union as the 15th state and the first west of the Appalachians. Isaac Shelby was elected as the state’s first governor. Lexington was briefly the seat of state government until, later that year, Frankfort was designated the permanent state capital.
In the period following the achievement of statehood, Kentuckians were among the most vigorous advocates of the so-called frontier point of view, which was characteristically democratic, antiprivilege, and anti-British. Kentucky’s second state constitution, which became effective in 1800, provided for the election of the state governor and members of the state senate by direct popular vote, rather than by a state electoral college as the first constitution had stipulated. This provision and other features of Kentucky’s constitution were later used as models by a number of other new states.
|D||The 19th Century|
In the early years of the 19th century, Kentuckians shared the particularly strong anti-British feeling that was prevalent along the Western frontier. As United States-British relations became increasingly strained, Kentuckians, most notably U.S. Congressman Henry Clay, became ardent advocates of war against Britain. During the subsequent War of 1812 (1812-1815), Kentucky contributed more than its quota of soldiers to the U.S. military forces.
Politically the state played an important role in national affairs, with Clay three times a presidential candidate, Richard M. Johnson a vice president, and numerous others serving as Cabinet officers or congressional leaders.
The last Native American claims to Kentucky lands were eliminated in 1818 with what is called the Jackson Purchase. In this transaction, former Governor Shelby and General Andrew Jackson bought the Chickasaw claim to lands in western Kentucky and western Tennessee. The Kentucky portion of the purchase now forms eight counties.
|D1||Economic Development, 1800-1860|
Kentucky’s economic growth during the first half of the 19th century was marked by the development of large-scale commercial agriculture, especially the growing of hemp and tobacco, and of trade and manufacturing. This economic growth was accompanied, and in part spurred, by the state’s rapid increase in population. The state’s population rose from 220,955 in 1800 to 687,917 in 1830 and to 1,155,684 in 1860.
The spread of commercial farming across central and western Kentucky during the pre-Civil War era was largely responsible for the excessive cutting down of forests in these areas. Tobacco farmers in particular tended to clear new areas for cultivation each year, with little regard to the value of the timber, which they often burned, or to the subsequent increase in soil erosion. In the meantime, eastern Kentucky remained primarily an area of subsistence farming. During the decades preceding the Civil War, many commercial farmers in Kentucky used black slaves for labor, particularly on hemp and tobacco farms.
Initially, flatboats and keelboats carried Kentucky products downstream to New Orleans. After 1810 steamboats gradually came to be the principal carriers of commercial goods on the Mississippi River system. The advent of the steamboat gave impetus to trade and consequently to commercial agriculture in Kentucky. Louisville, on the Ohio River, developed as Kentucky’s principal trade center.
Although a system of private toll roads was built in Kentucky before 1860, there was comparatively little railroad construction until after the Civil War. The only major railroad completed before 1860 was the line built by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad between Louisville and Nashville, Tennessee.
|D2||The Slavery Issue|
Slavery was one of the most divisive issues in national politics in the 19th century. Politicians of the Northern states pressed to end it, both because they considered it immoral and because white labor could not compete with unpaid black labor. Politicians of the cotton-growing Southern states felt that slavery was necessary to their agricultural system and that the North was trying to dominate the country economically. Many in the influential slaveholding class in the South favored secession from the Union and formation of a separate Southern nation. Kentucky’s statesman Henry Clay became known in Congress as the Great Pacificator for his ability to keep the slavery issue under control. He engineered the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise Measures of 1850, both of which solved apparent impasses over extension of slavery to the new territories of the United States.
By the mid-1850s, however, Clay had died, the South had become a minority section, and its leaders viewed the actions of Congress, which they no longer controlled, with growing concern. The North demanded for its industrial growth a protective tariff, federal subsidies for shipping and internal improvements, and a sound banking and currency system. The West looked to Congress for free homesteads and aid for its roads and waterways. The South regarded such measures as discriminatory, favoring Northern commercial interests, and it found intolerable the rise of antislavery agitation in the North.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president as the candidate of the Republican Party, which opposed the spread of slavery. The cotton state of South Carolina had threatened to secede if the Republicans won, and in December 1860 it did so. Other slavery states followed in quick succession, and in February 1861 they formed a confederacy, the Confederate States of America.
Kentucky, although a slavery state, grew little cotton. Like the other so-called border states, it maintained close economic ties with both the North and South. Still, the 225,000 slaves in Kentucky in 1860 were a major portion of the state’s labor force and nearly 20 percent of the total population. Most of the Kentucky slaveholders were, of course, ardent supporters of slavery. However, a considerable number of Kentuckians were actively opposed to slavery and had little interest in or sympathy for the South.
|D3||The Crittenden Compromise|
U.S. Senator John Jordan Crittenden of Kentucky, a prominent supporter of the Union, proposed a compromise in December 1860 to avert secession. Crittenden and others hoped that a further concession might appease the South. His proposals were designed to provide that slavery would be prohibited in territories north of latitude 36°30’ N, the line established by the Missouri Compromise, but protected south of that line. Under his plan, slavery could not be abolished in any state where it existed unless that state consented, and the federal government would compensate owners of fugitive slaves if it was established that the slaves had escaped with outside assistance. Lincoln disapproved of the Crittenden Compromise, which contributed to its rejection in Congress by the House of Representatives in January 1861 and by the United States Senate in March.
|D4||The Civil War|
The failure of Crittenden’s compromise presaged the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861-1865) in April. Kentucky’s governor, Beriah Magoffin, refused both the Union’s and the Confederacy’s call for volunteers. In May the state legislature resolved that Kentucky would take no part in the fighting, and Magoffin issued a proclamation declaring the state to be neutral in the conflict. Because of the state’s strategic location, neither side fully respected Kentucky’s neutrality. Recruiters from both the Union and the Confederacy enlisted Kentuckians. First the Confederacy, then the Union, began moving troops into the state. Throughout the war Kentucky remained at the mercy of the occupying armies.
The first major battle of the war in Kentucky, the Battle of Mill Springs or Logan’s Crossroads, fought at Nancy in January 1862, resulted in a Confederate defeat. Then, late in the summer of 1862, Confederate forces embarked on a bold campaign to take Kentucky. They pushed northward and westward into the state from central Tennessee and defeated Union Army troops at Richmond and Munfordville. However, the main Confederate advance was halted at Perryville on October 8, 1862. The Battle of Perryville, also known as the Battle of Chaplin Hills, was the bloodiest engagement in the state’s history. More than 7,600 casualties were counted. No other large-scale battles took place in the state, although raids by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan gained much notice. During the later years of the war, guerrilla bands, including the notorious group led by Captain William Quantrill, made sporadic raids in Kentucky.
In November 1861, without legal sanction, supporters of the Confederacy met at Russellville and passed an act of secession, declaring Kentucky to be a Confederate state. This action was recognized by the Confederacy but not by the Union. The state was a star in both flags. Throughout the war, Kentuckians remained divided in their loyalties to North and South. A total of about 100,000 Kentuckians, including more than 20,000 blacks, joined the Union Army, while about 40,000 residents joined the Confederate forces. A number of native Kentuckians played a prominent role in the Civil War. Besides the opposing presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, Confederate Generals John Bell Hood and Albert Sidney Johnston had both been born in Kentucky. Kentucky was the only state represented in the cabinets of both the Union and Confederate governments: James Speed was the Union attorney general, and John Cabell Breckinridge was the Confederate secretary of war.
After the Confederate invasion of 1862, the legislature aligned Kentucky with the Union. Thus it did not undergo all the postwar measures enacted against other Southern states in the period of restoration, or Reconstruction, of the Union. It was not initially occupied by Union troops. However, Kentucky resisted granting civil rights to blacks, and this resulted in a military presence by the Union Army for some time. The state’s anger regarding black rights pushed it toward greater sympathy with the South, and many of its postwar leaders were Confederate soldiers or sympathizers. Blacks did not become legally free in Kentucky until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States became law in December 1865—eight months after the end of the Civil War.
The Democratic Party dominated postwar politics; not until 1895 would the party of Lincoln win a race for the governor’s seat. Meanwhile the state’s black citizens, many of whom had fought for the Union, were forced by new laws into a second-class, segregated status. That status was enforced by widespread terrorism, which the Democratic administration would not or could not stop. Some Kentuckians, notably U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan in his dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, in 1896, spoke out against that system. Even so loyal a Democrat as the fiery Louisville newspaper editor Henry Watterson, a national spokesperson for Southern home rule, championed some expansion of black rights; but the system remained.
|D6||Political Unrest and Social Violence|
Eventually, factionalism within the Democratic Party and agrarian unrest challenged the party’s rule. Third-party movements abounded. Farmers, unhappy at discriminatory freight rates and their declining influence on the Democratic leadership, supported reform movements such as the Greenback Party, the Farmers’ Alliances, and the People’s Party. This political movement was called populism. Populists sought, among other measures, to institute farmers’ cooperatives on a national scale; to lower transportation costs by nationalizing the railroads; and to achieve a more equitable distribution of the costs of government by means of a graduated income tax. The movement had some success; the state’s fourth (and present) constitution, drafted in 1891, contained many detailed sections restricting government. One provision, for instance, barred the governor from serving two terms in a row; in 1992 this was amended to three terms. Outdated almost immediately, the constitution has been amended many times over the past century.
The 1880s saw an eruption of violence, smoldering since the Civil War, in the famous feud between the Hatfield and McCoy clans in the mountainous Kentucky-West Virginia border area. Armed bands shot at each other, and when arrests were made, the arrestees were often released because of their local influence. The feud did not end until after 1890, when an interstate incident was created by Kentucky authorities invading West Virginia to seize and convict several Hatfields. This affair and other feuds hurt the state’s postwar image.
Violence erupted also in the gubernatorial election of 1899. The leading candidates were Republican William S. Taylor and Democrat William Goebel. When the votes were counted, Taylor appeared to have won by some 2,000 votes, and he was inaugurated on December 12. However, the Democratic majority in the legislature undertook an investigation of the votes, and it was expected that they would soon declare Goebel governor. While that debate was under way in January 1900, Goebel was shot by an unknown assassin. During the four days that he lived, the Democratic majority threw out enough votes to declare him the state’s chief executive, and swore him in as governor. Republicans refused to recognize the legality of that action, and two governments, each with their own supportive militia force, faced off. Civil war on party lines seemed possible, but finally the decision was left to the courts and in May, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the Democratic Party’s actions. With Goebel dead, his lieutenant governor, J. C. W. Beckham, was declared governor and Taylor fled the state.
|E||The 20th Century|
|E1||The Black Patch War|
Popular political movements directed against monopolies gained much support in the 1890s and the first decade of the 20th century. Roads that charged tolls for those using them were the first targets. Destruction of the tollgates eventually impelled many owners to sell the roads for free public use. From about 1903 to 1908, the Black Patch War, in western Kentucky in particular, focused attention on a monopoly of companies that manufactured tobacco products. The monopoly was able to keep prices for tobacco crops low, causing farmers to go into debt or poverty. A farmers’ cooperative had some success by holding tobacco off the market, but those who did not join the cooperative’s effort became the target of violent actions by the so-called Night Riders. Federal responses and higher prices ended the “war,” but the basic pricing problem would continue until federal New Deal programs to assist agriculture were enacted in the 1930s.
|E2||Economic and Labor Developments|
Kentucky recovered from the Civil War better than many Southern states, and some metropolitan areas, such as Louisville, benefited from a growing Southern trade. Hemp production declined, and tobacco became even more important than it had been, but as a result agricultural prosperity tended to depend on the price for that one crop. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, industry began to grow slowly, particularly liquor production. In the same period, the timber industry grew rapidly, as did coal production, especially in the eastern part of the state. Construction of railroads made that expansion possible and opened up other areas of the state as well.
With the industrial growth came increasing calls that workers’ rights be recognized, and labor unions began to make progress. The most serious confrontation between labor and management took place in Harlan County and surrounding counties in the 1930s, when the coal operators refused to accept unionization. The result was the so-called “coal wars.” Armed company police and deputy sheriffs confronted strikers of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in repeated clashes. There were dynamitings, murders, and pitched battles in Harlan and its neighboring county, Perry. Labor unrest continued in the mining areas for several more decades.
|E3||Depression and World War|
The 1920s saw the state vote down an antievolution bill and measures to outlaw pari-mutuel betting on races, engage in divisive political infighting, and reject an attempt to make Cumberland Falls a hydroelectric dam. Kentuckians also struggled with economic depression in agriculture and mining and with restrictions on the liquor industry as a result of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which introduced national Prohibition (1920-1933). The state’s economy was already in trouble before the stock market crash of 1929 that ushered in the Great Depression, the hard times of the 1930s. Kentucky was not affected as seriously as some parts of the nation because of its agricultural base and because liquor production was reopened in the 1930s when the 18th Amendment was repealed. However, Kentucky still suffered during the Depression and wholeheartedly supported the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 and his program for recovery, the New Deal. New Deal programs funded conservation efforts, new construction projects, and support to the needy and elderly. Passage of these programs was aided by Kentuckian Alben W. Barkley, who was the majority leader in the U.S. Senate (and later the vice president of the United States under President Harry S. Truman). At the same time a political newcomer, A. B. “Happy” Chandler, began a long political career as state senator, lieutenant governor, governor, U.S. senator, and commissioner of baseball.
With the coming of World War II in 1941, Kentuckians went off to fight and sacrifices were made at home as well, through rationing, volunteer work, and in other ways. However, the demand for workers led to more jobs and higher wages. Some Kentuckians went outside the state to work, and outmigration in the 1940s and into the 1950s was a serious problem. But those who remained became more prosperous than they had been before the war.
|E4||Civil Rights and Women’s Rights|
An increasing demand for equal rights for all races grew out of World War II. Kentucky’s record on that score had been mixed, at best, up to that point. Although segregation of the black and white races was in effect in most public spheres, Kentucky had never denied its black citizens the right to vote as did many Southern states. The first black elected to a Southern legislature after Reconstruction was in Kentucky in the 1930s. Berea College had been the last integrated institution of higher learning in the South until 1904, when the legislature passed a law requiring racial segregation in all state schools. Yet in the 1940s federal courts, led by Kentuckian Frederick M. Vinson, chief justice of the United States, began to break down those racial barriers in education. When the Court in 1954 fully outlawed segregation with its Brown v. Board of Education decision, Kentucky accepted the ruling and moved with few exceptions toward peaceful integration, a model for the South. Kentucky adopted the first state civil rights act in the South in 1966, and a similarly path-breaking open housing law followed in 1968. National leaders like Kentucky’s Whitney Young, Jr., were instrumental in the effort. But serious problems remained, as riots in Louisville in 1968 and 1975 indicated.
The state had a similarly mixed record on women’s rights. Earlier, in the struggle to extend the vote to women, Kentucky provided national and regional leaders in the persons of Laura Clay and Madeline McDowell Breckinridge. Its election of a woman, Katherine Langley, to Congress in 1926 was one of the earliest such successes; in 1972 Kentucky ratified the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and in 1983 it elected Martha Layne Collins as governor, one of the first woman governors in the nation. Yet at the same time, Kentucky ranked near the bottom in the number of women legislators.
|E5||Kentucky’s Last Half-Century|
In the last half of the 20th century, the state’s politics overall were somewhat divided. The Democrats won all the legislative majorities and all the elections for governor (except one) from 1946 through the 1990s, while Republicans carried more presidential contests and held the U.S. Senate seats more often than Democrats. Outstanding in this regard was Republican John Sherman Cooper, a champion of civil rights and the United Nations (UN), who often bolted party lines to support progressive legislation. He represented Kentucky in the U.S. Senate for 21 years (1946-1949, 1952-1955, 1956-1973).
In the 1960s Kentucky was one of the targets of the “War on Poverty” program of President Lyndon Johnson: It received federal funds aimed at improving conditions in depressed states. In 1960 the state’s per capita income was only 71 percent of the national average. In 1970 it was the last of all the states in the number of school years its adults had completed: an average of 9.9 years compared to a national average of 12.1. These are indications of the problems in the state’s economy at the time it began making the transition from an agricultural and mining base to a manufacturing one. As a result of that transition, Kentucky’s recent economic fortunes tie it more to electronics, machinery, textiles, and the metal and chemical industries. Kentucky is, for instance, the nation’s fourth leading producer of motor vehicles. Ashland Oil, Brown-Forman, and Humana became important components of the state’s economic life.
Governors Bert T. Combs and Edward T. Breathitt, Jr., in the 1960s began to develop the state’s educational system to support the needs of the new economy, but funding over succeeding years never reached needed long-term levels. That deficiency culminated in a state Supreme Court decision in Rose v. Council for Better Education, Inc., 1989, invalidating the entire educational system. Kentucky at that time stood near the bottom in national levels of educational attainment. In response, the legislature in 1990 passed the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), which brought national attention to the state. Kentucky was, in effect, starting all over again.
That accomplishment was unfortunately overshadowed at times by a political scandal in 1992 that brought convictions to some 15 current or former state legislators. Known as BOPTROT—for the Business, Organizations and Professions committee of the legislature (where the investigation began) and trotting (the horse-racing sport that was the original focus of the investigation)—the investigation was the impetus for the passage of ethics laws, fostered by Democratic Governor Brereton C. Jones, to prevent a recurrence.
When Kentucky celebrated its bicentennial of statehood in 1992, it could look back at remarkable growth. From 73,677 in 1790, the population had boomed to 2,147,174 by 1900. Growth slowed in the 20th century, going over the 3 million mark with 3,038,156 in 1960, and in 1990 stood at 3,685,296, 23rd among the states and fourth in the percentage of native-born.
At the beginning of the 21st century Kentucky’s population continued to grow with an estimated 4,092,891 people in 2002, but it also declined relative to other states, ranking 25th in population that year. A statewide shift toward the Republican Party continued with the election in 2003 of Ernie Fletcher as Kentucky’s first Republican governor since 1967. Incumbent Democratic governor Paul Patton, who was prohibited by law from seeking a third consecutive term, faced ethics charges resulting from an extramarital affair, and the scandal reportedly carried over to tarnish the campaign of the Democratic candidate.
Fletcher was himself dogged by political scandal, however, leading to his defeat in November 2007 when he sought a second term. Democrat Steve Beshear returned the state house to the Democratic Party, running a campaign that focused on Fletcher’s effort to give state jobs to political allies.
The history section of this article was contributed by James C. Klotter. The remainder of the article was contributed by Wilford A. Bladen.