The New International Encyclopædia/Kentucky (State)
KENTUCKY. One of the South Central States of the American Union, lying between the Appalachian Mountain system and the Mississippi River. It is bounded on the north by Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the entire boundary being defined by the Ohio River; on the northeast by West Virginia; on the southeast by Virginia; on the south by Tennessee; and on the west and northwest by Missouri and Illinois, the Mississippi River flowing along the western boundary. It extends from latitude 36° 30′ to 39° 6′ N. and from longitude 82° to 89° 38′ W. Its greatest length from east to west is nearly 400 miles, its extreme breadth about 180 miles, and its area 40,400 square miles, of which 400 miles are water.
Topography. The surface is mostly comprised within the Alleghany Plateau, and has a gentle slope westward and northwestward to the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Its average altitude is about 800 feet. In the southeastern part the Cumberland and Pine Mountain ridges of the Alleghanies include the highest elevations in the State, ranging from 2000 to 3000 feet above the sea, while the intervening valley occupied by the Cumberland River ranges from 1000 to 1500 feet. The remaining portion of eastern Kentucky is an upland, and has a surface diversified by rounded hills and deeply eroded valleys which follow the general northwesterly slope. Between the Cumberland and Green rivers there is an extensive level tract known as the ‘Barrens’; but the western part, except the portion included in the broad valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi, is gently undulating with low hills.
Kentucky has an extensive drainage system which includes innumerable small streams and many navigable waterways. The Mississippi, flowing a distance of 80 miles along the western border, receives the entire drainage, but only a small portion of it directly, as most of the streams are tributary to the Ohio. The latter, in its winding course of nearly 600 miles along the northern border, is of great commercial importance; with its affluents, the Tennessee, Cumberland, Green, Salt, Kentucky, and Licking, all of which are navigable, it affords easy means of communication between remote parts of the State. Only the lower course of the Tennessee lies in Kentucky. The Cumberland flows in its upper and lower courses through the State, but the central portion lies in Tennessee. The Big Sandy on the West Virginia border is navigable only for a short distance, owing to falls. There are no large lakes in the State.
|COPYRIGHT, 1891 AND 1903, BY DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.|
AREA AND POPULATION OF KENTUCKY BY COUNTIES.
|County Seat.|| Area in
|Montgomery||H 2||Mount Sterling||201||12,367||12,834|
|Morgan||H 3||West Liberty||375||11,249||12,792|
|Robertson||G 2||Mount Olivet||96||4,684||4,900|
|Rockcastle||G 3||Mount Vernon||308||9,841||12,416|
|Warren||E 4||Bowling Green||528||30,158||29,970|
Climate and Soil. The climate is generally more equable than that of the other States in the same latitude. The mean annual temperature is about 55° F., the average for January being about 35° and for July 78°. In summer the thermometer sometimes rises as high as 100°. There is little snow in winter, and while the thermometer may fall to 0° F., such weather is of short duration. The coldest weather is accompanied by northwesterly winds. The rainfall averages about 40 inches for the entire State.
The eastern part of Kentucky, which includes the celebrated ‘blue grass region,’ possesses a soil of wonderful richness, producing a fine quality of grass, cereals, and fruits. It is underlain by limestone strata whose gradual disintegration supplies the necessary elements to maintain a high degree of fertility even with exhaustive cultivation. The ‘Barrens’ have a red calcareous soil well fitted for grazing, and the western hilly region resembles the southern parts of Indiana and Illinois, being adapted for growing cereals. The bottom lands along the principal streams rival the blue-grass country in fertility. There are extensive forests in the eastern part, especially on the ridges and foothills of the Alleghanies.
Fauna and Flora. See these topics under United States.
Geology. The whole State is floored by sedimentary strata. A broad belt of Silurian rocks (mostly limestones) crosses the eastern portion from north to south, and is slightly parched into an anticlinal fold, so that the strata dip outward on either side. Near Louisville the Silurian formation passes below the Devonian, which farther west in turn gives way to the Carboniferous strata with the coal measures. The latter extend from Rome on the Ohio River to near the Mississippi, and form a part of the central coal-field of Indiana and Illinois. The same succession of strata is observed in the eastern side of the anticline, the highest portion of the series being the coal measures, which here are included in the Appalachian field. An interesting feature of the geology are the numerous caverns which have been dissolved out of limestone by underground water. Mammoth Cave (q.v.), in Edmonson County, is the largest known cave in the world.
Mineral Resources. Coal is the most valuable mineral product, and is obtained from both the Appalachian and central fields. While the former is the larger, comprising an area of 9000 square miles, as compared with 4000 square miles for the central field, the latter yields more than one-half of the total production. The most productive counties are Hopkins, Whitley, Muhlenburg, Ohio, Laurel, Union, Knox, Carter, and Bell. The total output in 1901 was 5,469,986 short tons, valued at $5,213,076, a small quantity being cannel coal and the remainder of bituminous grade. Iron ores are found with the coal, but they are not exploited to any extent. Lead and fluorspar occur in western Kentucky, petroleum in the southeastern counties, while building-stones and clays are widespread.
Agriculture. The soil of Kentucky is fertile and well adapted to general agriculture. In 1900 85.9 per cent. of the area was included in farms—a slight increase over the two preceding decades. The absolute area and the per cent. of improved farm land increased every decade between 1850 and 1900, amounting to 62.5 per cent. in the latter year. Incidental to the change in the industrial system brought about by the overthrow of slavery, there has been a breaking up of the large plantations. In the last decade of the last century the average size of farms decreased from 119.4 acres to 93.7 acres, the latter being considerably less than half the average size of farms in 1850. The farms operated by owners are 67.2 per cent. of the total number, which is a much greater percentage than is found in the States farther south, the difference being largely due to the insignificance of cotton-raising in Kentucky and the small number of negro farmers. Only 4.8 per cent. of the farms are operated by colored farmers, the acreage cultivated amounting only to 2 per cent. of the total farm area. Share tenants outnumber the cash tenants more than three and one-half times, and nearly doubled in number during the last decade of the last century.
The crop production of Kentucky has from the first been characterized by the great attention given to corn and tobacco. The area devoted to corn has always been nearly twice as great as the total for all other cereals. Wheat much more than regained in the last decade of the century what it had lost in the preceding decade, the increase in acreage being 59.2 per cent. from 1889 to 1899. From 1890 to 1900 oats and rye decreased over one-half. In 1880 and earlier barley was of some importance, but is now scarcely grown at all. Hay. including a number of varieties, is one of the leading crops. Tobacco is the great money crop of the State. The soil contains an abundance of potash and other chemical elements required by the tobacco-plant, which, together with the favorable temperature, makes this the foremost tobacco region of the United States. For a number of decades Kentucky's annual tobacco crop has ranged from one-third to one-half of the total for the United State's. The yield in 1900 was nearly three times that of 1860, and in the last decade of the century it increased 41.6 per cent. The acreage in 1900 was nearly double that of North Carolina, the second State in rank, and the production was more than twice that of any other State. The per acre value of the crop in 1900 was $48.19. Kentucky is also widely known for the production of hemp. This is attributable to the fact that its production in the United States is mainly confined to Kentucky rather than to its absolute importance, the acreage, as will be seen from the table, being small. The greatest production was reported in the census of 1860. The yield returned in later censuses has only once exceeded a fourth that of 1860. Its production is greatest about Lexington and in the adjacent counties to the southward. A little cotton is grown in the extreme southwestem corner of the State. Sorghum-cane is grown in small quantities. Irish and sweet potatoes and watermelons yield large returns. Small fruits are extensively grown in Campbell and Jefferson counties. During the last decade of the century the orchard trees increased 71.7 per cent. Of the total number, 69.4 per cent., or 8,757,238, were apple, and 22.9 per cent. peach. The fertilizers used, as reported in the last census year, were nearly threefold more than those reported in the preceding year, but only averaged $4 to the farm.
The following table shows the relative importance of the leading crops for the years 1890 and 1900:
| Sorghum |
Stock-Raising. The excellence of the pasturing facilities, the large production of corn, and the favorable climate have made stock-raising an important industry. Kentucky has developed a breed of road-horse which is probably the best-known and most highly valued of any American breed. Many of the fastest American horses were bred and trained in the world-renowned blue-grass region. No other part of the country has so many farms devoted to this branch of the industry. The number of horses has increased gradually since 1870, as has also that of the mules and asses. Similarly, dairy cows and other neat cattle have gained in every decade since 1870, though a change in the method of enumeration resulted in a seeming decrease in the former in the last decade. Swine were formerly of much greater absolute and relative importance than at present. The number returned by the census of 1850 has not since been equaled. There was a noteworthy decrease in the number of sheep during the last decade of the century. The following table, taken from the census of 1900, shows the relative importance of stock and the changes which have occurred during the last decade of the century:
|Dairy cows|| Other neat
|Horses|| Mules and
Manufactures. Although Kentucky has always been primarily an agricultural State, manufacturing early attained a prominent place, and during the first half of the nineteenth century it was scarcely excelled by any of the States west of the Alleghanies. In 1850, 2.2 per cent. of the population was engaged in this branch of activity. Since then the State has been surpassed by several of the Western States. The greatest growth was between 1880 and 1890, the per cent. of the population engaged for those years being respectively 2.3 and 3. The per cent. in 1900 was 2.9. and the actual number of persons engaged was 62,900. The State has the advantage of the Mississippi River system for transportation, but railway communication has been very inadequate, with the result that the development of the abundant timber and mineral resources, and of the manufacturing industries dependent upon them, has been slow.
The largest and most important group of manufactures includes those dependent upon the products of the farm. Chief of these is the manufacture of tobacco. Early in the nineteenth century there were small tobacco establishments in most of the towns. Gradually the industry has been more and more centred in Louisville, in consequence of the superior advantages of that point as a distributing centre. During the decade 1890-1900 the industry almost doubled, the leading branch being, as will be seen from the table appended, the production of chewing and smoking tobacco and snuff. The flouring and grist mill products rank second. The manufacture of liquors, on the contrary, though still of great importance, is decreasing. This industry has been noted throughout the whole history of the State. A large number of distillers removed to Kentucky from Pennsylvania about 1794, as a result of the Whisky Rebellion. The product took the name of the county in which most of them settled—‘Bourbon.’ The distilled product constitutes three-fourths of the total output. The slaughtering and packing of pork is another long-established industry, centring in Louisville, which place during the decade 1850-60 was a rival of Cincinnati for first rank in the pork-packing business of the United States. While the industry is growing, it has long since lost its relative importance. Tanning may also be classed in this group, though it is largely dependent upon the presence of the chestnut-oak tree, the bark of which furnishes the tannin required in the manufacture of leather.
|Total for selected industries for State||1900||3,332||30,010||$91,638,617|
|Increase, 1890 to 1900||......||1,424||6,059||26,711,040|
|Per cent. of increase||......||74.6||25.3||41.1|
|Per cent. of total of all industries in State||1900||34.9||47.7||59.3|
|Tobacco, chewing, smoking, and snuff||1900||59||3,187||14,948,192|
|Tobacco, cigars and cigarettes||1900||180||1,349||1,506,559|
|Tobacco, stemming and rehandling||1900||98||2,302||5,467,360|
|Flouring and grist mill products||1900||1,145||1,134||14,515,161|
|Slaughtering and meat-packing, wholesale||1900||13||42||635,685|
|Slaughtering, wholesale, not including meat-packing||1900||15||469||5,081,482|
|Leather, tanned, curried, and finished||1900||23||810||3,757,016|
|Foundry and machine-shop products||1900||91||2,790||4,434,610|
|Iron and steel||1900||8||2,402||6,876,093|
|Cars and general shop construction and repairs|
|by steam railroad companies||1900||25||3,572||4,248,029|
|Clothing, men's factory product||1900||192||2,701||3,420,365|
|Lumber and timber products||1900||1,280||7,549||13,774,911|
The construction of railroads has now rendered possible the development of the industries dependent upon the mineral resources of the State. Iron and coal are abundant, and the development of the iron and steel industry during the decade 1890-1900 is suggestive of the future possibilities.
Steel plate was produced in the State by Kelly's ‘air-boiling process’ five years before the pneumatic process of Bessemer came into use. Ashland is the largest centre of the iron industry. The products of foundry and machine-shop have been reduced somewhat in consequence of the removal of certain establishments to the gas-fields of Indiana. The increased railroad interests have given an impetus to the construction of cars, etc. Other industries are the manufacture of clothing and of cottonseed oil and cake. Over half of the total product of the manufactures of the State is accredited to Louisville, and the increase of its share during the last decade was over 45 per cent., as compared with 22 per cent. for that of the State. The preceding table covers the ten leading industries for the years 1890 and 1900.
There are still extensive forests of oak, maple, ash, beech, walnut, pine, and other species. The total forest area aggregates about half that of the State. The supply is now being rapidly drawn upon, as shown by the marked increase in the last decade of the nineteenth century indicated in the above table. The State now ranks among the foremost in the value of its forest products.
Transportation. Kentucky has profited greatly by the means of water transportation afforded by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, especially during the early period of the State's history. Transportation on the Ohio River has been much improved by the construction of a canal around the falls at Louisville. Some of the tributary streams—e.g. the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and Green rivers—have been used for navigation, and a few of them have been provided to a limited extent with locks and dams. The State lies south of the principal east and west trunk lines of railway in the United States. Furthermore, the eastern portion of the State is broken and mountainous, and large districts are untouched by railroads. Kentucky, therefore, like other Southern States, compares unfavorably with the Northern States in railroad mileage. The principal period of railroad construction was between 1880 and 1890, when the mileage increased from 1530 to 2942. In 1900 3093 miles were in operation. The Louisville and Nashville, Chesapeake and Ohio, and the Illinois Central are the leading lines. The State has a railroad commission, which is empowered to hear and determine complaints, and, if rates are found to be extortionate, to make just and reasonable rates. This board assesses for taxation the tangible property of all railroads in the State. A decision of the Federal Court has upheld the constitutionality of the railroad-commission law.
Banks. The first bank in the State was the Bank of Kentucky, at Frankfort, chartered in 1806, with a capital of $1,000,000, and branches in different towns. The State owned a part of the bank's shares, and was therefore interested in it. In 1818 a general banking act was passed, authorizing the establishment of 40 banks. Six more were added in 1819. Credit was extensively given with real estate as a security, and the Bank of Kentucky and many others were in financial difficulties before a year passed. The independent bank law was repealed in 1820, and the 40 banks were abolished. The Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, established in the same year, was a State institution. Its profits were to go to the State, and its notes were made legal tender; and in order to help the bank along, the State Legislature repealed the charter of the Bank of Kentucky in 1822. The Bank of the Commonwealth was very unsound, however, and its notes became well-nigh valueless. The bank went into liquidation in 1829. For a time the branches of the Bank of the United States were the only banks in the State. In 1834 three large banks were chartered, with an aggregate capital of $13,000,000, and for a period under the influence of the distributing of national deposits these banks flourished. In the crisis of 1837 they all suspended specie payment, and until 1844 were in a very precarious condition. Another critical period was 1854, when 27 banks failed. But the State never went back into the banking business, and accordingly its financial position was not threatened. In 1890 and 1893 many smaller banks failed, but the larger institutions were undisturbed. The Louisville Clearing House, established in 1875, is of material assistance to the banking business of the State. The condition of the banks of Kentucky in 1902 is shown in the following table:
|Number of banks||95||229||22|
Government. If an amendment to the Constitution is proposed in either House and receives a three-fifths vote of all the members elected to each House, it is submitted to the popular vote. If a majority is cast in favor of it it becomes a part of the Constitution. If a majority of all the members elected to each House concur at two consecutive sessions to a proposal to call a constitutional convention, it is submitted to a vote of the people, and if approved by a majority of those voting, provided the number is equal to one-fourth of the qualified voters who voted at the last preceding election, the convention will be called. Voters must have resided one year in the State, six months in the county, and sixty days in the precinct. All elections for the State, county, city, town, or district are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November; but no officer of any city, town, county, or subdivision thereof, except members of municipal legislative boards, can be elected in the same year in which members (11) of the House of Representatives of the United States are elected. District and State officers, however, may be elected in the same year.
Legisislative. There are 100 Representatives elected for terms of two years, and 38 Senators elected for terms of four years. Both Senators and Representatives receive a salary of $5 per day and mileage; but the salary may be changed by law. The length of the regular session is limited to 60 legislative days. Revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives, The House impeaches, and the Senate acts as a court for the trial of impeachments. The Legislature meets on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of even years.
Executive. The Governor and Lieutenant-Governor are elected for a term of four years, and are ineligible for reëlection. The Lieutenant-Governor and the president pro tempore of the Senate are in the line of succession to the Governorship in case of vacancy; but if the vacancy occurs during the first two years of the term of office the position is filled by a new election. The Governor may veto bills or parts of appropriation bills; but a majority vote of all the members elected to each House overrides his veto. A Treasurer, Auditor of Public Accounts, Register of Land Office, Commissioner of Agriculture, Labor, and Statistics, Secretary of the State, Attorney-General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction are elected at the same time and for the same term as the Governor, and are ineligible for reëlection.
Judicial. There are from five to seven judges of the Court of Appeals elected from districts for a term of eight years. The clerk of the Court of Appeals is elected for four years. There is a circuit court in each county, which must hold at least three terms a year. The State is divided into districts, in each of which a circuit-court judge is elected for a term of six years. There are also quarterly and county courts in each county. Police courts may be established in each city or town. Counties are divided into from three to eight districts, in each of which one justice of the peace is elected. Counties have fiscal courts which consist of the judge of the County Court, together with justices of the peace; or a county may have three commissioners, who are elected from the county at large, who, together with the judge of the County Court, shall constitute the fiscal court.
Local Government. In each county a judge of the County Court, clerk, attorney, sheriff, jailer, coroner, surveyor, and assessor, and in each justice's district one justice of the peace and one constable, are elected for terms of four years. The sheriff is not eligible to reëlection for the succeeding term. The Legislature may provide for other county and district officers. Counties cannot be created nor reduced in size below an area of 400 square miles, nor can any boundary line be changed so as to pass within 10 miles of the county-seat. A proposal to change a county-seat must be approved by two-thirds of those voting upon the question at a popular election.
Finance. The public debt of the State before the Civil War amounted to $5,698,356. The expenses of the war added $2,212,000. But the State was careful to begin redeeming the debt, and the total obligations in 1865 amounted only to $5,254,346. The redemption went on so fast that in 1870 it was $1,424,394, and in 1875 only $184,394. By 1880 it was almost canceled: but in that year another debt of $500,000 was created, due to the insufficiency of current receipts to meet the necessary disbursements. This debt was increased by the defalcations of State funds by Treasurer Tate, discovered in 1888. From 1880 to 1900, a large deficit was a constant feature of the State finances, due to the increase of expenses, which was not warranted by a corresponding increase of the value of State property. These deficits had to be funded, and the State debt grew to $3,500,000 in 1895. The financial difficulties are aggravated by the division of income into funds, of which the general expenditure's fund is the most inadequate. In 1902 the receipts of the State Treasury were $4,447,474, but the general expenditures fund received only $1,404,465, while the sum paid out of this fund was $2,862,830, leaving for one year a deficit of $1,458,364. The present financial condition is more the result of unwise financial methods than of actual lack of resources, and the credit of the State has not been impaired.
Militia. In 1900 the total number of males of militia age was 428,622. In 1899 the organized militia numbered 1769 men and officers.
Population. The following summary indicates the growth of population: 1790, 73,077; 1810, 406,511; 1830, 687,917; 1850, 982,405; 1860, 1,155,684; 1870, 1,321,011; 1880, 1,648,690; 1890, 1,858,635; 1900, 2,147,174. For the three decades ending with 1840 Kentucky held sixth rank, but this position has since been lowered to twelfth (1900). The greatest absolute gain was made between 1870 and 1880. During the last decade of the century the per cent. of gain was 15.5, as compared with 20.7 for the United States. As in the other Southern States, the foreign-born population is small, being but 50,249 in 1900. In the same year the negro population was 284,706, a number which was exceeded in ten other States. The negroes are increasing less rapidly than are the whites. This may be due to the migrations of the negroes into other States. A large number of counties, particularly those in the mountainous eastern part of the State, have very few representatives of the black race. Kentucky has one large centre of population which helps to make the per cent. of the urban population high as compared with most other Southern States. In 1900 twenty cities, each containing a population of over 4000, had 19.7 of the total population.
The following are the figures for the largest cities in 1900: Louisville, 204,731; Covington, 42,938; Newport, 28,301; Lexington, 26,369; and Paducah, 19,446. Frankfort is the capital.
Religion. The two religious denominations which are strongest in the other Southern States predominate also in Kentucky—namely, the Baptists and the Methodists, the former having the larger number of members. The Disciples of Christ are also very strongly represented in the State. The most important of the other denominations are the Catholics and Presbyterians.
Education. In 1900 there was 16.5 per cent. (colored, 40.1) of the population ten years of age and over who were illiterate, as against 21.6 in 1890. In 1900-01 there were 234,256 whites and 31,178 colored pupils enrolled in the schools, 60.7 per cent. of the former and 56 per cent. of the latter being in average attendance. Kentucky, in common with other Southern States, has to contend with difficulties arising out of a rural population, and the presence in many parts of the State of a large negro population. Furthermore, the State did not receive land grants for educational purposes. Consequently, it has no large educational endowment fund, and thus suffers in comparison with some of the younger commonwealths. Administrative difficulties have further handicapped educational progress. The plan of having a large number of unpaid school trustees—there are about 24,000—has proved a failure. Owing to a decision of the Court of Appeals limiting the freedom in the matter of levying a tax in school districts, there has been for a number of years a standstill in the building of schoolhouses. There is, however, a very efficient system of county superintendence, and the cities, which are separate and distinct from the counties in administration, as a rule have very efficient graded schools, and most of them have high schools.
The length of the school term is also often quite adequate in the cities, but the short terms in the rural districts bring the school year for the State to only 115 days (1900). In 1900-01 there were 4071 male and 3829 female white teachers, and 451 male and 706 female colored teachers in the State. The average salary received by white teachers is $34.10, and that of colored teachers $29.95. The State laws make it possible, by the passing of certain examinations, to secure a diploma permitting the holder to teach for life, or to secure a certificate which holds for eight years. Three grades of county certificates are also granted. The State maintains a normal training school at Corinth, and there are also a number of private normal schools. An agricultural and mechanical college is supported by the State at Lexington. Higher education is also afforded through the agency of a large number of private and denominational colleges and universities. There is a State normal and industrial institution for colored pupils at Frankfort. For the year ending in June, 1901, the total receipts of the State for educational purposes amounted to $1,991,754, of which $1,483,240 came from the State treasury. The disbursements for the same year amounted to $1,878,954. The per capita cost, based upon average attendance, was $6.49 for white and $7.44 for colored pupils.
Charitable and Penal Institutions. The State maintains an institution for the education of the blind at Louisville, but only about 30 per cent. (150) of the blind children of the State between the ages of six and sixteen are in attendance. There is a State school for deaf mutes at Danville, with an attendance in 1901 of 356. An institution for the education and training of feeble-minded children is maintained at Frankfort; but the services rendered by this institution are seriously curtailed by the limitation of the age period of those in attendance to six to eighteen, and the requirement that the child must have sufficient strength of body and mind to receive a degree of education. There are State insane asylums at Lexington, Hopkinsville, and Anchorage. The State prisons are located at Frankfort and Eddyville.
History. Kentucky was originally a portion of Fincastle County, Va., and was first visited by Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750. Frequent visits followed after 1765, a notable one of these being an exploring expedition made by John Finley and a few companions from North Carolina in 1767. Two years later Daniel Boone and five companions from the Yadkin settlements came to eastern Kentucky, but it was not until 1774 that the first effort to plant a colony was undertaken. In June of that year James Harrod and forty associates from the Monongahela country made the first permanent settlement in Kentucky. It was located in what is now Mercer County, and was given the name of Harrodsburg. In 1775 Daniel Boone planted a settlement to which he gave the name of Boonesborough. The favorable land policy of Virginia encouraged immigration to the new country, but the settlers soon found themselves in a life and death struggle with the Indians, who claimed the land. In 1774 a Virginian force administered a crushing defeat to the Northwestern Indians at Point Pleasant (q.v.), and forced them to cede their claims to their Kentucky lands, and to retire beyond the Ohio. In the same year Daniel Boone concluded a treaty with the Cherokees at Wataga by which they sold for 10,000 pounds sterling their flimsy claim to the lands between the Ohio and Cumberland rivers, and west and south of the Kentucky river (amounting to 17,000,000 acres, or about one-half the present area of the State) to Richard Henderson and his associates, who styled themselves the ‘Transylvania Company.’ Virginia claimed the territory in question and refused to recognize the validity of the sale, but the Legislature consented in 1778 to give the company a title to 200,000 acres, and to confirm the sales already made to innocent purchasers.
In May, 1775, the first effort at State building was begun. At the call of Colonel Henderson a convention met at Boonesborough and adopted a code of nine laws for the government of the self-constituted Commonwealth, but its work was disallowed by the Legislature of Virginia. The following year, by act of the Legislature, the new country was separated from Fincastle County, and organized under the name of Kentucky County with Harrodsburg as the county-seat, and with separate representatives in the Virginia Legislature. Meantime struggles with the Indians were almost constantly occurring. In 1782 a desperate battle was fought at the Blue Lick Springs, resulting in the defeat of the whites and the death of over sixty of their men (about one-tenth of the fighting population), among the number being some of the most prominent leaders in Kentucky. By this time agitation for separation from Virginia and independent State government was well under way. There were now three counties in Kentucky, and an estimated population of 30,000 inhabitants. In 1784 an informal convention was held at Danville to discuss the question of separation. It was followed by a more regular convention in May, 1785, and a third in August of the same year, both being held at Danville. A petition for separation was sent to the Virginia Legislature, and it was promptly and favorably acted upon, the only condition being ratification by a fourth convention, and the consent of the Congress of the Confederation. In 1787 the fourth convention met to accept the conditions, when the information came that the Legislature had repealed its act to allow separation. This action caused great chagrin among the settlers, and led to threats of secession. The discontent was increased by a rumor that the United States had agreed to surrender to Spain the right of navigating the Mississippi River in return for other advantages in which Kentucky would have no share. The intrigues of Spain through the promise of special commercial advantages to induce Kentucky to set up an independent government caused but a trifling flurry. The inhabitants in general stood firmly by the American Union. In November, 1787, a fifth convention met at Danville to discuss the situation. Meantime a third act of separation was passed. The conditions of this act were such that they were rejected by a sixth convention. Finally a fourth act was passed and a seventh convention met at Danville in July, 1790, and accepted the conditions. By an act of February 1, 1791, Congress agreed to admit Kentucky to the Union June 1, 1792.
In April, 1792, a ninth convention met at Danville and adopted a constitution of government; Isaac Shelby was chosen as the first Governor; and, after a spirited struggle, Frankfort was chosen as the capital. In July, 1790, a new constitution was adopted which made the Governor and other State officers elective by the people instead of by electors. In the War of 1812 Kentucky took a distinguished part. Seven thousand volunteers, far more than Kentucky's quota, offered their services, and her troops fought gallantly in most of the battles in the northern part of the United States and in Canada, and about one-fourth of Jackson's army at New Orleans consisted of Kentucky riflemen. From the War of 1812 to the Mexican War the chief questions of interest in the history of Kentucky relate to financial and economic measures. Like the other Western States, Kentucky was swept into the financial craze. In 1818 the Legislature chartered 46 banks with a total capital of $8,720,000. In less than two years most of them had collapsed and ruin confronted large numbers of the people. The Legislature was appealed to for relief, and a measure for that purpose was passed, but the Supreme Court held it null and void. Not to be outdone, the relief party carried the Legislature, the judges were legislated out of office, and a new court created and filled with judges favorable to the relief measure. The old court refused to give way, and for a time there were two Supreme Courts, their supporters throughout the State being known as the Old Court and New Court parties. The Old Court Party finally triumphed. In the Mexican War, as in the War of 1812, Kentucky took an honorable part. Although her quota was but 2400, more than 10,000 volunteered and Kentucky troops participated in most of the battles fought on Mexican soil. In 1850 a new constitution was adopted which made all judges and county officers elective.
Upon the outbreak of the Civil War Kentucky attempted to maintain a position of neutrality, but the geographical position of the State rendered the scheme impossible. The Governor rejected President Lincoln's call for troops, and when the Confederate and Union armies began to pour into the State from opposite directions formal demands were made for their withdrawal. The Union armies soon took possession, and by 1862 the Confederate forces had evacuated the State. The more important military operations in Kentucky were the battles of Mill Spring, Richmond, and Perryville, the invasion of General Bragg, the five successive cavalry raids of the Confederate General Morgan, and Forrest's attack on Paducah. Including the so-called Home Guards and those who enlisted but were never mustered in, Kentucky furnished more than 90,000 troops to the Union Army, and 40,000 to the Confederacy. A considerable portion of the population adhered to the Confederacy, and in November, 1862, a convention irregularly chosen and claiming to represent sixty-five counties of the State passed an ordinance of secession, and the Confederate Congress went through the form of admitting the State to the Confederacy. Kentucky escaped from the carpetbag and military régimes, the civil authority having been reëstablished in October, 1865. In national elections Kentucky was a Democratic State from the date of its admission till the formation of parties about 1828. It voted for Clay in 1824 and for Jackson in 1828, but from this time till 1852 it was one of the strongest Whig States. It cast its vote for Buchanan in 1850 and for Bell in 1860. Since that time it has been Democratic with the exception of the year 1896, when it cast 12 of its electoral votes for Mr. McKinley and one for Mr. Bryan. The Governors of the State with their party affiliations have been as follows:
|Thomas Metcalf||Clay Democratic||1828-32|
|John Breathitt||Jackson Democrat||1832-36|
|Thomas E. Bramlette||“||1863-67|
|Simon B. Buckner||“||1887-91|
|John Y. Brown||“||1891-95|
|William S. Taylor||“||Jan. 2-31, 1900|
|William Goebel||Democrat||Jan. 31-Feb. 3, 1900|
|J. C. W. Beckham||“||1900—|
Bibliography. Filson, Histoire de Kentucky (Paris, 1785); Imlay, A Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America (London, 1781-97); Marshall, The History of Kentucky (Frankfort, Ky., 1824); Butler, The History of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Louisville, 1834); Arthur and Carpenter, History of Kentucky (Louisville, 1852); Shaler, Kentucky: A Pioneer Commonwealth (Boston, 1885); Perrin, History of Kentucky (Louisville, 1885-88); Brown, The Political Beginnings of Kentucky (Louisville, 1889); Durrett, The Centenary of Kentucky (Louisville, 1892); Kinkead, History of Kentucky (New York, 1896).