History of Kentucky
The history of Kentucky spans hundreds of years, and has been influenced by the state's diverse geography and central location.
- 1 The Paleoindian period (9,500BCE – 7,500BCE)
- 2 The Archaic Period (7,500BCE – 1,000BCE)
- 3 The Woodland Period (1,000BCE – 900AD)
- 4 Mississippian Period (900AD - 1750AD)
- 5 First Europeans in Kentucky
- 6 Native American settlements before the Conquest
- 7 Origin of the name
- 8 Conquest of Kentucky by the colonists
- 9 Separation from Virginia
- 10 Antebellum period
- 11 Religion and the Great Awakening
- 12 Civil War period
- 13 Reconstruction
- 14 Assassination of Governor Goebel
- 15 Early twentieth century coal and migrations
- 16 World War I and 1920s
- 17 The Great Depression
- 18 World War II
- 19 1945–1980
- 20 1980 to 2000
- 21 The 2000s
- 22 References and bibliography
- 23 See also
- 24 External links
The Paleoindian period (9,500BCE – 7,500BCE)
While it's assumed that humans were probably living in Kentucky prior to 10,000BC, "archaeological evidence of their occupation has yet to be documented (Pollack 1990:3).” No skeletal remains of Paleoindians have been discovered in Kentucky, and while many Paleoindian clovis have been discovered, there's no evidence that the Paleoindians at Big Bone Lick State Park in Kentucky hunted Mastodons. “The radiocarbon evidence indicates that mastodons and Clovis people overlapped in time; however, other than one fossil with a possible cut mark and Clovis artifacts that are physically associated with but dispersed within the bone-bearing deposits, there is no incontrovertible evidence that humans hunted Mammut americanum at the site.”
The Archaic Period (7,500BCE – 1,000BCE)
The Woodland Period (1,000BCE – 900AD)
Mississippian Period (900AD - 1750AD)
First Europeans in Kentucky
Hernando De Soto
Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle
John Peter Salings
Celeron de Blainville
Mary Draper Ingles
On July 30, 1755, a band of Shawnee native Americans kidnapped Mary Draper Ingles, after the Draper's Meadow massacre, in Virginia, and took her to Kentucky, making her the first white woman to see Kentucky. Mary Ingles eventually escapes.
Native American settlements before the Conquest
Eskippakithiki, aka Indian Old Fields, was Kentucky's last surviving Shawnee village. John Findley/Finley would be the one who escorts Daniel Boone to Kentucky (1769), and showed him the vast flatlands, near where Eskippakithiki used to be established. John Findley/Finley lived in Eskippakithiki, and was a trader there in 1752. John Findley/Finley claims that he was attacked by a party of 70 Christian Conewago and Ottawa Indians, a white French Canadian, and a white renegade Dutchman named Philip Philips, all from the St. Lawrence River, upon a scalping hunting expedition against the Southern Indians, on January 28, 1753, along the Warrior's Path, twenty five miles south of Eskippakithiki, near the head of Station Camp Creek in James Estill County (Beckner). The 7 Pennsylvanian white traders rolling with John Findley/Finley's crew, consisted of James Lowry, David Hendricks, Alexander McGinty, Jabez Evans, Jacob Evans, William Powell, Thomas Hyde, and their Cherokee servant. The white Pennsylvania traders shot at the 70 Christian Indians, and the 70 Christian Indians (along with Philip Philips), took the whites prisoner, and took them to Canada, and shipped some of them off to France, as prisoners of war. Findley fled, and the next time a white person went to Eskippathiki, it was burnt down to the ground.
Origin of the name
The origin of the name "Kentucky" is not known with any certainty. One suggestion is that it is derived from an Iroquois name perhaps meaning "land of tomorrow" Native America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia states that "Various authors have offered a number of opinions concerning the word's meaning: the Iroquois word "kentake" meaning "meadow land," the Wyandotte (or perhaps Cherokee or Iroquois) word "ken-tah-the" meaning "land of tomorrow," the Algonquian term "kin-athiki" referring to a river bottom, a Shawnee word meaning "at the head of a river," or an Indian word meaning land of "cane and turkeys." However, the name does not mean "dark and bloody ground" in any language." There were many variations of the word during early pioneer times, including Kentucke (as in The Discovery, Settlement and Present State of Kentucke), Kaintuckee and Cantuckey.
The state's official nickname is the "Bluegrass State," which is derived from the famed species of grass grown in central Kentucky, Bluegrass, or Poa. "The nickname also recognizes the role that the Bluegrass region has played in Kentucky's economy and history."
Conquest of Kentucky by the colonists
The area of Kentucky was inhabited by Native Americans in prehistoric times, and French explorers in the 17th century documented numerous tribes living there up until the Beaver Wars in the 1670s. By the time settlers began entering Kentucky in the mid-18th century, there were few permanent Native American settlements in the Ohio Valley. Instead, the country was used as common hunting grounds by Shawnee from the north and Cherokee from the south. Western tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy also hunted there until 1768, following the Seven Years' War.
Early British exploration of the area that would become Kentucky was made in 1750 by a scouting party led by Dr. Thomas Walker. The Iroquois claim to much of what is now Kentucky was purchased by the British in the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768); that of the Shawnee and Mingo at the Treaty of Camp Charlotte concluding Dunmore's War (1774), and that of the Cherokee at the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals (1775). However, this last treaty (The "Transylvania Purchase") was not recognized by Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe. During the American Revolution, settlers soon began pouring into the region; Dragging Canoe responded by leading his faction into the Chickamauga Wars (1776-1794), especially along the Holston River, at the height of the American Revolutionary War. The Shawnee north of the Ohio River were also unhappy about the settlement of Kentucky, against the promise by the British Crown to reserve the area west of the Appalachians for Native Americans. They allied with the British against rebel colonists.
After 1775, Kentucky grew rapidly as the first settlements west of the Appalachian Mountains were founded, with settlers migrating primarily from Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania; they entered the region via the Cumberland Gap and the Ohio River. It was claimed by Virginia as part of its territory. The most famous of these early explorers and settlers was Daniel Boone, one of the founders of the state. During this period, the settlers introduced commodity agriculture to the area. Tobacco, corn, and hemp were developed as the major commodity crops of Kentucky, and the hunting stage of frontier life faded away. Due to the ongoing violence, however, as Native Americans resisted European settlement, by 1776 there were fewer than 200 settlers in Kentucky.
Kentucky's second largest city, and former capital Lexington, is named for Lexington, Massachusetts, site of one of the first battles of the Revolution. Bryan's Station is the fort built there during the last year of the war for defense against the British and their Native American allies. Kentucky was a battleground during the war; the Battle of Blue Licks, one of the last major battles of the Revolution, was fought there.
The westernmost part of Kentucky, west of the Tennessee River, was recognized as hunting ground belonging to the Chickasaw by the 1786 Treaty of Hopewell, and remained so until they sold it to the U.S. in 1818, albeit under pressure. This region is still sometimes known as the Jackson Purchase in reference to President Andrew Jackson of the period.
- George Rogers Clark – Brig General Northwestern Frontier 01/1781
- John Bowman – Colonel – County Lieutenant of Kentucky County, Virginia 12/1776 & 11/1779
- Anthony Bledsoe – Lieutenant Colonel
- John Todd – Captain – Virginia
- Benjamin Logan – Captain – Kentucky County, Virginia
- Daniel Boone – Captain – Boonesborough, Kentucky
- James Harrod – Captain – Harrodsburg, Kentucky
- David Robinson – appointed County Lieutenant but office was never filled.
- Fayette County
- John Todd – county lieutenant and colonel (killed at Blue Licks in 1782)
- Daniel Boone – lieutenant colonel
- Jefferson County
- John Floyd – county lieutenant and colonel (killed 1783)
- Lincoln County
- Benjamin Logan – county lieutenant and colonel
- Stephen Trigg – lieutenant colonel (killed at Blue Licks in 1782)
In January 1781, Governor Thomas Jefferson appointed George Rogers Clark as brigadier general, a special position created for an expedition against British and Native Americans at Detroit, but this was not developed. As a general, Clark was the highest-ranking militia officer in Kentucky and supervised the work of the three Kentucky County colonels.
Separation from Virginia
Several factors contributed to the desire of the residents of Kentucky to separate from Virginia. First, traveling to the state capital was long and dangerous. Second, offensive use of local militia against Indian raids required authorization from the governor of Virginia. Last, Virginia refused to recognize the importance of trade along the Mississippi River to Kentucky's economy. It forbade trade with the Spanish colony of New Orleans, which controlled the mouth of the Mississippi, but this was important to Kentucky communities.
The magnitude of these problems increased with the rapid growth of population in Kentucky, leading Colonel Benjamin Logan to call a constitutional convention in Danville in 1784. Over the next six years, nine more conventions were held. During one, General James Wilkinson proposed secession from both Virginia and the United States to become a ward of Spain, but the idea was defeated. Finally, on June 1, 1792, with Virginia consenting to the separation, the United States Congress accepted the Kentucky Constitution and admitted it as the 15th state, without creating a territory first.
Land speculation was an important source of income as the first settlers sold out their claims for cash to newcomers and moved further west. The great majority of Kentuckians were farmers. They grew most of their own food, using the corn crop to feed hogs and to distill into whiskey. They obtained their cash from sales of burley tobacco, hemp, horses and mules. The hemp was spun and woven for cotton bale bagging and ropes. Tobacco was labor-intensive to cultivate; planters were attracted to Kentucky from Maryland and Virginia, where their own lands were near exhaustion from tobacco cultivation. Tobacco was a labor-intensive crop, and plantations in the Bluegrass region used slave labor, but on a smaller scale than the cotton plantations of the Deep South.
Adequate transportation routes proved crucial to Kentucky's economic success in the early antebellum period. The rapid growth of stagecoach roads, canals and railroads early in the century drew many Easterners to the state. For example, towns along the Maysville Road from Washington to Lexington grew rapidly to accommodate the demand. Surveyors and cartographers had always made their fortunes in early Kentucky and especially by the antebellum period, such as David H. Burr (1803-1875), who served as geographer to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1830s and '40s.
Kentuckians loved horses, using them for transportation, mode of power, breeding, and racing. Taxpayers owned 90,000 horses in 1800, with 87% of all householders owning at least one, and two-thirds of the taxpayers owning two or more. Breeding thoroughbreds for racing is a Bluegrass specialty. Louisville began sponsoring the world-famous Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs track in 1875.
Mules were cheaper to own than horses, and were well adapted to small farms. Mule breeding became a specialty in Kentucky, and many of the mule breeders moved west to Missouri to expand their operations after 1865.
Religion and the Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening, based in part on the Kentucky frontier, was the cause of a rapid growth in church members. Revivals and missionaries converted many previously unchurched folk, and drew them into the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Christian churches.
In August 1801 at the Cane Ridge Meeting House in Bourbon County. As part of what is now known as the "Western Revival", attracted thousands of religious seekers under the leadership of Presbyterian preacher Barton W. Stone. The preaching, singing and converting went on for a week until both humans and horses ran out of food.
The Baptists flourished in Kentucky. Many had immigrated as a body from Virginia. For example, the Upper Spottsylvania Baptist congregation left Virginia and reached central Kentucky in September 1781 as a group of 500 to 600 people called the "Traveling Church". Some were slaveholders; among the slaves was Peter Durrett, who helped Capt. William Ellis guide the party. Held by Rev. Joseph Craig, Durrett was a Baptist preacher and part of Craig's congregation in 1784.
About 1790 he founded the First African Baptist Church in Lexington, the oldest black Baptist congregation in Kentucky and the third oldest in the United States. His successor, London Ferrill, led the church for decades and was so popular in Lexington that his funeral was said to be second in size only to that of the statesman Henry Clay. By 1850 the First African Baptist Church was the largest church in Kentucky, black or white.
Many anti-slavery Virginians moved to Kentucky as well, making the new state a battleground over slavery. Churches and friends divided over the issue of the immorality of slaveholding; in Kentucky the antislavery position was marginalized both politically and geographically. Emancipationist Baptists created their own churches in Kentucky around antislavery principles. While emancipationists viewed their cause as one with republican ideals of virtue, the proslavery Baptists insisted there was a boundary between church and state; this allowed them to define slavery as a civil matter. The proslavery position, based on the importance of slave labor on many plantations, became the dominant Baptist belief in Kentucky. Emancipationist leadership declined through death and emigration, and Baptists in the Upper South healed rifts in their churches and associations.
Barton W. Stone (1772–1844) founded the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the 1830s, when his followers joined with the followers of Alexander Campbell. Stone broke with his Presbyterian background to form the new sect that rejected Calvinism, required weekly communion and the baptism of adults, accepted the Bible as the source of truth, and sought to restore the values of primitive Christianity.
In late 1811 and early 1812, Western Kentucky was heavily damaged by a series of earthquakes referred to as the New Madrid earthquake, the largest recorded earthquake in the contiguous United States. These earthquakes caused the Mississippi River to change course. The "west" began at the Appalachians and young Lexington was the cultural center of the region. It claimed to be the "Athens of the West."
War of 1812
Louisville and Lexington
Kentucky was mostly rural, but two important cities emerged before the American Civil War. Lexington had been the first area settled and was the center of the Bluegrass Region, an agricultural area featuring production of tobacco and hemp, as well as the breeding and training of high-quality livestock, including horses. It was the base for many prominent planters, most notably Henry Clay, the politician who led the Whig Party and brokered important compromises over the issue of slavery. This central part of the state had the highest concentration of enslaved African Americans, whose labor supported the tobacco plantation economy. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, many families migrated from here to Missouri, carrying their culture, slaves and crops with them and establishing an area known as "Little Dixie" on the Missouri River.
Located at the falls of the Ohio River, Louisville emerged as the largest city in the state. The growth of commerce was facilitated by steamboats on the river, and the city had strong trading ties extending down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. It developed a large slave market, from which thousands of slaves from the Upper South were sold "downriver" and transported to the Deep South in the domestic slave trade. In addition, construction of railroads made Louisville the commercial center of the state and strengthened trading ties to the east and west, including areas around the Great Lakes.
From the mid-19th century on, the city attracted many Irish and German Catholic immigrants. The Irish were fleeing the Great Famine and Germans came after the Revolutions in the German states of 1848. The Germans created a beer industry in the city and both communities were part of the continuing industrialization. These cities became Democratic strongholds after the Whig Party dissolved.
War with Mexico
In 1846 Kentucky paid close attention to the Mexican war. Some citizens enthusiastically supported the war, while others—especially Whigs who followed Henry Clay, opposed the war and refused to participate. The quest for honor was especially important, as a rising generation sought their self-identity and a link with heroic ancestors. The state easily met its quota of 2500 volunteer troops in 1846 and 1847. Although the war's popularity declined after a year or two, clear majorities supported it throughout, in part because residents believed victory would bring new lands for the expansion of slavery.
Kentuckian units won praise at the battles of Monterey and Buena Vista. Although many took sick, few died. Gaining honor and glory, as well as emotional maturity and a sense of the world at large, Kentucky units returned home in triumph. The war weakened the Whig Party (United States) and the Democratic Party rose to dominance in the state during this period. It was particularly powerful in the Bluegrass Region and other areas that were developed as plantations and horse breeding farms, where planters held the highest number of slaves in the state.
Largest slave uprising in Kentucky history
In 1848, Patrick Doyle, an Irish white, led a group of 75 African-American slaves towards Ohio in an attempt to win them freedom in "the largest single slave uprising in Kentucky history." The armed runaway slaves went from Fayette County to Bracken County before being confronted by General Lucius Desha of Harrison County, along with his 100 white male followers. After an exchange of gunfire, 40 African-American slaves ran into the woods, and were never caught. The others were captured and jailed, including Patrick Doyle. Doyle was sentenced to 20 years of hard labor in the state penitentiary, and the slaves were returned to their owners.
Civil War period
By 1860, the population of the state was 1,115,684; of this, 25% were slaves, concentrated in the Bluegrass Region and Louisville and Lexington. Louisville had been a major slave market, and shipped many slaves downriver to the Deep South and New Orleans for sale or delivery. Kentucky also had strong trade relations to both the east and western regions, reinforced by a shifting of trade from the rivers to the railroads and Great Lakes. Many Kentucky residents had migrated west to Tennessee and Missouri, creating familial ties to those regions. The state voted against secession and remained loyal to the Union, although there were disputes among numerous residents.
Kentucky was a border state during the American Civil War. The state was officially neutral until a new legislature took office on August 5, 1861 with strong Union sympathies. The majority of the Commonwealth's citizens also had strong Union sympathies. On September 4, 1861, Confederate General Leonidas Polk broke Kentucky's neutrality by invading Columbus, Kentucky. As a result of the Confederate invasion, Union General Ulysses S. Grant entered Paducah, Kentucky. On September 7, 1861, the Kentucky State Legislature, angered by the Confederate invasion, ordered the Union flag to be raised over the state capitol in Frankfort, declaring its allegiance with the Union. In November 1861, during the Russellville Convention, Southern sympathizers attempted to establish an alternative state government with the goal of secession but failed to displace the legitimate government in Frankfort.
On August 13, 1862, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith's Army of East Tennessee invaded Kentucky and on August 28, 1862, Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of Mississippi entered Kentucky, beginning the Kentucky Campaign. The Confederates won the bloody Battle of Perryville, but Bragg retreated because he was in an exposed position. Kentucky stayed under Union control for the remainder of the war.
Although Kentucky was a slave state, it had not seceded and was not subject to military occupation during the Reconstruction Period. It was subject to the Freedmen's Bureau oversight of new labor contracts and work to institute free labor. A congressional investigation was undertaken because of issues raised about the propriety of its elected officials. During the election of 1865, ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment was a major political issue. Kentucky eventually rejected the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments but had to implement them when they were ratified.
Democrats prevailed in the election, and one of their first acts was to repeal the Expatriation Act of 1862, restoring the citizenship of former Confederates.
After the war, the Ku Klux Klan had numerous chapters as insurgent group in Kentucky, as some people sought to re-establish white supremacy by intimidation and violence against freedmen and free blacks. Even after its suppression by the federal government in the early 1870s, between 1867 and 1871, the Frankfort Weekly Commonwealth newspaper reported 115 incidents of shooting, lynching, and whipping of blacks by whites.
In 1866, Gallatin County experienced a race riot, where a band of 500 whites forcibly removed hundreds of Blacks out of the county.
Kentucky became internationally known in the late 19th century for its violent feuds, especially in the eastern Appalachian mountain communities. The men in extended clans were pitted against each other for decades, often using assassination and arson as weapons, along with ambushes, gunfights, and pre-arranged shootouts. Some of the feuds were continuations of violent local Civil War episodes. Journalists often wrote about the violence. Using stereotypes that city folks had developed about Appalachia; they interpreted the feuds as the inevitable product of profound ignorance, poverty, and isolation, and perhaps interbreeding. The leading participants were typically well-to-do local elites with networks of clients who fought on the local level for political power.
During the Gilded Age, the women's suffrage movement took force in Kentucky. Laura Clay, daughter of noted abolitionist Cassius Clay, was the most prominent leader. At the same time a prohibition movement began, which was challenged by the distillers (based in the Bluegrass) and the saloonkeepers (based in the cities).
Kentucky's hemp industry declined as manila became the world's primary source of rope fiber. This led to an increase in tobacco production, which was already the largest cash crop of Kentucky.
The first city to start using the Australian secret ballot in the United States was Louisville, Kentucky. The Australian ballot law was introduced by A.M. Wallace of Louisville, and enacted February 24, 1888. The act applied only to the city of Louisville, because the state constitution required viva voce voting at state elections. The mayor printed the ballots, and candidates had to be nominated by 50 or more voters in order to have their names placed upon the ballot. The blanket form of the ballot was used, with the names of the candidates arranged in alphabetical order according to surnames, but without any political party designations of any kind.
Assassination of Governor Goebel
In 1860–1900 German immigrants settled in cities in northern Kentucky, especially Louisville. The most famous ethnic German leader in the late 19th century was William Goebel (1856–1900). From his base in Covington, he became a state senator in 1887, fought the railroads, and took control of the state Democratic party in the mid-1890s. Goebel's 1895 election law took control of vote counting away from local officials and gave it to officials controlled by the Assembly, which the Democrats controlled. He used that power to be certified as governor in 1900. The apparent election of William S. Taylor as governor on the Republican ticket in 1899 was an unexpected turn of events.
The Kentucky Senate formed a special Committee of Inquiry packed with Democratic members. As it became apparent to Taylor's supporters that the committee would decide in favor of Goebel, they raised an armed force. On January 19, 1900, more than 1,500 armed civilians took possession of the Capitol. For more than two weeks, the United States watched as the Commonwealth of Kentucky slid towards civil war. The presiding governor declared martial law and activated the official Kentucky militia. On January 30, 1900, Goebel, accompanied by two bodyguards, was shot by a sniper as he approached the Capitol. Though mortally wounded, Goebel was sworn in as Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky the next day. Goebel died from his wounds on February 3, 1900.
For nearly four months after Governor Goebel's death, Kentucky had two officials functioning as the commonwealth's chief executive: Republican Taylor, who insisted he was the governor, and Democrat J. C. W. Beckham, running mate of Governor Goebel, who was sworn in when the latter died. Beckham requested federal aid to determine Kentucky's chief executive. The U.S. Supreme Court finally reached a decision on May 26, 1900, upholding the Commission's ruling that Goebel was Kentucky's governor. Since his Lieutenant Governor (Beckham) had followed Kentucky's line of succession, Beckham was now governor.
Immediately following the court's decision, Taylor fled to Indiana. He was later indicted as one of the conspirators in the assassination. Attempts to extradite him failed, and Taylor remained in Indiana until he died. Realizing how close they came to civil war, Kentucky leaders calmed the voters and managed to finish the decade with less heat and little violence.
Early twentieth century coal and migrations
The coal industry expanded rapidly in the state around the start of the 20th century and World War I. Many Kentuckians made the change from subsistence farming to coal mining, particularly in the Appalachian region where large deposits of coal were found. While coal mines provided new jobs, conditions were harsh for workers and the mining created environmental problems. Many African Americans left the state for better-paying jobs in manufacturing and industrial cities in the Midwest as part of the Great Migration. Rural whites also moved to industrial cities.
World War I and 1920s
Like the rest of the country, Kentucky experienced dramatic inflation during the war years. Much infrastructure was created; the state built many roads to accommodate the increasing popularity of the automobile. The war also led to the clear cutting of thousands of acres of Kentucky timber.
The tobacco and whiskey industries had boom years during the teens, although Prohibition, beginning in 1920, seriously harmed the economy when the Eighteenth Amendment took effect. German citizens had established the beer industry in Kentucky, which already had a liquor industry based on bourbon, and vineyards established in the 18th century in Middle Tennessee. Prohibition resulted in resistance and widespread bootlegging, which continued into the middle of the century. Some Eastern Kentucky rural and mountain residents made their own liquor in "moonshine" stills, selling some of it across the state.
In the 1920s the progressives focused their attacks on gambling. The anti-gambling crusade sprang from the religious attack on machine politics led by Helm Bruce and the Louisville Churchmen's Federation. The reformers had their greatest support in rural Kentucky, with support from the second Ku Klux Klan and Fundamentalist Protestant clergymen. In its revival after 1915, the KKK supported some general social issues, identifying as a fraternal organization concerned with people's welfare.
Congressman Alben W. Barkley became the political spokesman of the anti-gambling group and nearly secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1923; he also crusaded against the mining special interests that had so much power in eastern Kentucky. In 1926 Barkely was popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, as he had established his name and attracted support for his positions. Barkley became US Senate leader for the Democrats in 1937. Active in the national party, he ran for vice president with incumbent President Harry S. Truman in 1948.
In 1927 former governor J. C. W. Beckham won the Democratic party's nomination as the anti-gambling candidate. Urban Democrats deserted Beckham, however, and Republican Flem Sampson was elected. Beckham's defeat marked the end of the Progressive movement in Kentucky.
The Great Depression
Like the rest of the country and much of the world, Kentucky faced great difficulty with the arrival of the Great Depression in the late 1920s. There was widespread unemployment and little economic growth. On the other hand, New Deal programs greatly improved the educational system in the state and led to the construction and improvement of a great deal of infrastructure. The creation of roads, construction of telephone lines, and rural electrification were significant developments for the state. The creation of the Kentucky Dam and its hydroelectric power plant greatly improved the lives of Western Kentuckians. Both the Cumberland River and the Mississippi River saw extensive improvements in navigability and flood control.
The 1938 Democratic Senate primary featured an intense showdown between Barkley, liberal spokesman for the New Deal, and conservative governor Happy Chandler. The governor was a gifted public speaker, combining voice control, emotionalism, and singing with an unusual ability to personalize his speeches. He could remember everyone's name, and in turn they became emotionally involved in his campaign speeches. Barkley's methodical campaigning was bolstered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's strong endorsement. Barkley handily defeated Chandler, with 56% of the vote. Farmers, labor unions, and city machines gave Barkley his margin, a vote which reaffirmed the popularity of the New Deal in Kentucky. Only a few months later, Chandler was appointed to the state's other Senate seat upon the death of Senator Mills Logan.
The 1937 flood
Beginning in January 1937, the Ohio River was in various flood stages for three months. The flood led to river fires when oil tanks in Cincinnati, Ohio were destroyed in the flood. In Kentucky, one-third of Kenton and Campbell counties were submerged, and 70% of Louisville was under water for over a week. Paducah, Owensboro, and other Purchase area cities were devastated. Damages from the flood (nationwide) totaled 20 million dollars without adjusting for inflation. It led to extensive flood prevention efforts in the Purchase area, including the distinctive flood wall at Paducah.
World War II
For Kentucky, World War II signified the increased importance of industry and decreased importance of agriculture for the state's economy. The war led to expansion of Fort Knox as well as the creation of an ordinance plant in Louisville. Louisville became the world's largest source of artificial rubber. Shipyards at Jeffersonville and elsewhere generated numerous skilled jobs. Louisville's Ford manufacturing center produced almost 100,000 Jeeps during the war. The war also lead to a greater demand for higher education, as technical skills were more in demand both during the war and afterwards.
Kentuckians during the war
Husband Kimmel of Henderson County commanded the Pacific Fleet. Sixty-six men from Harrodsburg were on the Bataan Death March. Edgar Erskine Hume of Frankfort served as the military governor of Rome after its capture. Kentucky native Franklin Sousley was depicted in the photograph showing the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. As a prisoner of war, Harrodsburg resident John Sadler witnessed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Seven Kentuckians received the Medal of Honor. 7,917 Kentuckians died during the war; 306,364 served.
In the years afterward, the Interstate Highway System helped connect even the most remote areas of Kentucky to one another.
Progressive, solid, and unspectacular, Democrat Lawrence W. Wetherby served as governor during 1950–55. As lieutenant governor under Earle Clements, he was out of the limelight. After Clements moved on to the US Senate, Wetherby took over and was elected to his own term in 1951, emphasizing the themes of roads, tourism, and economic development. One of the few Southern governors who worked to carry out desegregation after the Brown Decision in 1954, Wetherby's administration ran into a string of bad luck and its candidate for governor, Bert T. Combs, was defeated by Happy Chandler in 1955.
Agriculture, though still important, was supplanted in many areas by industry. By 1970, Kentucky had more urban residents than rural residents. Although decreasing in overall importance, tobacco production remains an important part of the state economy, bolstered by New Deal legacy that gives financial advantages to holders of tobacco allotments.
During the 1960s, as a result of successful local civil rights sit-ins, the Woolworth's Store in Lexington ended practices of segregation at its lunch counter and in restrooms. This was part of an era of activist efforts to achieve integration. Due to demographic and economic changes, Woolworth went out of business in 1990. Built in 1946 by architect Frederick W. Garber, the historic building was demolished in 2004. The site was paved for a parking lot.
Democratic Governor Edward Thompson "Ned" Breathitt, Jr., took pride in his civil rights leadership as governor 1963–67. In Kentucky's 1963 Gubernatorial campaign between Republican Louis Broady Nunn and Democrat Edward Thompson Breathitt, racial integration was a major campaign issue. During the campaign, Nunn attacked the Fair Services Executive Order signed by Bertram Thomas Combs (and 3 other Governors, after conferencing with President John F. Kennedy). The Fair Services Executive Order desegregated public accommodations in Kentucky, as well as making state contracts free from discrimination. Nunn, on broadcast television, promised Kentuckians that his “first act will be to abolish” the Fair Services Executive Order. The New Republic charged that Nunn ran “the first outright segregationist campaign in Kentucky.” Breathitt vowed to support a bill to eliminate legal discrimination. Breathitt wound up winning the general election by 13,000 votes.
At the urging of President Lyndon B. Johnson, Breathitt led the National Governors Conference in supporting the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Johnson later appointed Breathitt to the "To Secure These Rights" commission, charged with implementing the Act.
After Breathitt was elected Governor of Kentucky, the state civil rights bill was introduced to the General Assembly in 1964, but was buried in committee, and was never voted on. “There was a great deal of racial prejudice existing at that time,” said Julian Carroll. A rally in support of Kentucky's proposed 1964 civil rights bill saw 10,000 Kentuckians in attendance, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Ralph Abernathy, and folk musicians Peter, Paul, and Mary.
In January 1966, Breathitt signed “the most comprehensive civil rights act ever passed by any state south of the Ohio River in the history of this nation.” Martin Luther King Jr. concurred with Breathitt's assessment of Kentucky's sweeping legislation, quoting as describing it as “the strongest and most important comprehensive civil-rights bill passed by a Southern state.”
Kentucky's 1966 Civil Rights Act ended racial discrimination in bathrooms, restaurants, swimming pools, and other public places throughout the Commonwealth. Racist discrimination was also outlawed in employment and it empowered Kentucky cities to enact local laws against housing discrimination. The legislature also repeals all “dead-letter” segregation laws, such as the 62-year-old Day Law, on the recommendation of Rep. Jesse Warders, a Louisville Republican and the only black member of the General Assembly. The 1966 Act also gave the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights authority to resolve discrimination complaints with enforceable repercussions for acts of discrimination.
Breathitt said that the civil rights legislation would have passed without him. He thought his opposition to strip mining had more to do with the demise of his political career than his support for civil rights.
1968 Black power riot
Two months after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Louisville's West End rioted. On May 27, 1968, a protest against police brutality was happening at Twenty-eighth and Greenwood Streets that eventually turned violent when the Louisville police jumped out of their cars with their guns already drawn. 472 arrests were made, $200,000 in damages happened, and James Groves Jr, 14, and Washington Browder, 19, were murdered. Washington Browder had a fish sandwich still clutched in his hand when found on the sidewalk, shot dead, by a business owner. James Groves Jr. was shot in the back, after supposedly looting during the riots.
Reconstruction amendments ratified
On March 18, 1976, to correct a historical oversight, Kentucky finally ratified the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, also known as the Reconstruction Amendments, with the signing of House Resolution 75 by Governor Julian Carroll. Mae Street Kidd, a legislator from Louisville, campaigned for the passage of the three Reconstruction Amendments.
1980 to 2000
Martha Layne Collins served as Kentucky's first woman governor from 1983 to 1987 and cochaired the Democratic National Convention in 1984. Prior to that, Collins had been a schoolteacher and party worker for the state's Democrats at all levels. She was elected and served as lieutenant governor from 1979 to 1983. In 1983, she defeated Jim Bunning for the governorship. Throughout her public life she emphasized education and economic development; a feminist, she viewed all issues as "women's issues." She took special pride in having procured the Toyota plant for Georgetown, Kentucky, bringing substantial jobs to the state. In 2000, the state ranked 49th in the percentage of women serving in state or national political offices. The traditional system has favored "old boys" thanks to political elites, incumbency, and long-entrenched political networks.
Paul E. Patton, a Democrat, served as governor from 1995 to 2003. Winning a close race in 1995, he benefited from economic good times and succeeded with most of his initiatives and priorities.
After winning reelection by a large margin in 1999, Patton suffered from the state's economic reversal. He lost credibility as well from public exposure of an extramarital affair. Near the end of his second term, Patton was accused of abusing his patronage powers. He was criticized for pardoning four former supporters who had been convicted of violating the state's campaign finance laws.
Ernie Fletcher was one of the few Republicans elected to the office, serving from 2003 to 2007.
Democrat Steve Beshear was elected as governor in 2007 and for a second term in 2011. State constitutional term limits mean that he cannot run again in 2015.
First state to adopt common core
Kentucky was the first state in the U.S. to adopt Common Core, after the General Assembly passed legislation in April 2009, under Governor Steve Beshear, that set the foundation for the new national standards. In fall 2010, Kentucky's state board of education voted to adopt them Common Core verbatim. Kentucky was the first of 45 states to adopt the Common Core, making the Bluegrass state a national test case for Common Core. Since Kentucky was the first state in the US to implement Common Core, $17.5 million was received by the state government from the Gates Foundation.
First Southern state to implement Obamacare
Kentucky implemented “Obamacare”—expanded Medicaid and starting Kynect.com—in late 2013. “Kentucky is the only Southern state both expanding Medicaid and operating a state-based exchange,” Governor Steve Beshear wrote in an oped letter to the New York Times where he spelled out his case for the implementation of Obamacare in Kentucky. “[Kentucky] ranks among the worst, if not the worst, in almost every major health category, including smoking, cancer deaths, preventable hospitalizations, premature death, heart disease and diabetes. Right now, 640,000 people in Kentucky are uninsured. That’s almost one in six Kentuckians.” A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville concluded that expanding Medicaid “would inject $15.6 billion into Kentucky’s economy over the next eight years, create almost 17,000 new jobs, have an $802.4 million positive budget impact (by transferring certain expenditures from the state to the federal government, among other things), protect hospitals from cuts in indigent care funding and shield businesses from up to $48 million in annual penalties.”
By October 2014, Kentucky saw a 42% drop in uninsured Kentuckians. 521,000 Kentuckians signed up for healthcare using Kynect.com, Kentucky's state healthcare exchange website. 3 out of every 4 people who purchased a private plan through Kynect.com got some kind of financial assistance, and about 75% of everybody who signed up had not had coverage before.
“It’s probably the most important decision I will get to make as governor because of the long-term impact it will have,” said Steve Beshear. 
First US state to legally raise hemp
On April 19, 2013, Kentucky legalized Hemp when Governor Steve Beshear refused to sign or veto Senate Bill 50, effectively passing a state law legalizing Hemp. Beshear had been one of the last obstacles blocking SB50 from becoming law. Under federal law, hemp is a Schedule 1 narcotic, just like PCP and heroin, in spite of the fact that hemp typically only has 0.3 percent THC, compared to the 3 percent to 22 percent usually found in marijuana. The Schedule 1 designation was exempted for Kentucky's pilot hemp research projects when the federal Farm Bill (a.k.a. The Agricultural Act of 2014) was passed.
On May 27, 2014, the University of Kentucky planted the second legal hemp crop in Kentucky. The first crop plot was planted earlier in May of the same year at Murray State University using California seeds. With these plantings, Kentucky became the first state in America to begin hemp production. Katie Moyer, a farmer in Christian County raising hemp, boasted that hemp crops stop soil erosion. In 2015, Kentucky's Department of Agriculture received 326 applications. The Department of Agriculture is responsible for approving applications. All applicants must submit a business plan, as well as pass a background check to appease the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
References and bibliography
- Pollack, David and M. May Stottman. “Archaeological Investigation of the State Monument”. http://heritage.ky.gov/nr/rdonlyres/2d6096f9-a3b5-48e2-85cb-e04a99eca539/0/statemonument.pdf
- Thomas W. Strafford Jr., Michael R. Waters, and Kenneth B. Tankersley. “Clovis and the American Mastodon at Big Bone Lick, Kentucky.” http://webcentral.uc.edu/eProf/media/attachment/eprofmediafile_1777.pdf
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Old_Fields,_Kentucky Beckner, Lucien (October 1932). "Eskippakithiki, The Last Indian Town in Kentucky". Filson Club Historical Quarterly 6 (4). Retrieved 2011-11-29.
- Dumenil, Lynn, ed. (2012). The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History. Oxford University Press. p. 241. ISBN 9780199743360. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
- Murphree, Daniel S., ed. (2012). Native America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia. Greenwood. p. 436. ISBN 978-0313381263. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
- Kentucky State Facts & Information, Kentucky Genealogy. Retrieved on 2011-06-01
- "The History of Kentucky From Its Earliest Settlement" Page 21, 1869
- Otis Rice, Frontier Kentucky (University Press of Kentucky, 1975), 85.
- James A. James, The Life of George Rogers Clark (1928), 231–32.
- "Constitutional Background". Kentucky Government: Informational Bulletin No. 137. Frankfort, Kentucky: Kentucky Legislative Research Commission. February 2003.
- Ellen Eslinger, "Farming on the Kentucky Frontier," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, (2009) 107#1 pp 3–32.
- Ann I. Ottesen, "A Reconstruction of the Activities and Outbuildings at Farmington, an Early Nineteenth-Century Hemp Farm," Filson Club History Quarterly, 1985, 59$4, pp 395-425
- W. F. Axton, Tobacco and Kentucky (1975)
- Todd H. Barnett, "Virginians Moving West: The Early Evolution of Slavery in the Bluegrass," Filson Club History Quarterly, 1999, 73#3, pp 221-248
- Raitz, Karl; O'Malley, Nancy (2012). Kentucky's Frontier Highway: Historical Landscapes along the Maysville Road. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-3664-6.
- Burr, David H. (1839). Map of Kentucky and Tennessee (Map). London: John Arrowsmith. Retrieved 1 July 2013 – via World Digital Library.
- Lee Soltow, "Horse Owners in Kentucky in 1800," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, July 1981, 79#3 pp 203-210
- Kent Hollingsworth, The Kentucky Thoroughbred (1978)
- Laura Hillenbrand, "The Derby," American Heritage, May/June 1999, 50#3 pp 98-107
- Larry Sawers, "The Mule, the South, and Economic Progress," Social Science History, Winter 2004, 28#4, pp 667-690
- Paul Conkin, Cane Ridge: America's Pentecost (1990)
- George Washington Ranck, The Traveling Church: An Account of the Baptist Exodus from Virginia to Kentucky in 1781 under the Leadership of Rev. Lewis Craig and Capt. William Ellis, Louisville, KY: self-published by Mrs. G.W. Ranck, 1910, p. 22 (and footnote), accessed 17 Aug 2010
- H. E. Nutter, A Brief History of the First Baptist Church (Black) Lexington, Kentucky, 1940, accessed 22 Aug 2010
- "First African Baptist Church", Lexington: The Athens of the West, National Park Service, accessed Aug 21, 2010
- Monica Najar, "'Meddling with Emancipation': Baptists, Authority, and the Rift over Slavery in the Upper South," Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 25#2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 157–186 in JSTOR
- Philip. Ardery, "Barton Stone and the Drama of Cane Ridge," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Oct 1987, Vol. 85#4 pp 308–321
- James Klotter and Daniel Rowland, eds. Bluegrass Renaissance: The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852 (2012)
- John E. Kleber, ed., The Encyclopedia of Louisville (University Press of Kentucky, 2001). .
- Damon Eubank, "A Time for Heroes, a Time for Honor: Kentucky Soldiers in the Mexican War," Filson Club History Quarterly, 1998, Vol. 72#2 pp 174–192
- Leming, John E. Jr. “The Great Slave Escape of 1848 Ended in Bracken County”. The Kentucky Explorer, June 2000, pp. 25-29; and American Negro Slave Revolts, by H. Aptheker.
- Lowell H. Harrison, The Civil War in Kentucky (University Press of Kentucky, 2010)
- Lowell H. Harrison, "The Civil War in Kentucky: Some Persistent Questions." The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society (1978): 1-21. in JSTOR
- Robert P. Broadwater, The Battle of Perryville, 1862: Culmination of the Failed Kentucky Campaign (McFarland & Company, 2005.)
- James Lee McDonough, War in Kentucky: From Shiloh to Perryville (Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1996)
- Keith F. Otterbein, "Five Feuds: An Analysis of Homicides in Eastern Kentucky in the Late Nineteenth Century," American Anthropologist, June 2000, Vol. 102 Issue 2, pp 231–43, provides a theoretical analysis
- Dwight B. Billings and Kathleen M. Blee, "'Where the Sun Set Crimson and the Moon Rose Red": Writing Appalachia and the Kentucky Mountain Feuds," Southern Cultures, Summer 1996, Vol. 2 Issue 3/4, pp 329–352
- Kentucky Laws, 1888, ch. 266. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_History_of_the_Australian_Ballot_System_in_the_United_States/Chapter_II
- James C. Klotter, William Goebel: The Politics of Wrath (1977).
- Robert F. Sexton, "The Crusade Against Pari-mutuel Gambling in Kentucky: a Study of Southern Progressivism in the 1920s," Filson Club History Quarterly 1976 50(1): 47–57.
- Walter L. Hixson, "The 1938 Kentucky Senate Election: Alben W. Barkley, 'Happy' Chandler, and the New Deal". Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 1982 80(3): 309–329.
- John E. Kleber, "As Luck Would Have It: An Overview of Lawrence W. Wetherby as Governor, 1950–1955," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Oct 1986, Vol. 84 Issue 4, pp 397–421
- "Downtown Lexington's Next Loss: Woolworth's". Preservation Magazine. August 2004. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- Ku, Michelle (2002-09-21). "Historic Woolworth Building in Lexington, Ky., to Become a Parking Lot," Lexington Herald-Leader
- Klotter and Harrison. 1997. A New History of Kentucky. pg. 390. https://books.google.com/books?id=FdTIIEZ1k2QC&pg=PA390&lpg=PA390&dq=fair+services+executive+order+combs+kentucky&source=bl&ots=5R0aErj0e9&sig=cVCa8BFTyYDYqU3IUtAbg0ruJ5w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FANoVbW1GIWpogSB2IK4DQ&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=fair%20services%20executive%20order%20combs%20kentucky&f=false
- Washington Afro-American. July 2, 1963. “4 Governors Act”. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2238&dat=19630702&id=hf4lAAAAIBAJ&sjid=xPQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=872,3049615&hl=en
- Wheatley, Kevin. March 5, 2014. “Legislators recall Martin Luther King Jr. March”. http://www.state-journal.com/local%20news/2014/03/05/legislators-recall-martin-luther-king-jr-march
- Breathitt, Edward T. May 4, 1967. The Public Papers of Governor Edward T. Breathitt, 1963-1967.https://books.google.com/books?id=KbkeBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA437&lpg=PA437&dq=1966+most+comprehensive+state+civil+rights+south&source=bl&ots=fS_ZaaQ-Es&sig=4MLytcYD_bcX17dju4hosd_TOuM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NOxnVabjG5TcoAS_loHICA&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=1966%20most%20comprehensive%20state%20civil%20rights%20south&f=false
- Johnson, John, and Mier, Maria. January 20, 2013. “Ky. voices: Kentucky led South in civil rights, what about now?” http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/20/2483201_ky-voices-state-led-south-in-civil.html
- Randall Williams, Ben Beard. “This Day in Civil Rights History”. pg. 311 https://books.google.com/books?id=0jwWrG4V1XQC&pg=PA311&lpg=PA311&dq=1966+most+comprehensive+state+civil+rights+south&source=bl&ots=B8f3lScyOl&sig=kDLd8bWZr1MjU-HYjKgNkXZJszI&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YuxnVYW-No7doASE04PAAg&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=1966%20most%20comprehensive%20state%20civil%20rights%20south&f=false
- Betsey Brinson, and Kenneth H. Williams, "An Interview with Governor Ned Breathitt on Civil Rights: 'The Most Significant Thing That I Have Ever Had a Part in,'" Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Jan 2001, Vol. 99 Issue 1, pp 5–51
- Klebe, John. The Encyclopedia of Louisville.
- Billingsley, Stan. “The Widows of Highland Avenue: A Historical Novel”. https://books.google.com/books?id=7uqTAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA153&lpg=PA153&dq=1976+13th+14th+15th+amendment+ratified+kentucky&source=bl&ots=wp_xLXFZkO&sig=RYfd74crh9EMeI_P-xIf8MuJK9w&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZBVoVeztHoq3ogTk14OwCg&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=1976%2013th%2014th%2015th%20amendment%20ratified%20kentucky&f=false
- Elizabeth Fraas, "All Issues Are Women'S Issues": An Interview With Governor Martha Layne Collins on Women in Politics," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, July 2001, Vol. 99 Issue 3, pp 213–248
- Penny M. Miller, "The Slow and Unsure Progress of Women in Kentucky Politics," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, July 2001, Vol. 99 Issue 3, pp 249–283
- Paul Blanchard, "Governor Paul E. Patton," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Jan 2004, Vol. 102 Issue 1, pp 69–87
- Butrymowicz, Sarah. October 15, 2013. What Kentucky Can Teach The Rest of the US About Common Core. http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/what-kentucky-can-teach-the-rest-of-the-us-about-the-common-core/280453/ http://www.corestandards.org/standards-in-your-state/
- Porter, Caroline. “In an Early Adopter, Common Core Faces Little Pushback”. Updated May 8, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-an-early-adopter-common-core-faces-little-pushback-1431110355
- Beshear, Steve. My State Needs Obamacare. Now. September 26, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/27/opinion/my-state-needs-obamacare-now.html
- Modern Healthcare. Kentucky Gov. Beshear on why Obamacare will become like Medicare. October 29, 2014. http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20141029/MAGAZINE/310289962
- Lawrence, Jill. How Steve Beshear Became Kentucky’s Democrat Whisperer. December 6, 2013. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/06/how-steve-beshear-became-kentucky-s-democrat-whisperer.html
- Wing, Nick. April 19, 2013. Kentucky Hemp Bill Becomes Law. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/09/kentucky-hemp-bill_n_3045431.html
- Kentucky CBD: Back to the Future with Industrial Hemp. May 12, 2015. http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2015/05/12/kentucky-cbd-back-to-the-future-with-industrial-hemp/
- May 27, 2014. After DEA approves hemp seed import, Kentucky plants a landmark crop. http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-kentucky-hemp-dea-20140527-story.html
- Hall, Gregory A. June 26, 2014. “Hemp crop takes root in Kentucky”.http://www.courier-journal.com/story/money/2014/06/26/hemp-crop-takes-root-kentucky/11402575/
- Bullington, Kathryn. “Farmers, Industry Leaders Excited About Future of Industrial Hemp in Kentucky”. March 5, 2015. http://ivn.us/2015/03/05/farmers-industry-leaders-excited-about-future-of-industrial-hemp/
Surveys and reference
- Abramson, Rudy and Haskell, Jean, editors (2006). Encyclopedia of Appalachia, University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-456-8
- Bodley, Temple and Samuel M. Wilson. History of Kentucky 4 vols. (1928)
- Channing, Steven. Kentucky: A Bicentennial History (1977); popular overview
- Clark, Thomas Dionysius. A History of Kentucky (many editions, 1937–1992); long the standard textbook
- Collins, Lewis. History of Kentucky (1880); old but highly detailed online edition
- Harrison, Lowell H. and James C. Klotter. A New History of Kentucky (1997), the standard history by leading scholars
- Ford, Thomas R. ed. The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey. (1967); includes highly detailed statistics
- Kleber, John E. et al. The Kentucky Encyclopedia (1992); standard reference history
- Klotter, James C. Our Kentucky: A Study of the Bluegrass State (2000); high school text
- Klotter, James C. Kentucky: Portrait in Paradox, 1900–1950 (2006)
- Klotter, James C. and Freda C. Klotter. A Concise History of Kentucky (2008)
- Lucas, Marion Brunson and Wright, George C. A History of Blacks in Kentucky 2 vols. (1992)
- Morse, Jedidiah (1797). "Kentucky". The American Gazetteer. Boston, Massachusetts: At the presses of S. Hall, and Thomas & Andrews.
- Share, Allen J. Cities in the Commonwealth: Two Centuries of Urban Life in Kentucky (1982)
- Tapp, Hambleton, and James C. Klotter. Kentucky: Decades of Discord, 1865–1900 (2008)
- Wallis, Frederick A. and Hambleton Tapp. A Sesqui-Centennial History of Kentucky 4 vols. (1945)
- Ward, William S., A Literary History of Kentucky (1988) (ISBN 0-87049-578-X)
- WPA, Kentucky: A Guide to the Bluegrass State (1939); classic guide
- Yater, George H. (1987). Two Hundred Years at the Fall of the Ohio: A History of Louisville and Jefferson County (2nd ed.). Filson Club, Incorporated. ISBN 0-9601072-3-1.
Specialized scholarly studies
- Aron, Stephen A. How the West Was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky from Daniel Boone to Henry Clay (1996)
- Aron, Stephen A. "The Significance of the Kentucky Frontier," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 91 (Summer 1993), 298-323.
- Bakeless, John. Daniel Boone, Master of the Wilderness (1989) online
- Blakey, George T. Hard Times and New Deal in Kentucky, 1929–1939 (1986)
- Clark, Thomas D. (January 1938). "Salt, A Factor in the Settlement of Kentucky". Filson Club Historical Quarterly 12 (1). Retrieved 2011-11-29.
- Coulter, E. Merton. The Civil War and Readjustment in Kentucky (1926)
- Davis, Alice. "Heroes: Kentucky's Artists from Statehood to the New Millennium" (2004)
- Eller, Ronald D. Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880–1930 1982
- Ellis, William E. The Kentucky River (2000)
- Eslinger, Ellen. "Farming on the Kentucky Frontier," Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 107 (Winter 2009), 3–32.
- Faragher, John Mack. Daniel Boone (1993)
- Fenton, John H. Politics in the Border States: A Study of the Patterns of Political Organization, and Political Change, Common to the Border States: Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri (1957)
- Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. Henry Clay: The Essential American (2010); scholarly biography
- Ireland, Robert M. The County in Kentucky History (1976)
- Kephart, Horace (1922). Our Southern Highlanders (New and revised ed.). Macmillan. ISBN 0-87049-203-9. full text online
- Klotter, James C. and Daniel Rowland, eds. Bluegrass Renaissance: The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2012),
- Klotter, James C.; Harrison, Lowell; Ramage, James; Roland, Charles; Taylor, Richard; Bush, Bryan S; Fugate, Tom; Hibbs, Dixie; Matthews, Lisa; Moody, Robert C.; Myers, Marshall; Sanders, Stuart; McBride, Stephen (2005). Rose, Jerlene, ed. Kentucky's Civil War 1861–1865. Clay City, Kentucky: Back Home In Kentucky, Inc. ISBN 0-9769231-1-4.
- Klotter, James C. Kentucky: Portrait in Paradox, 1900–1950 (1992)
- Klotter, James C., ed. The Athens of the West: Kentucky and American Culture, 1792-1852 (University Press of Kentucky, 2012)
- Marshall, Anne E. Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State (University of North Carolina Press; 2010) 272 pages
- Pearce, John Ed. Divide and Dissent: Kentucky Politics, 1930–1963 (1987)
- Pudup, Mary Beth, Dwight B. Billings, and Altina L. Waller, eds. Appalachia in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century. (1995)
- Reid, Darren R. (ed.) Daniel Boone and Others on the Kentucky Frontier: Autobiographies and Narratives, 1769–1795 (2009) ISBN 978-0-7864-4377-2
- Remini, Robert V. Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (1991); scholarly biography
- Sonne, Niels Henry. Liberal Kentucky, 1780–1828 (1939) online edition
- Tapp, Hambleton and James C. Klotter. Kentucky Decades of Discord, 1865–1900 (1977)
- Townsend, William H. Lincoln and the Bluegrass: Slavery and Civil War in Kentucky (1955); online edition
- Waldrep, Christopher Night Riders: Defending Community in the Black Patch, 1890–1915 (1993); tobacco wars online edition
- Cantrell, Doug, et al. eds. Kentucky Through The Centuries: A Collection Of Documents And Essays (2009), 474pp
- Chandler, Albert B. Heroes, Plain Folks, and Skunks: The Life and Times of Happy Chandler (1989)
- Thomas D. Clark (1903–2005) – Historian Laureate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
- The Filson Historical Society
- History of Louisville, Kentucky
- History of the Southern United States
- Kentucky Historical Society
- Timeline of Kentucky history
- List of Kentucky women in the civil rights era
- Timeline of Lexington, Kentucky
- Timeline of Louisville, Kentucky