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Jackson Purchase

Coordinates: 36°52′N 88°46′W / 36.86°N 88.76°W / 36.86; -88.76
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Jackson Purchase
Territorial acquisition

Counties comprising the Jackson Purchase region
Area transferred
 • 1818Western Kentucky, West Tennessee, from The Chickasaw Nation
• 2020
6,202.5 km2 (2,394.8 sq mi)
• 2020
StatusFormer disputed territory
 • TypeFederal & State
U.S. negotiator 
• 1818
General Andrew Jackson
U.S. negotiator 
• 1818
Ex-governor Isaac Shelby
Historical eraWestward expansion of the U.S.
• Claimed by U.S.
• U.S. acquired in Treaty of Tuscaloosa
October, 1818
• Annexed to Kentucky & Tennessee
 • TypeCounties
 • Units
Today part ofWestern Kentucky & West Tennessee

The Jackson Purchase, also known as the Purchase Region or simply the Purchase, is a region in the U.S. state of Kentucky bounded by the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and the Tennessee River to the east.[1]

Jackson's Purchase also included all of Tennessee west of the Tennessee River. In modern usage, however, the term refers only to the Kentucky portion of the Jackson Purchase. The southern portion is simply called West Tennessee.


The Purchase comprised what is now eight counties, with a combined land area of 3,394.8 square miles (6,202.5 km2), about 6.03% of Kentucky's land area. Its 2010 census population was 196,365 inhabitants, equal to 4.53% of the state's population. Paducah, the largest city and main economic center, has just over 25,000 residents. The region's other two largest cities, Murray and Mayfield, have about 18,000 and 10,000 residents respectively. The main educational institution is Murray State University.[2][3]


Largest municipalities[edit]

  County seat

Rank Name Population Area County Inc.
1 Paducah† 27,137 20.75 sq mi (53.74 km2) McCracken 1838
2 Murray† 17,307 11.68 sq mi (30.25 km2) Calloway January 17, 1844
3 Mayfield† 10,017 7.38 sq mi (19.11 km2) Graves 1846
4 Benton† 4,756 5.10 sq mi (13.21 km2) Marshall 1845
5 Calvert City 2,514 18.51 sq mi (47.94 km2) Marshall March 18, 1871
6 Hickman† 2,365 3.58 sq mi (9.27 km2) Fulton February 18, 1841
7 Fulton 2,357 2.98 sq mi (7.72 km2) Fulton 1872
8 Clinton 1,222 1.62 sq mi (4.20 km2) Hickman 1831
9 LaCenter 872 0.60 sq mi (1.55 km2) Ballard
10 Bardwell† 714 0.87 sq mi (2.25 km2) Carlisle 1878


Though chiefly an agricultural economy, tourism is an important industry in the Purchase, focused chiefly on water-related activities at the TVA-created Kentucky Lake. Together with the portion of the Tennessee River north of Kentucky Dam, it forms the eastern border of the Purchase.



The land was ceded after prolonged negotiations with the Chickasaw Indians in which the United States was represented by Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby, while the Chickasaws were represented by their chiefs, head men, and warriors including: Levi Colbert, his brother George Colbert, Chinubby, and Tishomingo. On October 19, 1818, the two sides agreed to the transfer by signing the Treaty of Tuscaloosa.[4] The United States agreed to pay the Chickasaw people $300,000, at the rate of $20,000 annually for 15 years, in return for the right to all Chickasaw land east of the Mississippi River and north of the new state of Mississippi border.[4][5]

After statehood[edit]

Although claimed as part of Kentucky at its statehood in 1792, the land did not come under definitive U.S. control until 1818, when General Andrew Jackson and ex-Kentucky governor Isaac Shelby, representing the United States federal government, purchased it from the Chickasaw Indians through several treaties, including the Treaty of Tuscaloosa.[4][5]

The Western Tennessee land acquisitions under President James Monroe affected several Indian nations and the U.S. states of Kentucky and Tennessee, and the Alabama Territory:[4]
*Pink – Chickasaw – Jackson Purchase (1818)
*Yellow – CreekTreaty of Fort Jackson (1814)
*Gray – Cherokee – Jackson and McMinn Treaty (1817)

Historically, this region has been considered the most "Southern" of Kentucky; having an agricultural economy tied to cotton plantations and the use of enslaved labor before the Civil War, the Purchase in the years after the war voted as the most staunchly Democratic region in Kentucky. For well over a century, it provided such overwhelming margins for Democratic candidates that Kentucky Democrats routinely called it the "Gibraltar of Democracy". The most widely circulated newspaper and media outlet in the Purchase, The Paducah Sun, was once named the Paducah Sun-Democrat (see WPSD-TV). Due to changing demographics, most counties in the Purchase in the early 21st century have populations that are overwhelmingly white. Many African Americans left the area after the Civil War and in the Great Migration of the 20th century.[citation needed]

During the Civil War, the Purchase was the area of strongest support for the Confederate cause. On May 29, 1861, a group of Southern sympathizers from Kentucky and Tennessee met at the Graves County Courthouse in Mayfield to discuss the possibility of aligning the Purchase with West Tennessee. Most records of the event were lost, possibly in an 1864 fire that destroyed the courthouse.[6] After the War the region heightened its sense of being "Southern".[7]

In 1907, Fulton County judge Herbert Carr declared in a speech that the Mayfield Convention adopted a resolution for secession, and a historical marker in front of the courthouse also proclaims this as fact. But, the surviving records of the meeting, authored by a Union sympathizer, make no mention of this resolution. Historian Berry Craig states that the convention believed the whole of Kentucky would eventually secede and make unnecessary a separate resolution for the Purchase to break away.[citation needed]

Records do show that the convention adopted resolutions condemning President Abraham Lincoln for "waging a bloody and cruel war" against the South, urging Governor Beriah Magoffin to resist Union forces and praising him for refusing to answer Lincoln's call for soldiers, and condemning the provision of "Lincoln guns" to Union sympathizers in Kentucky. The convention nominated Henry Burnett to represent Kentucky's First District in Congress. The Mayfield Convention was a precursor to the later Russellville Convention, that formed the provisional Confederate government of Kentucky.[6]

Kentucky congressional districts as of 2023

Since the late 20th century, the Purchase has voted for Republicans in national elections while giving higher percentages to candidates of the Democratic Party in state and local elections. This trend is similar to realignment among white conservatives in other parts of the South. As of 2004, however, the region's delegation in the Kentucky General Assembly included both Republican Party and Democratic Party representatives. For the first time in history, the region elected Republicans for both of its two state senators. The Jackson Purchase is within Kentucky's 1st congressional district.

Notable people[edit]

Notable people from the region include:[8]


  1. ^ Kelber, John E., ed. (May 18, 1992). "Geography". Encyclopedia of Kentucky. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 367–368. ISBN 978-0-8131-1772-0. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  2. ^ Olive, W. W. "Geology of the Jackson Purchase region." Kentucky: Roadlog for the Geological Society of Kentucky field excursion: Kentucky Geological Survey, Ser 10.11 (1972).
  3. ^ Davis, Darrell Haug (1923). "Geography of the Jackson Purchase". Kentucky Geological Society.
  4. ^ a b c d Rolater, Fred S. (March 1, 2018). "Treaties". Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "Indian Land Cessions in the United States 1784-1894 (United States Serial Set, Number 4015)". Library of Congress. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Craig, Berry F. (Autumn 2001). "The Jackson Purchase Considers Secession: The 1861 Mayfield Convention". The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. 99 (4): 339–361. JSTOR 23384796.
  7. ^ Hoskins, Patricia (May 9, 2008). 'The Old First is With the South:' The Civil War, Reconstruction, and Memory in the Jackson Purchase Region of Kentucky (PDF) (PhD thesis). Auburn University (published 2009). pp. 296–315.
  8. ^ All included in Kleber,John E., ed. (1992). "The Kentucky Encyclopedia".

Further reading[edit]

  • Clark, Thomas D. (1976). "The Jackson Purchase: A Dramatic Chapter in Southern Indian Policy and Relations". Filson Club Historical Quarterly. 50: 302–320.
  • Davis, Darrell Haug (1923). Geography of the Jackson Purchase. Frankfort, KY: Kentucky Geological Society. OCLC 5232803.
  • Federal Writers' Project (1939). Kentucky: A Guide to the Bluegrass State. American Guide Series. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company. – classic guide from the Federal Writers Project; covers main themes and describes every town and feature, with capsule histories
  • Hoskins, Patricia (2009). 'The Old First is With the South:' The Civil War, Reconstruction, and Memory in the Jackson Purchase Region of Kentucky (PhD thesis). Auburn University. hdl:10415/1685.
  • Kleber, John E., ed. (1992). The Kentucky encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-1772-0.
  • Whitesell, Hunter B. (April 1965). "Military Operations in the Jackson Purchase Areas of Kentucky, 1862–1865". Register of the Kentucky Historical Society. 63: 141–167.

External links[edit]

36°52′N 88°46′W / 36.86°N 88.76°W / 36.86; -88.76