Portal:Kentucky

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The Commonwealth of Kentucky Listeni/knˈtʌki/ is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts). Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 it became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th largest state in terms of total area, the 36th largest in land area, and ranks 26th in population.

Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the fact that native bluegrass is present in many of the pastures throughout the state, based on the fertile soil. It made possible the breeding of high-quality livestock, especially thoroughbred racing horses. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park; the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the Lower 48 states; and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. It is also home to the highest per capita number of deer and turkey in the United States, the largest free-ranging elk herd east of Montana, and the nation's most productive coalfield. Kentucky is also known for thoroughbred horses, horse racing, bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music, automobile manufacturing, tobacco and college basketball.

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The History of slavery in Kentucky dates from the earliest permanent European settlements in the state until the end of the Civil War. Although Kentucky was generally classified as the Upper South or a Border state, rather than the Deep South, enslaved African-Americans made up a substantial percentage of the population. Early Kentucky history was built on the labor of slavery, and it was an integral part of the state. From 1790 to 1860 the slave population of Kentucky was never more than one quarter of the total population, with lower percentages after 1830. Slave populations were greatest in the central "bluegrass" region of the state, which was rich in farmland. In 1850, 23 percent of Kentucky's white males held enslaved African Americans.

Early visitors to Kentucky brought their slaves with them in the 1750s and 1760s. As permanent settlers started arriving in the late 1770s, they held slaves in the station (fort) based settlements. Settlers, often from Virginia, continued to rely on slave labor as they established more permanent farms.

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Cumberland Falls 2005 05 20a.jpeg
Photo credit: Tom Allen
Cumberland Falls is known as the Niagara of the South.

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Owensboro is the third largest city in Kentucky and the county seat of Daviess County. According to 2006 estimates, the city had a total population of 55,525 and a metropolitan population of 111,599. Owensboro was first settled in the 1790s by frontiersman William "Bill" Smeathers, for which the park on the riverfront is named. The settlement was called Yellow Banks, an allusion to the color of the banks of the Ohio River. In 1817, Yellow Banks was incorporated as a city under the name Owensborough, named after Colonel Abraham Owen. In 1893, the name was shortened to its present spelling of Owensboro.

On August 14, 1936, downtown Owensboro became the site of the last public hanging in the United States. Rainey Bethea was executed for the rape of 70-year-old Lischa Edwards, who was also murdered. He had confessed to her strangling but the Commonwealth indicted him only on the rape charge since that was the only capital crime for which the penalty was hanging.

Owensboro considers itself the "BBQ Capital of the world"; it holds its International BBQ festival and competition every second weekend in May. Owensboro also hosts the Annual Owensboro PumpkinFest held each September at the Sportscenter/Moreland Park complex. The festival consists of food vendors, crafts people, carnival rides, children and adult activities and games, and plenty of contests using pumpkins.

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Confederate Monument in Cynthiana

Kentucky Official Symbols

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Burks' Makers Mark Distillery

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My Old Kentucky Home State Park is a state park in Kentucky. It is located in Bardstown. The state park consists of Federal Hill, a former plantation owned by the Rowan family. A visit to the site in 1852 is said to have inspired Stephen Foster to write his famous song, My Old Kentucky Home. On June 1, 1992, a 29-cent stamp was issued honoring the park.

The park features an amphitheater that is home to the long-running outdoor musical, Stephen Foster — The Musical, which was usually staged each night except Monday during the summer. It is the longest running outdoor drama in the state of Kentucky, having started in 1959.

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Ernest Lee (Ernie) Fletcher (born November 12, 1952) served as governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 2003 to 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party.

In 1994, Fletcher was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 78th District. He served one term, until legislative redistricting forced him and another Republican, State Representative Stan Cave, into the same district. He then ran for Kentucky's 6th District seat in the United States House of Representatives. He was badly defeated in November 1996 by incumbent Democrat Scotty Baesler, but ran again in 1998, beating Democratic State Senator Ernesto Scorsone. In 2000, he faced Baesler again, and this time Fletcher won by an 18-point margin. He was reelected in 2002 without major-party opposition.

Quotes

"I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." -- Abraham Lincoln

"I was brought up to believe that Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon." -- Hugo Black

"Tough girls come from New York. Sweet girls, they're from Georgia. But us Kentucky girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin'. And if we have an opinion, you know you're gonna hear it." -- Ashley Judd

"Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune." -- Daniel Boone

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