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History of Kentucky

History of Kentucky

The 'Blue Grass state', Kentucky, became the 15th state to join the Union of the United States in 1792. It has a rich and colorful history, both before and after the European colonization of the Americas. Read on to know more...
Historyplex Staff
From the mid-1600s to the arrival of the first settlers, the area was sought after by two warring tribes. The Shawnee tribes from the north of the Ohio river and the Cherokee and the Chickasaw tribe from the south of the Cumberland river, fought for the control of this region. However, the present-day Kentucky was never held by Indian tribes. The first permanent settlement arrived in 1774, when James Harrod founded the area west of the Allegheny Mountains. Prior to that, certain hunting parties had visited this region in the late 1760s. The Harrodsburg and Boonesboro settlements were the first ones, and initiated a flow of people to this region. Originally, it was a part of the state of Virginia. But due to stark opposition from the locals it was made into a separate county in 1776.

Political History

The end of the American Revolution saw a growing unrest in the region. A huge separation movement spread across the entire county for independent administration. Finally, it took nine conventions to grant statehood to Kentucky in 1792, with Isaac Shelby as its first governor. Frankfort was chosen as the capital city and a separate constitution was drafted for the 'Commonwealth of Kentucky'. In 1812, the United States were at loggerheads with England due to the imperialistic policies of the British. It supported the war by boycotting the import and use of British goods and also sent a huge army to fight for the American government.

The most significant chapter in its history was written during the Civil War period. In 1861, the most influential war in the history of America broke out between the southern and the northern states. Despite being strategically located in the middle of the conflict, it held a neutral stance. However, as the battle became intense, the contemporary conditions forced the state to take a tough stance. It engaged a huge battalion of soldiers to fight for the northern states, and another approximately half of that to fight for the Confederacy. Nearly 2000 of its soldiers perished fighting against their fellow Kentuckians, and more than 5000 were wounded. After the situation calmed down, this state began its resurgence and became an industrially advanced state.

Economic history

Kentucky was essentially an agrarian state. A lot of its population was dependent on agriculture as recently as the 1970s. Tobacco was a large source of income for the rural community. The early landowners employed slaves to produce hemp for making fibers, corn, and the special Kentucky whiskey, which is still popular, having withstood the test of time. In the late 1700s, it saw a huge growth in trade. The Ohio and the Mississippi rivers facilitated the operation of many shipping centers that came up in the region. This state had a huge economic boom during the early decades of the 19th century until the advent of the Civil War, which resulted in a total collapse of the economic infrastructure.

But soon after the Civil War, it resumed its ever-ascending march to prosperity. The US Treasury Gold Vault was established at Fort Knox, Kentucky, during World War II, the first of a series of measures that changed the face of the state. Since then it has dramatically transformed itself into a large industrial center. The area is home to reputed centers for breeding and raising some of the finest horses in the world. The 'Bluegrass Region", as it is fondly called, had plenty of grasslands and abundant water, resulting in a rich horse breeding culture. The racing events held here, such as the Kentucky Racing Derby attract a lot of horse racing fans. It is also a quite popular tourist destination for many around the world.

Kentucky is the birthplace of one of the most famous and important citizens of the US, its sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. Strangely, it is also the birthplace of the Confederate president, Jefferson Davies, who led the Southern states against the Union government of Abraham Lincoln. Due to its historically rich coal industry, excellent connectivity with the other parts of the country, and a booming tourism, it has a place of great prominence in the USA.
Jefferson Davies
Abraham Lincoln
Racing Derby
special Kentucky whiskey
Kentucky map