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A Concise History of Kentucky

James Klotter

Publication Year: 2008

Kentucky is most commonly associated with horses, tobacco fields, bourbon, and coal mines. There is much more to the state, though, than stories of feuding families and Colonel Sanders’ famous fried chicken. Kentucky has a rich and often compelling history, and James C. Klotter and Freda C. Klotter introduce readers to an exciting story that spans 12,000 years, looking at the lives of Kentuckians from Native Americans to astronauts. The Klotters examine all aspects of the state’s history—its geography, government, social life, cultural achievements, education, and economy. A Concise History of Kentucky recounts the events of the deadly frontier wars of the state’s early history, the divisive Civil War, and the shocking assassination of a governor in 1900. The book tells of Kentucky’s leaders from Daniel Boone and Henry Clay to Abraham Lincoln, Mary Breckinridge, and Muhammad Ali. The authors also highlight the lives of Kentuckians, both famous and ordinary, to give a voice to history. The Klotters explore Kentuckians’ accomplishments in government, medicine, politics, and the arts. They describe the writing and music that flowered across the state, and they profile the individuals who worked to secure equal rights for women and African Americans. The book explains what it was like to work in the coal mines and explains the daily routine on a nineteenth-century farm. The authors bring Kentucky’s story to the twenty-first century and talk about the state’s modern economy, where auto manufacturing jobs are replacing traditional agricultural work. A collaboration of the state historian and an experienced educator, A Concise History of Kentucky is the best single resource for Kentuckians new and old who want to learn more about the past, present, and future of the Bluegrass State.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front cover

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pp. iv


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pp. v


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi

If nature abhors a vacuum, so too do publishers and authors. Although one of us (James C. Klotter) had coauthored the standard full history of the state and edited a high school state history textbook, and we had recently coauthored an elementary school text, none fully met the need for a concise, readable, and affordable introductory history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ...


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pp. xii-xiii

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1 Frontiers--Then and Now

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pp. 1-10

One meaning of the word frontier is a border between places. But those borders can be very different at different times. ...

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2 Starting a State

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pp. 11-32

In its early days, Kentucky became a middle ground. It served as a crossroads where different groups met. Native Americans hunted the land. From the north and west, small groups of French explorers came to the region. A few Spanish arrive ...

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3 Different Kentuckys

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pp. 33-54

Kentucky is now home to more than 4 million people. That puts it exactly in the middle of all the states in terms of population. But that ranking has varied greatly over the years. Soon after Kentucky became a state, about 221,000 men, women, and children lived there. ...

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4 The Government of Kentucky

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pp. 55-64

The treasurer of Kentucky receives the tax monies paid by Kentucky citizens to operate the state. In 1888, the treasurer left his office and did not return. People last recalled seeing him stuffing money in a sack. It turned out that he had been stealing the state’s money. He had been the state treasurer for twenty years ...

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5 Living in Kentucky

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pp. 65-90

Over the years, Kentuckians have lived and worked in many different ways. Because the state has numerous regional variations and diverse peoples, not all places have had the same characteristics at the same time. Fifty years ago, the lives of people in some parts of the state differed little from those of people living at the time of statehood ...

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6 From Statehood to the Civil War

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pp. 91-108

Between Kentucky’s statehood in 1792 and the start of the Civil War in 1861, the commonwealth grew rapidly. On the surface, visitors found the state a good place to live. They noted the many inventions, the good college in Lexington, the strong business growth of Louisville, the rich farms of western Kentucky, and more. ...

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7 The Civil War and the End of a Century

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pp. 109-126

Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office as president of the United States in March 1861. By that time, it looked as if there might not be a united nation. Many southerners feared the actions President Lincoln might take on several issues, including slavery, and several southern states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy. Efforts at compromise had failed ...

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8 Working in Kentucky

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pp. 127-142

Over the years, Kentucky has been known for producing coal, tobacco, bourbon, horses, and perhaps fried chicken, but is that a true picture of its present-day economy? ...

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9 Words, Music, and More

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pp. 143-162

The value of a state can be judged by many things: its economy, its health care or educational system, its justice administration, or its historical or natural resources. But one of the most important things about a state is its culture. Has a state produced great writers ...

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10 Kentucky in the Twentieth Century

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pp. 163-182

In addition to the changes in literature, the economy, and education mentioned in other chapters, several other major changes took place in twentieth-century Kentucky. ...

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11 Going to School

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pp. 183-196

One historian wrote that frontier Kentucky “was a battlefield not a schoolground.” Frontier people had to fight for their lives, so setting up schools did not seem so important. Yet, almost from the first year of the settlements, teachers taught students in forts and then in rough schools. ... People valued education, even with danger all around them. ...

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12 Today and Tomorrow in Kentucky

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pp. 197-202

One of the reasons people look at the past is to help them understand where they might be going in the future. History can help societies plan for what is to come in the years ahead. But to do that requires knowing about the present—in this case, Kentucky’s strengths and weaknesses. ...

Appendix One: Kentucky Counties

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pp. 203-208

Appendix Two: Kentucky's Governors

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pp. 209-213

Appendix Three: Kentuckians on the U.S. Supreme Court

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pp. 215

Appendix Four: Kentucky Facts

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pp. 217

Additional Sources for Research

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pp. 219-220


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pp. 236-253

E-ISBN-13: 9780813129259
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813124988

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2008