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Kentucky Rising

Democracy, Slavery, and Culture from the Early Republic to the Civil War

James A. Ramage and Andrea S. Watkins

Publication Year: 2011

Kentucky’s first settlers brought with them a dedication to democracy and a sense of limitless hope about the future. Determined to participate in world progress in science, education, and manufacturing, Kentuckians wanted to make the United States a great nation. They strongly supported the War of 1812, and Kentucky emerged as a model of patriotism and military spirit. Kentucky Rising: Democracy, Slavery, and Culture from the Early Republic to the Civil War offers a new synthesis of the sixty years before the Civil War. James A. Ramage and Andrea S. Watkins explore this crucial but often overlooked period, finding that the early years of statehood were an era of great optimism and progress. Drawing on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, Ramage and Watkins demonstrate that the eyes of the nation often focused on Kentucky, which was perceived as a leader among the states before the Civil War. Globally oriented Kentuckians were determined to transform the frontier into a network of communities exporting to the world market and dedicated to the new republic. Kentucky Rising offers a valuable new perspective on the eras of slavery and the Civil War. This book is a copublication with the Kentucky Historical Society.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Front cover

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pp. iv


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pp. vii

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pp. 1-16

Parents in Kentucky and throughout the United States in the 1850s recommended Henry Clay as a role model for their young sons; they said that the great Kentucky statesman was an example of self-reliance, meaningful and unselfish public service, and success without formal schooling or powerful connections...

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1. Henry Clay, Part One: American Hero

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pp. 17-36

The people create heroes, and, when Henry Clay looked and acted the part and led the way toward national greatness and away from civil war, the legend began. With a great hero, it helps if he has overcome adversity and suffered and experienced failures; reality is left behind anyway, and he becomes larger...

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2. Henry Clay, Part Two: Champion of the Union

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pp. 37-59

Henry Clay had the attractive appearance and charisma of a national hero, but the depth of feeling for him derived from the realization that he restored calm and peace of mind in three dangerous crises that threatened the Union. This set him apart as the leader who met the deepest need of the people—he was their Moses who led them...

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3. Art and Architecture: Where Artists Found a Home

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pp. 60-81

As Kentucky moved from its frontier phase into statehood and the nineteenth century, funds and time were available for residents to begin thinking of art. Because Kentuckians were surrounded by beautiful natural scenes in their daily lives, landscape art was not in high demand. In addition, before the invention of photography...

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4. Politics, Stump Speaking, and How the West Was Won

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pp. 82-96

Thursday finally came, and by midmorning the road was crowded with carriages, horseback riders, and men, women, and children on foot, going to the stump speaking, the election barbecue. “Come friends! Come all, and let us have a grand old time!” said the broadside at the general store; apparently, folks from counties all over the region were responding...

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5. Half Horse and Half Alligator: War of 1812

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pp. 97-128

Kentucky has an enduring legacy of military tradition dating back to the frontier; today, military and police snipers still use the term Kentucky windage, which initially referred to adjusting the Kentucky long rifle after the first shot to allow for wind and other variables. Shawnee warriors and Indians from other tribes attacked Kentucky settlers...

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6. Steamboats, Entertainment, Journalism, and Culture

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pp. 129-147

Kentuckians were garrulous and socially minded, and, on the street, outside the general store, and over the fence on the farm, they loved to talk with their neighbors about the news of the day. Newspapers were the great unifying institution, according to Richard Wade, and, since they were read by nearly everyone...

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7. Religion and Women: Toward a More Compassionate Home Life

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pp. 148-169

All eyes in the nation turned toward Kentucky in the summer of 1801; the topic of the day was the great evangelical revival under way six miles east of Paris at the Presbyterian Cane Ridge Meetinghouse. Everyone was invited, and Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist ministers spoke to large crowds that gathered—as many as twenty-five thousand on some afternoons...

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8. Mexican War: Honor Reconfirmed

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pp. 170-186

Part of the essence of being a Kentuckian after the War of 1812 was having deep respect for the state’s veterans who had defended the national honor in Canada and New Orleans. Schoolboys reading about George Washington and the founding fathers reflected that their own fathers and uncles had reconfirmed independence along the banks of the Raisin River and the Mississippi, and they longed for an opportunity...

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9. Surgery, Medical Botany, and Science: 1800–1825

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pp. 187-214

Rarely in history does an innovator make a discovery in a life-and-death situation that overturns the traditional wisdom of centuries; when it happens, it is even more exceptional when history gives that innovator clear and unchallenged credit for the breakthrough. Dr. Ephraim McDowell accomplished this...

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10. Calomel, Cholera, and Science: 1825–1865

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pp. 215-235

Thomas Jefferson charged that medical science had not advanced since ancient Greece and Rome—he contended that “time had stood still” and that it was dangerous to come under the treatment of a physician. He wrote to physician Caspar Wistar on June 21, 1807, that a revolution was needed because a physician would propose “some fanciful theory” and declare that it was a new key to understanding...

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11. The Experience of Slavery

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pp. 236-256

Harriet Beecher Stowe studied slavery in Kentucky for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and one reason the book was a best seller and the drama based on it played to overflow crowds in the North was that she brought to life in fiction the most heartbreaking aspect of Kentucky slavery—the breakup of families when slaves were sold and taken away to the Lower South...

12. The Politics of Slavery

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pp. 257-276

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13. Civil War, Part One: Fighting Spirit, Divided Families, and the Confederate War of Proclamations

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pp. 277-296

Opponents of slavery outside Kentucky noticed that the commonwealth had the strongest antislavery movement of any of the slave states, and many hoped that Kentucky would set an example and be the first slave state to abolish slavery. Most Kentuckians agreed with Henry Clay that slavery was evil, but they also agreed with him that it was necessary for public safety—...

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14. Civil War, Part Two: Union War of Pacification

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pp. 297-313

When Kentucky neutrality ended, Lincoln’s military commanders struggled to keep the people loyal to the Union. Lincoln chose commanders carefully, using the number one criterion that the man be a Kentucky native in order to win the contest for the people. In this regard, his first selection was outstanding—Major Robert Anderson...

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15. Civil War, Part Three: Lincoln’s War on Slavery

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pp. 314-335

Summer sunlight glistened on Queen Anne’s lace blooming in the pastures and gleamed on tiny trumpet-honeysuckle blossoms along the fence rows, and across the fields above the rows of tobacco one could see the Old South civilization disappearing on the roads. African Americans were on the move, walking toward recruitment centers of the Union army...

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pp. 336-348

Students of history consider it mysterious that Kentucky was more enthusiastic for going to war against Great Britain in the War of 1812 than were the states on the Atlantic coast. Kentuckians were determined to defend the national honor and the U.S. flag on the masts of ships at sea even though the ocean was far away and they owned no ships. Those who had ships in the Northeast opposed the war...


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pp. 349-352


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pp. 353-400


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pp. 401-418


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pp. 419-445

E-ISBN-13: 9780813134413
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813134406

Page Count: 480
Illustrations: 31 b&w photos, 7 maps
Publication Year: 2011