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Kentucky Rising

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

James A. Ramage
Andrea S. Watkins
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    Kentucky Rising
    Book Description:

    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 Waroffers 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 Risingoffers a valuable new perspective on the eras of slavery and the Civil War.

    This book is a copublication with the Kentucky Historical Society.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3441-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (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. He was Kentucky’s brightest star, a world-famous hero and champion of liberty who, when he died on June 29, 1852, was the most popular man in America. Pastors recommended him as an ideal, self-sacrificing Christian husband and father who joined the Episcopal Church and began taking communion at the age of seventy. Clay’s...

  4. 1 Henry Clay, Part One: American Hero
    (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 than life.¹ It is an apotheosis in which the hero becomes superhuman, a myth, and a demigod. Clay was second only to George Washington in the American pantheon before the Civil War, and, when the Clay legend was made morally perfect like that of Washington, it was...

  5. 2 Henry Clay, Part Two: Champion of the Union
    (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 from the abyss of Civil War into continued peace and prosperity. When he died, Americans identified with him as the symbol of the American eagle, the Genius of Liberty, and the champion of Union-saving compromises. The identification was so...

  6. 3 Art and Architecture: Where Artists Found a Home
    (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, the primary way someone could preserve a likeness was through portraiture, miniatures, or silhouettes. The production of such images increased throughout the early nineteenth century, with the greatest increase following the War of 1812. Kentuckians rarely traveled to the urban centers of the East to be immortalized by well-known...

  7. 4 Politics, Stump Speaking, and How the West Was Won
    (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. Near the designated farm under the trees by the road stood unsaddled horses and horses unhitched from buggies waiting for their masters, who had walked on toward the sound of fiddle music and the hum of many voices. Moving on and turning...

  8. 5 Half Horse and Half Alligator: War of 1812
    (pp. 97-128)

    Kentucky has an enduring legacy of military tradition dating back to the frontier; today, military and police snipers still use the termKentucky 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 who depended on the militia for protection. Kentucky militiamen responded with preemptive raids deep into Indian territory; they took the initiative and went on the offensive, taking the war to the enemy and burning villages and destroying the winter supply of corn. Total war on the...

  9. 6 Steamboats, Entertainment, Journalism, and Culture
    (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, nearly everyone could talk about the latest steamboat race or an unusually fast thoroughbred. Newspapers invited people to plays, concerts, and many other activities. Kentucky newspapers printed clippings from eastern journals and overflowed with world news and information about events on the Atlantic coast. They linked Kentuckians with...

  10. 7 Religion and Women: Toward a More Compassionate Home Life
    (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. The meetings were extremely emotional, but many converts were faithful to their commitment the rest of their lives. Two new denominations, the Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ, were born as a result, and Baptist and Methodist churches greatly increased...

  11. 8 Mexican War: Honor Reconfirmed
    (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 to gain honor for themselves and contribute new luster to Kentucky’s reputation. Honor, patriotism, and Kentucky’s military tradition were celebrated publicly several times each year, and youths realized that there was no higher...

  12. 9 Surgery, Medical Botany, and Science: 1800–1825
    (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, and Kentuckians honor him, along with Henry Clay, as one of the greatest heroes in their state’s history. When Congress invited the states to donate two statues to National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, Kentucky selected as their subjects Clay and McDowell. McDowell’s statue was unveiled on March 3, 1929; theNew York Times...

  13. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  14. 10 Calomel, Cholera, and Science: 1825–1865
    (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 that gave him unique insight into all nature’s secrets. He wrote that he had seen systems come and go “like the shifting figures of a magic lantern” and that the patient “sometimes gets...

  15. 11 The Experience of Slavery
    (pp. 236-256)

    Harriet Beecher Stowe studied slavery in Kentucky for her novelUncle 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, many of them chained in coffles. The story begins on the Kentucky farm of Mr. Shelby, a kind master who loves his slaves and treats each one with respect. But the fictional Mr. Haley, a...

  16. 12 The Politics of Slavery
    (pp. 257-276)

    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—it was an evil necessity. The watershed in the consideration of emancipation as a political issue came with the state constitutional convention in 1849, when antislavery advocates hoped the slaves might be freed. Henry Clay encouraged this when he...

  17. 13 Civil War, Part One: Fighting Spirit, Divided Families, and the Confederate War of Proclamations
    (pp. 277-296)

    Kentucky was the only state that declared neutrality in the Civil War; when neutrality ended, the state endured an inner civil war over the hearts and minds of the people, a war of proclamations that moved theLouisville Journalcorrespondent in Paducah to joke that, when something was to be done, the order of the day was to publish a proclamation. “We are blessed,” he wrote, “with a ‘make proclamation’ President, and ‘make proclamation’ Generals, if with nothing else.” But this war was in dead earnest and involved extreme rhetoric that produced excessive actions and generated fear, uncertainty, and violence....

  18. 14 Civil War, Part Two: Union War of Pacification
    (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 wi n the contest for the people. In this regard, his first selection was outstanding—Major Robert Anderson was the Union’s first military hero, the man at the top of the news, “the Hero of Fort Sumter.” He was from near Louisville; his father was a Revolutionary War officer, and his career had a remarkable parallel to that of Albert Sidney Johnston. They were at...

  19. 15 Civil War, Part Three: Lincoln’s War on Slavery
    (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, walking as families—men, women, children, grandparents, ill, and infirm—marching for freedom. Lincoln would lose Kentucky in the presidential election that autumn, for he had invested his political capital on this election in June, and he was winning. The slave dependents knew that their...

  20. Epilogue
    (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. Yet Kentucky’s support of Henry Clay and the war hawks seems totally logical when viewed from the perspective of the global awareness of early Kentuckians and their vision...

  21. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 349-352)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 353-400)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 401-418)
  24. Index
    (pp. 419-448)