Kentucky
Overview
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 located in the East Central United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. As classified by the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, Kentucky is a Southern state
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, more specifically in the East South Central region
East South Central States
The East South Central States constitute one of the nine Census Bureau Divisions of the United States.Four states make up the division: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee...

. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

). Originally a part of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, in 1792 Kentucky 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 bluegrass is present in many of the pastures throughout the state, based on the fertile soil.
Timeline

1789    Whiskey distilled from maize is first produced by American clergyman the Rev Elijah Craig. It is named Bourbon because Rev Craig lived in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

1792    Kentucky is admitted as the 15th state of the United States.

1851    Kentucky marshals abduct abolitionist minister Calvin Fairbank from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and take him to Kentucky to stand trial for helping a slave escape.

1861    American Civil War: The state of Kentucky proclaims its neutrality, which will last until September 3 when Confederate forces enter the state.

1861    American Civil War: Confederate General Leonidas Polk invades neutral Kentucky, prompting the state legislature to ask for Union assistance.

1861    American Civil War: Secession ordinance is filed by Kentucky's Confederate government.

1861    American Civil War: the Confederate States of America accept a rival state government's pronouncement that declares Kentucky to be the 13th state of the Confederacy.

1862    American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant issues ''General Order No. 11'', expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

1865    American Civil War: In Kentucky, Union soldiers ambush and mortally wound Confederate raider William Quantrill, who lingers until his death on June 6.

1936    Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last public execution in the United States.

Encyclopedia
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 located in the East Central United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. As classified by the United States Census Bureau
United States Census Bureau
The United States Census Bureau is the government agency that is responsible for the United States Census. It also gathers other national demographic and economic data...

, Kentucky is a Southern state
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, more specifically in the East South Central region
East South Central States
The East South Central States constitute one of the nine Census Bureau Divisions of the United States.Four states make up the division: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee...

. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

). Originally a part of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, in 1792 Kentucky 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 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
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is a U.S. National Park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world. The official name of the system is the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System for the ridge under which the cave has formed. The park was established...

; the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

; and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. It is also home to the highest per capita number of deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

 and turkey
Wild Turkey
The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which derives from the South Mexican subspecies of wild turkey .Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green...

 in the United States, the largest free-ranging elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 herd east of Montana, and the nation's most productive coalfield
Coalfield
A coalfield is an area of certain uniform characteristics where coal is mined. The criteria for determining the approximate boundary of a coalfield are geographical and cultural, in addition to geological...

. Kentucky is also known for horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

, bourbon
Bourbon whiskey
Bourbon is a type of American whiskey – a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name of the spirit derives from its historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky . It has been produced since the 18th century...

 distilleries, bluegrass music
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

, automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

 manufacturing, tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 and college basketball
College basketball
College basketball most often refers to the USA basketball competitive governance structure established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association . Basketball in the NCAA is divided into three divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III....

.

Origin of name

It is generally accepted that the historic Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 tribes who hunted in what is now Kentucky referred to the region as Catawba, or some similar variant. There is also a tradition that some tribes referred to the area as "The Dark and Bloody Ground". Some have said that the land was described in this way to Daniel Boone by a native Chief. According to The Kentucky Blue Book, Dragging Canoe
Dragging Canoe
Tsiyu Gansini , "He is dragging his canoe", known to whites as Dragging Canoe, was a Cherokee war chief who led a band of Cherokee against colonists and United States settlers...

, a young Cherokee chief opposed to selling ancestral hunting grounds, warned the whites that they were purchasing a "dark and bloody ground." The origin of Kentucky's modern name (variously spelled Cane-tuck-ee, Cantucky, Kain-tuck-ee, and Kentuckee before its modern spelling was accepted) comes from an Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 word meaning "meadow lands", referring to the buffalo hunting grounds in Central Kentucky's savanna. Members of the Haudenosaunee, the Iroquois Confederacy, were historically based in New York and Pennsylvania. They penetrated to this area of the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 Valley and drove other tribes out in order to control more hunting land. In addition to buffalo, they trapped beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

 for the lucrative fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

 with the French and English, long before European-American settlement in this area.

Geography

Kentucky is considered to be situated in the Upland South
Upland South
The terms Upper South and Upland South refer to the northern part of the Southern United States, in contrast to the Lower South or Deep South.-Geography:There is a slight difference in usage between the two terms...

. It is infrequently included in the Midwest. A significant portion of eastern Kentucky is part of Appalachia
Appalachia
Appalachia is a term used to describe a cultural region in the eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York state to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in the U.S...

.

Kentucky borders seven states, from the Midwest
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 and the Southeast
Southeastern United States
The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the Southeast, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States. It is one of the most populous regions in the United States of America....

. West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

 lies to the east, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 to the southeast, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 to the south, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 to the west, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 and Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 to the northwest, and Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 to the north and northeast. Only Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 and Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, both of which border eight states, touch more states.

Kentucky's northern border is formed by the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 and its western border by the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. The official state borders are based on the courses of the rivers as they existed when Kentucky became a state in 1792. In several places, the rivers have changed courses away from the original borders. For instance, northbound travelers on US 41
U.S. Route 41
U.S. Route 41 is a north–south United States Highway that runs from Miami, Florida to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Until 1949, the part in southern Florida, from Naples to Miami, was U.S...

 from Henderson, after crossing the Ohio River, will be in Kentucky for about a half-mile (800 m) longer on the north side. Ellis Park, a thoroughbred racetrack, is located in this small piece of Kentucky. Waterworks Road is part of the only land border between Indiana and Kentucky.

Kentucky is the only U.S. state to have a non-contiguous part existing as an exclave surrounded by other states. Fulton County
Fulton County, Kentucky
Fulton County is the westernmost county of the U.S. state of Kentucky. It was formed in 1845 from Hickman County, Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 7,752. Its county seat is Hickman. The county is named for American inventor Robert Fulton...

, in the far west corner of the state, includes Kentucky Bend
Kentucky Bend
The Kentucky Bend, variously called the New Madrid Bend, Madrid Bend, Bessie Bend, or Bubbleland, is an exclave of Fulton County, Kentucky, in the United States....

. This small part of Kentucky on the Mississippi River, bordered by Missouri and accessible via Tennessee, was created by the 1812 New Madrid Earthquake
New Madrid earthquake
The 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes were an intense intraplate earthquake series beginning with an initial pair of very large earthquakes on December 16, 1811. These earthquakes remain the most powerful earthquakes ever to hit the eastern United States in recorded history...

 changing the course of the river.

Regions

Kentucky can be divided into five primary regions: the Cumberland Plateau
Cumberland Plateau
The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia, part of Tennessee, and a small portion of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia . The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the...

 in the east, the north-central Bluegrass region
Bluegrass region
The Bluegrass Region is a geographic region in the state of Kentucky, United States. It occupies the northern part of the state and since European settlement has contained a majority of the state's population and its largest cities....

, the south-central and western Pennyroyal Plateau
Pennyroyal Plateau
The Pennyroyal Plateau, or, as it is more commonly called in Kentucky, the Pennyrile, is a large area of the state that features rolling hills, caves, and karst topography in general. It is also called the "Mississippi Plateau"....

, the Western Coal Fields
Western Coal Fields
thumb|right|Regions of Kentucky, with the Western Coal Fields shown in brownThe Western Coal Fields of Kentucky compose an area in the west-central part of the state, bounded by the Dripping Springs Escarpment. This area is bordered on three sides by the Pennyroyal Plateau and to the north by the...

 and the far-west Jackson Purchase
Jackson Purchase
The Jackson Purchase is a region in the state of Kentucky bounded by the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and Tennessee River to the east. Although technically part of Kentucky at its statehood in 1792, the land did not come under definitive U.S. control until 1818, when...

. The Bluegrass region is commonly divided into two regions, the Inner Bluegrass—the encircling 90 miles (145 km) around Lexington
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

—and the Outer Bluegrass—the region that contains most of the Northern portion of the state, above the Knobs
Knobs region
The Knobs Region is located in the US state of Kentucky. It is a narrow, horseshoe shaped region consisting of hundreds of isolated hills. The region wraps around the bluegrass region in the center of the state...

. Much of the outer Bluegrass is in the Eden Shale Hills
Eden Shale Hills
Eden Shale Hills of the Eden Shale soil type is a broad area of short, steep hills roughly separating the Inner Bluegrass region and Outer Bluegrass region of Kentucky. They occur generally from around Oldham County in the West to Fleming County in the East. The hills are 150 feet or less in height....

 area, made up of short, steep, and very narrow hills. This map is a rough depiction of the regions because it relies largely on county lines; as a result, the Inner Bluegrass appears larger than it is, and the Cumberland Plateau
Cumberland Plateau
The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia, part of Tennessee, and a small portion of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia . The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the...

 appears slightly smaller. The latter region is more commonly known in Kentucky as the East Kentucky Coal Field
Eastern Mountain Coal Fields
The Eastern Mountain Coal Fields is part of the Central Appalachian bituminous coal field, covering all or parts of 30 Kentucky counties and adjoining areas in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. It covers an area from the Allegheny Mountains in the east across the Cumberland Plateau and...

. Note the singular; these regions are not the sites of coal "fields" but one continuous field with many overlapping seams; the West Kentucky Coal Field is part of the Illinois Basin.

Climate

Located within the southeastern interior portion of North America, Kentucky has a climate that can best be described as a humid subtropical climate
Humid subtropical climate
A humid subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters...

 (Koppen Cfa). Monthly average temperatures in Kentucky range from a summer daytime high of 87 °F (30.6 °C) to a winter low of 23 °F (-5 °C). The average precipitation is 46 inches (116.8 cm) a year. Kentucky experiences all four seasons, usually with striking variations in the severity of summer and winter from year to year. Kentucky's highest recorded temperature was 114 °F (45.6 °C) at Greensburg
Greensburg, Kentucky
Greensburg is a city in Green County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 2,396 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Green County...

 on July 28, 1930 while the lowest recorded temperature was -34 F at Cynthiana
Cynthiana, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,258 people, 2,692 households, and 1,639 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,873.6 people per square mile . There were 2,909 housing units at an average density of 870.9 per square mile...

 on January 28, 1963.

Major weather events that have affected Kentucky include:
Event Death Toll
Louisville Tornado of 1890  est. 76–120+
Ohio River flood of 1937
Ohio River flood of 1937
The Ohio River flood of 1937 took place in late January and February 1937. With damage stretching from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois, one million persons were left homeless, with 385 dead and property losses reaching $500 million...

 
?
April 3, 1974 Tornado Outbreak
Super Outbreak
The Super Outbreak is the second largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period, just behind the tornado outbreak of April 25–28, 2011...

 
72
April 7, 1977 Flooding (Cumberland River toppled Pineville floodwall) ?
March 1, 1997 Flooding 18
North American blizzard of 2003
North American blizzard of 2003
The Blizzard of 2003, also known as the Presidents' Day Storm II or simply PDII, was a historical and record-breaking snowstorm on the East Coast of the United States and Canada, which lasted from February 14 to February 19, 2003. It spread heavy snow across the major cities of the Northeastern US,...

 
?
2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak
2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak
The 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak which affected the Southern United States and the lower Ohio Valley on February 5 and 6, 2008. The event began on Super Tuesday, while 24 U.S. states were holding primary elections and caucuses to select the presidential...

 
Weather.com reported 17 deaths
September 2008 Windstorm
Effects of Hurricane Ike in inland North America
The effects of Hurricane Ike in inland North America were unusually intense and included widespread damage across all or parts of eleven states - Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia, and into parts of Ontario as Ike,...

 
1
January 2009 ice storm
January 2009 Central Plains and Midwest ice storm
The January 2009 ice storm was a major ice storm that occurred over parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky. The storm produced widespread power outages for over 2 million people due to heavy ice accumulation...

 
24+

Monthly Average High and Low Temperatures For Various Kentucky Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Lexington 40/24 45/28 55/36 65/44 74/54 82/62 86/66 85/65 78/58 67/46 54/37 44/28
Louisville 41/25 47/28 57/37 67/46 75/56 83/65 87/70 86/68 79/61 68/48 56/39 45/30
Paducah 42/24 48/28 58/37 68/46 77/55 85/64 89/68 87/65 81/57 71/45 57/36 46/28
Pikeville 46/23 50/25 60/32 69/39 77/49 84/58 87/63 86/62 80/56 71/42 60/33 49/26
Ashland 42/19 47/21 57/29 68/37 77/47 84/56 88/61 87/59 80/52 69/40 57/31 46/23

Lakes and rivers

Kentucky's 90000 miles (144,840.6 km) of streams provides one of the most expansive and complex stream systems in the nation. Kentucky has both the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi in water volume (Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland is a reservoir in Clinton, Laurel, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, and Wayne counties in Kentucky. The primary reasons for its construction were a means for flood control and the production of hydroelectric power. Its shoreline measures 1,255 miles and the lake is spread over at the...

) and surface area (Kentucky Lake
Kentucky Lake
Kentucky Lake is a major navigable reservoir along the Tennessee River in Kentucky and Tennessee. Created in 1944 by the Tennessee Valley Authority's impounding of the Tennessee River by Kentucky Dam, the lake is the largest artificial lake by surface area in the United States east of the...

). It is the only U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 to be bordered on three sides by rivers—the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 to the west, the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

 to the north, and the Big Sandy River
Big Sandy River (Ohio River)
The Big Sandy River is a tributary of the Ohio River, approximately long, in western West Virginia and northeastern Kentucky in the United States. The river forms part of the boundary between the two states along its entire course...

 and Tug Fork to the east. Its major internal rivers include the Kentucky River
Kentucky River
The Kentucky River is a tributary of the Ohio River, long, in the U.S. state of Kentucky. The river and its tributaries drain much of the central region of the state, with its upper course passing through the coal-mining regions of the Cumberland Mountains, and its lower course passing through the...

, Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

, Cumberland River
Cumberland River
The Cumberland River is a waterway in the Southern United States. It is long. It starts in Harlan County in far southeastern Kentucky between Pine and Cumberland mountains, flows through southern Kentucky, crosses into northern Tennessee, and then curves back up into western Kentucky before...

, Green River
Green River (Kentucky)
The Green River is a tributary of the Ohio River that rises in Lincoln County in south-central Kentucky. Tributaries of the Green River include the Barren River, the Nolin River, the Pond River and the Rough River...

 and Licking River
Licking River (Kentucky)
The Licking River is a tributary of the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky in the United States. The river and its tributaries drain much of the region of northeastern Kentucky between the watersheds of the Kentucky River to the west and the Big Sandy River to the east.-Origin of name:The Native...

.

Though it has only three major natural lakes, the state is home to many artificial lakes. Kentucky also has more navigable miles of water than any other state in the union, other than Alaska.

Natural environment and conservation

Kentucky has an expansive park system which includes one national park, two National Recreation areas, two National Historic Parks, two national forests
United States National Forest
National Forest is a classification of federal lands in the United States.National Forests are largely forest and woodland areas owned by the federal government and managed by the United States Forest Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture. Land management of these areas...

, two National Wildlife Refuges, 45 state park
State park
State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the federated state level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational...

s, 37696 acres (153 km²) of state forest, and 82 Wildlife Management Areas.

Kentucky has been part of two of the most successful wildlife reintroduction projects in United States history. In the winter of 1997, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources began to re-stock elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

 in the state's eastern counties, which had been extinct from the area for over 150 years. As of 2009, the herd had reached the project goal of 10,000 animals, making it the largest herd east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

.

The state also stocked wild turkey
Wild Turkey
The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which derives from the South Mexican subspecies of wild turkey .Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green...

s in the 1950s. Once extinct here, more wild turkeys thrive in Kentucky today than in any other eastern state. Hunters telechecked a record 29,006 birds taken during the 23-day season in Spring 2009. Only bearded turkeys were allowed to be hunted; the females are protected for breeding.

In March 2011, Kentucky was rated last place amongst the states in the American State Litter Scorecard, presented at the American Society for Public Administration
American Society for Public Administration
The American Society for Public Administration is a membership association in the United States sponsoring conferences and providing professional services primarily to those who study the implementation of government policy, public administration, and, to a lesser degree, programs of civil society...

 national conference.

Significant natural attractions

  • Cumberland Gap
    Cumberland Gap
    Cumberland Gap is a pass through the Cumberland Mountains region of the Appalachian Mountains, also known as the Cumberland Water Gap, at the juncture of the U.S. states of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia...

    , chief passageway through the Appalachian Mountains
    Appalachian Mountains
    The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

     in early American history.
  • Cumberland Falls
    Cumberland Falls
    Cumberland Falls, sometimes called the Little Niagara, the Niagara of the South, or the Great Falls, is a large waterfall on the Cumberland River in southeastern Kentucky...

     State Park, the only place in the Western Hemisphere where a "moon-bow
    Moonbow
    A moonbow is a rainbow produced by light reflected off the surface of the moon rather than from direct sunlight. Moonbows are relatively faint, due to the smaller amount of light reflected from the surface of the moon...

    " may be regularly seen, due to the spray of the falls.
  • Mammoth Cave National Park
    Mammoth Cave National Park
    Mammoth Cave National Park is a U.S. National Park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world. The official name of the system is the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System for the ridge under which the cave has formed. The park was established...

    , featuring the world's longest known cave system.
  • Red River Gorge
    Red River Gorge
    The Red River Gorge is a canyon system on the Red River in east-central Kentucky. Geologically, it is part of the Pottsville Escarpment.Much of the Gorge is located inside the Daniel Boone National Forest and has been subsequently reserved as the Red River Gorge Geological Area, an area of around...

     Geological Area, part of the Daniel Boone National Forest
    Daniel Boone National Forest
    Daniel Boone National Forest is the only national forest completely within the boundary of Kentucky. Established in 1937, it was originally named the Cumberland National Forest, after the core region called the Cumberland Purchase Unit...

    .
  • Land Between the Lakes, a National Recreation Area
    National Recreation Area
    National Recreation Area is a designation for a protected area in the United States, often centered on large reservoirs and emphasizing water-based recreation for a large number of people. The first National Recreation Area was the Boulder Dam Recreation Area...

     managed by the United States Forest Service
    United States Forest Service
    The United States Forest Service is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass...

    .
  • Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
    Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
    The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area preserves the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries in northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky...

     near Whitley City
    Whitley City, Kentucky
    Whitley City is a census-designated place in McCreary County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 1,111 at the 2000 census. Despite its name, it is not an incorporated city; however, it is the county seat of McCreary County. Whitley City is one of two non-city county seats in Kentucky the...

    .
  • Black Mountain
    Black Mountain (Kentucky)
    Black Mountain is the highest natural point in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, USA, with a summit elevation of above mean sea level and a top to bottom height of over . The summit is located at in Harlan County, Kentucky near the Virginia border, just above the towns of Lynch, Kentucky and...

    , state's highest point. Runs along the border of Harlan
    Harlan County, Kentucky
    Harlan County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It was formed in 1819. As of 2000, the population was 33,200. Its county seat is Harlan...

     and Letcher
    Letcher County, Kentucky
    Letcher County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 25,277. Its county seat is Whitesburg. The county is named for Robert P...

     counties.
  • Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve
    Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve
    Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve is a nature preserve in Letcher County, Kentucky. Originally dedicated by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission on September 26, 1985, the preserve was and included Bad Branch Gorge, a forested gorge with a sixty foot waterfall tumbling over...

    , 2639 acres (11 km²) state nature preserve on southern slope of Pine Mountain in Letcher County
    Letcher County, Kentucky
    Letcher County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 25,277. Its county seat is Whitesburg. The county is named for Robert P...

    . Includes one of the largest concentrations of rare and endangered species in the state, as well as a 60 feet (18 m) waterfall and a Kentucky Wild River.
  • Jefferson Memorial Forest
    Jefferson Memorial Forest
    The Jefferson Memorial Forest is a forest located in southwest Louisville, Kentucky , in the knobs region of Kentucky. At , it is the largest municipal urban forest in the United States...

    , located in the southern fringes of Louisville
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

     in the Knobs region
    Knobs region
    The Knobs Region is located in the US state of Kentucky. It is a narrow, horseshoe shaped region consisting of hundreds of isolated hills. The region wraps around the bluegrass region in the center of the state...

    , the largest municipally run forest in the United States.
  • Lake Cumberland
    Lake Cumberland
    Lake Cumberland is a reservoir in Clinton, Laurel, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, and Wayne counties in Kentucky. The primary reasons for its construction were a means for flood control and the production of hydroelectric power. Its shoreline measures 1,255 miles and the lake is spread over at the...

    , 1255 miles (2,020 km) of shoreline located in South Central Kentucky
    South Central Kentucky
    South Central Kentucky is a cultural region of 22 Kentucky counties located roughly between I-65 in the Bowling Green area and I-75 around the London area, but within three counties of the Tennessee border and south of the "Golden Triangle"...

    .
  • Natural Bridge, located in Slade, Kentucky
    Slade, Kentucky
    Slade is an unincorporated rural community in Powell County, Kentucky, United States.A nearby attraction is Natural Bridge State Park.-References:# -Geography:Slade is located at ....

     Powell County
    Powell County, Kentucky
    Powell County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population is 13,237. Its county seat is Stanton. The county was formed January 7, 1852, by Kentucky Governor Lazarus W. Powell...

  • Breaks Interstate Park
    Breaks Interstate Park
    Breaks Interstate Park, also referred as the "Grand Canyon of the South", is located in southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia at the northeastern terminus of Pine Mountain...

    , located in southeastern Pike County, Kentucky
    Pike County, Kentucky
    Pike County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2010, the population was 65,024. Its county seat is Pikeville. Pike is Kentucky's largest county in terms of land area. Pike County is the 11th largest county in Kentucky in terms of population preceded by Bullitt County and...

     and Southwestern Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

    . The Breaks is commonly known as the "Grand Canyon of the South."

History

Although inhabited by Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 from at least 1000 BC to about 1650 AD, when European and colonial explorers and settlers began entering Kentucky in greater number in the mid-18th century, there were no major Native American settlements in the region. The Shawnees from the north and Cherokees from the south sent parties into the area regularly for hunting. As more settlers entered the area, warfare broke out because the American Indians saw settlers' attempts to own land to be encroachment on their traditional hunting grounds. The Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky still lives in Kentucky today as a state Recognized Tribe.

According to a 1790 U.S. government report, 1,500 Kentucky settlers had been killed in Indian raids since the end of the Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. In an attempt to end these raids, Clark
George Rogers Clark
George Rogers Clark was a soldier from Virginia and the highest ranking American military officer on the northwestern frontier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as leader of the Kentucky militia throughout much of the war...

 led an expedition of 1,200 drafted men against Shawnee towns on the Wabash River
Wabash River
The Wabash River is a river in the Midwestern United States that flows southwest from northwest Ohio near Fort Recovery across northern Indiana to southern Illinois, where it forms the Illinois-Indiana border before draining into the Ohio River, of which it is the largest northern tributary...

 in 1786, one of the first actions of the Northwest Indian War
Northwest Indian War
The Northwest Indian War , also known as Little Turtle's War and by various other names, was a war fought between the United States and a confederation of numerous American Indian tribes for control of the Northwest Territory...

.

After the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, the counties of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 beyond the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 became known as Kentucky County
Kentucky County, Virginia
Kentucky County was formed by the Commonwealth of Virginia by dividing Fincastle County into three new counties: Kentucky, Washington, and Montgomery, effective December 31, 1776. Four years later Kentucky County was abolished on June 30, 1780, when it was divided into Fayette, Jefferson, and...

. Eventually, the residents of Kentucky County petitioned for a separation from Virginia. Ten constitutional conventions were held in the Constitution Square Courthouse in Danville
Danville, Kentucky
Danville is a city in and the county seat of Boyle County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 16,218 at the 2010 census.Danville is the principal city of the Danville Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Boyle and Lincoln counties....

 between 1784 and 1792. In 1790, Kentucky's delegates accepted Virginia's terms of separation, and a state constitution was drafted at the final convention in April 1792. On June 1, 1792, Kentucky became the fifteenth state to be admitted to the union. Isaac Shelby
Isaac Shelby
Isaac Shelby was the first and fifth Governor of the U.S. state of Kentucky and served in the state legislatures of Virginia and North Carolina. He was also a soldier in Lord Dunmore's War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812...

, a military veteran from Virginia, was elected the first Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Kentucky was a border state during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Although frequently described as never having seceded
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

, representatives from several counties met at Russellville
Russellville, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,149 people, 3,064 households, and 1,973 families residing in the city. The population density was 672.1 people per square mile . There were 3,458 housing units at an average density of 325.1 per square mile...

 calling themselves the "Convention of the People of Kentucky" and passed an Ordinance of Secession
Ordinance of Secession
The Ordinance of Secession was the document drafted and ratified in 1860 and 1861 by the states officially seceding from the United States of America...

 on November 20, 1861. They established a Confederate government of Kentucky
Confederate government of Kentucky
The Confederate government of Kentucky was a shadow government established for the Commonwealth of Kentucky by a self-constituted group of Confederate sympathizers during the American Civil War. The shadow government never replaced the elected government in Frankfort, which had strong Union...

 with its capital in Bowling Green
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Bowling Green is the third-most populous city in the state of Kentucky after Louisville and Lexington, with a population of 58,067 as of the 2010 Census. It is the county seat of Warren County and the principal city of the Bowling Green, Kentucky Metropolitan Statistical Area with an estimated 2009...

. Though Kentucky was represented by the central star on the Confederate battle flag, the Russellville Convention did not represent the majority of residents. A year earlier, philosopher Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 wrote to Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

 that the result of a vote deciding how Kentucky would be represented at a convention of the border states
Border states (Civil War)
In the context of the American Civil War, the border states were slave states that did not declare their secession from the United States before April 1861...

 was "100,000 for the Union ticket, only a few thousand for secession." Kentucky officially remained "neutral" throughout the war due to Union sympathies of many of the Commonwealth's citizens. Confederate Memorial Day
Confederate Memorial Day
Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Decoration Day and Confederate Heroes Day , is an official holiday and/or observance day in parts of the U.S. South as a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War...

 is observed by some in Kentucky on Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 President Jefferson Davis' birthday, June 3.
The Black Patch Tobacco Wars
Black Patch Tobacco Wars
The "Black Patch" or "dark fired" tobacco area included counties in southwestern Kentucky and adjoining districts in Tennessee. On September 24, 1904, American tobacco planters formed the protectionist Dark Tobacco District Planters' Protective Association of Kentucky and Tennessee to oppose the...

, a vigilante action, occurred in the area in the early 20th century. As result of the tobacco industry
Tobacco industry
The tobacco industry comprises those persons and companies engaged in the growth, preparation for sale, shipment, advertisement, and distribution of tobacco and tobacco-related products. It is a global industry; tobacco can grow in any warm, moist environment, which means it can be farmed on all...

 monopoly, tobacco farmers in the area were forced to sell their tobacco at low prices. Many local farmers and activists united to refuse to sell tobacco to the tobacco industry. A vigilante wing, the "Night Riders", terrorized farmers who sold their tobacco at the low prices demanded by the tobacco corporations. They burned several tobacco warehouses, notably in Hopkinsville
Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Hopkinsville is a city in Christian County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 31,577 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Christian County.- History :...

 and Princeton
Princeton, Kentucky
Princeton is a city in Caldwell County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 6,329 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Caldwell County.-History:...

. In the later period of their operation, they were known to physically assault farmers in the middle of the night who broke the boycott. The Governor declared martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 and deployed the Kentucky Militia to end the Black Patch Tobacco Wars
Black Patch Tobacco Wars
The "Black Patch" or "dark fired" tobacco area included counties in southwestern Kentucky and adjoining districts in Tennessee. On September 24, 1904, American tobacco planters formed the protectionist Dark Tobacco District Planters' Protective Association of Kentucky and Tennessee to oppose the...

.

On January 30, 1900, Governor William Goebel
William Goebel
William Justus Goebel was an American politician who served as the 34th Governor of Kentucky for a few days in 1900 after having been mortally wounded by an assassin the day before he was sworn in...

, flanked by two bodyguards and walking to the State Capitol in downtown Frankfort, was mortally wounded by an assassin
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

. Goebel was contesting the election of 1899
Kentucky gubernatorial election, 1899
The Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899 was held on November 7, 1899, to choose the 33rd governor of Kentucky. The incumbent, Republican William O'Connell Bradley, was term-limited and unable to seek re-election....

, which William S. Taylor
William S. Taylor
William Sylvester Taylor was the 33rd Governor of Kentucky. He was initially declared the winner of the disputed gubernatorial election of 1899, but the Kentucky General Assembly reversed the election results, giving the victory to his opponent, William Goebel...

 was initially believed to have won. For several months, J. C. W. Beckham
J. C. W. Beckham
John Crepps Wickliffe Beckham was the 35th Governor of Kentucky and a United States Senator from Kentucky...

, Goebel's running mate, and Taylor fought over who was the legal governor, until the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 ruled in May in favor of Beckham. After fleeing to Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Taylor was indicted as a co-conspirator in Goebel's assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

. Goebel is the only governor of a U.S. state to have been assassinated while in office.

Law and government

Kentucky is one of four U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s to officially use the term commonwealth, which it inherited from Virginia. Kentucky is also one of only five states that elects its state officials in odd-numbered years (the others are Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

). Kentucky holds elections for these offices every 4 years in the years preceding Presidential election years. Thus, the last year when Kentucky elected a Governor was 2011; the next gubernatorial election will occur in 2015, with future gubernatorial elections to take place in 2019, 2023, 2027, etc.

Executive branch

The executive branch is headed by the governor
Governor of Kentucky
The Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the head of the executive branch of government in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Fifty-six men and one woman have served as Governor of Kentucky. The governor's term is four years in length; since 1992, incumbents have been able to seek re-election once...

 who serves as both head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

. The lieutenant governor
Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky
The office of lieutenant governor of Kentucky has existed under the last three of Kentucky's four constitutions, beginning in 1797. The lieutenant governor serves as governor of Kentucky under circumstances similar to the Vice President of the United States assuming the powers of the presidency...

 may or may not have executive authority depending on whether the person is a member of the Governor's cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

. Under the current Kentucky Constitution
Kentucky Constitution
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the document that governs the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It was first adopted in 1792 and has since been rewritten three times and amended many more...

, the lieutenant governor assumes the duties of the governor only if the governor is incapacitated. (Prior to 1992, the lieutenant governor assumed power any time the governor was out of the state.) The governor and lieutenant governor usually run on a single ticket (also per a 1992 constitutional amendment), and are elected to four-year terms. Currently, the governor and lieutenant governor are Democrats Steve Beshear
Steve Beshear
Steven Lynn "Steve" Beshear is an American politician who is the 61st Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. A Democrat, Beshear previously served in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1974 to 1979, was the state's Attorney General from 1980 to 1983, and was Lieutenant Governor from...

 and Daniel Mongiardo
Daniel Mongiardo
Frank Daniel Mongiardo is an American physician and politician from Kentucky. Mongiardo is a Democrat and has been Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky since 2007. He was a member of the Kentucky State Senate from 2001 to 2007. He also ran for the U.S...

.

Other elected constitutional offices include: the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor of Public Accounts, State Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture. Currently, Democrat Elaine N. Walker serves as the Secretary of State. The commonwealth's chief prosecutor, law enforcement officer, and law officer is the attorney general. The current Kentucky attorney general is Democrat Jack Conway
Jack Conway (politician)
John William “Jack” Conway is an American politician from Kentucky. Conway is a Democrat and has served as the Attorney General of Kentucky since 2008. Prior to his election as attorney general, he was a candidate in the 2002 U.S. House of Representatives election for , narrowly losing to Anne...

. The Auditor of Public Accounts is held by Democrat Crit Luallen. Democrat Todd Hollenbach is the current Treasurer. Former University of Kentucky basketball
Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball
The Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, representing the University of Kentucky, is the winningest in the history of college basketball, both in all-time wins and all-time winning percentage. Kentucky's all-time record currently stands at 2058–647...

 player Richie Farmer, a Republican, serves as the current Commissioner of Agriculture.

Legislative branch

Kentucky's legislative branch consists of a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 body known as the Kentucky General Assembly
Kentucky General Assembly
The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Kentucky.The General Assembly meets annually in the state capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky, convening on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January...

.

The Senate
Kentucky Senate
The Kentucky Senate is the upper house of the Kentucky General Assembly. The Kentucky Senate is composed of 38 members elected from single-member districts throughout the Commonwealth. There are no term limits for Kentucky Senators...

 is considered the upper house
Upper house
An upper house, often called a senate, is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the lower house; a legislature composed of only one house is described as unicameral.- Possible specific characteristics :...

. It has 38 members, and is led by the President of the Senate
President of the Senate
The President of the Senate is a title often given to the presiding officer of a senate, and is the speaker of other assemblies.The senate president often ranks high in a jurisdiction's succession for its top executive office: for example, the President of the Senate of Nigeria is second in line...

, currently Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 David L. Williams
David L. Williams
David Lewis Williams is a lawyer and politician from the U.S. state of Kentucky. A Republican, he has represented Kentucky's 16th district in the Kentucky Senate since 1987. When Republicans gained control of the state senate in 2000, Williams was chosen as President of the Senate, and he has held...

.

The House of Representatives
Kentucky House of Representatives
The Kentucky House of Representatives is the lower house of the Kentucky General Assembly. It is composed of 100 Representatives elected from single-member districts throughout the Commonwealth. Not more than two counties can be joined to form a House district, except when necessary to preserve...

 has 100 members, and is led by the Speaker of the House, currently Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 Greg Stumbo
Greg Stumbo
Gregory D. "Greg" Stumbo is the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives. Stumbo, a member of the Democratic Party, is a former Kentucky Attorney General from 2003 to 2007.-Early Career:...

.

Judicial branch

The judicial branch of Kentucky is called the Kentucky Court of Justice and comprises courts of limited jurisdiction
Limited jurisdiction
Limited jurisdiction, or special jurisdiction, is the courts' jurisdiction only on certain types of cases such as bankruptcy, family matters, etc....

 called District Courts; courts of general jurisdiction called Circuit Courts
Kentucky Circuit Courts
The Kentucky Circuit Courts are the state courts of general jurisdiction in the U.S. state of Kentucky.The Circuit Courts are trial courts with original jurisdiction in cases involving capital offenses, felonies, land disputes, contested probates of wills, and civil lawsuits in disputes with an...

; specialty courts such as Drug Court, Family Court; an intermediate appellate court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals
Kentucky Court of Appeals
The Kentucky Court of Appeals is the lower of Kentucky's two appellate courts, under the Kentucky Supreme Court. Prior to a 1975 amendment to the Kentucky Constitution the Kentucky Court of Appeals was the only appellate court in Kentucky....

; and a court of last resort, the Kentucky Supreme Court
Kentucky Supreme Court
The Kentucky Supreme Court was created by a 1975 constitutional amendment and is the state supreme court of the commonwealth of Kentucky. Prior to that the Kentucky Court of Appeals was the only appellate court in Kentucky...

.

The Kentucky Court of Justice is headed by the Chief Justice
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

 of the Commonwealth.

Unlike federal judges, who are usually appointed, justices serving on Kentucky state courts are chosen by the state's populace in non-partisan elections.

Federal representation

Kentucky's two Senators
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 are Senate Minority Leader
Party leaders of the United States Senate
The Senate Majority and Minority Leaders are two United States Senators who are elected by the party conferences that hold the majority and the minority respectively. These leaders serve as the chief Senate spokespeople for their parties and manage and schedule the legislative and executive...

 Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell
Addison Mitchell "Mitch" McConnell, Jr. is the senior United States Senator from Kentucky and the Republican Minority Leader.- Early life, education, and military service :...

 and Rand Paul
Rand Paul
Randal Howard "Rand" Paul is the junior United States Senator for Kentucky. He is a member of the Republican Party. A member of the Tea Party movement, he describes himself as a "constitutional conservative" and a libertarian...

, both Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. The state is divided into six Congressional Districts
Kentucky Congressional Districts
-Current apportionment:Kentucky is currently divided into six Congressional districts.-Obsolete districts:The following are former districts of Kentucky:, obsolete since 1993, obsolete since 1963, obsolete since 1953, obsolete since 1933, obsolete since 1933, obsolete since 1843, obsolete since...

, represented by Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Ed Whitfield
Ed Whitfield
Wayne Edward "Ed" Whitfield is the U.S. Representative of , serving since 1995. He is a member of the Republican Party.The district covers much of the western part of the state, including Hopkinsville, Paducah, Henderson and Kentucky's share of Fort Campbell.-Early life, education and...

 (1st
Kentucky's 1st congressional district
Kentucky's 1st congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Located in Western Kentucky, the district takes in Henderson, Hopkinsville, Madisonville, Paducah, and the college town of Murray....

), Brett Guthrie
Brett Guthrie
Steven Brett Guthrie is the U.S. Representative for , a Bowling Green-based district, since 2009. He is a member of the Republican Party. He previously served in the Kentucky Senate.-Early life, education, and career:...

 (2nd
Kentucky's 2nd congressional district
Kentucky's 2nd congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Located in west central Kentucky, the district includes Bowling Green, Owensboro, and Elizabethtown. The district has not seen an incumbent defeated since 1884....

), Geoff Davis
Geoff Davis
Geoffrey C. "Geoff" Davis is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party....

 (4th
Kentucky's 4th congressional district
Kentucky's 4th congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Located in Northern Kentucky, it is a long district that follows the Ohio River...

), and Hal Rogers
Hal Rogers
Harold Dallas "Hal" Rogers is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1981. He is a member of the Republican Party.-Early life, education, and early career:...

 (5th
Kentucky's 5th congressional district
Kentucky's 5th congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Located in the heart of Appalachia in Southeastern Kentucky, the rural district is one of the most impoverished districts in the nation and, as of the 2010 U.S. Census, it has the largest percentage of...

), and Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 John Yarmuth
John Yarmuth
John Yarmuth is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party.- Early life, education and career :...

 (3rd
Kentucky's 3rd congressional district
Kentucky's 3rd congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Kentucky encompassing nearly the whole city of Louisville, which, since the merger of 2003, is contiguous with Jefferson County...

) and Ben Chandler
Ben Chandler
Albert Benjamin "Ben" Chandler III is the U.S. Representative for , serving since a special election in 2004. He is a member of the Democratic Party.-Early life, education and career:...

 (6th
Kentucky's 6th congressional district
Kentucky's 6th congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Kentucky. Based in Central Kentucky, the district contains the cities of Lexington , Richmond, and Frankfort, the state capital....

).

Judicially, Kentucky is split into two Federal court districts: the Kentucky Eastern District
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises approximately the Eastern half of the state of Kentucky....

 and the Kentucky Western District
United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
The United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky is the federal district court for the western part of the state of Kentucky....

. Appeals are heard in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Kentucky* Western District of Kentucky...

 based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Law

Kentucky's body of laws, known as the Kentucky Revised Statutes
Kentucky Revised Statutes
Kentucky Revised Statutes is the name given to the body of laws which govern the Commonwealth of Kentucky, United States. They are created pursuant to the Kentucky Constitution and must conform to the limitations set out in the Constitutions of Kentucky and the United States...

 (KRS), were enacted in 1942 to better organize and clarify the whole of Kentucky law. The statutes are enforced by local police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

, sheriffs
Sheriffs in the United States
In the United States, a sheriff is a county official and is typically the top law enforcement officer of a county. Historically, the sheriff was also commander of the militia in that county. Distinctive to law enforcement in the United States, sheriffs are usually elected. The political election of...

 and deputy sheriffs, and constable
Constable
A constable is a person holding a particular office, most commonly in law enforcement. The office of constable can vary significantly in different jurisdictions.-Etymology:...

s and deputy constables. Unless they have completed a police academy
Police academy
A police academy is a training school for new police recruits, also known as a law enforcement academy.-Australia:Larger police departments usually run their own academies. States often run a centralised academy for training of personnel of law enforcement agencies within the state.Police...

 elsewhere, these officers are required to complete training at the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training Center on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University, commonly referred to as Eastern or by the acronym EKU by local residents, is an undergraduate and graduate teaching and research institution located in Richmond, Kentucky, U.S.A.. EKU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools...

. Additionally, in 1948, the Kentucky General Assembly
Kentucky General Assembly
The Kentucky General Assembly, also called the Kentucky Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Kentucky.The General Assembly meets annually in the state capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky, convening on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January...

 established the Kentucky State Police
Kentucky State Police
The Kentucky State Police is a department of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. The department was founded in 1948 and replaced the Kentucky Highway Patrol...

, making it the 38th state to create a force whose jurisdiction extends throughout the given state.

Kentucky is one of 36 states in the United States that sanctions the death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 for certain crimes. Those convicted of capital crimes after March 31, 1998 are always executed by lethal injection
Lethal injection
Lethal injection is the practice of injecting a person with a fatal dose of drugs for the express purpose of causing the immediate death of the subject. The main application for this procedure is capital punishment, but the term may also be applied in a broad sense to euthanasia and suicide...

; those convicted before this date may opt for the electric chair
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

. Only three people have been executed in Kentucky since the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 re-instituted the practice in 1976. The most notable execution in Kentucky, however, was that of Rainey Bethea
Rainey Bethea
Rainey Bethea was the last person to be publicly executed in the United States. Bethea, who was a black man, confessed to the rape and murder of a 70-year-old white woman named Lischia Edwards, and after being convicted of her rape, he was publicly hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky...

 on August 14, 1936. Bethea was publicly hanged in Owensboro
Owensboro, Kentucky
Owensboro is the fourth largest city by population in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It is the county seat of Daviess County. It is located on U.S. Route 60 about southeast of Evansville, Indiana, and is the principal city of the Owensboro, Kentucky, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's...

 for the rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 and murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 of Lischia Edwards. Irregularities with the execution led to this becoming the last public execution in the United States.

Kentucky has been on the front lines of the debate over displaying the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 on public property. In the 2005 case of McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky
McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky
McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, , is a case which was argued before the Supreme Court of the United States on March 2, 2005. At issue is whether government-sponsored displays of the Ten Commandments in county courthouses violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.In a suit...

, the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 upheld the decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Kentucky* Western District of Kentucky...

 that a display of the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 in the Whitley City
Whitley City, Kentucky
Whitley City is a census-designated place in McCreary County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 1,111 at the 2000 census. Despite its name, it is not an incorporated city; however, it is the county seat of McCreary County. Whitley City is one of two non-city county seats in Kentucky the...

 courthouse of McCreary County
McCreary County, Kentucky
McCreary County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 17,080. Its county seat is Whitley City. The county is named for James B. McCreary, a Confederate war hero and Governor of Kentucky from 1875 to 1879. It is the only Kentucky county to not have a...

 was unconstitutional. Later that year, Judge Richard Fred Suhrheinrich
Richard Fred Suhrheinrich
Richard Fred Suhrheinrich is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit serving in Lansing, Michigan.Born in Lincoln City, Indiana, Suhrheinrich earned his Bachelor of Science in 1960 from Wayne State University, his Juris Doctor with honors in 1963 from the Detroit...

, writing for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Kentucky* Western District of Kentucky...

 in the case of ACLU
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 of Kentucky v. Mercer County
Mercer County, Kentucky
Mercer County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 20,817. Its county seat is Harrodsburg. The county is named for General Hugh Mercer...

, wrote that a display including the Mayflower Compact
Mayflower Compact
The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was written by the colonists, later together known to history as the Pilgrims, who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower...

, the Declaration of Independence
United States Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

, the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

, the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

, The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

, and the national motto
In God We Trust
"In God We Trust" was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956. It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. The Legality of this motto has been questioned because of the United States Constitution forbidding the government to make any law respecting the establishment of a...

 could be erected in the Mercer County
Mercer County, Kentucky
Mercer County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 20,817. Its county seat is Harrodsburg. The county is named for General Hugh Mercer...

 courthouse.

Kentucky has also been known to have unusually high political candidacy age laws, especially compared to surrounding states. The origin of this is unknown, but it has been suggested it has to do with the commonwealth tradition.

Politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republicans
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

2008
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

57.37% 1,048,462 41.15% 751,985
2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

59.55% 1,069,439 39.69% 712,733
2000
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

56.50% 872,492 41.37% 638,898
1996
United States presidential election, 1996
The United States presidential election of 1996 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Housing Secretary Jack...

44.88% 623,283 45.84% 636,614
1992
United States presidential election, 1992
The United States presidential election of 1992 had three major candidates: Incumbent Republican President George Bush; Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and independent Texas businessman Ross Perot....

41.34% 617,178 44.55% 665,104
1988
United States presidential election, 1988
The United States presidential election of 1988 featured no incumbent president, as President Ronald Reagan was unable to seek re-election after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment. Reagan's Vice President, George H. W. Bush, won the Republican nomination, while the...

55.52% 734,281 43.88% 580,368
1984
United States presidential election, 1984
The United States presidential election of 1984 was a contest between the incumbent President Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate, and former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate. Reagan was helped by a strong economic recovery from the deep recession of 1981–1982...

60.04% 822,782 39.37% 539,589
1980
United States presidential election, 1980
The United States presidential election of 1980 featured a contest between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, as well as Republican Congressman John B. Anderson, who ran as an independent...

49.07% 635,274 47.61% 616,417
1976
United States presidential election, 1976
The United States presidential election of 1976 followed the resignation of President Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal. It pitted incumbent President Gerald Ford, the Republican candidate, against the relatively unknown former governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, the Democratic...

45.57% 531,852 52.75% 615,717
1972
United States presidential election, 1972
The United States presidential election of 1972 was the 47th quadrennial United States presidential election. It was held on November 7, 1972. The Democratic Party's nomination was eventually won by Senator George McGovern, who ran an anti-war campaign against incumbent Republican President Richard...

63.37% 676,446 34.77% 371,159
1968
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

43.79% 462,411 37.65% 397,541
1964
United States presidential election, 1964
The United States presidential election of 1964 was held on November 3, 1964. Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy. Johnson, who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy's...

35.65% 372,977 64.01% 669,659
1960
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

53.59% 602,607 46.41% 521,855


Where politics are concerned, Kentucky historically has been very hard fought and leaned slightly toward the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

, although it was never included among the "Solid South
Solid South
Solid South is the electoral support of the Southern United States for the Democratic Party candidates for nearly a century from 1877, the end of Reconstruction, to 1964, during the middle of the Civil Rights era....

". In 2006, 57.05% of the state's voters were officially registered as Democrats, 36.55% registered Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

, and 6.39% registered with some other political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

. Despite this, the state often supports Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 candidates for federal offices.

From 1964 through 2004, Kentucky voted for the eventual winner of the election for President of the United States. In the 2008 election
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

, however, the state lost its bellwether
Bellwether
A bellwether is any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happenings.The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram leading his flock of sheep.The movements of...

 status when John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

, who won Kentucky, lost the national popular and electoral vote to Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 (McCain carried Kentucky 57 to 41%). The Commonwealth supported the previous three Democratic candidates elected to the White House, all elected from Southern states: Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 (Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

) in 1964, Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 (Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

) in 1976, and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 (Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

) in 1992 and 1996. In presidential elections, the state has become a Republican stronghold, supporting that party's presidential candidates by double-digit margins in 2000, 2004 and 2008. At the state level and in most local areas, the Democratic Party is the dominant party.
Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of June 26, 2010
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

1,619,391 56.59%
Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

1,052,902 36.79%
Other 189,499 6.62%
Total 2,861,792 100%

Demographics

As of July 1, 2006, Kentucky has an estimated population of 4,206,074, which is an increase of 33,466, or 0.8%, from the prior year and an increase of 164,586, or 4.1%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase
Population growth
Population growth is the change in a population over time, and can be quantified as the change in the number of individuals of any species in a population using "per unit time" for measurement....

 since the last census of 77,156 people (that is 287,222 births minus 210,066 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 59,604 people into the state. Immigration
Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants,...

 from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 27,435 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 32,169 people. As of 2004, Kentucky's population included about 95,000 foreign-born persons (2.3%). The population density of the state is 101.7 people per square mile.

Kentucky's total population has grown during every decade since records began. However, during most decades of the 20th century there was also net out-migration from Kentucky. Since 1900, rural Kentucky counties have experienced a net loss of over 1 million people from migration, while urban areas have experienced a slight net gain.

The center of population
Center of population
In demographics, the center of population of a region is a geographical point that describes a centerpoint of the region's population...

 of Kentucky is located in Washington County
Washington County, Kentucky
Washington County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of 2000, the population was 10,916. Its county seat is Springfield. The county is named for George Washington. Washington County was the first county formed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky when it reached statehood...

, in the city of Willisburg
Willisburg, Kentucky
Willisburg is a city in Washington County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 304 at the 2000 census. The center of population of Kentucky is located in Willisburg .-Geography:Willisburg is located at ....

.

Race and ancestry

The largest ancestries in the commonwealth are: English
English American
English Americans are citizens or residents of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England....

 (30.6%), German
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

 (12.7%), Irish
Irish American
Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

 (10.5%), and African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 (7.8%). In the state's most urban counties of Jefferson
Jefferson County, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 693,604 people, 287,012 households, and 183,113 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 305,835 housing units at an average density of...

, Oldham
Oldham County, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 46,178 people, 14,856 households, and 12,196 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 15,541 housing units at an average density of...

, Fayette
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

, Boone
Boone County, Kentucky
Boone County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It was formed in 1798. The population was 118,811 in the 2010 Census. Its county seat is Burlington. The county is named for frontiersman Daniel Boone...

, Kenton
Kenton County, Kentucky
Kenton County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, United States. It was formed in 1840. In 2010, the population was 159,720. It is the third most populous county in Kentucky behind Jefferson County and Fayette County. Its county seats are Covington and Independence...

, and Campbell
Campbell County, Kentucky
Campbell County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It was formed on December 17, 1794, from sections of Scott, Harrison and Mason counties. As of 2010, the population was 90,336. Its county seats are Alexandria and Newport...

, German is the largest reported ancestry. Americans of Scots-Irish
Scots-Irish American
Scotch-Irish Americans are an estimated 250,000 Presbyterian and other Protestant dissenters from the Irish province of Ulster who immigrated to North America primarily during the colonial era and their descendants. Some scholars also include the 150,000 Ulster Protestants who immigrated to...

 and English
English American
English Americans are citizens or residents of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England....

 stock are present throughout the entire state, and many claim Irish ancestry because of the term "Scots-Irish", but most of the time in Kentucky this term is used for those with Scottish roots, rather than Irish. Southeastern Kentucky was populated by a large group of Native Americans of mixed heritage, also known as Melungeons, in the early 19th century. Groups like the Ridgetop Shawnee were organizing the descendants of those early Native American settlers.

African Americans, who made up one-fourth of Kentucky's population prior to the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, declined in number as many moved to the industrial North in the Great Migration
Great Migration (African American)
The Great Migration was the movement of 6 million blacks out of the Southern United States to the Northeast, Midwest, and West from 1910 to 1970. Some historians differentiate between a Great Migration , numbering about 1.6 million migrants, and a Second Great Migration , in which 5 million or more...

. Today, the African American population of Jefferson County is 20%; 44.2% of Kentucky's African American population is in Jefferson County and 52% are in the Louisville Metro Area. Other areas with high concentrations, besides Christian and Fulton Counties, are the city of Paducah
Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah is the largest city in Kentucky's Jackson Purchase Region and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. It is located at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River, halfway between the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Missouri, to the west and Nashville,...

, the Bluegrass, and the city of Lexington
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

. Many mining communities in far Southeastern Kentucky also have populations between five and 10 percent African American.

Religion

In 2000, The Association of Religion Data Archives reported that of Kentucky's 4,041,769 residents:
  • 47% were not affiliated with any church
  • 34% were members of Evangelical Protestant
    Evangelicalism
    Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

     churches
    • Southern Baptist Convention
      Southern Baptist Convention
      The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

       (979,994 members, 24%)
    • Christian churches and churches of Christ (106,638 members, 3%)
    • Churches of Christ (58,602 members, 1%)
  • 10% were Roman Catholics
    Roman Catholic Church
    The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

  • 9% belonged to mainline Protestant churches
    • United Methodist Church
      United Methodist Church
      The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

       (208,720 members, 5%)
    • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
      Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
      The Christian Church is a Mainline Protestant denomination in North America. It is often referred to as The Christian Church, The Disciples of Christ, or more simply as The Disciples...

       (67,611 members, 2%)
  • 0.05% were Orthodox Christians
  • 1% were affiliated with other theologies.


Today Kentucky is home to several seminaries. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary , located in Louisville, Kentucky, is the oldest of the six seminaries affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention . The seminary was founded in 1859, at Greenville, South Carolina. After being closed during the Civil War, it moved in 1877 to Louisville...

 in Louisville
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

 is the principal seminary for the Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention
The Southern Baptist Convention is a United States-based Christian denomination. It is the world's largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members...

. Louisville is also the home of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary affiliated with the Presbyterian Church , located in Louisville, Kentucky. It is one of ten official PC seminaries....

. Lexington has two seminaries, Lexington Theological Seminary
Lexington Theological Seminary
Lexington Theological Seminary is an accredited graduate theological institution located in Lexington, Kentucky. Although the seminary is related to the Christian Church , it is intentionally ecumenical with almost 50 percent of its enrollment coming from other denominations...

, and the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. Asbury Theological Seminary
Asbury Theological Seminary
Asbury Theological Seminary is a multi-denominational, graduate institution that offers a variety of master degree and postgraduate degree programs through the schools of Biblical Interpretation and Proclamation, Theology and Formation, Practical Theology, World Missions and Evangelism, and...

 is located in nearby Wilmore
Wilmore, Kentucky
Wilmore is a city in Jessamine County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 6,134 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Lexington–Fayette Metropolitan Statistical Area...

. In addition to seminaries, there are several colleges affiliated with denominations. Transylvania
Transylvania University
Transylvania University is a private, undergraduate liberal arts college in Lexington, Kentucky, United States, affiliated with the Christian Church . The school was founded in 1780. It offers 38 majors, and pre-professional degrees in engineering and accounting...

 in Lexington
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

 is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Christian Church is a Mainline Protestant denomination in North America. It is often referred to as The Christian Church, The Disciples of Christ, or more simply as The Disciples...

. The University of Pikeville in Pikeville, Kentucky is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. In Louisville, Bellarmine
Bellarmine University
Bellarmine University is an independent, private, Catholic university in Louisville, Kentucky. The liberal arts institution opened on October 3, 1950, as Bellarmine College, established by Archbishop John A. Floersh of the Archdiocese of Louisville and named after the Cardinal Saint Robert...

 and Spalding
Spalding University
Spalding University is a private, co-educational university affiliated with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and located in Louisville, Kentucky.-History:...

 are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. In Owensboro, Kentucky
Owensboro, Kentucky
Owensboro is the fourth largest city by population in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It is the county seat of Daviess County. It is located on U.S. Route 60 about southeast of Evansville, Indiana, and is the principal city of the Owensboro, Kentucky, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's...

, Kentucky Wesleyan College
Kentucky Wesleyan College
Kentucky Wesleyan College is a private Methodist college in Owensboro, Kentucky, a city on the Ohio River. KWC is just 40 minutes east of Evansville, Indiana, 2 hours north of Nashville, Tennessee, 2 hours west of Louisville, Kentucky, and 4 hours east of St. Louis, Missouri...

 is associated with the Methodist Church and Brescia University
Brescia University
Brescia University is a coeducational Catholic university located in Owensboro, Kentucky, in the United States. It was founded in 1950 by the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph as Brescia College. It attained university status in 1998 with the addition of Master's degree programs in...

 is associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Wilmore is home to Asbury University (a separate institution from the seminary), which is associated with the Christian College Consortium
Christian College Consortium
The Christian College Consortium is an affiliation of Christian college