Photographic book

Kentucky with the Union


Albert Sidney Johnston
Albert Sidney Johnston

After the Confederate invasion of 1862, the legislature aligned Kentucky with the Union. Thus it did not undergo all the postwar measures enacted against other Southern states in the period of restoration, or Reconstruction, of the Union. It was not initially occupied by Union troops. However, Kentucky resisted granting civil rights to blacks, and this resulted in a military presence by the Union Army for some time. The state’s anger regarding black rights pushed it toward greater sympathy with the South, and many of its postwar leaders were Confederate soldiers or sympathizers. Blacks did not become legally free in Kentucky until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States became law in December 1865—eight months after the end of the Civil War.

The Democratic Party dominated postwar politics; not until 1895 would the party of Lincoln win a race for the governor’s seat. Meanwhile the state’s black citizens, many of whom had fought for the Union, were forced by new laws into a second-class, segregated status. That status was enforced by widespread terrorism, which the Democratic administration would not or could not stop. Some Kentuckians, notably U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan in his dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, in 1896, spoke out against that system. Even so loyal a Democrat as the fiery Louisville newspaper editor Henry Watterson, a national spokesperson for Southern home rule, championed some expansion of black rights; but the system remained. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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