Essay Example on Kentucky in the Midst of Slavery & Civil War: 1790-1800s

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1739 Words
Date:  2023-03-26


Slavery was one of the major issues that contributed to the great civil war and political rifts in the USA during its early years. Kentucky found itself in a tight spot during the slavery and civil war in America during the period 1790 1ll through the 1800s. Kentucky was also the main slavery hold zone, with almost most slaves being held for both subsistence and other labor-intensive activities. Most freed slaves traded their children as well as their families with the native rich mine owner until a revolution movement was formed.Kentucky was not for the war but stood for slavery while the majority of Americas opposed its presence. As the ideological differences grew, things grew out of hand and eventually led to the great civil war. This paper tries to analyze various factors that led Kentucky as a border state to indulge in the war, the effects it created and the reconstruction process.

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History and trends of slavery in Kentucky

Being a state on the border between the north and the south side was both an advantage and disadvantage for Kentucky during the slavery era. It was a small state with low needs for slave labor. Most of the laborers worked on tobacco farms as the state was still growing. The population of slaves was kept low as there was a great decline in the production levels of tobacco. It served as a terminal for exporting the slaves to the southern states where they were greatly needed. Another interesting aspect is that there were free slaves who helped greatly when the need to stop slavery rose. America was on the verge of fleeing the slaves as the pressure was greatly growing from antislavery campaigners and activists. Twenty-nine counties had free blacks who contributed to the fighting of slavery in this region. It is also worth noting that it contributed to the spread of slaves to the south as the white settlers moved to find better farming opportunities. Kentucky also happened to be a leading hand in abolitionism, seeing figures like David rice, David barrow among others pushing for its end. As a border country, it was a crucial figure in the exchange of slaves between the north and the south. However, it also acted as a central figure in the rise of revolutions to cub slavery. Being a quickly growing state with a population of over 70000 implied the need for more labor, easily got from the salves1.however the opposition was strong where many are those who refuse to put an end to this brutality. Having strong opposition of this system of working contributed heavily to the fight for the freedom of black slaves. Those who were

Politics and their shaping of Kentucky

Kentucky saw a fierce battle between pro-slavery advocates and anti-slavery ones. Some are notably seen in their efforts to cut this trade, such as John Gregg Fee. However, even in this war, it is notable that there was the growth of the slave trade business favored by most political figures at the time. The common wealth greatly rejected slavery and tried to quell the uprising that ensued. While a substantial number of white settlers were trying to ensure that slavery was not abolished there was a huge number that opposed the idea championed greatly by Abraham Lincoln. Tension grew between the two sides which culminated in a civil war. Kentucky found itself in a situation that was delicate for it was considered a neutral state.

The general ideology was to stop slavery and any form of oppression at first but later turned political. At the height of America's growth, the war proved to be a setback but which could not be overlooked. Political rifts in their political systems greatly contributed to the expansion of civil war. These political rifts saw the once peaceful and thriving state plunge itself into war. These changes were unexpected of Kentucky as both geographical and political factors did not foresee their occurrence. What was once an ideological aspect triggered war in this region leaving huge losses.

Civil war and Kentucky

Kentucky never fully stopped the slave trade business like most of her neighbors, such as Maryland and Missouri. The civil war fueled by the difference in the republicans and democrats over the idealism of slavery and other minor elements hit Kentucky and the rest of America hard. It is reported that close to 75 % of slaves escaped to the areas they were safe from this region during the war. A considerable number of blacks assisted in the war as they sought to put an end to their suffering. Fierce battles ensued as there were different constitutional changes, all trying to control the rights of freed black slaves. Kentucky denied a number of these amendments, including the thirteenth amendment, as it held firmly to denying the blacks freedom. Despite the end of the confederacy, the state is reported to contain slavery continually until the thirteenth amendment was enacted into the American constitution.

Many of those who had been fleed bought over their wives and children in the bid to ensure that they freed every black slave. Kentucky could barely shield itself from the war as a huge number of politicians were already involved to the extent of some requesting for secession. 99% of the congress members opposed these amendments as they argued such a move would affect Kentucky economically. There was therefore the need to enforce this and which eventually drew Kentucky into the war. Things grew tense to the extent of the government imposing martial law to control the situation. Kentucky was hugely affected by these changes both economically and politically. It happened to find itself in the middle of different wars as the south and the north waged war on each other. During this period many slaves freed as they sort asylum in the neighboring states that opposed slavery.

On the eighteenth of December 1865, slavery was legally put to an end in the USA, forcing Kentucky to implement the same. The aftermath of the 1860 election is one that can undoubtedly be seen as fatal finding Kentucky in the middle between the northern and the southern states. Apart from the political effects caused by the war, economic problems ensued during and after the civil war affecting this state. Its acceptance of the amendment to end slavery was a more significant contributor to its reconstruction and growth.

Effects of the war on Kentucky and its reconstruction

At first, Kentucky was neutral but soon it turned out to be a fierce battle field which had a huge imbalance on the civil war. It was the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln which would have meant a strong oppose of slave trade. Abraham thought Kentucky would be behind him but it turned the opposite with the majority shifting to opposition. The rift and start of war was created by the 1861 election where the unionists won majority of the seats in congress. However, this never happened as it turned out to have more union soldiers than the confederates. The scores of this war were overly high, bearing in mind that it was a border state. Kentucky acted as a battlefield for many battles during this period implying high fatalities and destruction of property.

America's civil war was a great relieve for the blacks as they were set free in the long run. Kentucky was however reluctant to abolish slavery as the majority were against its end. Eventually, relieve came for the blacks as those in its favor were defeated. Gradually, slavery was abolished leading to freedom for the blacks.

Recreating Kentucky was not an easy job. Towards the end of the war, the extent of damage was extreme calling for reconstruction of a state that was once thriving economically. A major element noted during the reconstruction process was the rise of other institutions of higher education such as Georgetown college and Centre college. Politically there was a huge gap left causing confusion among many as they had been greatly confused by the war. A considerable number joined the Democratic Party while a minority sidelined with the Republican Party. Kentucky embarked on a serious road to reconstruction making radical changes in their political and economic systems5. Having been hit severally by the war meant huge measures to rebuild a once thriving state. End of the war implied that it had to embark on reviving of industries with the absence of free slave labor. Bringing back law and order implied the removal of military rule which took time bringing peace in the region.

Another thing that noticeably took place during this phase is the according of citizenship to slaves. Although Kentucky was reluctant to accord the blacks citizenship as they got into paid labor in industries and agriculture. War and slave trade are dominant factors that assisted greatly in the making of this state both politically and economically. While there are adverse effects experienced, there were dramatic positive changes in this region. Improvements in education quality rise of industries and better political unity can massively be attributed to this trying period.

The United States of America happened to face a difficult time during this period. However, it took to focus on the positive sides to reconstruct and adjust after its end. Although many of the of political and social issues were not solved immediately, there was massive shifting of attention to more important factors for healing and growth. Freedom for the blacks was a great idea for Kentucky as there was better increase in labor as the slaves were now

Citizens who could work freely. This civil war also happened to leave scores of bitterness and deaths for the slaves as they were greatly involved in the war. Kentucky however got the chance to rebuild again as the population of all races grew driving development.


Hoskins, Patricia. "" The Old First is With the South:" The Civil War, Reconstruction, and Memory in the Jackson Purchase Region of Kentucky." PhD diss., 2009.

Marshall, A. E. "Creating a Confederate Kentucky." 2010. doi:10.5149/9780807899366_marshall.

Marshall, A. E. "Two Kentucky: Civil War Identity in Appalachian, Kentucky, 1865-1915." Creating a Confederate Kentucky, 2010, 111-132. doi:10.5149/9780807899366_marshall.9.

Sterling, R. E. "Civil War Iowa and the Copperhead Movement (review)." Civil War History 27, no. 2 (1981), 185-186. doi:10.1353/cwh.1981.0035.

Webb, Ross A. Kentucky in the Reconstruction Era. University Press of Kentucky, 2015. Retrieed from

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Essay Example on Kentucky in the Midst of Slavery & Civil War: 1790-1800s. (2023, Mar 26). Retrieved from

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