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Portal:Kentucky

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The Commonwealth of Kentucky /kɪnˈtʌki/ is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts). Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 it 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 native 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; the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the Lower 48 states; and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. It is also home to the highest per capita number of deer and turkey in the United States, the largest free-ranging elk herd east of Montana, and the nation's most productive coalfield. Kentucky is also known for thoroughbred horses, horse racing, bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music, automobile manufacturing, tobacco and college basketball.

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The Battle of Perryville, also known as the Battle of Chaplin Hills, was fought on October 8, 1862, in the Chaplin Hills west of Perryville, Kentucky, as the culmination of the Confederate Heartland Offensive (Kentucky Campaign) during the American Civil War. Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg's Army of Mississippi won a tactical victory against primarily a single corps of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell's Union Army of the Ohio. The battle is considered a strategic Union victory, sometimes called the Battle for Kentucky, because Bragg withdrew to Tennessee soon thereafter, leaving the critical border state of Kentucky in Union hands for the remainder of the war. Following the Battle of Perryville, the Union maintained control of Kentucky for the rest of the war. Historian James M. McPherson considers Perryville to be part of a great turning point of the war, "when battles at Antietam and Perryville threw back Confederate invasions, forestalled European mediation and recognition of the Confederacy, perhaps prevented a Democratic victory in the northern elections of 1862 that might have inhibited the government's ability to carry on the war, and set the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation which enlarged the scope and purpose of the conflict."

Considering the casualties for the engaged strengths of the armies, the Battle of Perryville was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, and the largest battle fought in the state of Kentucky.

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Photo credit: David Harpe
Thunder Over Louisville is the world's largest annual firework display.

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Frankfort serves as the state capital of the commonwealth of Kentucky, and is the county seat of Franklin County. The population was 27,741 at the 2000 census; by population, it is the 4th smallest state capital in the United States. James Wilkinson purchased in 1786 the 260-acre tract of land on the north side of the Kentucky River, which is now downtown Frankfort. Called by some the father of Frankfort, Wilkinson was an early promoter to make Frankfort the state capital.

The town of Frankfort probably received its name from an event that took place in 1780's when Indians attacked a group of pioneers from Bryan's Station who were making salt at a ford in the Kentucky River. One of the pioneers, Stephen Frank, was killed and the crossing became known as "Frank's Ford." Later this name was shortened to Frankfort.

After Kentucky became a state, five commissioners were appointed on June 20, 1792, to choose a location for the state capital. They were John Allen and John Edwards (both from Bourbon County), Henry Lee (Mason County), Thomas Kennedy (Madison County), and Robert Todd (Fayette County). A number of communities competed for this honor, but Frankfort won by perseverance and, according to early histories, the offer of Andrew Holmes' log house as capitol for seven years, a number of town lots, £50 worth of locks and hinges, 10 boxes of glass, 1500 pounds of nails, and $3000 in gold.

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Beriah Magoffin Monument

Kentucky Official Symbols

On this day in Kentucky history...

Quotes

"I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." -- Abraham Lincoln

"I was brought up to believe that Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon." -- Hugo Black

"Tough girls come from New York. Sweet girls, they're from Georgia. But us Kentucky girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin'. And if we have an opinion, you know you're gonna hear it." -- Ashley Judd

"Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune." -- Daniel Boone

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Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is a 14,000 acre (57 km²) arboretum, forest, and nature preserve located in Clermont, Kentucky (south of Louisville, Kentucky, United States). It was founded in 1929 by Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, a German immigrant and successful brewer whose whiskey distillery business established the I.W. Harper brand. He purchased the land in 1928 at $1 an acre because most of it had been stripped for mining iron ore.

The property includes a 240-acre (0.97 km²) arboretum containing over 1,900 labeled species and cultivars of trees, shrubs, and other plants. The arboretum includes over 185 cultivars of American holly species. Other major collections include maples, crab apples, conifers (including dwarf conifers), oaks, buckeyes, ginkgoes, ornamental pears, and dogwoods. Specific attractions within the arboretum include the sun and shade trail, quiet garden, and garden pavilion.

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William Goebel (January 4, 1856 – February 3, 1900) was an American politician who served as Governor of Kentucky for a few days in 1900 after having been mortally wounded by an assassin the day before he was sworn in. Goebel remains the only state governor in the United States to be assassinated while in office.

A skilled politician, Goebel was well able to broker deals with fellow lawmakers, and equally able and willing to break the deals if a better deal came along. His tendency to use the state's political machinery to advance his personal agenda earned him the nicknames "Boss Bill", "the Kenton King", "Kenton Czar", "King William I", and "William the Conqueror".

Goebel's abrasive personality made him many political enemies, but his championing of populist causes, like railroad regulation, also won him many friends. This conflict of opinions came to a head in the Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1900. Goebel, a Democrat, divided his party with self-serving political tactics at a time when Kentucky Republicans were finally gaining strength, having elected the party's first governor four years previously. These dynamics led to a close contest between Goebel and William S. Taylor. In the politically chaotic climate that resulted, Goebel was assassinated.

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