EtymologyIn 1776 the counties of beyond the became known to European Americans as , named for the . The precise etymology of the name is uncertain, but likely based on an name meaning "(on) the meadow" or "(on) the prairie"Mithun, Marianne. 1999. ''Languages of Native North America''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pg. 312 (cf. ''kenhtà:ke'', ''gëdá'geh'' ( ), "at the field"). Others have suggested the term ''Kenta Aki'', which could have come from an Algonquian language and were possibly derived from . Folk etymology translates this as "Land of Our Fathers". The closest approximation in another Algonquian language, , translates as "Land of Our In-Laws", thus making a fairer English translation "The Land of Those Who Became Our Fathers". In any case, the word ''aki'' means "land" in most Algonquian languages. Some also theorize that the name Kentucky may be a corruption of the word Catawba, in reference to the Catawba people who inhabited Kentucky.
Native American settlementIt is not known exactly when the first humans arrived in what is now Kentucky. Based on the evidence in other regions, humans were likely living in Kentucky prior to 10,000 BCE, but "archaeological evidence of their occupation has yet to be documented". Around 1800 BCE, a gradual transition began from a hunter-gatherer economy to agriculturalism. Around 900 CE, a took root in western and central Kentucky; by contrast, a appeared in eastern Kentucky. While the two had many similarities, the distinctive ceremonial earthwork mounds constructed in the former's centers were not part of the culture of the latter. In about the 10th century, the Kentucky native people's variety of corn became highly productive, supplanting the , and replaced it with a maize-based agriculture in the Mississippian Era. French explorers in the 17th century documented numerous tribes living in Kentucky until the in the 1670s; however, by the time that European colonial explorers and settlers began entering Kentucky in greater numbers in the mid-18th century, there were no major Native American settlements in the region. As of the 16th century, the area known as Kentucky was home to tribes from five different culture groupsIroquoian, Sioux, Algonquian, Muskogean and Yuchi. Around the Bluestone River was the Siouan . North of the Tennessee River was the and south of it was the . Much of the interior of the state was controlled by the Algonquian Cisca; the confluence region of the Mississippi and Ohio was home to the . During a period known as the , 1640–1680, another Algonquian tribe called the Maumee, or was chased out of southern Michigan. The vast majority of them moved to Kentucky, pushing the Kispoko east and war broke out with the Tutelo that pushed them deeper into Appalachia, where they merged with the Saponi and Moneton. The Maumee were closely related to the Miami of Indiana. Later, the Kispoko merged with the Shawnee (who broke off from the Powhatan on the east coast) and the Thawikila of Ohio to form the larger nation which inhabited the Ohio River Valley into the 19th century. The Shawnee from the northeast and Cherokee from the south also sent parties into the area regularly for hunting.
European settlementIn 1774 James Harrod founded the first permanent European settlement in Kentucky at the site of present-day Harrodsburg.
County of Kentucky and statehoodOn December 31, 1776, by an act of the , the portion of Fincastle County west of the Appalachians extending to the Mississippi River, previously known as Kentucky (or Kentucke) territory, was split off into its own county of . Harrod's Town (Oldtown as it was known at the time) was named the county seat. The county was subdivided into Jefferson, Lincoln and Fayette Counties in 1780, but continued to be administered as the District of Kentucky even as new counties were split off. On several occasions the region's residents petitioned the General Assembly and the for separation from Virginia and . Ten constitutional conventions were held in between 1784 and 1792. One petition, which had Virginia's assent, came before the Confederation Congress in early July 1788. Unfortunately, its consideration came up a day after word of 's all-important ninth of the proposed , thus establishing it as the new framework of governance for the United States. In light of this development, Congress thought that it would be "unadvisable" to admit Kentucky into the Union, as it could do so "under the Articles of Confederation" only, but not "under the Constitution", and so declined to take action. On December 18, 1789, Virginia again gave its consent to Kentucky statehood. The gave its approval on February 4, 1791. (This occurred two weeks before Congress approved 's petition for statehood.) Kentucky officially became the fifteenth state in the Union on June 1, 1792. , a military veteran from Virginia, was elected its first Governor.
Relationship Between Native Americans and European SettlersA 1790 U.S. government report states that 1,500Kentucky settlers had been killed by Native Americans since the end of the . As more settlers entered the area, warfare broke out with the Native Americans over their traditional hunting grounds. Historian Susan Sleeper-Smith documents the role of Kentucky settlers in displacing Native American communities living in the northern Ohio River Valley during the late 18th century.
19th centuryCentral Kentucky, the bluegrass region, was the area of the state with the most slave owners. cultivated and hemp (see Hemp in Kentucky) and were noted for their quality . During the 19th century, Kentucky slaveholders began to sell unneeded slaves to the , with Louisville becoming a major slave market and departure for slaves being transported downriver. Kentucky was one of the border states during the , and it remained part of the Union. Despite this, representatives from 68 of 110 counties met at Russellville calling themselves the "Convention of the People of Kentucky" and passed an on November 20, 1861. They established a with its capital in . The Confederate shadow government was never popularly elected statewide. Although Confederate forces briefly controlled Frankfort, they were expelled by Union forces before a Confederate government could be installed in the state capital. After the expulsion of Confederate forces after the Battle of Perrysville, this government operated in-exile. Though it existed throughout the war, Kentucky's provisional government had very little effect on the events in the Commonwealth or in the war. Kentucky remained officially "neutral" throughout the war due to the Union sympathies of a majority of the Commonwealth's citizens. Despite this, some 21st-century Kentuckians observe on leader ' birthday, June 3, and participate in Confederate battle re-enactments. Both Davis and U.S. president were born in Kentucky. John C. Breckinridge, the 14th and youngest-ever Vice President was born in Lexington, Kentucky at Cabell's Dale Farm. Breckenridge was expelled from the U. S. Senate for his support of the Confederacy. Modern historians such as Aaron Astor, Maryjean Wall, and Anne Marshall argue that many of Kentucky's white leaders and influential figures embraced a romanticized Southern identity, drawing from misleading and mythologized conceptions of the Old South and on the , in the decades following Reconstruction. This phenomenon mirrors similar cultural trends in other states during the nadir of race relations. On January 30, 1900, Governor , flanked by two bodyguards, was mortally wounded by an while walking to the State Capitol in downtown Frankfort. Goebel was contesting the Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899, which William S. Taylor was initially believed to have won. For several months, , Goebel's running mate, and Taylor fought over who was the legal governor until the ruled in May in favor of Beckham. After fleeing to , Taylor was indicted as a co-conspirator in Goebel's . Goebel is the only governor of a U.S. state to have been assassinated while in office.
20th centuryThe , a vigilante action, occurred in Western Kentucky in the early 20th century. As a result of the monopoly, tobacco farmers in the area were forced to sell their crops at prices that were too low. Many local farmers and activists united in a refusal to sell their crops to the major tobacco companies. An Association meeting occurred in downtown Guthrie, where a vigilante wing of "Night Riders", formed. The riders terrorized farmers who sold their tobacco at the low prices demanded by the tobacco corporations. They burned several tobacco warehouses throughout the area, stretching as far west as Hopkinsville, Kentucky, Hopkinsville to Princeton, Kentucky, Princeton. In the later period of their operation, they were known to physically assault farmers who broke the boycott. Governor Augustus E. Willson declared martial law and deployed the Kentucky National Guard to end the wars. On October 15, 1959, a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, B-52 carrying two nuclear weapons collided in midair with a KC-135 tanker near Hardinsburg, Kentucky. One of the nuclear bombs was damaged by fire but both weapons were recovered.
GeographyKentucky is situated in the Upland South. A significant portion of eastern Kentucky is part of Appalachia. Kentucky borders seven states, from the Midwestern United States, Midwest and the Southeastern United States, Southeast. lies to the northeast, to the east, to the south, to the west, to the northwest, and and to the north. Only Missouri and Tennessee, both of which border eight states, touch more. Kentucky's northern border is formed by the and its western border by the ; however, the official border is based on the courses of the rivers as they existed when Kentucky became a state in 1792. For instance, northbound travelers on U.S. Route 41 in Kentucky, U.S. 41 from Henderson, after crossing the Ohio River, will be in Kentucky for about . Ellis Park Racecourse, 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 has a non-contiguous part known as Kentucky Bend, at the far west corner of the state. It exists as an exclave surrounded completely by and , and is included in the boundaries of Fulton County, Kentucky, Fulton County. Road access to this small part of Kentucky on the Mississippi River (populated by 18 people ) requires a trip through Tennessee. The epicenter of the 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes was near this area, causing the Mississippi River to flow backwards in some places. Though the series of quakes changed the area geologically and affected the small number of inhabitants of the area at the time, the Kentucky Bend is the result of a surveying error, not the New Madrid earthquake.
RegionsKentucky can be divided into five primary regions: the Cumberland Plateau in the east, which contains much of the historic coal mines; the north-central Bluegrass region, where the major cities and the capital are located; the south-central and western Pennyroyal Plateau (also known as the Pennyrile or Mississippi Plateau); the Western Coal Fields; and the far-west Jackson Purchase. The Bluegrass region is commonly divided into two regions, the Inner Bluegrass encircling around Lexington, and the Outer Bluegrass that contains most of the northern portion of the state, above the Knobs region, Knobs. Much of the outer Bluegrass is in the Eden Shale Hills area, made up of short, steep, and very narrow hills.
ClimateLocated within the southeastern interior portion of North America, Kentucky has a climate that is best described as a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: ''Cfa''), only small higher areas of the southeast of the state has an oceanic climate (''Cfb'') influenced by the Appalachian Mountains, Appalachians. Temperatures in Kentucky usually range from daytime summer highs of to the winter low of . The average precipitation is a year. Kentucky has four distinct seasons, with substantial variations in the severity of summer and winter. The highest recorded temperature was at Greensburg, Kentucky, Greensburg on July 28, 1930, while the lowest recorded temperature was at Shelbyville, Kentucky, Shelbyville on 1994 North American cold wave, January 19, 1994. The state rarely experiences the extreme cold of far northern states, nor the high heat of the states in the . Temperatures seldom drop below 0 degrees or rise above 100 degrees. Rain and snowfall totals about 45 inches per year. The climate varies markedly within the state. The northern parts tend to be about five degrees cooler than those in the western parts of the state. Somerset, Kentucky, Somerset in the south-central part receives ten more inches of rain per year than, for instance, Covington, Kentucky, Covington to the north. Average temperatures for the entire Commonwealth range from the low 30s in January to the high 70s in mid-July. The annual average temperature varies from : of in the far north as an average annual temperature and of in the extreme southwest. In general, Kentucky has relatively hot, humid, rainy summers, and moderately cold and rainy winters. Mean maximum temperatures in July vary from ; the mean minimum July temperatures are . In January the mean maximum temperatures range from ; the mean minimum temperatures range from . Temperature means vary with northern and far-eastern mountain regions averaging five degrees cooler year-round, compared to the relatively warmer areas of the southern and western regions of the state. Precipitation also varies north to south with the north averaging of , and the south averaging of . Days per year below the freezing point vary from about sixty days in the southwest to more than a hundred days in the far-north and far-east.
Lakes and riversKentucky has more navigable miles of water than any other state in the union, other than Alaska. Kentucky is the only U.S. state to have a continuous border of rivers running along three of its sidesthe to the west, the to the north, and the Big Sandy River (Ohio River), Big Sandy River and Tug Fork to the east. Its major internal rivers include the , Tennessee River, Cumberland River, Green River (Kentucky), Green River and Licking River (Kentucky), Licking River. Though it has only three major natural lakes, Kentucky is home to many artificial lakes. Kentucky has both the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi in water volume (Lake Cumberland) and surface area (Kentucky Lake). Kentucky Lake's of shoreline, of water surface, and of flood storage are the most of any lake in the Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA system. Kentucky's of streams provides one of the most expansive and complex stream systems in the nation.
Natural environment and conservationKentucky has an expansive park system, which includes one national park, two National Recreation Areas, two National Historic Parks, two United States National Forest, national forests, two National Wildlife Refuges, 45 state parks, 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 in the state's eastern counties, which had been extinct from the area for over 150 years. , the herd had reached the project goal of 10,000 animals, making it the largest herd east of the . The state also stocked wild turkeys in the 1950s. There were reported to be fewer than 900 at one point. Once nearly extinct here, wild turkeys thrive throughout today's Kentucky. Hunters officially reported a record 29,006 birds taken during the 23-day season in spring 2009. In 1991 the Land Between the Lakes partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Red Wolf Recovery Program, a captive breeding program.
Natural attractions* Cumberland Gap, chief passageway through the in early American history. * Cumberland Falls, the only place in the Western Hemisphere where a "moonbow" may be regularly seen, due to the spray of the falls. * , featuring the world's longest known cave system. * Red River Gorge Geological Area, part of the Daniel Boone National Forest. * Land Between the Lakes, a National Recreation Area managed by the United States Forest Service. * Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area near Whitley City, Kentucky, Whitley City. * Black Mountain (Kentucky), Black Mountain, state's highest point. Runs along the south ridge of Pine Mountain in Letcher County, Kentucky. The highest point located in Harlan County. * Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve, state nature preserve on southern slope of Pine Mountain in Letcher County, Kentucky, Letcher County. Includes one of the largest concentrations of rare and endangered species in the state, as well as a waterfall and a Kentucky Wild River. * Jefferson Memorial Forest, located in the southern fringes of in the Knobs region, the largest municipally run forest in the United States. * Lake Cumberland, of shoreline located in South Central Kentucky. * Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Natural Bridge, located in Slade, Kentucky Powell County, Kentucky, Powell County. * Breaks Interstate Park, located in southeastern Pike County, Kentucky and Southwestern . The Breaks is commonly known as the "Grand Canyon of the South".
CountiesKentucky is subdivided into 120 county (United States), counties, the largest being Pike County, Kentucky, Pike County at , and the most populous being Jefferson County, Kentucky, Jefferson County (which Consolidated city–county, coincides with the Louisville, Kentucky, Louisville Metro Louisville Metro Council, governmental area) with 741,096 residents . County government, under the Kentucky Constitution of 1891, is vested in the County Judge/Executive, (formerly called the County Judge) who serves as the Executive (government), executive head of the county, and a legislature called a Fiscal Court. Despite the unusual name, the Fiscal Court no longer has judiciary, judicial functions.
Consolidated city-county governmentsKentucky's two most populous counties, Jefferson and Fayette, have their Consolidated city-county, governments consolidated with the governments of their largest cities. ''Louisville-Jefferson County Government'' (Louisville, Kentucky, Louisville Metro) and ''Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government'' (Lexington, Kentucky, Lexington Metro) are unique in that their city councils and county Fiscal Court structures have been merged into a single entity with a single mayor, chief executive, the Louisville Metro Mayor, Metro Mayor and Urban County Mayor, respectively. Although the counties still exist as subdivisions of the state, in reference the names Louisville and Lexington are used to refer to the entire area coextensive with the former cities and counties.
Major citiesThe Louisville metropolitan area, Metro Louisville government area has a 2018 population of 1,298,990. Under United States Census Bureau methodology, the population of Louisville was 623,867. The latter figure is the population of the so-called Louisville/Jefferson County metro government (balance), Kentucky, "balance"the parts of Jefferson County that were either unincorporated or within the City of Louisville before the formation of the merged government in 2003. In 2018 the Louisville metropolitan area, Louisville Combined Statistical Area (CSA) had a population of 1,569,112; including 1,209,191 in Kentucky, which means more than 25% of the state's population now lives in the Louisville CSA. Since 2000, over one-third of the state's population growth has occurred in the Louisville CSA. In addition, the top 28 wealthiest places in Kentucky are in Jefferson County and seven of the 15 wealthiest counties in the state are located in the Louisville CSA. The second-largest city is Lexington with a 2018 census population of 323,780, its metro had a population of 516,697, and its Lexington–Fayette–Frankfort–Richmond, KY Combined Statistical Area, CSA, which includes the Frankfort, Kentucky micropolitan area, Frankfort and Richmond–Berea micropolitan area, Richmond statistical areas, having a population of 746,310. The Northern Kentucky area, which comprises the seven Kentucky counties in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky metropolitan area, had a population of 447,457 in 2018. The metropolitan areas of Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky have a combined population of 2,402,958 , which is 54% of the state's total population on only about 19% of the state's land. This area is often referred to as the Golden triangle as it contains a majority of the state's wealth, population, population growth, and economic growth, it is also where most of the state's largest cities by population are located. It is referred to as the Golden triangle as the metro areas of Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati outline a triangle shape. Interstates I-71, I-75, and I-64 form the triangle shape. Additionally, all counties in Kentucky that are part of an MSA or CSA have a total population of 2,970,694, which is 67% of the state's population. had a population of 67,067, making it the third most populous city in the state. The Bowling Green metropolitan area had an estimated population of 174,835; and the combined statistical area it shares with Glasgow, Kentucky, Glasgow has an estimated population of 228,743. The two other fast-growing urban areas in Kentucky are the area and the "Tri-Cities Region" of southeastern Kentucky, comprising Somerset, Kentucky, Somerset, London, Kentucky, London and Corbin, Kentucky, Corbin. Although only one town in the "Tri-Cities" (Somerset) currently has more than 12,000 people, the area has been experiencing heightened population and job growth since the 1990s. Growth has been especially rapid in Laurel County, which outgrew areas such as Scott and Jessamine counties around Lexington or Shelby and Nelson Counties around Louisville. London significantly grew in population in the 2000s, from 5,692 in 2000 to 7,993 in 2010. London also landed a Walmart, Wal-Mart distribution center in 1997, bringing thousands of jobs to the community. In northeast Kentucky, the greater Ashland, Kentucky, Ashland area is an important transportation, manufacturing, and medical center. Iron and steel industry, Iron and petroleum production, as well as the transport of coal by rail and barge, have been historical pillars of the region's economy. Due to a decline in the area's industrial base, Ashland has seen a sizable reduction in its population since 1990; however, the population of the area has since stabilized with the medical service industry taking a greater role in the local economy. The Ashland area, including the counties of Boyd County, Kentucky, Boyd and Greenup County, Kentucky, Greenup, is part of the Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). As of the 2000 census, the MSA had a population of 288,649. More than 21,000 of those people () reside within the city limits of Ashland. The largest county in Kentucky by area is Pike County, Kentucky, Pike, which contains Pikeville, Kentucky, Pikeville and suburb Coal Run Village, Kentucky, Coal Run Village. The county and surrounding area is the most populated region in the state that is not part of a United States Micropolitan Statistical Area, Micropolitan Statistical Area or a Metropolitan Statistical Area containing nearly 200,000 people in five counties: Floyd County, Kentucky, Floyd County, Martin County, Kentucky, Martin County, Letcher County, Kentucky, Letcher County, and neighboring Mingo County, West Virginia. Pike County contains slightly more than 68,000 people. Only three U.S. states have capitals with smaller populations than Kentucky's Frankfort (pop. 25,527): Augusta, Maine (pop. 18,560), Pierre, South Dakota (pop. 13,876), and Montpelier, Vermont (pop. 8,035).
DemographicsThe United States Census Bureau determined that the population of Kentucky was 4,505,836 in 2020, increasing since the 2010 United States Census, 2010 United States census. As of July 1, 2016, Kentucky had an estimated population of 4,436,974, which is an increase of 12,363 from the prior year and an increase of 97,607, or 2.2%, since the year 2010. This includes a Population growth, natural increase since the last census of 73,541 people (that is 346,968 births minus 273,427 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 26,135 people into the state. Immigration to the United States, Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 40,051 people, and migration within the country produced a net decrease of 13,916 people. , Kentucky's population included about 149,016 foreign-born persons (3.4%). In 2016 the population density of the state was 110 people per square mile (42.5/km2). Kentucky's population has grown during every decade since records have been kept. But during most decades of the 20th century there was also net out-migration from Kentucky. Since 1900, rural Kentucky counties have had a net loss of more than a million people to migration, while urban areas have experienced a slight net gain. Kentucky's center of population is in Washington County, Kentucky, Washington County, in the city of Willisburg, Kentucky, Willisburg.
Race and ancestryAccording to U.S. Census Bureau official statistics, the largest ancestry in 2013 was American ethnicity, American totalling 20.2%. In 1980, before the status of ethnic American was an available option on the official census, the largest claimed ancestries in the commonwealth were English American, English (49.6%), Irish American, Irish (26.3%), and German American, German (24.2%). In the state's most urban counties of Jefferson, Oldham County, Kentucky, Oldham, Lexington, Kentucky, Fayette, Boone County, Kentucky, Boone, Kenton County, Kentucky, Kenton, and Campbell County, Kentucky, Campbell, German is the largest reported ancestry. Americans of Scots-Irish American, Scots-Irish and English American, English stock are present throughout the entire state. Many residents claim Irish ancestry because of known "Scots-Irish" among their ancestors, who immigrated from Ireland, where their ancestors had moved for a period from Scotland during the plantation period. As of the 1980s, the only counties in the United States where over half of the population cited "English American, English" as their only ancestry group were in the hills of eastern Kentucky (virtually every county in this region had a majority of residents identifying as exclusively English in ancestry).James Paul Allen and Eugene James Turner, ''We the People: An Atlas of America's Ethnic Diversity'' (Macmillan, 1988), 41. The Ridgetop Shawnee organized in the early 21st century as a non-profit to gain structure for their community and increase awareness of Native Americans in Kentucky. In the 2000 census, some 20,000 people in the state identified as Native American (0.49%). In June 2011, Jerry "2 Feather" Thornton, a , led a team in the Voyage of Native American Awareness 2011 canoe journey, to begin on the Green River in Rochester, Kentucky and travel through to the Ohio River at Henderson, Kentucky, Henderson. African Americans, who were mostly enslaved at the time, made up 25% of Kentucky's population before the American Civil War, Civil War; they were held and worked primarily in the central Bluegrass region, an area of hemp and tobacco cultivation, as well as raising blooded livestock. The number of African Americans living in Kentucky declined during the 20th century. Many migrated during the early part of the century to the industrial North and Midwest during the Great Migration (African American), Great Migration for jobs and the chance to leave the segregated, oppressive societies. Today, less than 9% of the state's total population is African-American. The state's African-American population is highly urbanized and 52% of them live in the Louisville metropolitan area; 44.2% of them reside in Jefferson County, Kentucky, Jefferson County. The county's population is 20% African American. Other areas with high concentrations, besides Christian and Fulton counties and the Bluegrass region, are the cities of Paducah, Kentucky, Paducah and Lexington. Some mining communities in far Southeastern Kentucky have populations that are between five and 10 percent African-American.
LanguageIn 2000 96.1% of all residents five years old and older spoke only American English, English at home, a decrease from 97.5% in 1990. Speech patterns in the state generally reflect the first settlers' Virginia and Kentucky backgrounds. South Midland features are best preserved in the mountains, with Southern American English, Southern in most other areas of Kentucky, but some common to Midland and Southern are widespread. After a vowel, the /r/ may be weak or missing. For instance, ''Coop'' has the vowel of ''put'', but the root rhymes with ''boot''. In southern Kentucky, earthworms are called ''redworms'', a burlap bag is known as a ''tow sack'' or the ''Southern grass sack'', and green beans are called ''snap beans''. In Kentucky English, a young man may ''carry'', not escort, his girlfriend to a party. Spanish language, Spanish is the second-most-spoken language in Kentucky, after English.
Religion, the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) reported the following groupings of Kentucky's 4,339,367 residents: * 48% not affiliated with any religious group, 2,101,653 persons * 42% Protestant Christian, 1,819,860 adherents ** 33% Evangelicalism, Evangelical Protestant, 1,448,947 adherents (23% within the Southern Baptist Convention, 1,004,407 adherents) ** 7.1% Mainline Protestant, 305,955 adherents (4.4% in the United Methodist Church, 189,596 adherents) ** 1.5% Black Protestant, 64,958 adherents * 8.3% Catholic Church in the United States, Catholic Church, 359,783 adherents * 0.74% Latter-day Saints, 31,991 adherents * 0.60% other religions, 26,080 adherents (0.26% Muslim, 0.16% Judaism, 0.06% Buddhism, 0.01% Hindu, other Christianity, Christian, etc.) Kentucky is home to several seminaries. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in is the principal seminary for the Southern Baptist Convention. Louisville is also the home of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, an institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Lexington has one seminary, Lexington Theological Seminary (affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Disciples of Christ). The Baptist Seminary of Kentucky is located on the campus of Georgetown College in Georgetown. Asbury Theological Seminary, a multi-denominational seminary in the Methodism, Methodist tradition, is located in nearby Wilmore, Kentucky, Wilmore. In addition to seminaries, there are several colleges affiliated with denominations: * In Louisville, Bellarmine University and Spalding University are affiliated with the Catholic Church in the United States, Roman Catholic Church. * In Lexington, Transylvania University is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ. * In Owensboro, Kentucky, Owensboro, Kentucky Wesleyan College is associated with the United Methodist Church, and Brescia University is associated with the Roman Catholic Church. * In Pikeville, the University of Pikeville is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). * In Wilmore, Asbury University (a separate institution from the seminary) is associated with the Christian College Consortium. * The Baptist denomination is associated with several colleges: ** University of the Cumberlands, in Williamsburg, Kentucky, Williamsburg ** Campbellsville University, in Campbellsville, Kentucky, Campbellsville ** Georgetown College (Kentucky), Georgetown College, in Georgetown, Kentucky, Georgetown ** Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, in Pineville, Kentucky * Grayson, Kentucky, Grayson in Carter County, Kentucky, Carter County is home to Kentucky Christian University which is affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. *The Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani is located in Bardstown, Kentucky. Author Thomas Merton, known as a social activist, worked to reconcile Christianity with other major religions, had converted to Catholicism as a young man, and became a Trappist monk; he lived and worked here from 1941 until his death in 1968. Louisville is home to the Cathedral of the Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky), Cathedral of the Assumption, the third-oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States. The city also holds the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and their printing press. Reflecting late 19th, 20th and 21st-century immigration from different countries, Louisville also has Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu communities. In 1996 the Center for Interfaith Relations established the Festival of Faiths, the first and oldest annual interfaith festival to be held in the United States. The Christian creationist apologetics group, Answers in Genesis, along with its Creation Museum, is headquartered in Petersburg, Boone County, Kentucky, Petersburg, Kentucky.
EconomyEarly in its history, Kentucky gained recognition for its excellent farming conditions. It was the site of the first commercial winery in the United States (started in present-day Jessamine County, Kentucky, Jessamine County in 1799) and due to the high calcium content of the soil in the Bluegrass region quickly became a major horse breeding (and later racing) area. Today Kentucky ranks 5th nationally in goat farming, 8th in production, and 14th in corn production. Kentucky has also been a long-standing major center of the tobacco industryboth as a center of business and tobacco farming. Today Kentucky's economy has expanded to importance in non-agricultural terms as well, especially in auto manufacturing, energy fuel production, and medical facilities. Kentucky ranks 4th among U.S. states in the number of automobiles and trucks assembled. The Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac XLR (2004–2009), Ford Escape, Ford Super Duty trucks, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Camry, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Camry Solara, Toyota Solara, Toyota Venza, and Lexus ES 350 are assembled in Kentucky. Kentucky has historically been a major coal producer, but the coal industry has been in decline since the 1980s, and the number of people employed in the coal industry there dropped by more than half between 2011 and 2015. , 24% of electricity produced in the U.S. depended on either enriched uranium rods coming from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (the only domestic site of low-grade uranium enrichment), or from the 107,336 tons of coal extracted from the state's two coal fields (which combined produce 4% percent of the electricity in the United States). Kentucky produces 95% of the world's supply of bourbon whiskey, and the number of barrels of bourbon being aged in Kentucky (more than 5.7million) exceeds the state's population.Associated Press
TaxationTax is collected by the Kentucky Department of Revenue. There are six income tax brackets, ranging from 2% to 6% of personal income. The sales tax rate in Kentucky is 6%. Kentucky has a broadly based classified property tax system. All classes of property, unless exempted by the Constitution, are taxed by the state, although at widely varying rates. Many of these classes are exempted from taxation by local government. Of the classes that are subject to local taxation, three have special rates set by the Kentucky General Assembly, General Assembly, one by the Kentucky Supreme Court and the remaining classes are subject to the full local rate, which includes the tax rate set by the local taxing bodies plus all voted levies. Real property is assessed on 100% of the fair market value and property taxes are due by December 31. Once the primary source of state and local government revenue, property taxes now account for only about 6% of the Kentucky's annual General Fund revenues. Until January 1, 2006, Kentucky imposed a tax on intangible personal property held by a taxpayer on January1 of each year. The Kentucky intangible tax was repealed under House Bill 272. Intangible property consisted of any property or investment that represents evidence of value or the right to value. Some types of intangible property included: bonds, notes, retail repurchase agreements, accounts receivable, trusts, enforceable contracts sale of real estate (land contracts), money in hand, money in safe deposit boxes, annuities, interests in estates, loans to stockholders, and commercial paper.
Government-promoted slogansIn December 2002, the Kentucky governor Paul E. Patton, Paul Patton unveiled the state slogan "It's that friendly", in hope of drawing more people into the state based on the idea of southern hospitality. This campaign was neither a failure nor a success. Though it was meant to embrace southern values, many Kentuckians rejected the slogan as cheesy and ineffective. It was quickly seen that the slogan did not encourage tourism as much as initially hoped for. So government decided to create a different slogan to embrace Kentucky as a whole while also encouraging more people to visit the Bluegrass. In 2004, then Governor Ernie Fletcher launched a comprehensive branding campaign with the hope of making the state's $12–14million advertising budget more effective. The resulting "Unbridled Spirit" brand was the result of a $500,000 contract with New West, a Kentucky-based public relations advertising and marketing firm, to develop a viable brand and tag line. The Fletcher administration aggressively marketed the brand in both the public and private sectors. Since that time, the "Welcome to Kentucky" signs at border areas have an "Unbridled Spirit" symbol on them.
TourismTourism has become an increasingly important part of the Kentucky economy. In 2019 tourism grew to $7.6billion in economic impact. Key attractions include with events like the Kentucky Derby and the Keeneland Fall and Spring Meets, Kentucky Bourbon Trail, bourbon distillery tours and natural attractions such as the state's many lakes and parks to include Mammoth Cave, Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, Lake Cumberland and Red River Gorge. The state also has several religious destinations such as the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter of Answers in Genesis.
The Horse IndustryHorse Racing has long been associated with Kentucky. Churchill Downs, the home of the Derby, is a large venue with a capacity exceeding 165,000. The track hosts multiple events throughout the year and is a significant draw to the city of Louisville. Keeneland Race Course, in Lexington, hosts two major meets, the Spring and Fall running. Beyond hosting races Keeneland also hosts a significant horse auction drawing buyers from around the world. In 2019 $360million was spent on the September Yearling sale. The Kentucky Horse Park in Georgetown, Kentucky, Georgetown hosts multiple events throughout the year, including international equestrian competitions and also offers horseback riding from April to October.
EducationKentucky maintains eight public four-year universities. There are two general tiers: major research institutions (the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville) and regional universities, which encompass the remaining six schools. The regional schools have specific target counties that many of their programs are targeted towards (such as Forestry at Eastern Kentucky University or Cave Management at Western Kentucky University), however, most of their curriculum varies little from any other public university. The University of Kentucky (UK) and the University of Louisville (UofL) have the highest academic rankings and admissions standards although the regional schools aren't without their national recognized departmentsexamples being Western Kentucky University's nationally ranked Journalism Department or Morehead State University offering one of the nation's only Space Science degrees. UK is the flagship and land grant of the system and has agriculture extension services in every county. The two research schools split duties related to the medical field, UK handles all medical outreach programs in the eastern half of the state while UofL does all medical outreach in the state's western half. The state's sixteen public two-year colleges have been governed by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System since the passage of the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, commonly referred to as House Bill 1. Before the passage of House Bill 1, most of these colleges were under the control of the University of Kentucky. Transylvania University, a liberal arts university located in Lexington, was founded in 1780 as the oldest university west of the Allegheny Mountains. Berea College, located at the extreme southern edge of the Bluegrass below the Cumberland Plateau, was the first coeducational college in the Southern United States, South to admit both black and white students, doing so from its very establishment in 1855. This policy was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court of the United States, United States Supreme Court in the case of ''Berea College v. Kentucky'' in 1908. This decision effectively segregated Berea until the landmark ''Brown v. Board of Education'' in 1954. There are 173 school districts and 1,233 public schools in Kentucky. For the 2010 to 2011 school year, there were approximately 647,827 students enrolled in public school. Kentucky has been the site of much educational reform over the past two decades. In 1989 the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled the state's education system was unconstitutional. The response of the Kentucky General Assembly, General Assembly was passage of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) the following year. Years later, Kentucky has shown progress, but most agree that further reform is needed. The 2018 West Virginia teachers' strike, West Virginia teachers' strike in 2018 inspired 2018–19 education workers' strikes in the United States, teachers in other states, including Kentucky, to take similar action.
RoadsKentucky is served by six major Interstate Highway System, Interstate highways (Interstate 24 in Kentucky, I-24, Interstate 64 in Kentucky, I-64, Interstate 65 in Kentucky, I-65, Interstate 69 in Kentucky, I-69, Interstate 71 in Kentucky, I-71, and Interstate 75 in Kentucky, I-75), seven :Kentucky parkway system, parkways, and six bypasses and spurs (Interstate 165 (Kentucky), I-165, Interstate 169 (Kentucky), I-169, Interstate 264 (Kentucky), I-264, Interstate 265, I-265, Interstate 275 (Ohio–Indiana–Kentucky), I-275, and Interstate 471, I-471). The parkways were originally toll roads, but on November 22, 2006, Governor Ernie Fletcher ended the toll charges on the William H. Natcher Parkway and the Audubon Parkway, the last two parkways in Kentucky to charge tolls for access. The related Toll house, toll booths have been demolished. Ending the tolls some seven months ahead of schedule was generally agreed to have been a positive economic development for transportation in Kentucky. In June 2007, a law went into effect raising the speed limit on rural portions of Kentucky Interstates and parkways from . Road tunnels include the interstate Cumberland Gap Tunnel and the rural Nada Tunnel.
RailsAmtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Ashland, Kentucky, Ashland, South Shore, Kentucky, South Portsmouth, Maysville, Kentucky, Maysville and Fulton, Kentucky, Fulton. The ''Cardinal (train), Cardinal'' (trains 50 and 51) is the line that offers Amtrak service to Ashland, South Shore, Maysville and South Portsmouth. The ''City of New Orleans (train), City of New Orleans'' (trains 58 and 59) serve Fulton. The Northern Kentucky area is served by the ''Cardinal'' at Cincinnati Union Terminal. The terminal is just across the in Cincinnati. Norfolk Southern Railway passes through the Central and Southern parts of the Commonwealth, via its Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific (CNO&TP) subsidiary. The line originates in Cincinnati and terminates 338 miles south in Chattanooga, Tennessee. , there were approximately of railways in Kentucky, with about 65% of those being operated by CSX Transportation. Bituminous coal, Coal was by far the most common cargo, accounting for 76% of cargo loaded and 61% of cargo delivered. Bardstown, Kentucky, Bardstown features a tourist attraction known as ''My Old Kentucky Dinner Train''. Run along a stretch of rail purchased from CSX Transportation, CSX in 1987, guests are served a four-course meal as they make a two-and-a-half-hour round-trip between Bardstown and Limestone Springs. The Kentucky Railway Museum is located in nearby New Haven, Kentucky, New Haven. Other areas in Kentucky are reclaiming old railways in rail trail projects. One such project is Louisville's Big Four Bridge. When the bridge's Indiana approach ramps opened in 2014, completing the pedestrian connection across the Ohio River, the Big Four Bridge rail trail became the second-longest pedestrian-only bridge in the world. The longest pedestrian-only bridge is also found in Kentuckythe Newport Southbank Bridge, popularly known as the "Purple People Bridge", connecting Newport, Kentucky, Newport to Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
AirKentucky's primary airports include Louisville International Airport (Standiford Field (SDF)) of , Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) of Cincinnati/Covington, Kentucky, Covington, and Blue Grass Airport (LEX) in Lexington. Louisville International Airport is home to United Parcel Service, UPS's Worldport (UPS air hub), Worldport, its international air-sorting hub. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is the largest airport in the state, and is a focus city for passenger airline Delta Air Lines and headquarters of its Delta Private Jets. The airport is one of DHL Aviation's three super-hubs, serving destinations throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, making it the 7th busiest airport in the U.S. and 36th in the world based on passenger and cargo operations. CVG is also a focus city for Frontier Airlines and is the largest O&D airport and base for Allegiant Air, along with home to a maintenance for American Airlines subsidiary PSA Airlines and Delta Air Lines subsidiary Endeavor Air. There are also a number of regional airports scattered across the state. On August 27, 2006, Blue Grass Airport was the site of a crash that killed 47 passengers and 2crew members aboard a Bombardier CRJ designated Comair Flight 191, or Delta Air Lines Flight 5191, sometimes mistakenly identified by the press as Comair Flight 5191. The lone survivor was the flight's First Officer (civil aviation), first officer, James Polehinke, who doctors determined to be brain damaged and unable to recall the crash at all.
WaterAs the state is bounded by two of the largest rivers in North America, water transportation has historically played a major role in Kentucky's economy. Louisville was a major port for steamships in the nineteenth century. Today, most barge traffic on Kentucky waterways consists of coal that is shipped from both the Eastern and Western Coalfields, about half of which is used locally to power many power plants located directly off the , with the rest being exported to other countries, most notably Japan. Many of the largest ports in the United States are located in or adjacent to Kentucky, including: * Port of Huntington-Tristate, Huntington-Tristate (includes Ashland, Kentucky), largest inland port and 7th largest overall * Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky, 5th largest inland port and 43rd overall * Louisville-Southern Indiana, 7th largest inland port and 55th overall As a state, Kentucky ranks 10th overall in port tonnage. The only natural obstacle along the entire length of the Ohio River is the Falls of the Ohio, located just west of Downtown Louisville.
Law and governmentKentucky is one of four U.S. states to officially use the term ''Commonwealth (U.S. state), commonwealth.'' The term was used for Kentucky as it had also been used by Virginia, from which Kentucky was created. The term has no particular significance in its meaning and was chosen to emphasize the distinction from the status of royal colonies as a place governed for the general welfare of the populace. Kentucky was originally styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the act admitting it to the union since that is how it was referred to in Kentucky's first constitution. The commonwealth term was used in citizen petitions submitted between 1786 and 1792 for the creation of the state. It was also used in the title of a history of the state that was published in 1834 and was used in various places within that book in references to Virginia and Kentucky. The other three states officially called "commonwealths" are Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and . Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands are also formally commonwealths. Kentucky is one of only five states that elect their state officials in odd-numbered years (the others being Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and ). Kentucky holds elections for these offices every four years in the years preceding Presidential election years. Thus, Kentucky held gubernatorial elections in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
Executive branchThe executive branch is headed by the Governor of Kentucky, governor who serves as both head of state and head of government. The Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky, lieutenant governor may or may not have executive authority depending on whether the person is a member of the Governor's Cabinet (government), cabinet. Under the current Kentucky Constitution, the lieutenant governor assumes the duties of the governor only if the governor is incapacitated. (Before 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. The current governor is Andy Beshear, and the lieutenant governor is Jacqueline Coleman. Both are Democratic Party (United States), Democrats. The executive branch is organized into the following "cabinets", each headed by a secretary who is also a member of the governor's cabinet: * Kentucky General Government Cabinet, General Government Cabinet * Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Transportation Cabinet * Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Cabinet for Economic Development * Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, Finance and Administration Cabinet * Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet * Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet * Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services * Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet * Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, Personnel Cabinet * Kentucky Labor Cabinet, Labor Cabinet * Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Energy and Environment Cabinet * Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet, Public Protection Cabinet The cabinet system was introduced in 1972 by Governor Wendell Ford to consolidate hundreds of government entities that reported directly to the governor's office. Other elected constitutional offices include the Secretary of State of Kentucky, Secretary of State, Attorney General of Kentucky, Attorney General, Auditor of Public Accounts, Kentucky State Treasurer, State Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture. Currently, Republican Michael Adams (Kentucky politician), Michael G. Adams serves as the Secretary of State. The commonwealth's chief prosecutor, law enforcement officer, and law officer is the Attorney General, currently Republican Daniel Cameron (Kentucky politician), Daniel Cameron. The Auditor of Public Accounts is Republican Mike Harmon (politician), Mike Harmon. Republican Allison Ball is the current Treasurer. Republican Ryan Quarles is the current Commissioner of Agriculture.
Legislative branchKentucky's legislative branch consists of a bicameralism, bicameral body known as the Kentucky General Assembly. The Kentucky Senate, Senate is considered the upper house. It has 38 members and is led by the President of the Senate, currently Robert Stivers (Republican Party (United States), R). The Kentucky House of Representatives, House of Representatives has 100 members, and is led by the Speaker of the House, currently David Osborne of the Republican Party. In November 2016, Republicans won control of the House for the first time since 1922, and currently have supermajorities in both the House and Senate.
Judicial branchThe judicial branch of Kentucky is called the Kentucky Court of Justice and comprises courts of limited jurisdiction called District Courts; courts of general jurisdiction called Kentucky Circuit Courts, Circuit Courts; specialty courts such as Drug Court and Family Court; an intermediate appellate court, the Kentucky Court of Appeals; and a court of last resort, the Kentucky Supreme Court. The Kentucky Court of Justice is headed by the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth. The chief justice is appointed by, and is an elected member of, the Supreme Court of Kentucky. The current chief justice is John D. Minton Jr. 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 representationKentucky's two United States Senate, U.S. Senators are Party leaders of the United States Senate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, both Republicans. The state is divided into six Kentucky Congressional Districts, Congressional Districts, represented by Republicans James Comer (politician), James Comer (Kentucky's 1st congressional district, 1st), Brett Guthrie (Kentucky's 2nd congressional district, 2nd), Thomas Massie (Kentucky's 4th congressional district, 4th), Hal Rogers (Kentucky's 5th congressional district, 5th) and Andy Barr (American politician), Andy Barr (Kentucky's 6th congressional district, 6th) and Democrat John Yarmuth (Kentucky's 3rd congressional district, 3rd). In the federal judiciary, Kentucky is served by two United States district courts: the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Eastern District of Kentucky, with its primary seat in Lexington, and the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Western District of Kentucky, with its primary seat in Louisville. Appeals are heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, based in Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio.
LawKentucky's body of laws, known as the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS), were enacted in 1942 to better organize and clarify the whole of Kentucky law. The statutes are enforced by local police, Sheriffs in the United States, sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, and constables and deputy constables. Unless they have completed a police academy elsewhere, these officers are required to complete Police Officer Professional Standards (POPS) training at the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training Center on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, Richmond. Additionally, in 1948, the Kentucky General Assembly established the Kentucky State Police, making it the 38th state to create a force whose jurisdiction extends throughout the given state. Kentucky is one of the Capital punishment in the United States, 32 states in the United States that sanctions the Capital punishment, death penalty for certain murders defined as heinous. Those convicted of capital crimes after March 31, 1998 are always executed by lethal injection; those convicted on or before this date may opt for the electric chair. Only List of people executed in Kentucky, three people have been executed in Kentucky since the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court re-instituted the practice in 1976. The most notable execution in Kentucky was that of Rainey Bethea on August 14, 1936. Bethea was publicly hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky, Owensboro for the rape and murder 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 on public property. In the 2005 case of ''McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky'', the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that a display of the Ten Commandments in the Whitley City, Kentucky, Whitley City courthouse of McCreary County, Kentucky, McCreary County was unconstitutional. Later that year, Judge Richard Fred Suhrheinrich, writing for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of ''American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Kentucky v. Mercer County, Kentucky, Mercer County'', wrote that a display including the Mayflower Compact, the United States Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence, the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, ''The Star-Spangled Banner'', and the In God We Trust, national motto could be erected in the Mercer County, Kentucky, Mercer County 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. A 2008 study found that Kentucky's Supreme Court to be the least influential high court in the nation with its decisions rarely being followed by other states.
PoliticsThroughout its history, Kentucky has remained politically competitive. The state has leaned toward the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party since 1860, when the Whig Party dissolved. The southeastern region of the state aligned with the Union during the war and tends to support Republican candidates. The central and western portions of the state were heavily Democratic in the years leading to the Civil War and in the decades following the war. Kentucky was part of the Democratic Solid South in the second half of the nineteenth century and through the majority of the twentieth century. Mirroring a broader national reversal of party composition, the Kentucky Democratic Party of the twenty-first century primarily consists of liberal whites, African Americans, and other minorities. As of March 2020, 48.42% of the state's voters were officially registered as Democrats, and 42.75% were registered Republican Party (United States), Republican, who tend to be conservative whites. Some 8.83% were registered with some other political party or as Independents. Despite this, a majority of the state's voters have generally elected Republican candidates for federal office beginning around the turn of the 21st century. From 1964 through 2004, Kentucky voted for the eventual winner of the election for President of the United States; however, in the 2008 United States presidential election, 2008 election the state lost its bellwether status. Republican John McCain won Kentucky, but he lost the national popular and electoral vote to Democrat Barack Obama (McCain carried Kentucky 57% to 41%). 116 of Kentucky's 120 counties supported former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in the 2012 election while he lost to Barack Obama nationwide. Voters in the Commonwealth have supported the previous three Democratic candidates elected to the White House in the late 20th century, all from Southern states: Lyndon B. Johnson (Texas) in 1964, Jimmy Carter (Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia) in 1976, and Bill Clinton (Arkansas) in 1992 and 1996. In the twenty-first century presidential elections, the state has become a Republican stronghold, supporting that party's presidential candidates by double-digit margins from 2000 through 2016. At the same time, voters have continued to elect Democratic candidates to state and local offices in many jurisdictions. Kentucky is one of the most Anti-abortion movements, pro-life states in the United States. A 2014 poll conducted by Pew Research Center found that 57% of Kentucky's population thought that abortion should be illegal in all/most cases, while only 36% thought that abortion should be legal in all/most cases.
CultureAlthough Kentucky's culture is generally considered to be Southern culture, Southern, it is unique in that it is also influenced by the Midwestern United States, Midwest and Appalachia, Southern Appalachia in certain areas of the state. The state is known for Bourbon whiskey, bourbon and whiskey distilling, , , and . Kentucky is more similar to the Upland South in terms of ancestry that is predominantly American. Nevertheless, during the 19th century, Kentucky did receive a substantial number of German immigrants, who settled mostly in the Midwest, along the Ohio River primarily in Louisville, Covington and Newport. Only Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia have higher German ancestry percentages than Kentucky among Census-defined Southern states, although Kentucky's percentage is closer to Arkansas and Virginia's than the previously named state's percentages. Scottish Americans, English Americans and Scotch-Irish Americans have heavily influenced Kentucky culture, and are present in every part of the state. As of the 1980s the only counties in the United States where more than half the population cited "English" as their only ancestry group were all in the hills of eastern Kentucky (and made up virtually every county in this region). Kentucky was a slave state, and black people once comprised over one-quarter of its population; however, it lacked the cotton plantations in the American South, plantation system and never had the same high percentage of African Americans as most other slave states. While less than 8% of the total population is black, Kentucky has a relatively significant rural African American population in the Central and Western areas of the state. Kentucky adopted the Jim Crow laws, Jim Crow system of racial segregation in most public spheres after the Civil War. Louisville's 1914 ordinance for residential racial segregation was Buchanan v. Warley, struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1917. However, in 1908 Kentucky enacted the Day Law, "An Act to Prohibit White and Colored Persons from Attending the Same School", which Berea College Berea College v. Kentucky, unsuccessfully challenged at the US Supreme Court in 1908; in 1948, Lyman T. Johnson filed suit for admission to the University of Kentucky; as a result in the summer of 1949, nearly thirty African American students entered UK graduate and professional programs. Kentucky integrated its schools after the 1954 ''Brown v. Board of Education'' verdict, later adopting the first state civil rights act in the South in 1966. The biggest day in American horse racing, the Kentucky Derby, is preceded by the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival, Derby Festival in Louisville. The Derby Festival features many events, including Thunder Over Louisville, the Pegasus Parade, the Great Steamboat Race, Fest-a-Ville, the Chow Wagon, BalloonFest, BourbonVille, and many others leading up to the big race. Louisville also plays host to the Kentucky State Fair and the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. , the state's third-largest city and home to the Bowling Green Assembly Plant, only assembly plant in the world that manufactures the Chevrolet Corvette, opened the National Corvette Museum in 1994. The fourth-largest city, Owensboro, Kentucky, Owensboro, gives credence to its nickname of "Barbecue Capital of the World" by hosting the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival. Old Louisville, the largest historic preservation district in the United States featuring Victorian architecture and the third largest overall, hosts the St. James Court Art Show, the largest outdoor art show in the United States. The neighborhood was also home to the Southern Exposition (1883–1887), which featured the first public display of Thomas Edison's light bulb, and was the setting of Alice Hegan Rice's novel, ''Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch''. Hodgenville, Kentucky, Hodgenville, the birthplace of , hosts the annual Lincoln Days Celebration, and also hosted the kick-off for the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in February 2008. Bardstown, Kentucky, Bardstown celebrates its heritage as a major bourbon-producing region with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Glasgow, Kentucky, Glasgow mimics Glasgow, Scotland by hosting the Glasgow Highland Games, its own version of the Highland Games, and Sturgis, Kentucky, Sturgis hosts "Little Sturgis", a mini version of Sturgis, South Dakota's annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Winchester, Kentucky, Winchester celebrates an original Kentucky creation, Beer cheese (spread), Beer Cheese, with its Beer Cheese Festival held annually in June. Beer Cheese was developed in Clark County, Kentucky, Clark County at some point in the 1940s along the Kentucky River. The residents of tiny Benton, Kentucky, Benton pay tribute to their favorite tuber, the sweet potato, by hosting Tater Day. Residents of Clarkson, Kentucky, Clarkson in Grayson County, Kentucky, Grayson County celebrate their city's ties to the honey industry by celebrating the Clarkson Honeyfest. The Clarkson Honeyfest is held the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in September, and is the "Official State Honey Festival of Kentucky".
MusicRenfro Valley, Kentucky is home to Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and is known as "Kentucky's Country Music Capital", a designation given it by the Kentucky State Legislature in the late 1980s. The Renfro Valley Barn Dance was where Renfro Valley's musical heritage began, in 1939, and influential country music luminaries like Red Foley, Homer & Jethro, Lily May Ledford &the Original Coon Creek Girls, Martha Carson and many others have performed as regular members of the shows there over the years. The Renfro Valley Gatherin' is today America's second-oldest continually broadcast radio program of any kind. It is broadcast on local radio station WRVK and a syndicated network of nearly 200 other stations across the United States and Canada every week. Contemporary Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman is a Paducah, Kentucky, Paducah native, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Everly Brothers are closely connected with Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, Muhlenberg County, where older brother Don was born. Merle Travis, Country &Western artist known for both his signature "Travis picking" guitar playing style, as well as his hit song "Sixteen Tons", was also born in Muhlenberg County. Kentucky was also home to Mildred Hill, Mildred and Patty Hill, the sisters credited with composing the tune to the ditty Happy Birthday to You in 1893; Loretta Lynn (Johnson County, Kentucky, Johnson County), Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson (musician), Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys, and Billy Ray Cyrus (Flatwoods, Kentucky, Flatwoods). However, its depth lies in its signature soundBluegrass music. Bill Monroe, "The Father of Bluegrass", was born in the small Ohio County, Kentucky, Ohio County town of Rosine, Kentucky, Rosine, while Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, David "Stringbean" Akeman, Grandpa Jones, Louis Marshall "Grandpa" Jones, Sonny and Bobby Osborne, and Sam Bush (who has been compared to Monroe) all hail from Kentucky. The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is located in Owensboro, Kentucky, Owensboro, while the annual Festival of the Bluegrass is held in Lexington. Kentucky is also home to famed jazz musician and pioneer, Lionel Hampton. Blues legend W. C. Handy and Rhythm and blues, R&B singer Wilson Pickett also spent considerable time in Kentucky. The R&B group Midnight Star (band), Midnight Star and Hip-Hop group Nappy Roots were both formed in Kentucky, as were country acts The Kentucky Headhunters, Montgomery Gentry and Halfway to Hazard, The Judds, as well as GMA Music Awards, Dove Award-winning Christian groups Audio Adrenaline (rock) and Bride (band), Bride (metal). Heavy Rock band Black Stone Cherry hails from rural Edmonton. Rock band My Morning Jacket with lead singer and guitarist Jim James originated out of Louisville, as well as bands Wax Fang, White Reaper, Tantric (band), Tantric. Rock bands Cage the Elephant, Sleeper Agent (band), Sleeper Agent, and Morning Teleportation are also from Bowling Green. The bluegrass groups Driftwood and Kentucky Rain, along with Nick Lachey of the pop band 98 Degrees are also from Kentucky. King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew is from Covington, Kentucky, Covington. Post rock band Slint also hails from Louisville. Noted singer and actress Rosemary Clooney was a native of Maysville, Kentucky, Maysville, her legacy being celebrated at the annual music festival bearing her name. Noted songwriter and actor Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Will Oldham is from Louisville. More recently in the limelight are country artists Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, and Chris Knight (musician), Chris Knight. In eastern Kentucky, old-time music carries on the tradition of ancient ballads and reels developed in historical Appalachia.
LiteratureKentucky has played a major role in Southern and American literature, producing works that often celebrate the working class, rural life, nature, and explore issues of class, extractive economy, and family. Major works from the state include ''Uncle Tom's Cabin'' (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe, widely seen as one of the impetuses for the American Civil War; ''The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come'' (1908) by John Fox Jr., which was the first novel to sell a million copies in the United States; ''All the King's Men'' by Robert Penn Warren (1946), rated as the 36th best Modern Library 100 Best Novels, English-language novel of the 20th century; ''The Dollmaker'' (1954) by Harriette Simpson Arnow, Harriette Arnow; ''Night Comes to the Cumberlands'' (1962) by Harry Caudill, which contributed to initiating the U.S. Government's War on poverty, and others. Author Thomas Merton lived most of his life and wrote most of his booksincluding ''The Seven Storey Mountain'' (1948), ranked on ''National Review'' list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the centuryduring his time as a monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani near Bardstown, Kentucky. Author Hunter S. Thompson is also a native of the state. Since the later part of the 20th century, several writers from Kentucky have published widely read and critically acclaimed books, including: Wendell Berry (Floruit, fl. 1960–), Silas House (fl. 2001–), Barbara Kingsolver (fl. 1988–), poet Maurice Manning (poet), Maurice Manning (fl. 2001–), and Bobbie Ann Mason (fl. 1988–). Well-known playwrights from Kentucky include Marsha Norman (works include '''night, Mother'', 1983) and Naomi Wallace (works include ''One Flea Spare'', 1995).
CuisineKentucky's cuisine is generally similar to traditional southern cooking, although in some areas of the state it can blend elements of both the South and Midwest. One original Kentucky dish is called the Hot Brown, a dish normally layered in this order: toasted bread, turkey, bacon, tomatoes and topped with mornay sauce. It was developed at the Brown Hotel (Louisville, Kentucky), Brown Hotel in . The Pendennis Club in Louisville is the birthplace of the Old fashioned (cocktail), Old Fashioned cocktail. Also, western Kentucky is known for its own regional style of barbecue. Central Kentucky is the birthplace of Beer cheese (spread), Beer Cheese. Colonel Sanders, Harland Sanders, a Kentucky colonel, originated Kentucky Fried Chicken at his service station in North Corbin, Kentucky, North Corbin, though the first franchised KFC was located in South Salt Lake, Utah.
SportsKentucky is the home of several sports teams such as Minor League Baseball's Triple-A Louisville Bats and High-A Bowling Green Hot Rods. It is also home to the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball's Lexington Legends and the Frontier League's Florence Y'alls. The Lexington Horsemen and Louisville Fire of the now-defunct af2 had been interested in making a move up to the "major league" Arena Football League, but nothing has come of those plans. The Northern Kentucky, northern part of the state lies across the from Cincinnati, which is home to the National Football League's Cincinnati Bengals, Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds. It is not uncommon for fans to park in the city of Newport, Kentucky, Newport and use the Newport Southbank Bridge, Newport Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, locally known as the "Purple People Bridge", to walk to these games in Cincinnati. Also, Georgetown College (Kentucky), Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, Georgetown was the location for the Bengals' summer training camp, until it was announced in 2012 that the Bengals would no longer use the facilities. As in many states, especially those without major league professional sports teams, college athletics are prominent. This is especially true of the state's three NCAA Division I, DivisionI Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs, including the Kentucky Wildcats, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, and the Louisville Cardinals. The Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball, Wildcats, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers basketball, Hilltoppers, and Louisville Cardinals men's basketball, Cardinals are among the most tradition-rich college men's basketball teams in the United States, combining for 11 National Championships and 24 NCAA Final Fours; all three are high on the lists of total all-time wins, wins per season, and average wins per season. The Kentucky Wildcats are particularly notable, leading all DivisionI programs in all-time wins, win percentage, NCAA tournament appearances, and being second only to UCLA Bruins men's basketball, UCLA in NCAA championships. Louisville Cardinals football, Louisville has also stepped onto the football scene in recent years, including winning the 2007 Orange Bowl as well as the 2013 Sugar Bowl, and also producing 2016 NCAA Division I FBS football season, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. WKU Hilltoppers football, Western Kentucky, the 2002 NCAA Division I Football Championship, national champion in DivisionI-AA football (now Football Championship Subdivision (FCS)), completed its transition to DivisionI FBS football in 2009. The Kentucky Derby is a horse race held annually in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. The Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville has hosted several editions of the PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and Ryder Cup since the 1990s. The NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Cup Series held a race at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky from 2011 to 2020, which is within an hour driving distance from Cincinnati, Louisville, and Lexington. The race is called the Quaker State 400. The NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series also raced there through 2020. The IndyCar Series previously raced there as well. Ohio Valley Wrestling in Louisville was the primary location for training and rehab for WWE professional wrestlers from 2000 until 2008, when WWE moved its contracted talent to Florida Championship Wrestling. OVW later became the primary developmental territory for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) from 2011 to 2013. In 2014 Louisville City FC, a professional soccer team in the league then known as USL Pro and now as the United Soccer League, was announced. The team made its debut in 2015, playing home games at Louisville Slugger Field. In its first season, Louisville City was the official reserve side for Orlando City SC, who made its debut in Major League Soccer at the same time. That arrangement ended in 2016 when Orlando City established a Orlando City B, directly controlled reserve side in the USL.
Kentucky colonelThe distinction of being named a Kentucky colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the Governor of Kentucky, Governor and the Secretary of State of Kentucky, Secretary of State to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. The sitting Governor of Kentucky, governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky bestows the honor of a colonel's commission (document), commission, by issuance of letters patent. Kentucky colonels are commissioned for life and act officially as the state's goodwill ambassadors.
See also* Index of Kentucky-related articles * Outline of Kentucky
Surveys and reference* Bodley, Temple and Samuel M. Wilson. ''History of Kentucky'' 4 vols. (1928). * Harry M. Caudill, Caudill, Harry M., ''Night Comes to the Cumberlands'' (1963). * Channing, Steven. ''Kentucky: A Bicentennial History'' (1977). * Clark, Thomas Dionysius. ''A History of Kentucky'' (many editions, 1937–1992). * Collins, Lewis. ''History of Kentucky'' (1880). * * Lowell H. Harrison, Harrison, Lowell H. and James C. Klotter. ''A New History of Kentucky'' (1997). * Kleber, John E. et al. ''The Kentucky Encyclopedia'' (1992), standard reference history. * James C. Klotter, Klotter, James C. ''Our Kentucky: A Study of the Bluegrass State'' (2000), high school text * Lucas, Marion Brunson and Wright, George C. ''A History of Blacks in Kentucky'' 2 vols. (1992).
Specialized scholarly studies