Christopher Greenup (c. 1750 – April 27, 1818) was an American
politician who served as a U.S. Representative and the third Governor
of Kentucky. Little is known about his early life; the first reliable
records about him are documents recording his service in the
Revolutionary War where he served as a lieutenant in the Continental
Army and a colonel in the Virginia militia.
After his service in the war, Greenup helped settle the
trans-Appalachian regions of Virginia. He became involved in politics,
and played an active role in three of the ten statehood conventions
that secured the separation of
Kentucky from Virginia in 1792. He
became one of the state's first representatives, and served in the
Kentucky General Assembly before being elected governor in a race
where, due to his immense popularity, he ran unopposed.
Greenup's term in office was marred by accusations that he had
participated in the
Burr Conspiracy to align
Kentucky with Spain prior
to the former's separation from Virginia, but he vigorously and
successfully rebutted these charges. Following his term as governor,
he became less active in the political arena. He died on April 27,
1818. Greenup County,
Kentucky and its county seat were both named in
1 Early life in Virginia
2 Political career in Kentucky
5 Further reading
6 External links
Early life in Virginia
Christopher Greenup was most likely born in Fairfax County, Virginia
around 1750.[a] His parents were John and Elizabeth (Witten)
Greenup. His early education was attained at the local schools of
the area. He learned surveying and studied law under Colonel
Charles Binns at Charles City County, Virginia. During the
Revolutionary War, he first served as a lieutenant on the Continental
Line and later attained the rank of colonel in the Virginia
In 1781, Greenup helped settle the area now known as Lincoln County,
Kentucky where he spent time as a surveyor and a land speculator.
He was admitted to practice law in the county court in 1782.
Following Virginia's creation of
Kentucky County in 1783, he was
admitted to the bar of the district court of Harrodsburg and served as
clerk from 1785 to 1792. In 1783, he became one of the original
trustees of Transylvania Seminary (later to become Transylvania
University.) He purchased two lots of land in Lexington and
served as the clerk of the town's trustees.
In 1785, Greenup was elected to represent Fayette County for a single
term in the Virginia House of Delegates. During his service, he was
appointed to a committee with
Benjamin Logan and
James Garrard to make
recommendations on ways to further divide the area that would become
Kentucky. The committee was also responsible for revising acts and
surveys related to land and water surveys in the area. The
committee ultimately recommended the creation of three new counties
– Bourbon, Madison, and Mercer. When Mercer County was created
later that year, Greenup was appointed a justice there.
During this time, Greenup continued to practice law in Fayette County
and pursued various other interests. He was a founding member of the
Danville Political Club
Danville Political Club and in 1787, he joined the
for Promoting Useful Knowledge. Future
Kentucky Governors Isaac
Shelby and James Garrard, as well as future Supreme Court justice
Thomas Todd were also members of the Society. In 1789, he helped
Kentucky Manufacturing Society. Later, he was
appointed to the
Kentucky River Company, a group dedicated to
improving infrastructure on the
On July 9, 1787, during a brief return to Virginia, Greenup married
Mary Catherine ("Cathy") Pope of Hanover County, Virginia; the couple
had two children – Nancy and William.[b]
Political career in Kentucky
Greenup served as clerk of the first
Kentucky statehood convention in
Danville in 1784. He was elected as a delegate to the second and sixth
statehood conventions in 1785 and 1788, respectively, and was a
trustee of the city of Danville in 1787. H.E. Everman,
biographer of fellow delegate James Garrard, noted that despite
Greenup's excellent legal background and legislative experience, his
lack of oratorical skills prevented him from taking more of a
leadership role in the conventions.
Kentucky was admitted to the Union in 1792, Greenup moved to
Frankfort where he was rewarded for his efforts on behalf of the state
by being chosen as an elector for the state's senators and
governor. He also served in the first
Following this, he was appointed to the court of oyer and terminer,
but resigned immediately to accept a seat in the U.S. House of
Representatives. He was one of Kentucky's first two
representatives in the House, and was elected to three successive
terms, serving from November 9, 1792 to March 3, 1797. In 1798, he
was elected to the
Kentucky House of Representatives, representing
Mercer County. He also served as clerk of the state senate from
1799 to 1802.
Greenup was a candidate for governor of
Kentucky in 1800, but was
James Garrard in a four-man race that also included
Benjamin Logan and Thomas Todd. Greenup garnered a majority of the
vote in fifteen counties, just one fewer than Garrard, but Garrard
enjoyed strong support in the populous central
Kentucky counties and
received 8,390 votes, compared with 6,746 for Greenup, 3,996 for
Logan, and 2,166 for Todd. Garrard appointed Greenup judge of the
circuit court in 1802. After the
Kentucky Senate refused to
confirm Garrard's Secretary of State, Harry Toulmin, as registrar of
the land office, Garrard nominated Greenup. Greenup, however,
intended to make another run at the governorship, and at his request,
Garrard withdrew the nomination days later.
Greenup resigned his circuit judgeship on June 5, 1804, to make
another run for governor. Immensely popular, he ran unopposed, and
served as governor from September 4, 1804 to September 1, 1808.
During Greenup's administration, the state chartered the Bank of
Kentucky and the Ohio Canal Company; Greenup became a director of the
former in 1807. Despite his popularity, however, he was unable
to pass much of his proposed agenda, which included provision of
public education and reforms to the militia, courts, revenue system,
and penal system.
A partisan Frankfort newspaper implicated Greenup in the Burr
conspiracy, but he successfully defended himself and preserved his
reputation. He deployed the
Kentucky militia along the Ohio River
to defend the state from any threat that might result from the Burr
conspiracy, but that threat had largely dissipated by 1807.
On October 22, 1807, Greenup's wife Mary died in the Governor's
Mansion. According to legend, her ghostly image has appeared
in clock faces and mirrors inside the mansion.
Following his term as governor, Greenup was chosen as a presidential
elector for the ticket of
James Madison and George Clinton. In
1812, he became a justice of the peace in Franklin County. In
Kentucky Secretary of State
Martin D. Hardin recommended
Isaac Shelby that Greenup be appointed Assistant Secretary
of State. Shelby made the appointment, and when Hardin, resigned
December 15, 1812, Shelby nominated Greenup as his replacement.
Kentucky Senate approved the nomination on February 3, 1813, and
Greenup served until his resignation on March 13, 1813.
Greenup died April 27, 1818, at Blue Lick Springs Resort, where he had
traveled seeking relief from his rheumatism. He is buried in the
Frankfort Cemetery. Greenup County,
Kentucky was named in his
honor, as was its county seat of Greenup, Kentucky.
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress gives
Greenup's place of birth as Westmoreland County, Virginia.
^[b] Hopkins states that Greenup's will included six children –
two sons and four daughters.
^ a b Harrison, p. 388
^ a b c d e Encyclopedia of Kentucky, p. 72
^ NGA Bio
^ Trowbridge, "Kentucky's Military Governors"
^ Harrison, pp. 388–389
^ a b c d e f g Hopkins, p. 12
^ a b c d e f g h i j Powell, p. 18
^ a b c Everman, p. 4
^ Everman, p. 20
^ Everman, p. 26
^ a b c Hopkins, p. 13
^ a b c d e f g Harrison, p. 389
^ Powell, p. 16
^ Everman, pp. 64–65
^ a b Everman, p. 76
^ a b Clark, p. 13
^ Speed, p. 56
^ a b c "Secretary of State Christopher Greenup".
^ Congressional Biography
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Christopher Greenup.
United States Congress. "
Christopher Greenup (id: G000434)".
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
Clark, Thomas D.; Margaret A. Lane (2002). The People's House:
Governor's Mansions of Kentucky. The University Press of Kentucky.
Encyclopedia of Kentucky. New York City, New York: Somerset
Publishers. 1987. ISBN 0-403-09981-1.
Everman, H.E. (1981). Governor James Garrard. Cooper's Run
Harrison, Lowell H. (1992). "Greenup, Christopher". In Kleber, John E.
Kentucky Encyclopedia. Associate editors: Thomas D. Clark, Lowell
H. Harrison, and James C. Klotter. Lexington, Kentucky: The University
Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0.
Hopkins, James F. (2004). "Christopher Greenup". In Lowell Hayes
Harrison. Kentucky's Governors. Lexington, Kentucky: The University
Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2326-7.
Kentucky Governor Christopher Greenup". National Governors
Association. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
Powell, Robert A. (1976).
Kentucky Governors. Danville, Kentucky:
Bluegrass Printing Company. ASIN B0006CPOVM.
"Secretary of State Christopher Greenup".
Kentucky Secretary of State.
Speed, Thomas (1894). The Political Club, Danville, Kentucky,
1786–1790. John P. Morton.
Trowbridge, John M. "Kentucky's Military Governors".
Guard History e-Museum.
Kentucky National Guard. Archived from the
original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
Brown, Orlando (April 1951). "The Governors of Kentucky
[1792–1825]". The Register of the
Kentucky Historical Society. 49:
Jourdan, Elise Greenup (1992). Early Families of Southern Maryland. 1.
Westminster, Maryland: Family Line Publications.
Christopher Greenup at The Political Graveyard
Service record from Francis B. Heitman's Historical Register of
Officers of the Continental Army
U.S. House of Representatives
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 1st congressional district
Thomas T. Davis
Governor of Kentucky
Governors of Kentucky
Italics indicate Confederate governors
Book:Governors of Kentucky
US Congress: G000