Table 1: Ethnicity
of Kentuckians as of 1790
the 1790s, the number of slaves in Kentucky
rose 241 percent, which was greater than the
population growth of the state as a whole. A
law prohibiting the importation of new slaves
was enacted but was not strictly enforced.
In 1780, a petition
was submitted to the Continental Congress lobbying
for statehood, and Thomas Paine wrote a pamphlet
in Kentucky's support. But, it took ten conventions
for Kentucky to achieve statehood because different
factions of citizens in Kentucky wanted different
outcomes. Landless citizens wanted land redistribution,
and landowners wanted the disbursement of land
to remain as it was. There were also some Kentuckians
who wanted to secede from the United States
and join with Spain. James Wilkinson was the
leader of this scheme that came to be known
as the Spanish Conspiracy. Wilkinson convinced
the Spanish governor of New Orleans that Kentucky
was close to seceding from the United States
and claimed that he could direct immigration
into Kentucky to bring the area into the Spanish
sphere. In return, Wilkinson wanted a trade
monopoly. He obtained permission to sell $37,000
worth of produce in New Orleans, but fell into
debt , losing his credibility. This forced him
to abandon the project and flee to the Northwest.
After ten years
and ten conventions, Congress finally passed
a bill admitting Kentucky into the Union on
June 1, 1792. Vermont also gained statehood
around this same time, which helped Kentucky's
bill pass because it alleviated concern about
admitting another slave state.
The War of 1812
battled the British once more in the War of
1812. Kentucky supplied many of the troops to
the western armies. Although no battles took
place in Kentucky, Kentuckians were heavily
involved in the war, particularly the Battle
of the Thames and the Battle of New Orleans.
About 67 percent of Kentucky's qualified men
fought in the War of 1812, and 1,200 were killed.
Kentucky men were
eager to enlist at the start of the war, but
with early losses, as with the debacle at Raisin
River, recruitment slowed. The successful Battle
of the Thames was the last major battle for
Kentuckians in the Northwest. They believed
their part in the war was over, so were reluctant
to join General Andrew Jackson in New Orleans.
The regiments who did join were unprepared,
but were still successful in winning the battle,
bestowing immense military fame upon General
of Kentucky rose dramatically during the beginning
of the 18th century, from 150 in 1775, to 564,135
in 1820. But after 1820 more people left the
state than came to it, leaving Kentucky to depend
on natural increase to populate the state. Because
of the static nature of Kentucky's population,
there was little change in the composition of
the state's population in 1820 as compared to
Table 2: Ethnicity of Kentuckians in 1820 as
compared to 1790
Descent of Migrants
% of Population in
% of Population in
Scotch-Irish or Scots
after the great influx of German and Irish immigrants
to America during the antebellum period, only
5.2 percent of Kentuckians were foreign born.
Most of the state's population between 1820
and 1860 consisted of descendents of people
who had settled in Kentucky prior to 1820. Louisville
was somewhat of an exception, attracting 11,000
German and Irish immigrants. Immigrants here
were rather unwelcome, and on August 6, 1855,
an anti-Catholic riot took place in Louisville.
At least twenty-two people were killed during
this manifestation of stress between the immigrants
and native Kentuckians.
In contrast to
the stagnant white population, the black population
continued to grow during this era. By 1830,
24.7 percent of the population was African-American.
However, only a mere 0.7 percent of these African-Americans
were free. The majority of Kentuckians never
owned slaves, but 28 percent of Kentucky families
did. Slaves in Kentucky succeeded in creating
their own sub-culture that included strong family
ties and religion.
a major part of the lives of many Kentuckians,
both white and black. Baptists, Methodists,
and Presbyterians were most numerous, but Catholics,
Cumberland Presbyterians, Lutherans, Disciples
of Christ, and Jews were also present. One of
the most intriguing religious sects in Kentucky
during this time was a group called the Shakers.
This group developed out of the English Quaker
movement. They believed that they could achieve
direct contact with Christ through communal
living, celibacy, and other uncharacteristic
practices. By the 1830s there were nineteen
Shaker communities in America. Two of these
communities were in Kentucky, one at Pleasant
Hill, the other at South Union. The Pleasant
Hill community was founded in 1806 and claimed
500 residents. The South Union community was
founded in 1807, claiming a lesser 350 residents.
As the 19th century
progressed, and the Civil War became imminent,
churches began dividing along lines of slavery.
Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptist all divided
into north and south branches.