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Compiled and edited by Lowell H. Harrison, the essays in Kentucky’s Governors profile every chief executive of the Bluegrass State from eighteenth-century governor Isaac Shelby to Ernie Fletcher.

First published in 1985, this edition of Kentucky’s Governors is expanded and revised to include governors Wilkinson, Jones, Patton, and Fletcher, as well as new information on respected figures such as Louie B. Nunn.

An introduction by Kentucky’s historian laureate, Thomas D. Clark, provides key insights into successive governors’ evolving constitutional powers and their changing roles in political debates and policy formation. Following Clark’s overview, each chapter presents significant biographical information while detailing the campaign, election, achievements, strengths, and weaknesses of each governor.

To aid in further research, each contributor lists several suggested sources, both primary and secondary, for additional investigation into the lives and careers of Kentucky’s leaders. A thorough index is also included to facilitate reference within this updated and revised edition.

The profiles in Kentucky’s Governors give insights into each leader’s engagements with economic development, education, agriculture, and taxes, issues that have helped define two hundred years of history in the Bluegrass State.

Lowell H. Harrison, professor emeritus of history at Western Kentucky University, is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Lincoln of Kentucky and The Antislavery Movement in Kentucky.

"Provides informative and scholarly sketches…could serve as a good model for similar volumes about officials of other states."—Journal of American History

"Provides concise accounts of the lives of each governor [and] insights into the governors' evolving constitutional powers and their changing roles in political debates and policy information."—Kentucky Monthly

"One of the standard reference works on the commonwealth's history."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Kentucky, Kentucky governors, Kentucky politics


Political History


Updated edition; introduction by Thomas D. Clark.

Kentucky's Governors
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