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American groups lived in the Kentucky region when European explorers first
arrived in the late 1600s. Some
of these groups included the Cherokee, Creek, and Shawnee tribes.
1750, Thomas Walker entered Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap.
Daniel Boone explored eastern Kentucky in 1767, but Indians
prevented permanent settlement of the area until 1775.
Boone led a group through the Cumberland Gap to the Kentucky River,
forging the famous Wilderness Trail.
There they established Boonesborough, one of the first permanent
white settlements in Kentucky.
the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Indians that sided with Britain
attacked Kentucky settlements. For
protection, Kentucky became part of Virginia in 1776.
In 1778, Virginians captured three British trading posts that were
supplying weapons to the Indians. This
helped to end most of the attacks against Kentucky settlers.
became the 15th state on June 1, 1792, with Frankfort as its
capital. As more areas of
land were opened for farming, the population grew quickly. Kentucky led the nation in tobacco production.
Many farmers grew crops such as corn and rye used in the
manufacturing of alcoholic drinks. Hemp,
used for making rope, became a very successful crop. By
1840, almost 780,000 people lived in the state.
the Civil War (1861-1865), Kentucky wanted to remain a neutral state.
However when Confederate troops entered western Kentucky in 1861,
Kentucky formed a militia to drive them out of the state.
The state of Kentucky remained loyal to the Union, but several
Kentuckians fought for the Confederacy.
the Civil War ended, slavery was made illegal.
Kentucky’s economy suffered a depression that hit most of the
South. Hemp production was
the most effected as cotton production declined and traffic along the
Mississippi and Ohio Rivers decreased.
Kentucky continued to lead the nation in growing tobacco. An interest in horse racing led many to raise thoroughbred
horses. Several new mines
opened as railroad expansion increased the need for coal and oil.
the early 1900s, a group of tobacco companies held a monopoly on tobacco
buying in Kentucky. A group
of farmers began burning barns and fields of those who sold to these
companies. The Black Patch
War (1904-1909) succeeded in breaking up the monopoly and tobacco auctions
in Kentucky lost work as the demand for coal decreased during the 1920s.
The Great Depression (1929-1939) also caused many to lose their
jobs. In 1933, the federal
government created jobs through the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
program. Dams were built
along the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and throughout the state.
Many worked on state highways and others conserving natural
War II (1939-1945) also created jobs with the U.S. military and supplying
weapons and food to U.S. soldiers. During
the 1960s, the coal industry grew rising to second place nationally.
The TVA began building recreational areas in western Kentucky and a
steam-generating plant in Paradise. And,
Kentucky passed the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, requiring equal employment
and housing for all races.
Recently, state leaders have strived to improve Kentucky. Coal production was creating water and air pollution. Laws were passed in 1978 to improve the environment. In 1990, the Kentucky Education Reform Act provided money for better education. Today, Kentucky is also trying to attract new businesses to the state while developing its traditional industries.