This Day in History — June 4

On June 4, 1792, Isaac Shelby, Kentucky’s first Governor, was inaugurated in Lexington, Kentucky. Shelby, who served as both First and Fifth Governor of Kentucky, was born on December 11, 1750, in the Province of Maryland. After moving with his family to Western Virginia, he gained early military experience in Lord Dunmore’s War, a border conflict between colonists and Native Americans. As second-in-command of his father’s Fincastle County company, he participated in the decisive Battle of Point Pleasant on October 10, 1774. Shelby became a surveyor for the Transylvania Company and settled and claimed land for himself. He became a hero of the Revolutionary War during the Battle of King’s Mountain, South Carolina, on October 7, 1780, when Great Britain’s Maj. Patrick Ferguson was killed and his command was eliminated. Upon his return home, Shelby and his father were named commissioners to negotiate a treaty between colonial settlers and the Chickamauga, and while he was in the field, he was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly and served for almost two years before returning to Kentucky to settle at Boonesboro. He married Susannah Hart on April 19, 1783; the couple had eleven children. Their eldest daughter, Sarah, married Dr. Ephraim McDowell, and the youngest daughter, Letitia, married future Kentucky secretary of state Charles Stewart Todd. Shelby began working on the campaign to secure Kentucky’s separation from Virginia as early as 1784 and attended the Kentucky Constitutional Convention in Danville and subsequent conventions in later years. In 1792 he was a delegate to the final convention that framed the first Kentucky Constitution. Thought it’s not well-known if he actively sought the office of Governor, he was elected unanimously to that post by the electors on May 17, 1791 and took office on e took office on June 4, 1792.


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