This Day in History — April 17

Many of the men who early on took up the cause of Kentucky’s statehood were born in Virginia and most fought in the American Revolution. Christopher Greenup is one man who fits both of those characteristics. The third governor of Kentucky was most likely born in Loudoun County, Virginia, in 1750, though little is known of his parents. He worked as a surveyor and studied law before moving to Lincoln County in 1781 and was very active in the young Commonwealth, even representing Fayette County in the Virginia House for a time. Greenup participated in two of the Danville conventions that led to Kentucky’s statehood in 1792.

That same year, Christopher moved to Frankfort and began his career in Kentucky politics. For five years, he represented the Commonwealth in the United States House of Representatives. His aspiration, however, was the Office of Governor. He ran against James Garrard in 1800, but came in second place. He gained popularity in the following years and he was uncontested in the 1804 gubernatorial race and served for eight years. In his time as governor, he worked hard in directing public affairs and growing the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

While he was well-liked by citizens and the General Assembly alike, many of the programs he wished to put in place were unsuccessful. He wanted to reform the state militia, court system and the state revenue system, but was unable to secure the reforms that he envisioned. During his administrations, however, the Bank of Kentucky was founded and he initiated the purchase of stock in the Ohio Canal Company, as it was evident that the Ohio River would prove to be a very useful trade and transportation route. Kentucky almost became embroiled in the Bur Conspiracy scandal, but Greenup testified that Kentucky had no involvement in Burr’s supposed idea to invade Mexico and take over.

Christopher Greenup died in Frankfort at his home on April 17, 1818 and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. He left office in high-esteem and continued to be liked by the citizens of the Commonwealth. Greenup County, in northeastern Kentucky, was named after him in 1804.

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