This Day in History – September 30

This Day in History – September 30

RADM_James_E._JouettOn September 30, 1902, James Jouett, who served in the Mexican-American War and Civil War, passed away in his Maryland home. Jouett was born February 7, 1826, near Lexington, Kentucky, the son of portrait artist Matthew Harris Jouett and grandson of Revolutionary War hero Jack Jouett, whose home is located in Woodford County.

Jouett was a naval officer, seeing blockade duty during the Mexican American War. He also was aboard a ship that accompanied Commodore Matthew Perry’s fleet during the expedition to open Japan up to the Western world. Perry’s first visit was made in 1852 and the second in 1854.

Following capture by the Confederate army at Pensacola, Florida early on in the Civil War, Jouett joined his Union comrades in the blockading forces at Galveston, Texas, distinguishing himself during the night of 7/8 November 1861 in the capture and destruction of Confederate schooner Royal Yacht, while serving on USS Santee.James_jouett_trenton_1886

His exploits included the capture of several blockade runners and command of the fast gunboat Metacomet under David G. Farragut at Mobile Bay. After the war Jouett held several shore assignments; at sea his highest post was command of the North Atlantic Squadron from 1884 to 1886.

He was promoted to captain in 1874, commodore in 1883, and rear admiral in 1886. Jouett retired in 1890. He lived the remainder of his days at “The Anchorage” in Sandy Spring, Maryland. Jouett was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


This Day in History – August 13

James JohnsonOn August 13, 1826, congressman and soldier James Johnson passed away in Washington, D.C. Johnson was born January 1, 1774 in Orange County, Virginia to Robert and Jemima (Suggett) Johnson. His father moved to the land that would become Kentucky in 1779 and helped build Bryant’s Station. After some time, the Elder Johnson sent for the family and James arrived with them in 1781, when he was seven years of age; Robert Johnson struck out to build his own station in 1784. Johnson’s Station was also known as Great Crossing and was located at where the Alanantowamiowee Trail intersected the North Elkhorn Creek in present-day Scott County.

Johnson’s family was prominent; James and his younger brothers Richard Mentor Johnson and John Telemachus Johnson received preparatory educations. The three Johnson sons led political lives. From 1837 to 1841, Richard served as ninth Vice President of the United States under Martin Van Buren. John, a Transylvania University alum, was a long-time member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and ordained Methodist minister.

At 34, James became a representative of Scott County in the Kentucky Senate, serving from 1808 to 1811. His tenure ended with his entering into armed service as a lieutenant colonel in the War of 1812. With two of his sons in the company, he led a decisive charge into British lines at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813, where his superior officer and brother Colonel Johnson was said to have slain Tecumseh. Johnson was also present at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815, as a major in Gray’s regiment, Kentucky Detached Militia.

Upon returning to Kentucky, Johnson became very active in the stagecoach industry. In Stage-coach Days in the Bluegrass, J. Winston Coleman wrote that “Colonel Johnson was associated with numerous enterprises of early travel and transportation, and was proprietor of a freight line which maintained the steamboat Providence, carrying freight from Leestown on the Kentucky River at Frankfort to Natchez and New Orleans.”  Johnson organized several stagecoach companies, including Johnson, Weisiger and Company, a line that ran from Frankfort to Louisville. At this time, he was reported to have been one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky, holding a plantation at Great Crossing.

Johnson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from March 4, 1825, until his death in Washington, D.C., on August 13, 1826. He was buried in the family cemetery at Great Crossing.

This Day in History – July 9

This Day in History – July 9

Zachary_Taylor_half_plate_daguerreotype_c1843-45On July 9, 1850, Zachary Taylor succumbed to illness following celebrations in Washington DC for Independence Day. The 12th president had enjoyed a fundraising event for the Washington Monument, which was under construction, and after having been served a dessert of cherries and iced milk, he became severely ill with what was thought to be cholera morbus, which was very different from the Asiatic cholera which killed hundreds in Lexington just two decades prior.

“Old Rough and Ready” moved to Louisville and lived at Springfield until entering into the United States army, joining prior to the War of 1812. During his tenure, Taylor successfully defended Fort Harrison in Indiana Territory from an Indian attack commanded by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. He went on to command troops in the Seminole Wars in Florida.

Taylor became a hero during the Mexican-American War, inflicting heavy casualties in many battles, including the Battle of Monterrey, a city which had been deemed “impregnable”, but was captured in three days, forcing Mexican forces to retreat. Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna attacked Taylor with 20,000 men at the Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847, leaving around 700 Americans dead or wounded at a cost of over 1,500 Mexican.

Taylor ran as a Whig and was elected in 1848. His brief presidency was fraught with conflict regarding statehood and foreign affairs. Henry Clay took a central role in Congress, announcing the Compromise of 1850. The proposal allowed statehood for California, giving it independence on the slavery question, while the other territories would remain under federal jurisdiction. This would include the disputed parts of New Mexico, although Texas would be reimbursed for the territory. Slavery would be retained in the District of Columbia, but the slave trade would be banned.

Taylor died after only sixteen months in office. He was buried in the Taylor family burial plots, which became the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville.


This Day in History — September 8

This day in history, September 8, 1867,John LaRue Helm, Kentucky governor 1850-51 and 1867 passed away just five days after taking the oath of office at his bedside. Born near Elizabethtown on July 4, 1802, e served as president of Louisville and Nashville Railroad and worked in his 1867 campaign to end post-Civil War bitterness and proscriptions against ex-Confederates.

Though he favored Kentucky’s neutrality during the Civil War, he was considered to be a Southern sympathizer. During his terms as Lt. Governor, Governor (18th and 24th) and in the Senate, he favored state aid for economic development, election reforms to curb irregularities and violence, higher salaries to attract better judges, and prohibition of the carrying of concealed deadly weapons.

He proposed that LaRue County be so-named for his grandfather.

This Day in History — April 18

When crisis leading to the “War Between the States” came to a peak with the beginning of the Civil War, it was hard for Kentucky to not be put in the middle of the fray. Kentucky, after all, held prime trade routes and was bordered by the very important Ohio River to the north and Mississippi River to the west. What does a state do when the legislature is in favor of the Union and the people (including the Governor) sympathize with the Union cause? In Kentucky, governor Beriah Magoffin proclaimed a (short-lived) neutrality policy.

Kentucky’s 21st governor was born on April 18, 1815 in Harrodsburg. Following graduation from Centre College in Danville, he attended Transylvania University where he studied law. He entered state politics in 1850, when he was elected to the state Senate. Magoffin defeated Joshua Bell in 1859 in a gubernatorial race.

Magoffin accepted slavery and states’ rights; he believed in the right of secession but hoped to prevent it by collective action of the slave states in reaching an agreement with the North. To avoid total conflict in Kentucky, he proclaimed that the Commonwealth remain neutral on May 20, 1861 and rejected aid from both the Union and Confederate armies.

Because of his Southern sympathies the 1861 two-thirds Union majority in the Kentucky legislature distrusted Magoffin. They would not pass any of his legislation. When he suggested that a Kentucky convention be held so that the Commonwealth may choose its stance in the Civil War, they blocked his effort.

Beriah Magoffin resigned from office in 1862 and was succeeded by James F. Robinson. He returned to a private life of farming and his law practice in Harrodsburg. Following the Civil War, he urged Kentucky to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which would grant civil rights to African-Americans. He died on February 28, 1885, and was buried at Harrodsburg.

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.

This Day in History — April 11

Though Kentucky is famed for its bourbon distilleries, the Commonwealth did not escape Prohibition and the temperance movement’s advocacy for a dry America. In truth, there were plenty of Kentuckians who valued theimportance of living a Christian, alcohol-free lifestyle. One of the most famous is Carrie Nation, who actually took up a hatchet to destroy the evils of the a bar. Frances Beauchamp utilized her voice, more so than a weapon, to convince people of the ills of the drink.

On April 11, 1923 Frances Estill Beauchamp passed away. The temperance advocate was born in Madison County in 1857, an only child.She was educated in Madison County and moved on to Science Hill Academy in Shelbyville. In 1875, she married James H. Beauchamp , an attorney.

The couple moved to Lexington in 1880. Frances was a devout Presbyterian and had embraced the temperance lifestyle at an early age. A temperance movement criticizes excessive alcohol use, complete abstinence, or government eradication of alcohol by legislation.

In America, temperance began as early as the American Revolution and continued through the 1800s and well into the 1900s. Beauchamp became active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1886, when a local chapter was formed in Lexington. She took charge of the Lexington union as president and helped to form chapters across Kentucky. In 1894 Beauchamp was elected assistant recording secretary of the national WCTU, an office she held for ten years, but returned to the Kentucky chapter in 1895 and held the position until her death.

Under her guidance, the WCTU exploded in Kentucky. There were more than 300 chapters formed across the Commonwealth. Temperance education was pivotal to expanding the message of the movement. Frances was a gifted orator. She gave speeches at chautauquas (educational meetings for adults), women’s clubs, revivals, and other forums across the nation. She used her voice and was  widely credited for the ratification of the prohibition amendment to the state constitution in November 1919.

Beauchamp died in Geneva, New York, on April 11, 1923, and was buried in the Lexington Cemetery.