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Kentucky from neutral to Unionist

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by major bill, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    When the Civil War broke out Kentucky was a slave state but her legislature was almost equally divided. Some historians believe had the state held a secession convention in April of 1861 Kentucky may have left the Union. The Kentucky House voted 69 to 26 to remain neutral. By summer this had changed and the pro-Unionist won big on the June 20 1861 Congressional election. On August 5 1861 the Unionist showed their strength when they won 76 of the 100 seats in the House and 27 to 11 in the Senate.

    Many historians feel that Kentucky would have voted to leave the Union if a vote would have occurred in April of 1861. It this based on good information? If the historians are correct than within a couple of months Kentuckians must have changed their views.

    The move from Kentucky being for secession, to neutrality, to pro Union, was a huge blow to the Confederacy. Kentucky would have increased the chances for a Confederate victory.
     
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  3. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz Captain

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  4. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Sounds like a great book. My problem is that I have so many books on my "to read" shelf I will never be able to read all of them. I also keep adding books faster than I read them.
     
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  5. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz Captain

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    It's not long. Would take maybe 10-15 minutes to read completely. It was a paper read for MOLLUS.
     
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  6. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    Well I could do that.
     
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  7. major bill

    major bill Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    There were a couple of interesting things in this paper.

    1. Those favoring neutrality were "masked traitors". I am not sure a agree with this. One could support neutrality without being a traitor to the nation. I might say the were willing to do noting to save the Union but not sure of the "masked traitor" thing.

    2. His view that the vote to make Kentucky a Confederate state was not legitimate.
     
  8. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz Captain

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    Dr. Stevenson liked to be colorful in his word choices.
     
  9. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Stephen Freeling addressed that issue in his book "the South vs the South".
    A couple of statistics. 25k men from Kentucky enlisted in the Confederate Army vs 50k men in the Union Army.
    There were both Unionist and Confederate guerrillas from Kentucky. Lots of Union homeguards as well. Most military age men had the good sense to drink Kentucky nectar and just sit out the war. McClellan won Kentucky in the 1864 presidential election vs native son Abraham Lincoln.
    Leftyhunter
     
  10. HeyJosh13

    HeyJosh13 Private

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    Kentucky tried to remain neutral cause of how bitterly split they were but decided to side with the Union after both Union and Confederate troops entered their state without permission, violating their declared neutrality. A resolution to expel only the Confederates was passed over the Governor's veto while a resolution expelling both failed. Governor Magoffin thought secession was right but thought it was more practical to remain in the Union.

     
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  11. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    The thing is Ky. would have changed its mind near end of war. They then would have probably gone to the Confederacy. There are several books on Ky. right after war. Have to look them up.

    A good book on Ky and its views is "Kentucky Rising" by Dr. Ramage. I think I have post on it.
     
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  12. Freddy

    Freddy 2nd Lieutenant

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    It is obvious that the June and August 1861 elections showed the people of Kentucky favored the Union.
     
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  13. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Why would Kentucky join a lost cause. By the end of the war it was obvious,who was going to win. T.J.STILES noted that by 1865 Union forces in Kentucky had seriously curtailed Confederate guerrillas.
    Leftyhunter
     
  14. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    It is cultural point of view. There were many Lost Causers. Also have to read about the Jim Crow Laws in Ky.
     
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  15. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Another book worth checking out is: "Creating A Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory" by Anne Marshall.

    The historian E. Merton Coulter wrote, "Kentucky waited until after the war was over to secede from the Union".

    Marshall explains in her book.
     
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  16. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz Captain

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    How split was Kentucky? I have ran across a number of families in Kentucky that had members on different sides.

    In a humorous twist, my 4x great-uncle named one of his boys Grant. A later son would be named Robert Lee. And he served with a Union regiment during the war. Go figure....
     
  17. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    My own family was split. Those who fought for South and those who fought for North. Actually, brother against brother.
     
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  18. OpnCoronet

    OpnCoronet Major

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    Another of those 'what might have been' occurs, when the states that resp0onded to the resolutions rejected their premise and claimed to recognize them as calling for secession from the Union, and promised to offer any assistance required by the national gov't to resist it.(the north South split over secession was in operation even at that early date). To me it seems clear, that if Ky had seceded there were states willing to resist and a CW would almost certainly have occurred as all the states would almost certainly have been drawn in as their interests(or whims) directed; Much like All the countries of Europe falling into War, in Summer of 1914.
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade 1st Lieutenant

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    The Unionist position - and that of any country or government in a similar situation - would be that every state and citizen had a duty to support the war to preserve the nation. A state could no more opt of the Civil War than it could decide not to participate in say, World War I. Lincoln's willingness to tolerate Kentucky neutrality was a temporary expedient, recognizing that whoever violated it first would likely drive Kentucky into the other side.

    In the longer term, a neutral Kentucky would have shielded much of the Confederacy from attack and made it harder for the Union to bring its full combat power to bear. It might also have facilitated covert cross-border trade, allowing the Confederacy to obtain materials like medicines which were largely cut off by the blockade.
     

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