Friday, May 20, 2011

David Williams Is Not The First Gubernatorial Candidate Born In Cumberland County

Kentucky State Senator David Williams of Burkesville is not the first gubernatorial candidate born in Cumberland County. Two other gentlemen, born in Cumberland County, actually served as Governor.

Thomas Elliot Bramlette was Governor of Kentucky from 1863 to 1867. He was born January 3, 1817, to Ambrose Shrewsbury Bramlette and Sarah Elliott Bramlette, in a part of Cumberland County that is now in Clinton County. In 1841, Thomas Bramlette was elected representative of Clinton County in the State Legislature. In 1852 he moved to Adair County. In 1856, he was elected Judge for the 6th District. In 1861 he accepted a colonel's commission in the Federal Army and raised the Third Kentucky Regiment of Infantry. In 1862 he resigned from the Army and accepted President Lincoln's offer of the United States District Attorney ship. In 1863 he was commissioned major-general and while organizing his division was nominated as the Union candidate for governor of Kentucky, which was followed by his election in August, by a large majority. As governor, he acted to curb Confederate guerilla raids. Bramlette opposed the Freedmen’s Bureau and the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He advocated the establishment of what became the University of Kentucky. During his service he was offered a seat in congress, but declined to become a candidate. In 1864 the convention in Louisville instructed their delegates to vote for McClellan and Bramlette as their candidates for president and vice-president, but he again declined to allow his name to be used. On his retirement from office he resumed the practice of law in Louisville. Thomas Bramlette died on January 12, 1875 in Louisville. He is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery. As a wartime governor, Bramlette disagreed with President Lincoln over the enlistment of African American troops, the suspension of habeas corpus, and civilian arrests. After Lincoln’s assassination the governor recognized the enduring legacy of Lincoln’s policies. He said, "We may differ with him, and have differed with him, but when the judgment of future events has come, we found we were differing blindly; that he was right and we were wrong . . . experience and time have demonstrated that his was the only line of salvation for our country."

Preston Hopkins Leslie was Governor of Kentucky Governor from 1871 to 1875. Like Bramlette, he was born on March 8, 1819 in a part of Cumberland County that is now in Clinton County. He was a member of the same Church I am a member of -- Clear Fork Baptist Church. Leslie studied law and was admitted to the bar on October 10, 1840, and served as the deputy clerk of the Clinton County courts. On November 11, 1841, he married Louisa Black. The couple had seven children. In 1841, Leslie moved his family to Monroe County, where he became county attorney in 1842. When his wife died in 1858, Leslie married Mary Kuykendall and they had three children. Leslie was elected as a Whig to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1844. In 1850 he was elected State Senator for Barren and Monroe counties. When the Whig Party faded from prominence Leslie became a Democrat. He declined nominations for a seat in the United States Congress and on the Kentucky Court of Appeals, choosing instead to work on his farm. Leslie returned to the state Senate in 1867. He was Senate president from 1869 to 1871. When Governor John Stevenson resigned in February of 1871, because there was no lieutenant governor at the time, Leslie, as Senate president became the Governor. Later that same year he was elected to his own term. During his tenure, an educational system for blacks was created, the sale of liquor was controlled and the penal system was improved. Leslie was appointed territorial governor of Montana in 1887, but two years later the territory's political machinery turned against him and he was removed from office. Later, he was appointed district attorney for Montana. He continued to practice law well into his nineties, and was being considered for a district court judgeship in Montana when he fell ill with pneumonia and died on February 7, 1907, at the age of 94. He is buried at Forest Vale Cemetery in Helena.

This past Tuesday, David Williams and his running mate, Ritchie Farmer, the fomer Kentucky Wildcat basketball star, and current Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture, won the Republican nomination for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

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