Politics and Government


Congressional Resolution, 3 July 1788

The First American West was an experiment in new American ideals and techniques in self-government. The Enlightenment ideas circulating in the Atlantic World were alive in the debates over Kentucky statehood and contrasted starkly with the rough notions of frontier justice in which power, prestige, and revenge held sway.

Kentucky was known as the “First-born of the Union,” as it was the first state created from territory that had been secured during the Revolution. By the War of 1812, Kentucky politicians like Henry Clay were influential on the national stage, and a generation of leaders shaped by their young adulthood on the frontier prepared to lead the nation through the sectional crises that would end in Civil War.