Broadside entitled "Some Notices of Kentucky, Particularly of its chief town, Lexington," 28 August 1828


Broadside entitled "Some Notices of Kentucky, Particularly of its chief town, Lexington," 28 August 1828


Broadside written by Mathew Carey of Philadelphia under the pseudonym of Hamilton. He briefly outlines the development of Lexington, commenting on its educational and cultural institutions, its churches, businesses, economy and trade. Louisville and the effect of the canal at the Falls of the Ohio are also discussed. Carey also addresses the prejudices long held against the character of Kentuckians and the issue of homicide in the state.



Manuscript Collection, Filson Historical Society






Mss. C C


Page 1
[23 Aug. 1828]
Particularly of its chief town, Lexington.

Kentucky was admitted into the Union in 1792.
Its population was 73,675 in 1790; 220,959 in
1800; and 406,571 in 1810; and 564,317 in 1820.

Lexington was founded in April 1779, but
made slow progress for some time; as in 1797, it
contained but 50 houses. It has, since that pe-
riod, increased rapidly, and now contains about
1000 houses and 6000 inhabitants. The streets
intersect each other at right angles, and the
houses, which are generally of brick, are hand-
some: a large proportion of them may compare
with the generality of the houses of Philadel-
phia. There are fewer mean, shabby houses,
than perhaps in any other town of the same size.

In streets of business, the rents average from
6 to 8 per cent. on the cost. Dwelling houses
average from 4 to 6 per cent.

Lexington is situated in the centre of the most
beautiful part of the state. In salubrity of cli-
mate and fertility of soil, it is probably rarely
surpassed. The soil is so luxuriant that it pro-
succession, without the aid of manure. The
beauty and variety of the forest foliage, and the
richness and verdure in the fieldsm render it a feast
to the eye—and its aptitude for every species of
culture, highly recommend it to the agricultur-
ist. There is a great number of elegant coun-
try seats around it, among which that of Col. [Colonel]
Meade claims a most distinguished place. The
venerable proprietor is above eighty five years
old, and has been married about 60 years. His
faculties do not appear impaired. His wife, near-
ly as old as he, is still living.

Lexington has a respectable Library, which
contains at present 5800 volumes, and is gradu-
ally increasing. It is open every afternoon ex-
cept Sunday.

The town contains nine churches: two Pres-
byterianm one Episcopalian, one Catholic, two
Methodist, one Baptist, one Unitarian, and one

In the Transylvania University there are five
medical professors and one professor in law. In
the preparatory department, there is one tutor.
The academy, which is connected with the U-
niversity, is under the government of a president
and two professors.

The number of students in January last, was

The College is an elegant and commodious
building. The Library contains a valuable col-
lection of historical, scientific, and miscellaneous
works, in various languages. The apparatus is
complete and excellent, and was imported from
the best maufactories in Europe. The build-
ing for the medical department is a handsome
brick edifice, well adapted for its purposes.
The library of this department, is an excellent
collection, of from 2500 to 3000 volumes, selec-
ted in Europe by Dr. Caldwell, despatched for
that special duty.

The Academical and Classical departments
have suffered considerably during the last year,
for want of a president and of funds; but the lat-
ter have been supplied by the exertions of some
public spirited citizens of Lexington, who are
determined to sustain the College. And there is
reason to believe that under the new president,
Mr. Woods, late of Providence, R. I., who com-
mences his career during the present month,
these departments will be revived and be placed
on as prosperous a foundation as the department
of medicine.

There is a literary society in the town, called
the Kentucky Institute, founded by the late Pre-
sident Holly; of which the members meet at
each other's housed months, in alphabetical or-

The trade of Lexington is not quite so flou-
rishing as formerly. This arises chiefly from the
superior advantages afforded by steam naviga-
tion to Louisville and Cincinnati, which have
drawn off a portion of the trade that formerly
centered in Lexington. The major part of the
citizens of the south-western states, who former-
ly either sojourned in Lexington or passed thro'
it, during the sickly months, now direct their
steps to Cincinnati. This has cut off a source
of the prosperity of the former town.

In order to revive the trade and commerce of
Lexington, some of its public-spirited citizens
contemplate the formation of a society for the
promotion of internal improvement, similar to
that formed in this city, which gave such accel-
eration to the canal system in Pennsylvania —
The object is to disseminate, as widely as possi-
ble, essays calculated to arouse the citizens ge-
nerally to the necessity of facilitating the com-
munication between the different parts of the
state, so as to act upon the Legislature, and im-
pel them to adopt efficient measures for the pur-
pose. The scarcity of water debars Kentucky
from the prospect of ever enjoying the advan-
tage of canals, except on a very contracted

A rail road is contemplated from Lexington
to Louisville or Cincinnati, or perhaps ultimate-
ly to both. This measure would be transcend-
ently important to Lexington, and not only pre-
vent any further diminution of ???, but
would generally enhance it, and pay a noble in-
terest to the undertakers.

Lexington, however, enjoys advantages of
which she can never be deprived. She has num-
bers of most important manufactures, unfailing
sources of wealth and prosperity.

There are in the town, ten manufactories of
cotton bagging and bale rope, in which 500 peo-
ple are employed, of whom not more than two
per cent. are white. There are in other parts
of the state as many more. The annual produce
is nearly one million of yards of cotton bagging,
and 2,000,000 lbs. of bale rope, besides large
quantities of twine and yarns.

There are ten cotton manufactories, some of
them on a large and respectable scale. The
Fayette factory, near the town, spins weekly
between 4 and 5000 dozen cotton, and has re-
cently put up looms to make about 50 pieces of
muslin, 30 yards each, per week, Mr. James
Weir's cotton factory works up about 250 bales
of cotton per annum. There are three woollen

The Lexington white and red lead manufac-
turing company, manufactures annually from 80
to 100,000 lbs. of white, and about 10,000 lbs.
of red lead. The stock is about $60,000, and
the dividends are about 8 per cent per annum.

Besides these manufactories, there is a great
number of other establishments, embracing
nearly all the varieties of employments that con-
duce to human comfort or security—grist mills,
paper mills, breweries of beer and porter, rope
walks, distilleries, founderies, manufactories of
nails, &c. &c. &c. In the neighbourhood of
Lexington, about 2000 tons of hemp are raised
annually. The culture has greatly increased of

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late. Besides hemp, the state produces for ex-
port, tobacco, Indian corn, wheat, rye, oats,
barley, flour, hourses, cattle, sheep, hogs, mules,
&c. &.c.

There are three papers published in Lexing-
ton, two political and one religious. In the state
there are from 20 to 25.

Kentucky has suffered greatly by the fluctua-
tions of her paper currency, by the bankruptcy
of her banks and by her relief laws, &c &c. She
is not recovering from her difficulties, and has
one specie paying bank, with a number of bran-
ches, of which the paper is in a perfectly sound
state. Her broken banks are winding up their
concerns. The bank of the United States has
two branches in the state, one at Lexington and
the other at Louisville.

Louisville is a very thriving town, and is sup-
posed to have about 6000 inhabitants. The
important canal at the falls with probably be
completed next year. Opinions are much divi-
ded as to its effects upon the prosperity of the
town--some believing it will prove highly ben-
eficial, and others directly the reverse. The
former opinion appears the more natural. It
will be very injurious to Shippingport, a town
about two miles from Lousiville, containing above
2000 inhabitants, the prosperity of which de-
pends in a great measure, upon being the depot
for merchandize, which, except when the river
is high, cannot be conveyed round the falls, by

In Lexington and Louisville, a custom pre-
vails, which adds greatly to the comfort of soci-
ety, and which is not usual in our great cities--
In nine cases out of ten, where intimacies exist
between married men, they extend to the fe-
males of the respective families. Whereas it is
well known that in Philadelphia and New York,
intimacies frequently exist for years between
married men, whose wives are unknown to each

It now remains to take a rapid sketch of the
character of the citizens of Kentucky. That
character is on the whole estimable. Its distin-
guishing features are, a high degree of shrewd-
ness and intelligence--natural politeness un-
trammelled by the formality, the etiquette, and
the distincition of casts, that generally prevail
in older stages of society--and genuine hospita-
lity towards strangers. In these three very im-
portant items, Kentucky will advantageously
compare with any state int he Union. This cha-
racter is derived from an impartial examination
of its citizens, in steam boats, in taverns, in sta-
ges, at ordinaries, in private circles, and in large
parties. I am well aware that it by no means
corresponds with the prejudices of the general-
ity of the citizens of the other states, and shall
endeavour to shew whereon those prejudices
rest, and the reason why they are so erroneous.
Such prejudices are highly pernicious when they
prevail among members of the same family of
nations, exciting alienation and hostility--and I
therefore hope that the attempt to obliterate
them will not be regarded with indifference by
those whose good opinion is worth cultivating.

There are few sources of error more prolific,
than the habit to which mankind are prone, of
generalizing without adequate data--and from
individual cases inferring the character & quali-
ties of communities and nations. We have heard
of travellers, who pronounced dogmatically on
the character of a nation from an intercourse
with a few persons in a town or city--and one is
particularly renowned, who having seen, on the
day of his arrival, a number of old and homely
women, and none either young or beautiful, is
reported to have very judiciously entered among
his memorabilia, "N. B. All the women in this
place "old and ugly."

It is not very honourable to human nature
that this tendency to generalization is more pre-
valent as regards deformity of character than
the contrary. Fifty upright or virtuous indivi-
duals, of any particular profession, community,
or nation, will not be so likely to induce us to
pourtray the whole mass couleur de rose, as ten or
a dozen fradulent or worthless persons to lead
us to assume a general wirthlessness.

When once a national character is blemished,
whether right or wrong, every incident that oc-
curs, tending to afford any sort of support to
the blemish, is caught at with avidity, and re-
garded as "confirmation strong as proofs from
holy writ." Whereas ten cases equally strong,
occurring in nations not lying under such blem-
ish, attach no national disgrace.

It is within the recollection of most of us, that a
strong prejudice prevailed against the people
of New England, at no very distant day; & eve-
ry petty trick perpetrated by a New England
man was triumphantly adduced in full proof of
the correctness of the prejudice. Thus the
whole district of country, containing above a
million and a half of souls, was made responsible
for the misconduct of every individual in it.--
The injustice of this procedure is now well known
and acknowledged by men of liberal minds--
although it still lingers among a few of the low
& the vulgar.

To apply this reasoning to Kentucky, among
the early settlers in that state were many low,
disorderly, and profligate characters, by whom
it was regarded as a place of refuge, an asylum
for the abandoned and worthless. Though
those characters bore but a small proportion to
the mass of the populations, they served to affix
a stigma on the whole. Such a stigma is not
easily removed--and it is to be regretted that
little or no pains have been taken to remove it,
although a total change has taken place--and
although the people of the state may fairly vie
with their fellow citizens of other states.

One circumstance which tends to perpetuate
the prejudice is the conduct of the Kentucky
boatmen on the Ohio and Mississippi, some of
whom appear to pride themselves on the rough-
ness and rudeness of their manners--"half horse,
half alligator," &c. But it would be quite as
just to characterise the inhabitants of New York
from the conduct of the boatmen who ply at the
ferries on the Hudson or the East River, as the
people of Kentucky from the boatmen of the O-
hio and Mississippi.

Many people believe that human life is most
wantonly sported with in Kentucky--and that
there is danger of murder in passing through
the state. This is a miserable error. That ho-
micide has increased within a few years in the
United States, is a lamentable truth--and that
Kentucky has partaken of the crime is beyond
doubt. But it is equally true that it is full as
prevalent in some, and more prevalent in other
states to which no particular censure attaches
on this ground.

The writer of this has travelled a consider-
able distance through the state--sojourned some
time in Lexington and Louisville,--and had very
extensive intercourse with citizens of various
descriptions, and different parties: and during
the whole time never met with or saw a single
instance of the slightest departure from the
strictest rules of propriety and decorum, even
in classes among whom such a departure is else-
where not unfrequent. So far as Lexington is
concerned, he believes that in every thing that
renders society respectable, it is not inferior to
any city or town in the Union. HAMILTON.
Philadelphia, Aug. 23, 1828.


Carey, Mathew, “Broadside entitled "Some Notices of Kentucky, Particularly of its chief town, Lexington," 28 August 1828,” The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects, accessed May 25, 2024,