Description

    Rare First Imprint of the Provisional Confederate Government in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

    DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND CONSTITUTION OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY; TOGETHER WITH THE MESSAGE OF THE GOVERNOR. (BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY: W. N. HALDEMAN- STATE PRINTER, 1861). Sixteen pages, stab sewn as issued, 5.25" x 8.75", very good condition with first and last pages lightly soiled. The title page lists the names of the "Provisional Government of the State of Kentucky", with George W. Johnson listed as governor and R. McKee as secretary of state. On the three pages following are printed the "Declaration of Independence and Constitution" which includes the words: "BE IT ORDAINED, That we do hereby forever sever our connection with the Government of the United States, and in the name of the people, we do hereby declare Kentucky to be A FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATE, clothed with all power to fix her own rights and liberties." Pages nine through sixteen contain a "Message of the Governor" dated November 26, 1861. In this address to the citizens of the Commonwealth, Johnson, a Scott county farmer, blames abolitionists for the breakup of the United States. He asserts that the armies of the Union and the Confederacy are of equal strength and that the only solution is a free trade agreement between the two sovereign nations. He also announces that he would be willing to step down if the elected General Assembly would agree to cooperate with Governor Magoffin. (Magoffin himself denounced the Russellville Convention and the provisional government and chose to abide by the expressed wishes of the majority of the citizens of Kentucky.)

    Kentucky was a border state of extreme importance during the Civil War to the point that Abraham Lincoln said "I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." The birthplace to both Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Kentucky was truly a place where "brother fought against brother." At the outbreak of war, Governor Beriah Magoffin was a strong southern sympathizer even refusing Lincoln's request for troops. The state passed a compromise declaration of neutrality in May 1861 and attempted to act as a mediator between the North and the South. In the August election of state legislators though, the Unionists took a strong enough majority to override any potential Magoffin veto. Kentucky's official neutrality was violated on September 4, 1861, when Confederate General Leonidas Polk ordered troops to occupy the strategic city of Columbus. This brought General Ulysses S. Grant into the state to protect Union interests on September 6th. On the very next day, the General Assembly passed a resolution ordering Confederate troops to leave the state and raising the Union flag over the state capitol in Frankfort.

    In the period shortly thereafter, there arose a movement by a self-appointed group of southern sympathizers to set up a Confederate government for Kentucky. On November 18, 1861, 116 delegates from 68 counties convened at Russellville to do just that. They ratified an ordinance of secession, set up a constitution, appointed a legislative council of ten members, and elected Johnson governor. The very imprint offered here is the official printed record of these actions. Bowling Green was chosen as the Confederate state capital because it was, at the time, under the control of CSA General Albert Sidney Johnson. This "shadow" government never replaced the elected government in Frankfort, nor did it have much general support from the citizens of Kentucky. It was however recognized by the Confederate States of America and Kentucky was admitted to the Confederacy on December 10, 1861. After Grant's victory at the Battle of Fort Henry in February 1862, the provisional government moved to Tennessee. Governor Johnson volunteered to serve under General Breckinridge and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. Richard Hawes was elected as the second Confederate governor of Kentucky in late May taking the oath of office in Corinth, Mississippi, where the government was located at the time. Confederate victories by Generals Bragg and Smith in the late summer of 1862 brought Governor Hawes back to Kentucky and, on October 4, 1862, he attempted to install the provisional government at Frankfort, temporarily in Confederate hands. They let down their guards and Union General Don Carlos Buell forced their retreat. A few days later, the Provisional Confederate Government of Kentucky left the state for the very last time.

    Our research into this rare Confederate imprint shows the last sale at auction was in December 1992. Ten to twelve copies can be found in permanent institutional collections. This is definitely an opportunity not to be passed up for a discriminating collector or institution to add this piece to their holdings.


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    Auction Dates
    December, 2007
    1st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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