Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Monday, October 26, 2020

New Book by Fort Thomas Resident Highlights Kentucky's Senators


Senator Henry Clay speaks about the Compromise of 1850 in the Old Senate Chamber. Drawing by P.F. Rothermel. (Library of Congress)

A new book is highlighting a crucial part of the Commonwealth's history -- Kentucky's Senators. 

In Profiles of Kentucky's United States Senators, 1792 to Present, author Paul L. Whalen has outlined 66 men who represented the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the United States Senate in several biographical essays dating back to 1792.

Paul Whalen is a Fort Thomas resident, an Attorney and past chair of the Kentucky Conference of the UMC Commission on Archives and History. "Kentucky has provided an interesting mix of 66 men who have made significant contributions to every era of United States history since 1792," said Paul.

Some notable names in the book include Henry Clay, John J. Crittenden, Alben Barkley, and Mitch McConnell as well as others who aren’t as well-known but still had significant contributions to the development of the Nation.

Enjoy the excerpt below from the book! 

Pre-order now through the publisher Acclaim Press.


Political giants and “others” have served Kentucky as its United States senators since Kentucky’s admission to the Union in June 1792. As of 2019 a total of 66 men have served in Kentucky’s two senate seats. Senators from Kentucky have been leaders in that body for a significant period of the 19th , 20th and 21st Centuries. 

In the 19th Century, Henry Clay and John J. Crittenden were leaders without portfolio for much of the time between 1830 and 1860. Senator Stevenson was Democratic caucus chair in the 1870s and Senator Beck was Democratic caucus chair during the 1880s. Senator Alben Barkley was Senate majority (Democratic) leader during the 1930s and 1940s.

Dee Huddleston and Wendell Ford

Senator Earle Clements was Lyndon Johnson’s deputy in the 1950s. Senator John Sherman Cooper was an early leader of the antiwar (Vietnam) movement in the Senate. Senator Wendell Ford was Democratic whip. Senator Mitch McConnell has dominated Senate Republican leadership since the turn of the 21st Century. He has served as minority leader and now as majority leader.

The purpose of this book is to profile the Senate services of these individuals and shine a light on the lives and contributions of these men, particularly those who are not as well-known as Clay, Barkley, Ford and McConnell, all of whom have been political giants during their long tenures in the Senate.

Senator Wendell Ford on CSPAN

While there are 66 men who have served as U.S. senators from Kentucky, some have served at two, three or even four different periods of time. For example, Henry Clay served a partial term from 1806 to 1807 and another partial term from 1810 to 1811. Then he served for a third period from 1831 to 1842 and finally a fourth period from 1849 to his death in 1852. John J. Crittenden was elected to serve a term from 1817 to 1823 but resigned in 1819. He then returned to serve from 1835 to 1841 with a brief time out only to return in 1842 to 1848, when he resigned to run for governor.

Then Crittenden was re-elected to the Senate to serve from 1855 to 1861. The same situation exists for John Sherman Cooper, who served unexpired terms 1945 to 1949; 1952 to 1955 and a final period of three full elected terms from 1956 to 1973. Because these senators’ contributions were significant, they are given a section or chapter for each Senate term or period.

There is not currently a complete history or profiles of Kentucky’s U.S. Senators. The purpose of this book is to introduce the reader and historian to each of the men who have been sent to Washington to represent Kentucky in the Senate from the beginning of statehood in 1792 to the present. There are many biographies of Henry Clay, who served as both U.S. senator from Kentucky and speaker of the House of
Representatives. There are biographies of John J. Crittenden and John G. Carlisle.

There are recent biographies published of Barkley and McConnell. Many others were just as colorful such as James Beck, Joseph Blackburn and Ollie James, yet the stories of many of these men are unknown to most Americans and Kentuckians. Contributions from this group include service as four who served as vice president, two who served as attorney general, three who served as secretary of the treasury, postmaster general, U.S. secretary of state, and ambassadors to Spain, Weimar Germany, India and East Germany.

The nation, and perhaps the world, knows the names of Henry Clay, John J. Crittenden, Alben Barkley, Happy Chandler and Mitch McConnell. Many of the remaining 61 senators made important contributions. With the help of the Senate Journal, newspapers of the time and personal papers, this book will examine the lives of these men to shed more light on them and their time in the Senate.

Kentucky senators have served in important leadership roles. In the early years of the Senate, senators John Brown and John Pope served as president pro tempore of the Senate. Brown served during two sessions of the 8th Congress (October 17, 1803, to February 26, 1804). John “One Arm” Pope served during the last session of the 11th Congress (February 23, 1811, to November 3, 1811). Former Senator Richard M. Johnson presided over the Senate as vice president under Martin Van Buren. Johnson is the only vice president elected by the Senate under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution.

Following the stories of Kentucky's senators, one can see how the U.S. Senate has grown in importance and power. During the first two decades of the Nineteenth Century, many senators resigned to go back to Kentucky and take "lesser" positions as state court judges or in law practices. After the 1840s, that did not happen.

In telling the individual stories of individual Kentucky senators, one of the reasons for the enactment of the 17th Amendment to the Constitutions can be seen. The 1896 election of Republican William DeBoe took a specially called session of the General Assembly because the Legislature failed to elect a senator during the regular session.

With the election of Republican President William McKinley, Senator DeBoe was able to reward some of the legislators who supported his election. The state representative from Newport was made postmaster of Newport.

Political eras are reflected in the elections of groups of senators. From 1792 to1824, most of Kentucky's senators were Jeffersonian Democrats. After 1824, senators reflected the policies of Henry Clay and after 1834, the Whig Party. The Whig Party died soon after Clay in 1852. The last two senators elected as Whigs from Kentucky were Archibald Dixon who served from September 1852 to March 1855 and John J. Crittenden who was elected as a Whig in 1855. With the Civil War, one sees the end of the Clay legacy and a new era of Democrats dominating Kentucky politics and Senate elections until the 1890s.

Earle Clements literally sacrificed his Senate career, filling in as the Democratic majority leader while Democratic Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson recovered from a heart attack in 1956. John G. Carlisle fought the Republican tariff in 1888, voting against it in the House, and after being appointed to fill a vacancy, voted against it again in the Senate.

There were several senators whose careers were cut short. Ollie James, who served from 1913 to 1918, was President Woodrow Wilson’s go-to guy in the Senate during the first years of his administration. James was the chairman of the Democratic National Convention that nominated Wilson in 1912 and renominated him in 1916.

James was chosen by the administration to administer federal patronage in Kentucky over notables such as Watterson and Bingham. There were many men appointed to serve a few months because of death or
resignation. Robert Humphreys was appointed by Governor Chandler to fill the vacancy caused by the sudden death of Senator Alben Barkley. Humphreys was a personal friend of Chandler's who, as president pro-tem of the Kentucky Senate in 1935, helped Chandler change the nominating procedure for the Democratic Party from a convention to a primary. Under the primary system, Chandler was able to secure the Democratic nomination for governor and thus his first term as Kentucky's governor.

Research to date indicates that Kentucky governors who became U.S. senators (with the exception of Ford, Crittenden and Clements) were underachievers as senators. Governors who were underachievers as senators would include: Adair, Metcalfe, Morehead, Stevenson, Bradley and Beckham.

Unlike the House of Representatives in which all members are standing re-election every two years; the U.S. Senate only a third of the senators are standing for re-election every two years. The purpose of the three classes of senators is to determine which Senate seats are up for election every two years. Kentucky’s two senators are members of “Class Two of Three” and “Class Three of Three”.

No comments:

Post a Comment