Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
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Slavery

Slavery existed in Kentucky from the earliest days of settlement. By 1860, more than 225,000 slaves and 10,700 free blacks lived in the state.

Most of the largest slaveholding counties were in the Bluegrass region. But Henderson and Oldham counties were pockets of heavy concentration on the Ohio River, and Trigg, Christian, Todd, and Warren counties formed a chain of high-density slave counties across the southcentral part of the state.

The opening of new sugarcane and cotton fields in the Deep South created a profitable trade in slaves from Kentucky “down the river.” The estimated average number of slaves exported from Kentucky annually are 2,323 in the 1830s, 2,000 in the 1840s, and 3,400 in the 1850s.

The web site for KET’s Kentucky’s Underground Railroad—Passage to Freedom includes condensed history of slavery in Kentucky.

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