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Program 1911

1. Dueling With Andrew Jackson
2. Zachary Taylor
3. Our Town—Hodgenville
4. Kentucky's Other President: Jefferson Davis
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Season 19 Menu


Logan County

For more information:
The Jackson/Dickinson Duel, from the Logan County Tourism Commission

Producer/Editor: Paul Smith
Videographers: John Bacon, Jaxon Combs, John Schroering, Prentice Walker
Audio: Doug Collins


Dueling With Andrew Jackson

One of the most famous duels in American history occurred in Logan County and involved a future U.S. president.

Back in 1806, Andrew Jackson, then a rising star in Tennessee politics, was known for his hot temper. Angered over a slur on his wife's honor—and a charge of cheating on a horse-racing bet—Jackson challenged fellow horse breeder and plantation owner Charles Dickinson to a duel. Dueling was outlawed in Tennessee, so the duel took place across state lines, at Harrison's Mills on the Red River here in Logan County, on May 30. The spot is about two miles from Adairsville.

Dickinson got off the first shot and wounded Jackson, breaking two ribs. Jackson—to everyone's amazement—remained standing and fired at Dickinson, killing him.

With his foe's bullet forever in his chest, Jackson went on with his life. He left politics and pursued his military career, gaining fame in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

The duel in Kentucky was a distant memory by the time Jackson re-entered the political arena. He became governor of the new Florida Territory in 1821, and then returned to Tennessee, where he was elected a U.S. senator in 1822. In 1828, at age 62, he won the presidency. He won re-election in 1832, defeating Kentucky's Henry Clay.

Ultimately, Dickinson's bullet may have done him in. He died in 1845 at the age of 78, and some historians have speculated that the cause was lead poisoning.

This segment features a detailed re-enactment of the duel.

 



Jefferson County

For more information:
Information on the Zachary Taylor Home from the National Park Service "American Presidents" travel itinerary. (Springfield is a private home and is not open to the public, however.)
Zachary Taylor National Cemetery

Producer/Editor: Tom Bickel
Videographer: Warren Mace


Zachary Taylor

Despite the fact that Louisiana is considered his home state, Zachary Taylor, who was president from 1849-1850, has many ties to Kentucky. Born in Virginia in 1785, he was raised here on a farm two miles east of Louisville, on Muddy Fork of Beargrass Creek. He married in Kentucky and five of his six children were born here.

In later life, his home was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he was a slaveholder with a cotton plantation in Mississippi. A career military man, "Old Rough and Ready" became a national hero in the Mexican-American War—and a perfect choice for presidential candidate among Southerners.

After Taylor was elected president in 1848, he surprised everyone by rejecting the extension of slavery into those territories recently taken from Mexico. Kentucky's Henry Clay came up with a compromise, proposing that California be admitted as a free state and the other territories be allowed to have slavery. Taylor remained opposed, so much so that the old general threatened to lead the Army against Southern secessionists.

A compromise was still under debate when Taylor died unexpectedly on July 9, 1850, after a brief but severe gastrointestinal illness. Official word from his doctors was that he died of cholera. Taylor's body was taken back home to Louisville for burial in the family cemetery.

However, for over a century afterward, some historians wondered if Taylor's political enemies had poisoned him with arsenic. His body was exhumed in 1991 and the Kentucky coroner, Dr. George Nichols, said it was his opinion that Taylor died of natural causes, not arsenic poisoning.

Today, the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville is the final resting place for thousands of soldiers.

 



Larue County

For more information:
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace

Producer/: John Schroering
Videographers: John Schroering, Jaxon Combs
Associate Producer: Becca Combs


Our Town—Hodgenville

As the town closest to the Larue County birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, Hodgenville celebrates Lincoln's legacy in many ways.

Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809, on Sinking Spring Farm, three miles south of present-day Hodgenville, in what was then Hardin County. The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site is located here. When Lincoln was 2, his family moved to Knob Creek, a few miles away, where he lived until age 7. His boyhood home is also part of the historic site.

Hodgenville's Lincoln Museum, located on Lincoln Square in the historic district, features 12 scenes from Lincoln's life as well as memorabilia and an art collection. The town is a prominent place along Kentucky's Lincoln Heritage Trail.

This segment features Lincoln impersonator Jim Sayre of Lawrenceburg, a member of the Association of American Lincoln Presenters and a winner of the group's Abraham Lincoln Award.

 



Fayette and Christian Counties

For more information:
Jefferson Davis Monument State Historic Site

Producer/Editor: Paul Smith
Videographers: John Bacon, David Dampier
Audio: Doug Collins, Roger Tremaine

Kentucky's Other President: Jefferson Davis

Both Civil War presidents were born in Kentucky. Jefferson Davis, a soldier and statesman who went on to become the president of the Confederate States of America, was born just eight months earlier than Lincoln, on June 3, 1808, and only 100 miles away, in Fairview, here in Christian County. Historians James Klotter and James Ramage offer their views on the similarities and differences between Lincoln and Davis.

Like Lincoln's family, Davis's family left Kentucky during his youth. Davis's family moved first to Louisiana and then to Mississippi. Davis had years of formal schooling Lincoln never had. He returned to Kentucky for portions of his schooling. He was educated at a Catholic school in Springfield—where he was the only Protestant student—and at Transylvania University in Lexington, a training ground for many prominent politicians of the day.

Lincoln married a Kentucky native, Mary Todd of Lexington. Davis's first wife, Sarah, had Kentucky ties: She was Zachary Taylor's daughter. It was an ill-fated union. Taylor opposed the marriage; and Sarah died three months after the wedding of malaria, in 1835. It would be a decade before Davis married again.

In Illinois, Lincoln was defeated by Stephen Douglas in his run for the U.S. Senate. In Mississippi, Davis was twice elected U.S. senator: He was appointed to a vacant seat in 1847, then won election and held the seat until 1851. He returned to the Senate a second time, in 1857, resigning in 1861 when Mississippi seceded from the Union.

Later in his life, Davis always identified himself as a Kentuckian. He is remembered here with a 351-foot-tall concrete obelisk located at the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Fairview. Dedicated in 1924, it's the fifth tallest monument in America.

 



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