August 31, 2011

Kentucke Gazette Editorial Discusses Kentucky's Separation From Virginia, 1787

One of the earliest surviving newspapers of Kentucky is The Kentucke Gazette, which actually predates the Commonwealth itself. (This newspaper is available on the Kentuckiana Digital Library.)  This article, printed August 18, 1787, raises several questions about whether Kentucky would benefit or not by breaking away from Virginia.  The Commonwealth of Kentucky joined the Union five years later, in 1792, as the 15th state.

I have changed the long s' (f's) to short s' for easier reading.  Other antiquated spellings are left unchanged, while typos are changed and denoted with brackets, or are also left unchanged.  I primarily provide transcriptions of clippings on my blog here so that the articles I post can be found by search engines.  So although I know it is customary to transcribe documents exactly as they are written/printed, I decided to makes these changes so it is easier for people to find online.  You can view a scan of the original article beside it, as usual.


[August 18, 1787] -

To the PRINTER of the Kentucke GAZETTE

As I expect your paper will be employed at first in discussing political subjects, and as I suppose that of a separation from the state of Virginia to be the most interesting at pr[e]sent; I hope our politicisns will be pleased through your press to give us their sentiments on both sides of the question; and I hope they will write, and we shall read, with that coolness and impartiality, which becomes men who have the real interest of this Country at heart; and that in the end we may hit upon that policy which will best secure life liberty  and property to us and our posterity.

As the most of us are farmers and unskilled in policy (altho' we are anxious to do for the best) we are able to give but a random guess at the propriety of a separation--we can see difficulties on both sides, and would wish to avoid the worst.

I beg leave therefore to propose a few querries to the Gentlemen on both sides of the question; and will begin with asking those who think a separation necessary[.]

1st. By what probable means can a new State support Government, defend itself from the savages, and pay its quota of the foederal and state debt, without a free trade of the river Missisippi?

Secondly.  What probable prospects can a new State have of obtaini[n]g a trade down the Missisippi; and what pr[o]fits can we derive from such a trade?

Thirdly.  will not a separation lesson our importance in the opinion of the savages, and cause them to fall on us with greater vigour?

Fourthly.  What are the great evils we suffer for want of a new government; and how could a new state remedy those evils?

And I would ask those who are against a separation

First.  How shall we defend ourselves against the savages under the present laws; and how shall we get paid for doing it?

Secondly.  How can we pay the taxes now laid on land, tithes, horses, cattle, alienations, process etc.
Thirdly.  How can we take any steps toward promoting and regulating a profitable trade down and up the rivers? and will the Assembly regulate such trade to our advantag[e]?

Fourthly.  Is it not our true interest to become a manufacturing people now in our infancy; and what power have we to encourage Arts and Manufactures, and discourage luxury, without a new government?

Fifthly.  How can we encourage learning and science in our present situation; and will not the next generation suffer greatly for want of it.

Sixthly.  Would not a government within the district have a tendency to correct the practices of the disorderly and licentious; and refrain the abuses of power practiced of late by some of those in Authority?

Answers to the above queries will oblige and perhaps instruct many ignorant citizens as well as


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