EDWARD THOMPSON BREATHITT JR. was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on November 26, 1924. He received both a B.A. and an LL.B. from University of Kentucky. Breathitt served three years in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. Prior to his election to the governorship of Kentucky in 1963, he was elected to three terms in the Kentucky General Assembly (1952-1958), and was a member of the Governor's Commission on Mental Health and of the State Public Service Commission. He also served as State Personnel Commissioner. As a legislator, he co-sponsored the Minimum Foundation Program for Education. He was elected Governor of Kentucky in 1963. He was a member of National Governors' Conference Executive Committee from 1964 to 1965, and he chaired both the Committee on Regional and Interstate Cooperation and the Southern Governors' Conference from 1966 to 1967. After returning to private law practice, he became Special Counsel in Kentucky for Southern Railway in December, 1967. In July 1968, he was named Director of the Institute for Rural America, funded by the Ford Foundation, and in September was appointed Federal Representative on the Southern Interstate Nuclear Board. In 1971 he was elected chair of the Coalition for Rural America.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.