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James Proctor Knott

Gov. James Proctor Knott

  • September 5, 1883 - August 30, 1887
  • Democratic
  • August 29, 1830
  • June 18, 1911
  • Kentucky
  • Married twice--Mary E. Forman, Sarah R. McElroy
  • Representative


J. PROCTOR KNOTT was born in Marion County, Kentucky on August 29, 1830. His early education was attained through his father’s tutoring and in the public schools of his native state. He studied law, and then moved to Memphis, Missouri, where he was admitted to the bar in 1851. Knott entered politics in 1857, serving as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, a position he held until 1859. He also served as the attorney general of Missouri from 1859 to 1862. Five years after returning to Kentucky, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, an office he held from 1867 to 1871, and again from 1875 to 1883. Knott won the 1883 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was elected governor in the general election. During his tenure, a teachers’ training school for blacks was created in Frankfort, a state teacher’s organization was authorized that managed job responsibilities across the state, a revenue reform act was sanctioned in 1886, the state board of equalization was established, violence within the state was reduced, and the Southern Exposition in Louisville was a success. After leaving office, Knott declined two appointments by President Cleveland. The first was to serve as governor of Hawaii, and the other was to serve on the Interstate Commerce Commission. He later served as the assistant attorney general from 1887 to 1888, was a delegate to the 1891 State Constitutional Convention, and was dean of Centre College Law School from 1894 to 1901. Governor J. Proctor Knott passed away on June 18, 1911, and was buried at the Ryder Cemetery in Lebanon, Kentucky.


Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Governors’ Papers, Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives, Public Records Division

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.

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