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John Breathitt

Gov. John Breathitt

  • September 4, 1832 - February 21, 1834
  • Jacksonian Democratic
  • September 9, 1786
  • February 21, 1834
  • Virginia
  • Married twice--Caroline Whitaker, Susannah M. Harris; three children
  • Died in Office


JOHN BREATHITT, Kentucky’s first Democratic governor, was born in Henry County, Virginia on September 9, 1786. His early education was attained at home and in the rural schools of his native state. Before studying law, he worked as a teacher and surveyor in Kentucky. In 1810, he was admitted to the bar, and then established his legal career in Russellville, Kentucky. Breathitt entered politics in 1811, serving as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, a position he held until 1815. From 1828 to 1832, he served as the lieutenant governor of Kentucky. Breathitt won the 1831 Democratic gubernatorial nomination and went on to win election as the eleventh governor of Kentucky. During his tenure, he advocated for a state level policy of the guiding principles of President Jackson’s national administration, and he vetoed several bills that denounced the Jackson land policy. Also, the Louisville Bank of Kentucky was commissioned. After serving a little less than a year and a half, Governor John Breathitt died of tuberculosis, passing away on February 21, 1834. He was buried at the Breathitt Cemetery near Russellville, and later reinterred in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Russellville.


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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