Back to former Kentucky governors
Joseph Desha

Gov. Joseph Desha

  • August 24, 1824 - August 26, 1828
  • Jeffersonian-Republican
  • December 9, 1768
  • October 12, 1842
  • Pennsylvania
  • Married Margaret Bledsoe; two children
  • Representative


JOSEPH DESHA was born in Monroe County, Pennsylvania on December 9, 1768. His education was limited and attained in the rural schools of his native state. After settling in Mason City, Kentucky in 1792, Desha fought in the Indian wars of 1794. He also served as a major general in the Battle of Thames in 1813. Desha entered politics in 1797, serving as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, a position he held again from 1799 to 1802. He also served as a member of the Kentucky State Senate from 1803 to 1807, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1807 to 1819. Desha was defeated in his first gubernatorial bid in 1820, however, four years later he was successful. He was sworn into the governor’s office on August 24, 1824. During his tenure, the decision to annul the replevin laws was contested, and in its place a new court was formed, however, it was dissolved in 1826. Also, a vicious disagreement was dealt with regarding the state’s support of Transylvania University, and the governor’s reputation was tarnished when he issued a pardon to his son, who was convicted of murder. After leaving office, Desha returned to his farm in Harrison County, retiring from public service. Governor Joseph Desha died on October 12, 1842, and was buried in the Georgetown Cemetery.


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.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Virtual American Biographies

Recent Kentucky Governors