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Kentucky (/kənˈtʌki/ (About this soundlisten) kən-TUK-ee), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it, (because in Kentucky's first constitution, the name state was used) Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts). Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.

Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the bluegrass found in many of its pastures due to the fertile soil. One of the major regions in Kentucky is the Bluegrass Region in central Kentucky, which houses two of its major cities, Louisville and Lexington. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park, the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States, and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River.

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Western Kentucky University (WKU) is a public university in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The roots of WKU go back to 1875 and the founding of the privately owned Glasgow Normal School. This institution moved to Bowling Green in 1884 and became the Southern Normal School and Business College.

The student body and building were transferred to the Western Kentucky State Normal School, when it was created by an act of the Kentucky General Assembly in 1906. The owner of the Southern Normal School, Henry Hardin Cherry, became the first president of the new school. Classes began on January 22, 1907. The school moved to its present location in 1911. The property had been purchased in 1909 when the Pleasant J. Potter College closed. In 1922, the school was authorized by the state to grant four-year degrees and was renamed as Western Kentucky State Normal School and Teachers College. The first four-year degrees were awarded in 1924. In 1927, it merged with Odgen College, which occupied an adjacent campus.

WKU is also home to the largest American master's degree program in folklore; it is contained within the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology.

Extended campuses are operated in Glasgow, Elizabethtown/Fort Knox and Owensboro.

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Photo credit: C. Bedford Crenshaw
The Thompson and Powell Martyrs Monument resting beside the beautiful St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in southern Daviess County.

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Frankfort serves as the state capital of the commonwealth of Kentucky, and is the county seat of Franklin County. The population was 27,741 at the 2000 census; by population, it is the 4th smallest state capital in the United States. James Wilkinson purchased in 1786 the 260-acre tract of land on the north side of the Kentucky River, which is now downtown Frankfort. Called by some the father of Frankfort, Wilkinson was an early promoter to make Frankfort the state capital.

The town of Frankfort probably received its name from an event that took place in 1780's when Indians attacked a group of pioneers from Bryan's Station who were making salt at a ford in the Kentucky River. One of the pioneers, Stephen Frank, was killed and the crossing became known as "Frank's Ford." Later this name was shortened to Frankfort.

After Kentucky became a state, five commissioners were appointed on June 20, 1792, to choose a location for the state capital. They were John Allen and John Edwards (both from Bourbon County), Henry Lee (Mason County), Thomas Kennedy (Madison County), and Robert Todd (Fayette County). A number of communities competed for this honor, but Frankfort won by perseverance and, according to early histories, the offer of Andrew Holmes' log house as capitol for seven years, a number of town lots, £50 worth of locks and hinges, 10 boxes of glass, 1500 pounds of nails, and $3000 in gold.

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Kentucky Official Symbols

On this day in Kentucky history...

Quotes

"I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." -- Abraham Lincoln

"I was brought up to believe that Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon." -- Hugo Black

"Tough girls come from New York. Sweet girls, they're from Georgia. But us Kentucky girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin'. And if we have an opinion, you know you're gonna hear it." -- Ashley Judd

"Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune." -- Daniel Boone

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My Old Kentucky Home State Park is a state park in Kentucky. It is located in Bardstown. The state park consists of Federal Hill, a former plantation owned by the Rowan family. A visit to the site in 1852 is said to have inspired Stephen Foster to write his famous song, My Old Kentucky Home. On June 1, 1992, a 29-cent stamp was issued honoring the park.

The park features an amphitheater that is home to the long-running outdoor musical, Stephen Foster — The Musical, which was usually staged each night except Monday during the summer. It is the longest running outdoor drama in the state of Kentucky, having started in 1959.

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John Hunt Morgan (June 1, 1825 – September 4, 1864) was a Confederate general and cavalry officer in the American Civil War. He led 2,460 troops in a daring raid, called Morgan's Raid, racing past Union lines into Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio in July 1863. This was the farthest north any uniformed Confederate troops penetrated during the war.

Morgan and his cavalrymen fought at the Battle of Shiloh and he soon became a symbol to secessionists in their hopes for obtaining Kentucky for the Confederacy. A Louisiana writer, Robert D. Patrick, compared Morgan to Francis Marion and wrote that "a few thousands of such men as his would regain us Kentucky and Tennessee."

He unnerved Kentucky's Union military government and President Lincoln received so many frantic appeals for help that he complained that "they are having a stampede in Kentucky."

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