Political, Social, & Military Leaders
Kentucky's unique prominence in many of the key events in U. S. history has helped it create a long list of important political, social, and military leaders. Scroll through the list to read about a few of their accomplishments.
The asterisk (*) symbol next to a name means that the individual was not born in Kentucky.
Daniel Carter Beard (1850-1941) Founder of Boy Scouts of America in 1910.
George Barry Bingham, Sr. (1906-1988) Head of Louisville Courier-Journal during a time when the newspaper won 7 Pulitzer Prizes and was ranked 10th in the nation.
Montgomery Blair (1813-1883) Chief defense in the Dred Scot case and postmaster under Abraham Lincoln's administration.
Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) Famous Supreme Court Justice who advocated for individual rights and a competitive economy.
John Cabell Breckinridge (1821-1875) Vice President under James Buchanan; fought in the Mexican and Civil War.
Madeline McDowell Breckinridge (1872-1920) National leader for in the women’s suffrage movement.
Sophonsiba Preston Breckinridge (1866-1948) First woman admitted into the Kentucky bar and first woman to receive a Ph.D in political science.
Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903) Ambassador to Russia and founder of the Republican Party.
Henry Clay* (1777-1852) American statesman and two time presidential candidate; founder of the Whig Party. Known as the “Great Compromiser.”
Laura Clay (1849-1941) Women’s rights advocate and first President of the Equal Rights Association.
Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) First and only President of the Confederate States. Previously was Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce.
John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) Associate Supreme Court Justice famous for his opinion in Plessey v. Ferguson, which upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine.
Richard M. Johnson (1780-1850) Vice President to Martin Van Buren and solider in the War of 1812.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) President of the United States during the Civil War. Authored the Emancipation Proclamation which freed the slaves.
Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882) First Lady of the United States; married to Abraham Lincoln.
Rose Will Monroe (1920-1997) Known as Rosie the Riveter, a national icon for the efforts of American women during WWII.
John Hunt Morgan* (1825-1864) Confederate General who penetrated further North than any other confederate battalion.
Georgia Davis Powers (1923-Present) Kentucky’s first female African American state senator. Marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960’s.
Colonel Harland Sanders* (1890-1980) Founder of fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken.
John Thomas Scopes (1900-1970) Defendant in the famous Scopes-Monkey Trial for teaching evolution in a Tennessee school.
Franklin R. Sousley, PFC (1925-1945) Helped raise the American flag at Iwo Jima--making him a part of one of the most famous war images in history.
Adlai Stevenson (1835-1914) Vice President under Grover Cleveland.
Zachary Taylor *(1784-1953) Mexican War hero and 12th President of the United States.
Frederick Moore Vinson (1890-1953) U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, 1946-53.
Whitney M. Young (1921-1971) Civil rights leader and advisor to Presidents Johnson and Nixon. Awarded Medal of Freedom in 1969.