Thomas E. Bramlette
Kentucky governor Thomas E. Bramlette,
elected in 1863, frequently tangled with President Abraham Lincoln over Union
military policy in the commonwealth.
January 3, 1817, in present-day Clinton
County, Bramlette was a
lawyer, legislator, and politician.
the Civil War, Bramlette raised the 3rd Kentucky Union Infantry and was elected
colonel of the regiment. In 1862, Lincoln appointed him U. S.
district attorney for Kentucky.
The next year Bramlette was elected governor in a race rife with Union military
interference. As wartime governor, Bramlette resisted Confederate guerrillas
and battled Lincoln
over the enlistment of African American troops, the suspension of habeas
corpus, and civilian arrests. He was governor until 1867, and in the postwar
years he supported pardons for ex-Confederate soldiers yet resisted the
Freedmen’s Bureau and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth constitutional amendments.
One of Bramlette’s greatest legacies was establishing the Agricultural and Mechanical College,
which eventually became the University
of Kentucky. When
Bramlette’s term ended, he was a philanthropist and attorney in Louisville.
Bramlette disagreed with Lincoln over many major
issues, after Lincoln’s assassination the
governor recognized the enduring legacy of Lincoln’s policies. Bramlette said, "We
may differ with him, and have differed with him, but when the judgment of
future events has come, we found we were differing blindly; that he was right
and we were wrong . . . experience and time have demonstrated that his was the
only line of salvation for our country."
of Thomas E. Bramlette by William Ver Bryck, 1874
Kentucky Historical Society Collections