History of Kentucky Governors

Kentucky Governors and Elections




October 14, 1816 to September 6, 1820

             Gabriel Slaughter was the first Lt. Governor to become Governor upon the death of a Governor.  Slaughter became Governor upon the death of Governor George Madison.   He was married three times.  He was widowed twice by wives named Sarah.

            Slaughter became a member of the Kentucky Militia in 1803. 

            Slaughter represented the Mercer County area in the KY House and the State Senate 1801 to 1808 when he was elected Lt. Governor.

            He served in the Kentucky Senate and Lt. Governor under Governor Scott.  He unsuccessfully ran for governor against Isaac Shelby in 1812 and beaten by a significant margin.  In addition to Shelby’s popularity, Slaughter’s vote in the KY Senate against allowing banking privileges for the Lexington based Kentucky Insurance Company was also a factor against his election.

           In 1813, Gabriel Slaughter answered Shelby’s call for volunteers.  His service in that was primarily under General Andrew Jackson.  He was decorated for his service in the Battle of New Orleans.

            In 1816, he won election for the second time as Kentucky’s Lt. Governor.

            With the death of Governor George Madison in October 1816, Slaughter assumed the office of KY Governor.  Gabriel Slaughter got off to a bad start when he accepted the resignation or fired Governor Madison’s appointed Secretary of State Charles Todd, the son-in-law of Governor Isaac Shelby.  Slaughter replaced Todd with the unpopular for U.S. Senator John “One Arm” Pope.  Pope was unpopular as he voted against the Declaration of War against Britain for the War of 1812.  To show that he was politically tone deaf, to fill the vacancy due to U.S. Senator William Barry’s resignation to take a judicial position, he appointed Federalist Martin Hardin rather than a Jeffersonian Republican.

            The General Assembly meeting in December and January following Slaughter’s accession to Governor attempted to set up an election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of George Madison.  Many of the legislators considered Slaughter the “temporary or acting governor”.   As a result much of Slaughter’s agenda was unsuccessful including the establishment of public schools financed by lotteries.

`          After leaving the Governor’s Office in 1820 he went back to his Mercer County farm.   He serve on more term in the KY House. He was an active Baptist.  In 1829, he served on the first Board of Trustees of Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY.



 Garbriel Slaughter--Governor 1816-1820.