Slaughter Morehead, governor of Kentucky
from 1855 to 1859, was arrested and imprisoned by Union authorities during the
Born in Nelson County
in July 1802, Morehead was a lawyer, legislator, speaker of the Kentucky House,
attorney general, and U. S.
congressman. In 1855, he was elected
governor of Kentucky
as an American Party, or “Know Nothing,” candidate. Governor Morehead worked for state-supported
teacher training, built roads and railroads, supported local militias, helped
create the Kentucky State Agricultural Society, and reformed the state prison.
was also politically involved during the Civil War. Although a Southern sympathizer supportive of
neutrality, he worked for a peaceful resolution, hoping to avert war. He was critical of the Lincoln administration, and, in September
1861, Union authorities arrested Morehead.
Charged with treason and “stirring up and promoting rebellion,” he was
imprisoned in Fort Lafayette in New York
Harbor and Fort
Warren in Boston Harbor.
influential Kentuckians asked for Morehead’s freedom. President Lincoln said that if two of his key
advisors, James Speed and James Guthrie, agreed, Morehead would be
released. Guthrie and others concurred,
and Morehead left prison in January 1862.
He spent four months in confinement.
parole, Morehead could not return to Kentucky
or visit any Southern state. Therefore,
the governor went into exile and spent the remainder of the war in Canada, Europe, and Mexico. After the conflict, he lived on a plantation
in Greenville, Mississippi.
of Charles S. Morehead by Lizzie Jacobs, ca. 1914
Kentucky Historical Society Collections