Lawyers in Politics: Mid-Nineteenth Century Kentucky - A Case Study

Posted: 22 Dec 2011

See all articles by James Wice Gordon

James Wice Gordon

Western New England University School of Law

Date Written: December 21, 1990


This Book explores the mid-nineteenth century legal profession through a study of the 1848 to 1852 Kentucky bar and examines those lawyers’ relationship to politics. The Author chose Kentucky as the lens in which to explore this topic for a number of reasons, including a noticeable gap in research on the bar of those states bordering New England and the Middle Atlantic states during that time period. A random sample based on the 1850 Federal Census reveals the bar was composed of men who were greatly disparate in wealth, age, slaveholding, geographic identification, and education. Through an examination of contemporary comments about the bar published in the newspapers and periodicals which circulated in Kentucky during that period, the Author establishes there was less anti-lawyer sentiment and more ambivalence about lawyers than is commonly believed. This Book compares lawyers who were politicians with lawyers who were not politicians and examines the pervasiveness of bar participation in the state’s politics, as officeholders, speakers, lobbyists, and political editors. This Book includes a number of tables and some long appendixes, reporting much of the data upon which the Author based his interpretations.

Keywords: Kentucky lawyers, Bar, legal profession, politics, politicians, legal profession

Suggested Citation

Gordon, James Wice, Lawyers in Politics: Mid-Nineteenth Century Kentucky - A Case Study (December 21, 1990). Available at SSRN:

James Wice Gordon (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States

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