Governor Thomas E. Bramlette

Historical Marker #2234 in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery commemorates Kentucky Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, a Union veteran of the Civil War.

Elected in 1863 after an active Civil War career as a Union colonel, Bramlette frequently tangled with President Abraham Lincoln over Union military policy in the commonwealth.

Born on January 3, 1817, in present-day Clinton County, Bramlette was a lawyer, legislator, and politician.

During 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. He died in 1875 and was buried in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery.

Although 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 has demonstrated that his was the only line of salvation for our country."

Images

Governor Thomas E. Bramlette

Governor Thomas E. Bramlette

A Union veteran, Bramlette was elected governor of Kentucky in 1863. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Governor Bramlette's cane

Governor Bramlette's cane

This cane belonged to Kentucky governor Thomas E. Bramlette, who was also a Union soldier during the Civil War. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln

Kentucky governor Thomas E. Bramlette disagreed with Lincoln over many major issues, including the enlistment of African American soldiers. However, 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 has demonstrated that his was the only line of salvation for our country." Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Gov. Bramlette's Desk

Gov. Bramlette's Desk

This desk was made for Gov. Bramlette by Frankfort cabinetmaker John Halmhuber in 1865 for $241.30. Two doors on the desk contain the seal of the United States and the seal of Kentucky. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

The Public Library of Kentucky at Louisville

The Public Library of Kentucky at Louisville

This 1874 pictoral of the Public Library of Kentucky in Louisville shows former Gov. Thomas Bramlette on the left and Col. Reuben T. Durrett on the right. Also shown are scenes of the library's reading room, art gallery, and the building's front facade. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Thomas E. Bramlette

Thomas E. Bramlette

This portrait of Gov. Thomas Bramlette was painted by Frances Wiley in 1908. Bramlette was born in Cumberland County, Kentucky, in 1817 and died in 1875. He governed the state from 1863 to 1867. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Audio

Bramlette on Lincoln

After President Lincoln's death in April 1865, Governor Thomas Bramlette discussed Lincoln's legacy. Courtesy the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Sanders, “Governor Thomas E. Bramlette,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 25, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/38.

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