Governor Joseph Desha

Historical Marker #2021 in Scott County notes the home of Kentucky Governor Joseph Desha, a general during the War of 1812.

The Pennsylvania-born Desha moved to Kentucky in 1781. By 1792, Desha was farming in Mason County. After fighting Native Americans in the 1790s, Desha pushed for war with Britain and served in the War of 1812. He was a general and was, an early writer noted, "one of the heroes of the battle of the Thames."

After serving in the Kentucky House and Senate, Desha was a six-term U. S. Congressman. Although he lost the 1820 gubernatorial election to War of 1812 veteran John Adair, in 1824 Desha defeated Christopher Tompkins to become Kentucky's governor.

Like many governors from this period, Desha was an 1812 veteran who used his military experience as a springboard for high political office.


Governor Joseph Desha

Governor Joseph Desha

Born in Pennsylvania in 1768, Desha's family lived briefly in Kentucky before moving to Tennessee. Desha soon returned to Kentucky and settled in Mason County. A farmer, he also had a varied political career, serving in the Kentucky House, the Kentucky Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Also active in the Kentucky Militia, Desha fought in several campaigns against Native Americans and served in the War of 1812. After the war, he continued his political career and became governor in 1824. His gubernatorial term, however, was marked with controversy. When Desha's son was sentenced to hang for murder, the governor pardoned his son, for which he was widely criticized. Desha died in 1842 and was buried in Georgetown. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Sanders, “Governor Joseph Desha,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 24, 2017,


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