Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Mackey, Thomas C., 1956-

Author's Keywords



Kentucky--Governor (1859-1862 : Magoffin); Kentucky--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865


This thesis seeks to understand Beriah Magoffin as Governor of Kentucky. Adding to the work begun by Michael T. Dues and Lowell H. Harrison during the 1960s and 1970s, this thesis fleshes out a man little studied in history. It addresses several questions: Who was Governor Beriah Magoffin and what type of leader was he? Answering these questions, this thesis provides Magoffin as a mediocre leader who unsuccessfully tried to prevent civil war through compromise, neutrality, and obstruction. Moreover, Magoffin was a complex man with complex principles that guided his actions and eventually ruined his governorship. Magoffin believed in state's rights, majority rule, a strict construction of the Constitution, compromise, and the Union as it was. Over the course of the war, Magoffin held onto his principles without evolving. Unable to influence policy or the Unionist dominated General Assembly, Magoffin resigned as a political casualty of war.