Ron Elliott's Books
When my publisher suggested that I rewrite my first book, published 20 years ago, I jumped at the chance. Not only am I a better writer now, I'm a better researcher, too. And my research tools are so much better. The result is an all-new book: same title with tons of additional information.
In the decades following the Civil War, people used the phrase "When Kentucky goes Republican" in the same way someone today might say "when hell freezes over" to indicate the unlikelyhood of some event. Indeed, from 1859. a Democrat occupied Kentucky's Governor's chair for the next nine terms. Then. in 1895, the unthinkable occurred: the Commonwealth elected its first Republican Governor! When Republican Presidential candidate William McKinley carried Kentucky the following year, the Democrats felt something must be done to stem this alarming trend.
Their cure, styled "An Act to Further Regulate Elections," was enacted. More commonly referred to by the name of its author, Senate Majority leader William Goebel, the Goebel Election law referred all election questions to a three-member commission who answered to no other authority and whose decisions were "final and conclusive."
When the Democratic majority in the Legislature appointed three solid party members to the commission, the faithful settled back, confident that they had assured the party's return to power. Actual events, however, would rattle the entire political environment. When the despised Goebel himself garnered the gubernatorial nomination, pandemonium reigned as the Commonwsealth teetered on the brink of civil war.
Elliott's detailed examination of the vitriolic 1899 political campaign, the ensuing assassination of William Goebel and the resulting civil and political turmoil sheds an informative and intriguing into this darkest corner of Kentucky's history. The author's equally fascinating investigation of the criminal proceeding, which lasted 20 years, and the political legacy of this quintessential story of Kentucky politics proves that "politics are the damnedest" in Kentucky.