Isaac Shelby papers, 1765-1911

Descriptive Summary

Isaac Shelby papers, 1765-1911
Shelby, Isaac, 1750-1826.
1 reel.
Shelby, Isaac, 1750-1826.
Bradford, John, 1747-1830.
Breckinridge, John, 1760-1806.
Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850.
Crittenden, John J. (John Jordan), 1787-1863.
Greenup, Christopher, 1749-1818.
Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845.
McDowell, Ephraim, 1771-1830.
Wickliffe, Robert, 1775-1859.
Kentucky--History--18th century.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
United States--History--War of 1812.
Washington County (Ky.)--History--18th century.
Muster rolls.
No discernable arrangement.
Finding Aid Author
Processed by: Archives Staff ; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Governor of Kentucky, soldier. Isaac Shelby was a militia officer, surveyor, Indian fighter, member of the Virginia legislature and member of the North Carolina legislature before removing to Kentucky in 1783, where, after participating in military affairs and in politics, including the first Kentucky Constitutional Convention, he was elected the newly-formed state's governor in 1792. During his administration some of Shelby's most important acts included stabilizing the government of the new state and lending support to General Anthony Wayne's campaigns in the Northwest Territory. Shelby declined to serve a second consecutive term, but was called from retirement in 1812 because of the war with Great Britain and was again elected governor.
In his second term Shelby aided the federal government in its prosecution of the war and personally led the Kentucky Volunteers in General William Henry Harrison's invasion of Canada, which resulted in a victory for the United States in the Battle of the Thames in 1813. After his second term as governor, Shelby continued to serve on various boards and committees, including those of Transylvania Seminary (now University) in Lexington and Centre College in Danville. In 1817 Shelby declined President James Monroe's offer of serving as the Secretary of War. The following year he served with General Andrew Jackson on a commission to negotiate with the Chickasaw Indians concerning their lands west of the Tennessee River. Shelby died and was buried at his home, "Traveler's Rest," near Danville in 1826.
Scope and Content
This is a microfilmed collection of the papers of Isaac Shelby, first governor of Kentucky. Among the collection holdings are documents and correspondence reflecting Shelby's personal life and public service as governor and as a soldier during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. There are muster rolls of the guard from the 4th Regiment of militia under the command of Lt. George Ewing ordered into service by Shelby in 1795 for the defense of frontiers of Washington county, Ky. A survey made for Shelby in 1782 and a certificate regarding three of Shelby's slaves reflect other aspects of Shelby's career and personal life. The bulk of the collection is Shelby correspondence. Among the many correspondents are John Bradford, John Breckinridge, John C. Calhoun, John J. Crittenden, Christopher Greenup, Andrew Jackson, Ephraim McDowell and Robert Wickliffe.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.

Researchers are encouraged to request collections at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Questions? Contact us at


No items have been requested.

Enter a comma-separated list of the tags you want associated with this request.

Researchers are encouraged to request collections at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Questions? Contact us at