Gov. Joseph Desha, US Congress

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Joseph Desha

Birthdate: (73)
Birthplace: Monroe County, Pennsylvania
Death: October 11, 1842 (73)
Georgetown, Kentucky
Place of Burial: Georgetown Cemetery (Georgetown, Kentucky)
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Desha, Jr. and Eleanor Holmes Desha
Husband of Margaret Desha
Father of Isaac Bledsoe Desha; Benjamin Desha; Dr. John Desha; Adelaide DESHA; Eleanore Ellen Pickett and 2 others
Brother of John Desha; Benjamin Desha; Nancy Desha; Mary Reese; Nelly Desha and 6 others

Managed by: Faustine Darsey
Last Updated:

About Gov. Joseph Desha, US Congress

Info added per the DAR's "Lineage Book of the Charter Members" by Mary S Lockwood published 1895 showing "a soldier in the Revolution at 15 years of age, with Mad Anthony Wayne in '96, a major general in 1812, and governor of Kentuck in 1825." This DAR info contradicts Wikipedia info shown below.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

9th Governor of Kentucky

Joseph Desha (December 9, 1768 – October 11, 1842) was a U.S. Representative and the ninth Governor of Kentucky. Desha was the first Kentucky governor not to have served in the Revolutionary War.[1] He did, however, serve under William Henry Harrison and "Mad" Anthony Wayne in the Northwest Indian War, and lost two brothers in battle. He married in 1789 and returned to Kentucky in 1792, settling in Mason County. There he began his political career, serving in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly. In 1807, he began the first of six consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. A Democratic-Republican, he joined his party in supporting the War of 1812. Desha himself volunteered to serve in the war and commanded a division at the Battle of the Thames.

In 1824, Desha ran for governor on a platform of debt relief and won a landslide victory. His term was marred by numerous controversies. Chief among these was the Old Court-New Court controversy, a move by the legislature to abolish the Kentucky Court of Appeals, which was hostile to their debt relief agenda, and replace it with a more sympathetic court. For a time, two courts of last resort existed in the state, but the old court was eventually restored, albeit over Desha's veto. Another contentious issue during Desha's tenure was Horace Holley's presidency of Transylvania University. Many in the state felt that Holley was too liberal and when Desha joined in the criticism, Holley resigned. Also during his term, Desha's son Isaac was convicted of murder, despite the political intervention of his father. Following the conviction, the younger Desha unsuccessfully attempted suicide. Governor Desha then issued a controversial pardon for his son.

Desha did not approve of the election of Thomas Metcalfe to succeed him, and for a time, he threatened not to vacate the governor's mansion. Following his term as governor, Desha retired from public life. He and his wife moved in with their son, and Desha died at his son's residence on October 11, 1842.

Joseph Desha (December 9, 1768 – October 11, 1842) was a U.S. Representative and the ninth governor of the U.S. state of Kentucky. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Desha's Huguenot ancestors fled from France to Pennsylvania, where Desha was born. Eventually, Desha's family settled near present-day Gallatin, Tennessee, where they were involved in many skirmishes with the Indians. Two of Desha's brothers were killed in these encounters, motivating him to volunteer for "Mad" Anthony Wayne's campaign against the Indians during the Northwest Indian War. Having by then resettled in Mason County, Kentucky, Desha parlayed his military record into several terms in the state legislature.

In 1807, Desha was elected to the first of six consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. A Democratic-Republican, he was considered a War Hawk, supporting the War of 1812. In 1813, he volunteered to serve in the war and commanded a division at the Battle of the Thames. Returning to Congress after the war, he was the only member of the Kentucky congressional delegation to oppose the unpopular Compensation Act of 1816. Nearly every other member of the delegation was defeated for reelection after the vote, but Desha's opposition to the act helped him retain his seat. He did not seek reelection in 1818, and made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1820, losing to John Adair. By 1824, the Panic of 1819 had wrecked Kentucky's economy, and Desha made a second campaign for the governorship almost exclusively on promises of relief for the state's large debtor class. He was elected by a large majority, and debt relief partisans captured both houses of the General Assembly. After the Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned debt relief laws favored by Desha and the majority of the legislature, the legislators abolished the court and created a replacement court, to which Desha appointed several debt relief partisans. The existing court refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the move, and during a period known as the Old Court – New Court controversy, two courts of last resort existed in the state.

Although popular when elected, Desha's reputation was damaged by two controversies during his term. The first was his role in the ouster of Horace Holley as president of Transylvania University. While the religious conservatives on the university's board opposed Holley because they considered him too liberal, Desha's opposition was primarily based on Holley's friendship with Henry Clay, one of Desha's political enemies. After Desha bitterly denounced Holley in an address to the legislature in late 1825, Holley resigned. Desha's reputation took a further hit after his son, Isaac, was charged with murder. Partially because of Desha's influence as governor, two guilty verdicts were overturned. After the younger Desha unsuccessfully attempted suicide while awaiting a third trial, Governor Desha issued a pardon for his son. These controversies, along with an improving economy, propelled Desha's political foes to victory in the legislative elections of 1825 and 1826. They abolished the so-called "Desha court" over Desha's veto, ending the court controversy. In a final act of defiance, Desha threatened to refuse to vacate the governor's mansion, although he ultimately acquiesced without incident, ceding the governorship to his successor, National Republican Thomas Metcalfe. At the expiration of his term, he retired from public life and ultimately died at his son's home in Georgetown, Kentucky, on October 11, 1842.

Joseph Desha was born to Robert and Eleanor (Wheeler) Desha in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, on December 9, 1768.[1] He was of French Huguenot ancestry, and his ancestors had fled from France to Pennsylvania after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which had largely protected the Huguenots from religious persecution.[2] He obtained a limited education in the state's rural schools.[3] In July 1781, Desha's family relocated to Fayette County, Kentucky, and the following year, they settled in what was then known as Cumberland district near the present-day city of Gallatin, Tennessee.[4] Desha's younger brother, Robert, would later represent Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives.[5]

Like most frontier settlers, the Desha family frequently found themselves in conflict with Indians after moving to Tennessee, and between the ages of 15 and 22, Joseph Desha volunteered in several military campaigns against them.[6] In one such campaign, two of his brothers were killed while fighting alongside him.[7] Following the war, Desha lived with William Whitley in the town of Crab Orchard, Kentucky.[8] He married Margaret "Peggy" Bledsoe in December 1789.[4] The couple had thirteen children over the course of their marriage.[9] In 1792, the family moved to Mason County, Kentucky, where Desha worked as a farmer.[1] In 1794, he served in the Northwest Indian War under Lieutenant William Henry Harrison.[10] He participated in General "Mad" Anthony Wayne's rout of the Indians at the August 20 Battle of Fallen Timbers.[11]

Desha entered politics in 1797, when he was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Kentucky House of Representatives.[3] When the House debated the Kentucky Resolutions in 1798, he chaired the Committee of the Whole.[12] He again served in the House from 1799 to 1802, and was elected to the Kentucky Senate from 1802 to 1807.[1] Concurrent with his legislative career, he continued to serve in the state militia. On January 23, 1798, he was appointed as a major in the 29th Regiment.[13] He was promoted to colonel on March 23, 1799, and on September 5, 1805, he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the 7th Brigade of the Kentucky Militia.[13] On December 24, 1806, he was made a major general, remaining with the 7th Brigade

U.S. Representative from Kentucky (1797 and 1799-1802). Served in the State Senate 1803-1807. Elected Governor of Kentucky and served from 1824 to 1828.

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Gov. Joseph Desha, US Congress's Timeline

December 9, 1768
Monroe County, Pennsylvania
Age 24
Age 31
Feb. 20, 1800 Mason County Kentucky
January 1, 1802
Age 33
Maysville, Mason, Kentucky, United States
Age 35
Age 39
Mason County Kentucky
Age 43
October 11, 1842
Age 73
Georgetown, Kentucky