Jesse Bledsoe, U.S. Senator

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About Jesse Bledsoe, U.S. Senator

A United States senator from Kentucky, characterized by Henry Clay as the most formidable man he ever met at the bar in Kentucky.


Bledsoe (April 6, 1776 – June 25, 1836) was a Senator from Kentucky.

He was born in Culpeper County, Virginia in 1776. When he was very young, his family migrated with a Baptist congregation through Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. Many of the adults in this traveling congregation were property: Negro slaves. Jesse attended Transylvania Seminary and Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar about 1800 and commenced practice.

In 1808, Bledsoe was appointed Secretary of State of Kentucky. He was a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1812. Afterwards he was elected as a Democratic Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1813 until his resignation on December 24, 1814. He then became a member of the Kentucky State Senate in 1817, serving until 1820.

Bledsoe was judge of the Lexington circuit in 1822. He settled in Lexington and was professor of law in Transylvania University. He then became minister in the Disciples Church. He moved to Mississippi in 1833 and to Texas in 1835. He died near Nacogdoches, Texas under circumstances his contemporaries and kinfolk could only describe as a significant fall from grace.

Sometimes a volatile being, he earned the sobriquet "Hot headed" Jesse Bledsoe. Besides being a brilliant jurist he was a fascinating maternal uncle to 1) Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor, who studied law with him, 2) Thomas Chilton who likewise represented Kentucky in Congress, and 3) William Parish Chilton who would rise to political prominence in Alabama and the Confederacy.

Jesse Bledsoe (1776–1836). lawyer and politician, was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, on April 6, 1776, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Miller) Bledsoe. He moved to Kentucky with his brother, Robert Emmett Bledsoe, and eventually graduated from Transylvania Seminary at Lexington. Around 1800 he married the oldest daughter of Col. Nathaniel Gist. Bledsoe entered law school and was admitted to the bar about 1800. He took part in Kentucky politics from 1808 to the 1830s, holding offices as secretary of state, state legislator, state senator, and United States senator. As an attorney, he instructed his nephew, Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor, in his law office, and one of his clients was John Peter Schatzell. In 1822 Bledsoe was appointed circuit judge of the Lexington District and became professor of law at Transylvania University. In 1831 he left the office to become a minister. He traveled to Mississippi in 1833, moved to Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1835, and died there on June 25, 1836. He is supposed to have amassed a large collection of Texas historical documents with the intention of writing a definitive Texas history. Shortly after his death, his papers were sold at an auction in Nacogdoches. Robert E. B. Baylor possessed some of the collection, but most of the documents have disappeared since Bledsoe's death. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mann Butler, A History of the Commonwealth of Kentucky (Louisville: Wilcox, Dickerman, 1834). George W. Ranck, History of Lexington, Kentucky (Cincinnati: Clarke, 1872).://

Marriage to Aggy Hickman March 28th 1797, page # 53

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Jesse Bledsoe, U.S. Senator's Timeline

April 6, 1776
Culpepper County, Virginia, United States
August 12, 1797
Age 21
Cumberland County, Kentucky, United States
April 28, 1800
Age 24
April 15, 1802
Age 26
Age 26
April 20, 1804
Age 28
June 16, 1805
Age 29
Kentucky, United States
May 26, 1806
Age 30