Kentucky Colonel Commissioner (Governor Andy Beshear)

The Kentucky Colonel Commissioner is the Head of the Office of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, currently the office is occupied by Governor Andy Beshear. The Executive Head-of-State for the day when the governor is not present may also issue new Kentucky Colonel commissions.

His Excellency Governor Andy Beshear

The Kentucky Colonel is an important asset of the Commonwealth, the state was chartered and founded by great pioneer colonels like Col. Richard Henderson and Col. Daniel Boone even before the founding of the United States. The commissioning of Kentucky colonels will always be an important function of the Office of the Governor. The Kentucky Colonel is deeply rooted in Kentucky's ideals and inspirations. 

Kentucky's Official Goodwill Ambassadors

Today there are more than 250,000 Kentucky colonels living in over 70 countries, many organizations have been formed since the turn of the 20th century to promote their activities, fraternity and social prosperity. While colonels today have no official responsibilities mandated, they are legally recognized as states's goodwill ambassadors due to their dedication to community service, contributions to the welfare of the state, and for improving the lives of others to make the world a better place for everyone. 

The honorary title is warranted through letters patent which grants them the title "Colonel" recognizing them as "Honorable" through a commission as an officer on the governor's staff. Colonels optional duties are de facto and extra officio responsibilities of promoting tourism, economic development, participation in community service, fostering the general prosperity of the Commonwealth and projecting Kentucky's image abroad on behalf of the State and the Governor.

Colonels are in a great part responsible for more than 10 billion dollars per year to the Commonwealth's economy by boosting tourism and economic development. The Kentucky colonel began becoming recognized as the state's icon outside of Kentucky as early as 1875.

Illustration of the Kentucky Coat of Arms from 1876
"United We Stand, Divided We Fall"Kentucky Coat of Arms (c. 1876)
Image from Wikipedia

Before They Were Kentucky Colonels, They Must Have Been Commonwealth Colonels?

Our Creative Commons initiative introduced the first website "Kentucky Colonels" in 1998 to give prominence to Kentucky Colonelcy as an honorary status (civilian award of merit) with diplomatic credence that is respected and understood internationally. All those who have received the honorable title from the Governor of the Commonwealth are recognized as a traditional 'aide-de-camp' to their governor, this also designates them officially as a goodwill ambassador for the state with letters patent (a legal document) resulting in a lifetime officer's commission as an honorary colonel. 

“We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.” -Senator John McCain, Kentucky Colonel

Few people know, but the Kentucky Colonel Commission (Kentucky Colonelcy) actually has its roots in the Commonwealth of Virginia, not in Kentucky, as many assume. Gov. Patrick Henry Jr. commissioned the first "colonel" to Kentucky County on December 21, 1776. It can also be said that the "first" Kentucky colonels were the pioneer statesmen who wrote the Kentucke Magna Charta, which included Colonel Daniel Boone, Colonel Richard Henderson, Colonel James Harrod and ten or more other colonels on May 23, 1775 at the end of the Wilderness Road in Boonesborough. We have identified many sources for Kentucky colonels since these early dates, this site is about where we believe it all began leading up to today. Traditionally, Common Law colonelcy was granted from one colonel to the next to establish forts, towns and villages to form colonial governments.

"In the Old Dominion statesmen should remember that Commonwealth Colonels are born, not made. " 1898

Our project here is dedicated to the historic origins of the "Kentucky Colonel" the first and original Kentucky pioneer and a great American cultural icon. Our website offers over 750 links to original references from American newspapers, literary works like encyclopedias, books, folklore, fiction and fact that illustrate the idea and how it became such a popular title. Kentucky colonels are responsible for most of the Commonwealth's firsts like thoroughbred horses 1775, whiskey in 1780, a university in 1780, 75 of its counties 1777-1851, first hemp crops in 1775-1784, horse racing in 1873, baseball in 1892 and a quartet in 1896. Ever since the book, A Kentucky Colonel by Opie Read in 1890, Kentucky colonels became popular across the United States. To truly understand how great Kentucky Colonelcy has become you must review our website.

Governor Patrick Henry

Governor Patrick Henry, On December 21, 1776 he asserted the security of the Dominions of Virginia designating Colonels the Honorable George Rogers Clark and the Honorable John Bowman. 

Relevant evidence suggests the Office of the Governor inherited the ability in colonial common-law prior to 1791 to make new colonels; among the first matters of business in Kentucky's Early Days was to recognize statesmen, land settlers, civic leaders, professors and the heads of companies as colonels before there was any other title (formal or otherwise) to designate a regional community leader. Kentucky colonels were mapped in Kentucky as early as 1780.