|1st Governor of Kentucky|
June 4, 1792 – June 1, 1796
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||James Garrard|
|5th Governor of Kentucky|
August 24, 1812 – September 5, 1816
|Preceded by||Charles Scott|
|Succeeded by||George Madison|
|Born||December 11, 1750|
Hagerstown, Province of Maryland
|Died||July 18, 1826 (aged 75)|
Lincoln County, Kentucky
|Relations||Ephraim McDowell (son-in-law), Charles Stewart Todd (son-in-law)|
|Profession||soldier, colonial militia officer, state militia officer, farmer, politician, state governor|
|Awards||Congressional Gold Medal, Thanks of Congress|
|Nickname(s)||Old King's Mountain|
|Allegiance|| United Kingdom, United States|
|Service/branch||Virginia Colonial Militia, Continental Army, Kentucky Militia|
|Years of service||1774-1815|
|Rank||Governor of Kentucky|
|Commands||Fincastle County company, Virginia Colonial Militia, Overmountain Men, Kentucky Militia|
Lord Dunmore's War
American Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Isaac Shelby (December 11, 1750 – July 18, 1826) was the first and fifth Governor of Kentucky and served in the state legislatures of Virginia and North Carolina. He was also, a soldier in Lord Dunmore's War, the American Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812. While governor, he led the Kentucky militia in the Battle of the Thames, an action, that was rewarded with a Congressional Gold Medal. Counties in nine states, and several cities and military bases, have been named in his honor. His fondness for John Dickinson's The Liberty Song is believed to be the reason Kentucky adopted the state motto "United we stand, divided we fall".
Issac Shelby's military service began, when he served as second-in-command to his father at the Battle of Point Pleasant, the only major battle of Lord Dunmore's War. He gained the reputation of an expert woodsman and surveyor and spent the early part of the Revolutionary War gathering supplies for the Continental Army. Later in the war he and John Sevier led expeditions over the Appalachian Mountains against the British forces in North Carolina. He played a pivotal role in the British defeat at the Battle of King's Mountain. For his service, Shelby was presented with a ceremonial sword and a pair of pistols, by the North Carolina legislature and the nickname "Old King's Mountain", followed him the rest of his life.
Following the war, Isaac Shelby relocated to Kentucky, on lands awarded to him for his military service, and became involved in Kentucky's transition from a county of Virginia, to a separate state. His heroism made him popular with the state's citizens and the Kentucky electoral college unanimously elected him governor in 1792. He secured Kentucky, from Indian attacks and organized its first government. He used the Citizen Genet affair to convince the Washington administration to make an agreement with the Spanish for free trade on the Mississippi River.
At the end of his gubernatorial term, Isaac Shelby retired from public life but he was called back into politics by the impending War of 1812. Kentuckians urged Shelby to run for governor again and lead them through the anticipated conflict. He was elected easily, and at the request of General William Henry Harrison, commanded troops from Kentucky at the Battle of the Thames. After the war, he declined President James Monroe's offer to become Secretary of War. In his last act of public service, Shelby and Andrew Jackson acted as commissioners to negotiate the Jackson Purchase from the Chickasaw Indian tribe. Isaac Shelby died, at his estate in Lincoln County, Kentucky, on July 18, 1826.