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Robinson, James Fisher

Posted by MarthaCrossSargent 
Robinson, James Fisher
February 28, 2007 06:34PM
History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky, ed.

by William Henry Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1882. p. 608.

[Scott County] [Georgetown City and Precinct]

HON. JAMES FISHER ROBINSON, lawyer and farmer and ex-Governor of Kentucky,

was born in Scott County, Kentucky, October 4, 1800. His father, Jonathan

Robinson, was a native of Pennsylvania, and there married a daughter of

Capt. John Black, and began his married life as a farmer in Cumberland

County, of that State, on a tract of land given him by his father and

father-in-law, in the vicinity of their own residence. Shortly afterward

the war of the Revolution commenced, and during its first year he

volunteered; was commissioned Captain and served until the restoration of

peace. In 1785 he visited Kentucky and bought a farm of six hundred acres

in Scott County, upon which he erected cabins for his residence, and,

having returned to Pennsylvania in the following spring, removed with his

family to his new home in Kentucky, where he continued to reside as one of

the substantial and influential citizens until his death, in the

eighty-sixth year of his age. Gov. Robinson came of English and Scotch

ancestors; his great-grandfather, being a Dissenter, located in Ireland,

and there his grandfather, George Robinson, was born, and married a Scotch

lady. The entire family moved to America and settled in Pennsylvania,

about the middle of the seventeenth century. His grandfather, many years

after his father, settled in Kentucky, also removed to this State, where he

passed his life on an adjoining farm in Scott County, and there died at the

age of eighty-seven. He was an ardent Whig during the Revolution, and

served some time as a volunteer during that war. Gov. Robinson's education

was commenced under a private teacher at his father's home, was continued

under the Rev. Robt. Marshall, one of the most scholarly among the early

Presbyterian ministers of Kentucky, and his academic education was

completed at Forest Hill Academy, under the celebrated Samuel Wilson. He

subsequently entered Transylvania University, where he graduated in 1818.

He immediately began the study of law at Lexington, under Hon. William T.

Barry, one of the ablest men who ever flourished in Kentucky. A few years

afterward he obtained license and began the law practice at Georgetown, in

his native county, and there has continued actively engaged in his

profession until the present time, excepting short intervals of political

life. In 1851 he was elected, without opposition, to the Senate of

Kentucky, to represent the district composed of Scott and Fayette Counties,

and served one term. In August, 1861, after a warmly contested canvass,

he was again elected from the same senatorial district, defeating Hon.

James B. Beck. This canvass was made when the clouds of civil war were

gathering over the country, and the great subjects of vital importance to

the people were discussed; such as the right of secession, the impending

rebellion, the value of the Union, and the proper place to be occupied by

Kentucky in the inevitable conflict. In 1862 Gov. Magoffin, the Governor

of Kentucky resigned the office of chief executive, and, there being no

Lieutenant Governor, he being a member of the Senate, was immediately

elected Speaker, thereby becoming acting Governor of the State, and as

such at once qualified, and entered upon his duties, serving as Governor

until the end of the term. The period of his administration was filled

with troubles, difficulties and perils known to no other, before or since.

His conduct was in accord with the administration of the National

Government, and his unflinching devotion to the Union, and his strong,

manly guardianship of the affairs of the State, brought the best possible

good out of the evils of the times. Doubtless but few men in the State

were better suited to control its affairs at such a time, reared as he

had been, in his school of patriots, and from early life having espoused

the Whig principles of National Government, possessing eminently the firm,

unexplosive and temperate elements of character and withal being greatly

attached to the best interests of his native State. He has been a farmer

as well as a lawyer for the last twenty-five years, and now resides at

"Cardome" (from cara domus); his fine farm consisting of 300 acres, and

joining Georgetown, in a part of that most beautiful region called "Blue

Grass", he has been without political ambition, having lived too busy a

life to give his attention to the higher aims of the statesman, and being

unwilling to become a mere politician; although importuned to accept

public office at different times, he has usually declined, preferring to

devote himself to his professional and agricultural interests; as a lawyer,

he has taken a place among the most learned and able in Kentucky. He has

been concerned in many of the great law cases of the State, and so

thoroughly did he become identified with the interest of his clients, that

his business grew to great proportions, and gave him little time to devote

to politics, had he possessed the inclination. Had he given himself to

public affairs with that earnestness, learning and wisdom, which

characterized his professional life, he would have taken rank among the

first statesmen of his day. He possesses in a high degree, many broad

and noble traits, which not only gave him strength and dignity in the

court and before the jury, but, during his difficult term of office as

Chief Executive of the State, enabled him to administer its affairs with

great impartiality and justice; firmly suppressing wrong, and protecting

the people, regardless of their peculiar sympathies, in their just demands

as citizens. He is a man of commanding person and noble presence, and

probably no man of the old school is now living in Kentucky who would have

been able at any time to add ere dignity and honor to any position in the

gift of the people. Gov. Robinson is now living with his third wife, and

have eight living children.

Robinson Black Barry Beck Marshall


Fayette-KY Cumberland-PA Ireland

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