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History books by Acclaim Press

Assassination at the State House The Murder of Kentucky Governor William Goebel
ISBN: 978-1-942613-42-8

Book Details

Author: Ron Elliott
Hardcover: 336 pages
Product Dimensions:6" x 9"
Retail Price: $24.95

Book Description

For decades following the Civil War, people used the expression “when Kentucky goes Republican” in the same way someone today might say “when hell freezes over” to indicate the improbability of some event. Indeed from 1859, a Democrat occupied Kentucky’s Governor’s chair for the next nine terms.

Then, in 1895, the unthinkable occurred: Kentucky elected its first Republican Governor! When Republican presidential candidate William McKinley carried Kentucky the following year, the Democrats felt something must be done to stem this alarming trend.

Their cure, styled “An Act to Further Regulate Elections,” was enacted. More commonly referred to by the name of its author, Senate Majority Leader William Goebel, the Goebel Election Law referred all election questions to a three-member commission who answered to no other authority and whose decisions were “final and conclusive.” 

When the Democratic majority in the Legislature appointed three solid party members to the commission, the faithful settled back, confident that they had assured the party’s return to power. Actual events, however, would rattle the entire political environment. When the despised Goebel himself garnered the gubernatorial nomination, pandemonium reigned as the Commonwealth teetered on the brink of civil war.

Elliott’s detailed examination of the vitriolic 1899 political campaign, the ensuing assassination of William Goebel and the resulting political and civil turmoil sheds an informative and intriguing light into this darkest corner of Kentucky’s history. The author’s equally fascinating investigation of the criminal proceedings, which lasted twenty years, and the political legacy of this quintessential story of Kentucky politics prove that “politics are the damnedest” in Kentucky.


RON ELLIOTT, a native of Lincoln County, Kentucky, is a graduate of Stanford High School, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky.

Ron’s background includes working on the historic Apollo missions and a stint on Kentucky’s community college system faculty. Having a relative involved in the assassination of Kentucky’s would-be governor, William Goebel, piqued his interest in history and launched a writing career.

A much-in-demand member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau, Ron is the author of several books, including Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire, Through the Eyes of Lincoln, From Hilltop to Mountaintop: The Life and Legacy of One Iwo Jima Flag Raiser, American El Dorado: The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872, and Sinister Influences: Kentucky’s Fabulous Five and the Point-shaving Scandal of 1951

Retired, Ron and his wife, Carol, currently live in Nelson County, Kentucky.


“For those unfamiliar with the Goebel affair, Elliott’s book will serve well as an instructive volume. It transmits a vivid feeling of the ‘mountain army’ in Frankfort, of the political pullings and haulings on the floor of the legislative chambers and the gossip in the smoke filled hotel rooms.” 
–Dr. Thomas D. Clark, Kentucky’s Historian Laurate 

 “Assassination at the State House is informative, well-written and a welcome addition to the library of any student of Kentucky political history.”–Ron Clark, Paducah Sun City Editor 

 “Elliott is on track with personal names, the sequence of incidents and the intensity of emotions existent at the time and has mastered the art of historical fiction.” 
–Dr. Ron Bryant 

 “Writing with integrity and courage, Elliott shows ... how the victimizers attempted to make their victims appear to be the villains.” 
–Joanna Saylor, Jeersonville, IN

Proceeds from the sale of this book will also help other communities and organizations preserve their history through Our American Heritage Project, a non-profit organization.

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