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Although Kentucky had been inhabited by Native American peoples since prehistoric times, when white settlers began to first arrive in the mid 18th century, there were no permanent Native American settlements in the area. The territory was instead used as hunting grounds by the Cherokees and Shawnees
The first documented expedition to Kentucky was by Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750, but the most famous of the early explorers was Daniel Boone who visited the region on hunting expeditions in 1767, 1769, 1771 and 1772, and in 1773 began the first attempt by British colonists to establish a settlement in Kentucky.
Most of Kentucky was purchased from the Native Americans in the treaties of 1768 and 1775, the latter coming after a brief war (Dunmore's War) between the Shawnee and the colonists. During the American Revolution (1775 to 1783), there were relatively few white settlers in the region, and the Shawnee allied with the British in an attempt to drive them out.
The Kentucky settlements were originally parts of Virginia, but following the American Revolution (1775 to 1783), the residents petitioned for separation from Virginia. Agreement on the terms of separation was reach in 1790, and on June 1st 1792, Kentucky was admitted as the 15th state of the Union.
During the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), Kentucky while loyal to the Union, found itself in a difficult position as a border state. The state did not secede and initially declared itself neutral. However the state was invaded by Confederate forces in September 1861, and the State Legislature responded by declaring its allegiance to the Union. During the war, southern sympathesizers attempted to establish an alternative state government (which was in fact recognized by, and admitted into the Confederacy), and Kentucky contributed troops to both the Union and Confederate armies.
Following the war, Kentucky, as a former slave state, was subject to military occupation and Reconstruction. During this period, the Ku Klux Klan became active in the state.
In the first half of the 20th century, Kentucky began to industrialize with the establishment of a coal mining industry, the creation of roads to accommodate automobiles, and the building of the Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River. Industrialization was further boosted during World War II, with Ford's Louisville plant producing more than 100,000 jeeps, and the growth of the artificial rubber industry and establishment of an ordinance plant (both also in Louisville).
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