For over 200 years the office of Secretary of State has played an integral role in Kentucky’s history. The delegates to the 1792 Constitutional Convention, and all three Constitutional Conventions thereafter, realized the importance of having a Secretary for the Commonwealth when they mandated the establishment of such an office. Throughout the years we can see the Secretary of State’s Office accepting additional responsibilities as they are assigned by the Executive & Legislative Branches of Kentucky’s government.

The Timeline serves as an informal history of the office itself. We are including complete text of all four of Kentucky Constitutions (as they were originally written), entries from the Governors’ Executive Journals, and other articles that provide an insight into the history, function and development of the office. The Timeline will be updated as additional information becomes available.

We especially thank Charles Zoeller for his generous donation of the text for each of the Kentucky Constitutions. Mr. Zoeller’s data entry enabled staff of the Secretary of State’s Office to have an excellent foundation for the Constitution project and provided us an opportunity to expand the Timeline with additional information.

Disclaimer: This website includes complete text of all four of Kentucky's Constitutions (as originally written), selected Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly, and other articles regarding the office and function of the Kentucky Secretary of State. Additional information will be added to this site periodically. Text included on this website was keyed by the staff of the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office. Although efforts were made to ensure the accuracy of all material, researchers should consult published versions of Kentucky Acts for official use. "Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly” may be researched at the Kentucky History Center Library, the Department for Libraries & Archives, and the Supreme Court Law Library, all in Frankfort, Kentucky. (Note: Acts included on this site may have been amended or rescinded; the information on this site is included for historical research only.)

"The Statute Law of Kentucky", Vol. IV, ed. William Littell, 1814, pgs 64-65.


An Act concerning the Secretary and his Office.

SEC. 1. BE it enacted by the general assembly, That the Secretary of State be and he is hereby authorized to procure for the use of his office one large additional press, for the purpose of containing the books and papers of said office, also one box to hold the enrolled bills or laws of this state, also a writing table with convenient seats, and to have the machine for making and impressing the state seal so constructed as to be convenient for that purpose. And for the securing of the said office from fire, he is hereby authorized and directed to have the floor thereof, around and contiguous to the fire place, at a convenient distance therefrom, covered with tin or sheet iron, and to procure a proper fender and a pair of andirons for the use of the office, all of which to be done under his direction.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Secretary to interchange with any state or territory of the United States, which may have transmitted or may hereafter agree to do so, copies of the laws of this state, for copies of their laws, in equal proportions to those laws of theirs which may be received; and where the laws received by him shall be bound, to cause those which he may transmit in exchange to be bound in like manner.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That copies of any of the printed laws of any state or territory of the United States, which may have been heretofore or may hereafter be received in the Secretary's office, and which shall have been printed under the authority of such state or territory, when duly certified under the hand and seal of the Secretary of State, shall be admitted and received as evidence of such law in like manner with said printed copy in any of the courts or before any juridical officer of this commonwealth.

SEC. 4. Be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Secretary to cause one complete set of the laws of this state and of the United States, to be bound in good law binding and lettered; and one complete set of the journals of both houses of the legislature and of the congress of the United States, and such of the laws of the several states or territories which have been or may hereafter be received, to be half bound and lettered: and to continue to cause the same to be so done hereafter as occasion may require: and that he shall procure if practicable such of any of the laws or journals of this state as are not in his office: Provided however, nothing herein shall be construed to extend to direct or authorize the Secretary to cause any copies of any of the laws or journals aforesaid to be bound, where the same shall be already bound and in his office. And when any Secretary shall go out of office, he shall deliver to his successor a list of the bound books remaining in the said office at the time, and shall take his receipt for the same, a copy of which list and receipt shall be recorded in the clerk's office of the Court of Appeals, and the Secretary for the time being, shall be responsible for the said books, accidents excepted.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That for the necessary sums for procuring the said press, table, &c. and for the procuring and binding the books, &c. an account thereof shall be submitted to the Governor, and if he approve of the same, he shall certify to the Auditor, who is hereby directed thereon to issue his warrant upon the treasury for the sum or sums so certified, and the Treasurer is directed to pay the same.

This act shall be in force from and after the passage thereof.