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 (Note: Acts included on this site may have been amended or rescinded; the information on this site is included for historical research only.)

"Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky", 1861, 1862 & 1863, pgs 47-48.


An Act to distribute public books, &c.

WHEREAS, The Secretary of State has exhausted all the means within his power to have the public books and documents of this State distributed in accordance with the present law, and in consequence of the present military difficulties existing in this State; and whereas, the said public books and documents are likely to become ruined, and are now damaged in consequence of being in so large a bulk; therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:

SEC. 1. That the Secretary of State be authorized to advertise in the two papers of this city, and also in the Louisville Journal and Democrat, for bids to distribute the aforesaid books and public documents to the different districts, as heretofore laid off and apportioned; said advertisements to be continued and bids received till the 1st of January, 1862, and the contracts to be awarded to the lowest and best bidder.

SEC. 2. That in the event no bids are made for distributing the aforesaid books, &c., throughout the whole State, and certain districts are not bid for, or the bids are too high in the opinion of the Secretary of State, then the Secretary is hereby authorized to have said books and public documents distributed to such counties as he reasonably can, requiring bond and good security of the contractor to faithfully perform his duties, furnishing vouchers to the General Asembly of his action in the premises.

SEC. 3. That the Secretary of State be authorized to procure a suitable room for storing away and keeping safely the aforesaid public books and documents, &c., and that he make report of the amount and number of books, &c., left on hand, undistributed, to the General Assembly.

SEC. 4. That the Secretary of State be authorized to draw his warrant on the Auditor for paying off the persons employed to transport the books, public documents, &c., in accordance with the provisions of this act: Provided, That the amount so drawn does not exceed in the aggregate, for the whole State, the sum of fifteen hundred dollars.

SEC. 5. That the Secretary of State be authorized to furnish to such counties as he can, the books and public documents, &c., aforesaid, contiguous to the county of Franklin: Provided, That the cost of transportation, &c., shall not exceed the sum of five dollars for each county.

SEC. 6. This act to take effect from its passage.