Martin D. Hardin was born on June 21, 1780, in Pennsylvania. His parents were John and Jane (Davies) Hardin. The family moved to Nelson County in April 1786. Martin Hardin was educated at Transylvania University. He studied law with George Nicholas and was admitted to the bar in 1801. He practiced law in Richmond.
Hardin represented Madison County in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1805 to 1807. He was reelected to the House in 1812 to represent Franklin County, but Governor Isaac Shelby appointed him Secretary of State in that year. According to Gov. Isaac Shelby's Executive Journal, Hardin resigned as Secretary of State on or before February 3, 1813, when former Governor Christopher Greenup, Hardin's Assistant Secretary of State, was nominated to serve as Secretary of State. Greenup was commissioned as Secretary on February 4, 1813; he resigned on March 11, 1813. Martin Hardin was (again) commissioned Secretary of State in Shelby's Administration on March 13, 1813.
Hardin fought in the War of 1812. In 1816, he was appointed to the U. S. Senate by Governor Gabriel Slaughter to fill the unexpired term of William T. Berry who had resigned. He was in the Senate until March 1817. He was reelected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1818 and served one term. In December 1820 he was unsuccessful in his bid to become president of the Bank of Kentucky.
Hardin married Elizabeth Logan on January 20, 1809. He died on October 8, 1823, in Frankfort. He is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.
"Biographical Encyclopedia" (1878), pgs. 658-59;
"Kentucky Encyclopedia", pgs. 403-4;
Levin, ed., "Lawyers and Lawmakers" (1897), pgs. 117-19.