The Man Behind the Name

anderson_largeAlthough the name, Anderson, is in the top twenty most popular surnames, the man for which Anderson County was named after was one of the state’s politicians with the most potential, even possibly eyeing the presidency.

Richard Clough Anderson, Jr. was born on August 4th, 1788 to Richard Anderson, Sr. and Elizabeth Clark.  His father served in the Revolutionary War and was later stationed in Louisville where he served in the military land office to provide granted lands to officers and soldiers from the Commonwealth of Virginia, which Kentucky was apart of at the time.

Richard was raised just outside of Louisville along with three other brothers, who became famous in their own right, including Ohio Governor Charles Anderson and General Robert Anderson who defended Fort Sumpter during the Civil War.  Richard’s path to fame was in politics.

He first studied law at the William and Mary College in Virginia before coming back to Kentucky to open his own law practice.  After some time, he was elected to the Kentucky legislature for several terms before running for a seat in the US House of Representatives.

Serving two terms, he decided to rerun for a seat in the Kentucky legislature where he served as the Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives.  After this, he was appointed by President James Monroe to serve as a kind of ambassador, called a Minister Plenipotentiary, to Colombia.  During his time there, he negotiated the first bilateral treaty, called the Anderson–Gual Treaty, that the US made with another country in the Americas.

However, during his travels, Richard contracted an illness that would take his life quickly.  At only 38 years old, the news of his death struck lawmakers in Frankfort.  So in 1827, the Kentucky legislature decided to create a new county, out of parts of Franklin, Washington, and Mercer Counties and name it, Anderson County.

If it wasn’t for his early death, some speculated that Richard would have ran for the US Presidency.  In the book, History of Kentucky, Lewis Collins wrote, “His death alone, in all probability, prevented his reaching the highest office in the Union.”

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