E’town honors contributions of founders

Elizabethtown’s annual celebration of Founders’ Day highlights Elizabethtown’s attachment to the Fourth of July.

On July 4, 1797, Elizabethtown was officially chartered. It was an act of celebration and support. However, there were additional circumstances that forged a particular connection between Kentucky frontier settlers and the new government. One was a reaction to the “Spanish Conspiracy.”

We must note that the new United States was in a struggle with Spain for the control of the Kentucky frontier and the Mississippi waterways. Spain controlled the New Orleans port and levied heavy taxes on goods coming down the Mississippi River from the Kentucky frontier which was the very livelihood of the frontier settlers. Spain lifted taxes for settlers who pledged allegiance to the King of Spain. Thus a Spanish influence was established in the Kentucky frontier which gave rise to “The Spanish Conspiracy” and Gen. James Wilkerson’s attempt to make the Kentucky frontier a Spanish state.

The earlier formed United States of America was very intent on expanding westward. In the midst of the Spanish incursion, many settlers in the Kentucky frontier wanted to form a new Kentucky state that was independent of Virginia. Elizabethtown businessman Andrew Hynes was one of the most influential delegates to the state conventions that favored both desires.

The implicit request by state delegates, including Hynes, for the removal of New Orleans taxes on goods from the Kentucky frontier would facilitate both statehood and expansion west. The nation responded by beginning renegotiations with Spain. The Spanish taxes ended with the Treaty of San Lorenzo or Pickney Treaty of 1795. Just 11 months after the last provision went into effect Aug. 2, 1796, Andrew Hynes, patriot, soldier, judge and sheriff, attached Elizabethtown directly to the government and the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1797.

This “attachment” was a topic in the discussion we had with Mayor Tim Walker upon his successful election as mayor. The final question was, “Can we find a way to celebrate Founders’ Day in Elizabethtown?” His answer was, “Yes, we can find a way.”

He did.

Don and Glenda Patterson


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