November 21, 2012

Birth of Mulligan "In Kentucky"

James Hillary Mulligan was born in Lexington, Kentucky on November 21, 1844. After a short time in Canada, he returned to his home state to become a lawyer. In 1870, his businessman father built a home for Mulligan and his new wife which they named Maxwell Place (now the official residence of the president of the University of Kentucky).

Mulligan became a prominent judge, was elected to both the state's House of Representatives and the Senate, and was known as one of the greatest orators in Kentucky history. In 1894, he was named Consul-General to Samoa under President Grover Cleveland, where he befriended English novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. He served in that exotic role for only two years, though his experience resulted in a book on the government and culture of that area.

Mulligan was also an editor and poet. In 1902, he entertained a group of legislators at a banquet, for which he written his most enduring verses. As one newspaper reported at the time, he first gave "an unusually brilliant and witty toast" before withdrawing "a deadly weapon, a dangerous-looking type-written manuscript." The poem, "In Kentucky," begins:

The moonlight may be softest
               In Kentucky,
And summer days come oftest
               In Kentucky,
But friendship is the strongest
When the money lasts the longest,
Or you sometimes get in wrongest
               In Kentucky.

Mulligan's careers effectively ended in 1904, when a family meal was tainted with arsenic-poisoned food. There were no convictions in the attempted murder.

*The image above depicts Judge Mulligan with one of his children. I found this photo in the book Lexington, Heart of the Bluegrass by John Dean Wright (University Press of Kentucky, 1982). I am not aware of any legal/copyright concerns, though the image is undated. I do not recommend copying or reuse of this image.

No comments:

Post a Comment