Kentucky's Uncommon Man
Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 11/07/2023
304 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 39 b&w illustrations
- Published: November 2023
When Louis Gatewood Galbraith passed away in 2012, the flood of tributes honoring him merely scratched the surface of the life of this colorful and controversial figure. Throughout his political career, regional and national media outlets focused on the policy ideas and public acts that made Gatewood a cultural fixture: public demonstrations, an affinity for recreational drug use, unfiltered language, and recurring political campaigns. Best known as an advocate for the legalization of cannabis, Second Amendment rights, and smaller government, Gatewood was a perennial candidate whose once-quixotic platform might have found traction in contemporary Kentucky politics.
In Gatewood: Kentucky's Uncommon Man, Matthew Strandmark weaves together personal stories, public records, and oral history interviews to provide a comprehensive overview of the life and career of an eccentric and fascinating figure. From his ailment-plagued childhood in Carlisle, Kentucky, to his young adulthood spent at the fringes of Lexington society, the opening chapters of Gatewood's life were vital in developing the values that later came to define his political career—his passion for rural communities and low tolerance for bullies. As a college dropout in the 1960s, Gatewood explored both conventional and unconventional avenues of self-discovery before returning to the University of Kentucky, where he graduated from law school and found his calling as an evangelist for cannabis legalization. His appetite for the spotlight and his penchant for standing up for the underdog launched Gatewood into a thirty-year career of campaigning, groundbreaking legal cases, public activism throughout the commonwealth—and friendships with celebrities, including Woody Harrelson, Jack Herer, and Willie Nelson.
As an attorney, activist, author, father, friend, and opponent, Galbraith wore many hats—and not just his beloved fedora. This revealing biography features insightful conversations with Gatewood's family and colleagues, as well as commentary from Paul E. Patton, Ernie Fletcher, Andy Barr, Ben Chandler, and other well-known Kentuckians. Gatewood provides a richer and nuanced understanding of a generous, complicated, and flawed public figure who devoted his life to helping others and whose legacy will continue to resonate with Kentuckians for generations to come.
1. "Wild as a March Hare"
2. The Model Plan for Legal Marijuana
3. A True Pioneer in the Kentucky Spirit
4. Spectacular Bid
5. The War on Drugs, the Militia, and the Fourth of July
6. "Lean, Mean, Vote-Gettin' Machine"
7. The Last Free Man
8. A Splendid Torch
Gatewood Galbraith never won a public office in Kentucky despite running nine times, including five campaigns for governor. But history shows that he understood his fellow Americans better than most of the people who beat him. His lifelong advocacy for marijuana legalization is now being realized across much of the country. And his disgust with partisan politics and politicians doling out favors to their campaign donors is echoed by the growing number of young people who are registering as independent voters. With this new biography of Galbraith, a decade after his death, Matthew Strandmark shares the illuminating Kentucky story of a maverick who was both inflammatory and beloved.~John Cheves, government accountability reporter at the Lexington Herald-Leader
Strandmark shows that Galbraith was not just a colorful figure, nor was cannabis reform his only cause – he was a populist libertarian, fighting big business and big government on behalf of the little guy. Strandmark also demonstrates how the private life of perennial Kentucky political candidate Gatewood Galbraith informed his public career – he was driven by a sense of justice in his personal, professional, and political life, but at the same time his flaws prevented him from reaching his full potential.~Scott Taylor, University of Kentucky professor and author of a forthcoming book on drugs and alcohol in early modern Europe
This book is a well-researched and insightful account of one of Kentucky's most colorful, adored, controversial, and progressive politicians of the modern era. Matthew Strandmark has done a remarkable job placing Gatewood Galbraith's place in history in the context of twentieth and twenty-first century public policy and state and national politics. A man ahead of his time, Galbraith was a true visionary whose policy positions still resonate today.~Jeffrey Suchanek, Oral historian and Public Policy Archivist at the University of Kentucky