Edward Thompson Breathitt Jr. served as governor of Kentucky from December 12, 1967. The Breathitt administration was notable for its close ties with the national administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson and with Johnson's Great Society programs. Governor Breathitt led successful campaigns for economic and industrial development, civil rights legislation, increased support for education, and expansion and improvement of the state highway and park systems. His most significant defeat was the rejection in 1966 of a new state constitution. His administration won several national awards, including: a Lincoln Key Award (1966) for leadership in the passage of civil rights legislation; Society of Industrial Investors' award (1964) for the best industrial development program; the Midwest Travel Writers Association award (1965) for the best travel promotion program; and the U.S. Department of Interior Distinguished Service Award (1967) for contributions in the field of conservation.
Governor Breathitt's papers are of historical importance for the light they shed on one governor's attempts to mesh state and federal actions and to fit federal programming to the needs of his state.