- Pellom McDaniels
jockey. Isaac Murphy was born Isaac Burns within the converging contexts of slavery and the beginning of the American Civil War on David Tanner's Pleasant Green Hill Farm in Clark County, Kentucky. Murphy's mother, America, an enslaved domestic servant, and his father, Jerry Burns, an enslaved laborer who would later become a Union soldier and die of camp fever at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, left no record of an official marriage or narrative of their lives together. After Emancipation, Murphy's mother migrated with her son and daughter to the growing urban center of Lexington, Kentucky, where they began a new life as freedmen.
Murphy's adherence to Victorian definitions of morality, self-control, and integrity—endorsed by his mother and reinforced by his community—would shape his definition of manhood and masculinity, which would be the foundation of his future success as a jockey and as a man.
In 1874 Murphy s mother apprenticed ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.