Historical Marker #1882 in Warren County remembers James Turner Morehead, the first native Kentuckian to serve as governor.
Born in Bullitt County on May 24, 1797, Morehead was raised in Logan County. After attending local schools, Morehead finished his education at Transylvania University, graduating in 1815. He studied law under Judge H. P. Broadnax, and, later, John J. Crittenden, and was admitted to the bar in 1818. Shortly thereafter, Morehead moved to Bowling Green and opened his first practice.
Morehead's first foray into politics came with his election to the state legislature in 1828. While serving in the Kentucky House, Morehead advocated for internal improvements. In 1832, Morehead was elected lieutenant governor and served under Governor John Breathitt. Upon Breathitt's death, Morehead was sworn in as Kentucky's eleventh governor on February 22, 1834.
Governors at this time had limited power. Therefore, Morehead did not have much of a program of his own. He did, however, help his party, the National Republicans, transition to the Whig Party, which was marked by the great Whig convention held in Frankfort on July 4, 1834. After being denied the nomination for governor in 1836, Morehead again served in the Kentucky legislature.
Morehead was elected to represent Kentucky in the United States Senate in 1841. A supporter of fellow Whig and Kentuckian Henry Clay, Morehead was acclaimed for his oratorical skills. Described as a speaker who was "remarkably fluent and energetic" and "eminently dignified and graceful," spectators filled the senate when he was expected to deliver a speech.
After his senate term ended in 1847, Morehead resumed practicing law in Covington. He died on December 28, 1854. Morehead, Kentucky is named in his honor.