James Garrard (January 14, 1749 – January 19, 1822) was a farmer and Baptist minister who served as the second governor of Kentucky from 1796 to 1804. Because of term limits imposed by the state constitution adopted in 1799, he was the last Kentucky governor elected to two consecutive terms until the restriction was eased by a 1992 amendment, allowing Paul E. Patton's re-election in 1999.
After serving in the Revolutionary War, Garrard moved west to the part of Virginia that is now Bourbon County. He held several local political offices and represented the area in the Virginia House of Delegates. He was chosen as a delegate to five of the ten statehood conventions that secured Kentucky's separation from Virginia and helped write the state's first constitution. Garrard was among the delegates who unsuccessfully tried to exclude guarantees of the continuance of slavery from the document. In 1795, he sought to succeed Isaac Shelby as governor. In a three-way race, Benjamin Logan received a plurality, but not a majority, of the electoral votes cast. Although the state constitution did not specify whether a plurality or a majority was required, the electors held another vote between the top two candidates – Logan and Garrard – and on this vote, Garrard received a majority. Logan protested Garrard's election to state attorney general John Breckinridge and the state senate, but both claimed they had no constitutional power to intervene.
A Democratic-Republican, Garrard opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts and favored passage of the Kentucky Resolutions. He lobbied for public education, militia and prison reforms, business subsidies, and legislation favorable to the state's large debtor class. In 1798, the state's first governor's mansion was constructed, and Garrard became its first resident. Due in part to the confusion resulting from the 1795 election, he favored calling a constitutional convention in 1799. Because of his anti-slavery views, he was not chosen as a delegate to the convention. Under the resulting constitution, the governor was popularly elected and was forbidden from succeeding himself in office, although Garrard was personally exempted from this provision and was re-elected in 1799. During his second term, he applauded Thomas Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana from France as a means of dealing with the closure of the port at New Orleans to U.S. goods. Late in his term, his Secretary of State, Harry Toulmin, persuaded him to adopt some doctrines of Unitarianism, and he was expelled from the Baptist church, ending his ministry. He also clashed with the legislature over the appointment of a registrar for the state land office, leaving him embittered and unwilling to continue in politics after the conclusion of his term. He retired to his estate, Mount Lebanon, and engaged in agricultural and commercial pursuits until his death on January 19, 1822. Garrard County, created during his first term, was named in his honor.
Garrard was buried in the Garrard Family Cemetery in Ruddles Mills, Bourbon County.