James Turner (December 20, 1766 – January 15, 1824) was the 12th Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1802 to 1805. He later served as a U.S. senator from 1805 to 1816.
Turner was born in Southampton County, Virginia; his family moved to Warren County, North Carolina in 1770. Raised in a family of farmers, Turner served in the North Carolina volunteer militia during the American Revolutionary War in 1780. He served under Nathanael Greene alongside Nathaniel Macon, with whom he formed a lasting friendship and political alliance.
In 1798, Turner was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons; he served there from 1799 to 1800, and served in the North Carolina Senate from 1801 to 1802. In 1802, the General Assembly elected John Baptista Ashe governor, but he died before he could assume office; Turner was chosen in his place and sworn in on 5 December 1802. He served the constitutional limit of three one-year terms and, at the end of this time as governor, was elected to the United States Senate when Montfort Stokes resigned before serving the term to which he had been elected.
Turner served as a senator for eleven years, re-elected to a second term in 1810, resigning due to ill health in 1816. During his time in office, he supported the administration of James Madison during the War of 1812.
Turner was married three times; first to Marian Anderson in 1793 (they had four children), then to Ann Cochran in 1802, with no children, and finally to Elizabeth Johnston in 1810 (resulting in two children). Turner died in 1824 and is buried on his "Bloomsbury" plantation in Warren County. In addition to Bloomsbury, he owned a second home, "Oakland," in present-day Vance County.
His son Daniel Turner served in the US House of Representatives from 1827 to 1829.
By Dean Hanley
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