History of Kentucky Governors

Kentucky Governors and Elections



Terms –1850-1850 & 1867

Lt. Governor John Helm became governor for the 13 months of John J. Crittenden’s term when he resigned to become President Fillmore’s Attorney General.  Helm would be elected to a full term 16 years later in 1867.

Helm was born in 1802 in Hardin County, near Elizabethtown.  Prior to his election as Lt. Governor, Helm had been active in the Whig Party and served several terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives representing Hardin County, including a couple of terms as Speaker.

During his brief term as governor, Helm was a fiscal conservative.  Though he did support state sponsored stimulation of the economy with the state chartering of the L & N Railroad and the state sponsored geological survey.

Helm also supported legislation which would prevent voter fraud and violence at the polls including the prohibition against carrying concealed weapons.

After his first stint as governor, he served as president of the L& N Railroad beginning in 1854.  During the Civil War, Helm was targeted as Confederate sympathizer.  After his arrest by Union soldiers, Kentucky Governor Robinson was able to prevent his imprisonment.

In 1867, Helm was overwhelmingly elected Governor as a Democrat.  Unfortunately, Helm became ill and died five days after his inauguration (which had to be held in Elizabethtown due to Helm’s inability to travel to Frankfort.)  Helm was succeeded by his Lt. Governor John White Stevenson of Covington.

The picture below was painted by Helm's granddaughter.