James Hubert Price was born in Greenbrier County West Virginia in 1878. In 1897 he entered Dunsmore Business College in Staunton, graduating as a master of accounts. In the ten years following his graduation, Price taught at Dunsmore, served as private secretary to the school's founder, opened an accounting office, and acquired business interests in Staunton. In 1907, at the age of twenty-nine, he entered law school at Washington and Lee University.
Following graduation from law school in 1909, Price returned briefly to Staunton, but soon moved to Richmond where he established a practice in civil and corporate law. He married Lillian Martin on October 2, 1918. After several years on the Richmond Democratic committee, Price was elected to one of the city's five seats in the House of Delegates. Price served seven consecutive terms in the Virginia lower house (1916-1930). He chaired one committee, ranked highly in several others, and served as chairman of the Democratic caucus. Despite this record his relationship with Harry Byrd deteriorated. His election to the first of two terms as lieutenant governor in 1929 only served to increase his estrangement from Byrd. His election as governor in 1938 without Byrd's support was a testament to Price's personal popularity.
Throughout his term as governor, Price emphasized education, humanitarian services, preparation for the state of war, and the acquisition of federal grants for the construction of public buildings. His effectiveness in this office was limited by a General Assembly divided between Byrd loyalists and "antiorganization" factions. Despite this, Douglas Freeman labeled Price's 1940 legislative program one of the best on record. In fact, the General Assembly of 1942 adopted virtually every portion of the program.
The entry of the United States into World War II dominated the final days of his administration. After Colgate Darden succeeded him as governor in 1942, Price combined his duties as Imperial Recorder of the Shrine with efforts at selling war bonds. He died on November 22, 1943 after suffering a massive cerebral hemorrhage.