List of governors of Delaware

The Governor of Delaware (President of Delaware from 1776 to 1792) is the head of the executive branch of Delaware's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Delaware Legislature, to convene the legislature,[2] and to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment, and only with the recommendation of the Board of Pardons.[3]

Governor of Delaware
Great Seal of the State of Delaware
Incumbent
John Carney

since January 17, 2017
StyleThe Honorable
ResidenceDelaware Governor's Mansion
Dover, Delaware
Term lengthFour years, renewable once
Inaugural holderJohn McKinly
FormationFebruary 12, 1777
DeputyBethany Hall-Long
Salary$171,000 (2013)[1]
Websitegovernor.delaware.gov

There have been 71 people who have served as governor, over 74 distinct terms. Three (Joseph Haslet, Charles Polk Jr. and Elbert N. Carvel) served non-consecutive terms. Additionally, Henry Molleston was elected, but died before he could take office. Only four governors have been elected to two consecutive terms, with the longest-serving being Ruth Ann Minner, who was elected twice after succeeding to the office, serving a total of just over eight years. The shortest term is that of Dale E. Wolf, who served 18 days following his predecessor's resignation; David P. Buckson served 19 days under similar circumstances. The current governor is Democrat John Carney, who took office on January 17, 2017.

Governors

Before 1776, Delaware was a colony of the Kingdom of Great Britain, administered by colonial governors in Pennsylvania as the "Lower Counties on Delaware".

In 1776, soon after Delaware and the other Thirteen Colonies declared independence from Britain, the state adopted its first state constitution. It created the office of President of Delaware, a chief executive to be chosen by the legislature to serve a term of three years.[4]

The office of President was renamed Governor by the constitution of 1792,[5] which set the commencement date of the term to the third Tuesday in the January following an election, and limited governors to serving only three out of any six years.[6] The term was lengthened to four years by the 1831 constitution, but governors were limited to a single term.[7] The current constitution of 1897 allows governors to serve two terms.[8]

The 1776 constitution stated that if the presidency were vacant, the speaker of the legislative council would be a vice-president.[9] The 1792 constitution has the speaker of the senate exercising the office when it is vacant, and the 1897 constitution created the office of lieutenant governor,[10] upon whom the office devolves in case of vacancy.[11] The offices of governor and lieutenant governor are elected at the same time but not on the same ticket.

Governors of the State of Delaware[lower-alpha 1]
No.[lower-alpha 2] Governor[lower-alpha 3] Term in office Party Election Lt. Governor[lower-alpha 4][lower-alpha 5]
1   John McKinly
    February 21, 1721 – August 31, 1796   
(aged 75)
February 12, 1777

September 12, 1777[lower-alpha 6]
(arrested and removed)[lower-alpha 7]
No parties 1777 Office did not exist
Vacant September 12, 1777

September 22, 1777
Office vacant
due to war
[lower-alpha 7]
2   Thomas McKean
    March 19, 1734 – June 24, 1817   
(aged 83)
September 22, 1777

October 20, 1777
(successor took office)
Speaker of the
Assembly
acting as
Vice-President
[lower-alpha 8]
3 George Read
    September 18, 1733 – September 21, 1798   
(aged 65)
October 20, 1777

March 31, 1778
(not candidate for election)
Speaker of the
Legislative
Council
serving as
Vice-President
[lower-alpha 8]
4 Caesar Rodney
    October 7, 1728 – June 26, 1784   
(aged 55)
March 31, 1778

November 6, 1781
(not candidate for election)
1778
5 John Dickinson
    November 13, 1732 – February 14, 1808   
(aged 75)
November 13, 1781

January 12, 1783
(resigned)[lower-alpha 9]
1781
6 John Cook
    1730 – October 27, 1789   
(aged 58 or 59)
November 4, 1782

February 1, 1783
(not candidate for election)
Speaker of the
Legislative
Council
serving as
Vice-President
7 Nicholas Van Dyke
    September 25, 1738 – February 19, 1789   
(aged 50)
February 1, 1783

October 28, 1786
(not candidate for election)
1783
(special)
8 Thomas Collins
    1732 – March 29, 1789   
(aged 56 or 57)
October 28, 1786

March 29, 1789
(died in office)
1786
9 Jehu Davis
    1738 – May 11, 1802   
(aged 63 or 64)
March 29, 1789

June 2, 1789
(not candidate for election)
Speaker of the
Legislative
Council
serving as
Vice-President
10 Joshua Clayton
    July 20, 1744 – August 11, 1798   
(aged 54)
June 2, 1789

January 19, 1796
(not candidate for election)
Federalist 1789
1792
11 Gunning Bedford Sr.
    April 7, 1742 – September 30, 1797   
(aged 55)
January 19, 1796

September 30, 1797
(died in office)
Federalist 1795
12 Daniel Rogers
    January 3, 1754 – February 2, 1806   
(aged 52)
September 30, 1797

January 9, 1799
(not candidate for election)
Federalist Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
13 Richard Bassett
    April 2, 1745 – September 15, 1815   
(aged 70)
January 9, 1799[lower-alpha 10]

March 3, 1801
(resigned)[lower-alpha 11]
Federalist 1798
14 James Sykes
    March 27, 1761 – October 18, 1822   
(aged 61)
March 3, 1801

January 19, 1802
(not candidate for election)
Federalist Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
15 David Hall
    January 4, 1752 – September 18, 1817   
(aged 65)
January 19, 1802

January 15, 1805
(term limited)
Democratic-Republican 1801
16 Nathaniel Mitchell
    1753 – February 21, 1814   
(aged 60 or 61)
January 15, 1805

January 19, 1808
(term limited)
Federalist 1804
17 George Truitt
    1756 – October 8, 1818   
(aged 61 or 62)
January 19, 1808

January 15, 1811
(term limited)
Federalist 1807
18 Joseph Haslet
    1769 – June 20, 1823   
(aged 53 or 54)
January 15, 1811

January 18, 1814
(term limited)
Democratic-Republican 1810
19 Daniel Rodney
    September 10, 1764 – September 2, 1846   
(aged 81)
January 18, 1814

January 21, 1817
(term limited)
Federalist 1813
20 John Clark
    February 1, 1761 – August 14, 1821   
(aged 60)
January 21, 1817

January 18, 1820
(term limited)
Federalist 1816
Henry Molleston
    January 1, 1762 – November 11, 1819   
(aged 57)
Died before
taking office
[lower-alpha 12]
Federalist 1819
21 Jacob Stout
    1764 – November 28, 1855   
(aged 90 or 91)
January 18, 1820

January 16, 1821
(not candidate for election)
Federalist Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
22 John Collins
    March 1, 1776 – April 16, 1822   
(aged 46)
January 16, 1821

April 16, 1822
(died in office)
Democratic-Republican 1820
(special)[lower-alpha 13]
23 Caleb Rodney
    April 29, 1767 – April 29, 1840   
(aged 73)
April 23, 1822

January 21, 1823
(not candidate for election)
Federalist Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
24 Joseph Haslet
    1769 – June 20, 1823   
(aged 53 or 54)
January 21, 1823

June 20, 1823
(died in office)
Democratic-Republican 1822
25 Charles Thomas
    June 23, 1790 – February 8, 1848   
(aged 57)
June 23, 1823[lower-alpha 14]

January 20, 1824
(not candidate for election)
Democratic-Republican Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
26 Samuel Paynter
    August 24, 1768 – October 2, 1845   
(aged 77)
January 20, 1824

January 16, 1827
(term limited)
Federalist 1823
(special)[lower-alpha 15]
27 Charles Polk Jr.
    November 15, 1788 – October 27, 1857   
(aged 68)
January 16, 1827

January 19, 1830
(term limited)
Federalist 1826
28 David Hazzard
    May 18, 1781 – July 8, 1864   
(aged 83)
January 19, 1830

January 15, 1833
(term limited)
National Republican 1829
29 Caleb P. Bennett
    November 11, 1758 – May 9, 1836   
(aged 77)
January 15, 1833

May 9, 1836
(died in office)
Democratic 1832[lower-alpha 16]
30 Charles Polk Jr.
    November 15, 1788 – October 27, 1857   
(aged 68)
May 9, 1836

January 17, 1837
(not candidate for election)
Whig Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
31 Cornelius P. Comegys
    January 15, 1780 – January 27, 1851   
(aged 71)
January 17, 1837

January 19, 1841
(term limited)
Whig 1836
32 William B. Cooper
    December 16, 1771 – April 27, 1849   
(aged 77)
January 19, 1841

January 21, 1845
(term limited)
Whig 1840
33 Thomas Stockton
    April 1, 1781 – March 2, 1846   
(aged 64)
January 21, 1845

March 2, 1846
(died in office)
Whig 1844
34 Joseph Maull
    September 6, 1781 – May 3, 1846   
(aged 64)
March 2, 1846

May 3, 1846
(died in office)
Whig Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
35 William Temple
    February 28, 1814 – May 28, 1863   
(aged 49)
May 6, 1846

January 19, 1847
(not candidate for election)
Whig Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
36 William Tharp
    November 27, 1803 – January 9, 1865   
(aged 61)
January 19, 1847

January 21, 1851
(term limited)
Democratic 1846
(special)[lower-alpha 17]
37 William H. H. Ross
    June 2, 1814 – June 29, 1887   
(aged 73)
January 21, 1851

January 16, 1855
(term limited)
Democratic 1850
38 Peter F. Causey
    January 11, 1801 – February 15, 1871   
(aged 70)
January 16, 1855

January 18, 1859
(term limited)
American 1854
39 William Burton
    October 16, 1789 – August 5, 1866   
(aged 76)
January 18, 1859

January 20, 1863
(term limited)
Democratic 1858
40 William Cannon
    March 15, 1809 – March 1, 1865   
(aged 55)
January 20, 1863

March 1, 1865
(died in office)
Republican 1862
41 Gove Saulsbury
    May 29, 1815 – July 31, 1881   
(aged 66)
March 1, 1865

January 17, 1871
(term limited)
Democratic Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
1866
42 James Ponder
    October 31, 1819 – November 5, 1897   
(aged 78)
January 17, 1871

January 19, 1875
(term limited)
Democratic 1870
43 John P. Cochran
    February 7, 1809 – December 27, 1898   
(aged 89)
January 19, 1875

January 21, 1879
(term limited)
Democratic 1874
44 John W. Hall
    January 1, 1817 – January 23, 1892   
(aged 75)
January 21, 1879

January 16, 1883
(term limited)
Democratic 1878
45 Charles C. Stockley
    November 6, 1819 – April 20, 1901   
(aged 81)
January 16, 1883

January 18, 1887
(term limited)
Democratic 1882
46 Benjamin T. Biggs
    October 1, 1821 – December 25, 1893   
(aged 72)
January 18, 1887

January 20, 1891
(term limited)
Democratic 1886
47 Robert J. Reynolds
    March 17, 1838 – June 10, 1909   
(aged 71)
January 20, 1891

January 15, 1895
(term limited)
Democratic 1890
48 Joshua H. Marvil
    September 3, 1825 – April 8, 1895   
(aged 69)
January 15, 1895

April 8, 1895
(died in office)
Republican 1894
49 William T. Watson
    June 22, 1849 – April 14, 1917   
(aged 67)
April 8, 1895

January 19, 1897
(not candidate for election)
Democratic Speaker of
the Senate
acting as
Governor
50 Ebe W. Tunnell
    December 31, 1844 – December 18, 1917   
(aged 72)
January 19, 1897

January 15, 1901
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1896[lower-alpha 18]
51 John Hunn
    June 23, 1849 – September 1, 1926   
(aged 77)
January 15, 1901

January 17, 1905
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1900   Philip L. Cannon
52 Preston Lea
    November 12, 1841 – December 4, 1916   
(aged 75)
January 17, 1905

January 19, 1909
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1904 Isaac T. Parker
53 Simeon S. Pennewill
    July 23, 1867 – September 10, 1935   
(aged 68)
January 19, 1909

January 21, 1913
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1908 John M. Mendinhall
54 Charles R. Miller
    September 30, 1857 – September 18, 1927   
(aged 69)
January 21, 1913

January 16, 1917
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1912 Colen Ferguson[lower-alpha 19]
55 John G. Townsend Jr.
    May 31, 1871 – April 10, 1964   
(aged 92)
January 16, 1917

January 18, 1921
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1916 Lewis E. Eliason[lower-alpha 19]
56 William D. Denney
    March 31, 1873 – November 21, 1953   
(aged 80)
January 18, 1921

January 20, 1925
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1920 J. Danforth Bush
57 Robert P. Robinson
    March 28, 1869 – March 4, 1939   
(aged 69)
January 20, 1925

January 15, 1929
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1924 James H. Anderson
58 C. Douglass Buck
    March 21, 1890 – January 27, 1965   
(aged 74)
January 15, 1929

January 19, 1937
(term limited)
Republican 1928 James H. Hazel
1932 Roy F. Corley
59 Richard McMullen
    January 2, 1868 – February 18, 1944   
(aged 76)
January 19, 1937

January 21, 1941
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1936 Edward W. Cooch
60 Walter W. Bacon
    January 20, 1880 – March 18, 1962   
(aged 82)
January 21, 1941

January 18, 1949
(term limited)
Republican 1940 Isaac J. MacCollum[lower-alpha 19]
1944 Elbert N. Carvel[lower-alpha 19]
61 Elbert N. Carvel
    February 9, 1910 – February 6, 2005   
(aged 94)
January 18, 1949

January 20, 1953
(lost election)
Democratic 1948 Alexis I. du Pont Bayard
62 J. Caleb Boggs
    May 15, 1909 – March 26, 1993   
(aged 83)
January 20, 1953

December 30, 1960
(resigned)[lower-alpha 20]
Republican 1952 John W. Rollins
1956 David P. Buckson
63 David P. Buckson
    July 25, 1920 – January 17, 2017   
(aged 96)
December 30, 1960

January 17, 1961
(successor took office)
Republican Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
64 Elbert N. Carvel
    February 9, 1910 – February 6, 2005   
(aged 94)
January 17, 1961

January 19, 1965
(term limited)
Democratic 1960 Eugene Lammot
65 Charles L. Terry Jr.
    September 17, 1900 – February 6, 1970   
(aged 69)
January 19, 1965

January 21, 1969
(lost election)
Democratic 1964 Sherman W. Tribbitt
66 Russell W. Peterson
    October 3, 1916 – February 21, 2011   
(aged 94)
January 21, 1969

January 16, 1973
(lost election)
Republican 1968 Eugene Bookhammer[lower-alpha 21]
67 Sherman W. Tribbitt
    November 9, 1922 – August 14, 2010   
(aged 87)
January 16, 1973

January 18, 1977
(lost election)
Democratic 1972
68 Pete du Pont
    January 22, 1935 – May 8, 2021   
(aged 86)
January 18, 1977

January 15, 1985
(term limited)
Republican 1976 James D. McGinnis[lower-alpha 19]
1980 Mike Castle
69 Mike Castle
    (1939-07-02) July 2, 1939
January 15, 1985

December 31, 1992
(resigned)[lower-alpha 22]
Republican 1984 Shien Biau Woo[lower-alpha 19]
1988 Dale E. Wolf
70 Dale E. Wolf
    September 6, 1924 – March 20, 2021   
(aged 96)
December 31, 1992

January 19, 1993
(successor took office)
Republican Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
71 Tom Carper
    (1947-01-23) January 23, 1947
January 19, 1993

January 3, 2001
(resigned)[lower-alpha 23]
Democratic 1992 Ruth Ann Minner
1996
72 Ruth Ann Minner
    (1935-01-17) January 17, 1935
January 3, 2001

January 20, 2009
(term limited)
Democratic Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
2000 John Carney
2004
73 Jack Markell
    (1960-11-26) November 26, 1960
January 20, 2009

January 17, 2017
(term limited)
Democratic 2008 Matthew Denn
(resigned January 6, 2015)
2012
Vacant
74 John Carney
    (1956-05-20) May 20, 1956
January 17, 2017

present[lower-alpha 24]
Democratic 2016 Bethany Hall-Long
2020

Succession

See also

  • Delaware gubernatorial elections

Notes

  1. Data is sourced from the National Governors Association, unless supplemental references are required.
  2. The official website labels John Carney as the 74th governor;[12] this indicates that repeat, non-consecutive terms are numbered.
  3. The office was named president until 1792.[5]
  4. The office of lieutenant governor was created in the 1897 constitution,[10] with the first election taking place in 1900.
  5. Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
  6. Most sources do not specify the day McKinly was captured; at least one specifies that McKinly and the city of Wilmington were captured the day after the Battle of Brandywine, which was on September 11, 1777.[13]
  7. McKinly was captured and taken prisoner by British forces.[14] He was exchanged for loyalist Governor William Franklin of New Jersey in August 1778.[15]
  8. Speaker of the Assembly McKean acted as chief executive until the return of Speaker of the Legislative Council Read from the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, who then served as vice-president for the remainder of the term.[16]
  9. Dickinson was elected President of Pennsylvania and took office November 7, 1782, holding both presidencies simultaneously. Criticism of this caused him to turn administration of the state over to Speaker of the Legislative Council Cook, but Dickinson didn't formally resign until January 12, 1783.[17]
  10. The constitutional start date for the term in 1799 was January 15; multiple sources say Bassett took office January 9, but it is not known why it was off schedule.[18][19] A few sources do say he took office January 15.[20]
  11. Bassett resigned to take a seat on the United States Third Circuit Court.[18]
  12. Governor-elect Molleston died on November 11, 1819, before taking office. The newly elected state senate chose a speaker, Stout, who would act as governor for one year of Molleston's term before a special election was held to pick a governor for the remaining two years.[21]
  13. Special election to serve out the last two years of Henry Molleston's term[21]
  14. There is disagreement over when Haslet died and Thomas became acting governor. Most modern sources say Haslet died on June 20, and Thomas became acting governor on June 23; however, some sources say Thomas became acting governor on June 20,[22] and others say Haslet died on June 23,[23] both situations meaning there was no gap in power.
  15. Because of the death of Haslet so early in his term, an early election was called. Unlike when Henry Molleston died, where the election was only for the final two years of his term, in this case the new election was for a new three-year term, causing the election schedule to shift.[21]
  16. First term under the 1831 constitution, which lengthened terms to four years.[7]
  17. Special election called due to the deaths of Stockton and Maull[24]
  18. Because Marvil died so early in his term, the General Assembly decided to conduct an election for a full term in 1896, changing the election schedule.[25]
  19. Represented the Democratic Party
  20. Boggs resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.[26]
  21. Represented the Republican Party
  22. Castle resigned to take an elected seat in the United States House of Representatives.[27]
  23. Carper resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.[28]
  24. Carney's second term will expire on January 2025; He will be term limited.

References

General
  • Martin, Roger A. (1984). A History of Delaware Through its Governors. Wilmington, DE: McClafferty Press.
  • "Former Delaware Governors". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  • Pickett, Russell S. "Delaware Governors". Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  • Sobel, Robert (1978). Biographical directory of the governors of the United States, 1789–1978, Vol. I. Meckler Books. ISBN 978-0930466015. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
Constitutions
Specific
  1. "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
  2. DE Const. art. III
  3. DE Const. art. VII, § 1
  4. 1776 Const. art 7
  5. 1792 Const. art. III, § 1
  6. 1792 Const. art. III, § 3
  7. 1831 Const. art III, § 3
  8. DE Const. art. III, § 5
  9. 1776 Const. art. 7
  10. DE Const. art. III, § 19
  11. DE Const. art. III, § 20
  12. "About Governor John Carney". Governor of Delaware. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  13. Project, Delaware Federal Writers' (1938). Delaware: A Guide to the First State. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-60354-008-7. Retrieved August 4, 2010.
  14. McGuire, Thomas J. (2006). The Philadelphia Campaign. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. p. 278. ISBN 0-8117-0206-5.
  15. Rowe, Gail Stuart (1978). Thomas McKean: The Shaping of an American Republicanism. p. 147. ISBN 0-87081-100-2.
  16. Conrad, Henry Clay (1908). History of the State of Delaware, Volume 3. Published by the author. p. 821. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  17. Conrad, Henry Clay (1908). History of the State of Delaware, Volume 1. p. 153. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  18. "Richard Bassett". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  19. Conrad, Henry Clay (1908). History of the State of Delaware, Volume 3. p. 829. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  20. Wolcott, James L. (1896). Argument in Opposition to Henry A. Du Pont's Claim to the Office of United States Senator for the State of Delaware. pp. 44–45. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  21. Niles, H. (1824). Niles' Weekly Register. Volume I, Third Series. p. 121. ISBN 0-8371-3045-X. Retrieved October 25, 2009. |volume= has extra text (help)
  22. "Delaware". The Encyclopedia Americana. Volume. VIII. 1918. p. 614. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  23. Messersmith, George S. (1908). Government of Delaware. Amer. Bk. Company. p. 283. Retrieved October 25, 2009. joseph haslet 1823.
  24. Dubin, Michael J. (2003). United States Gubernatorial Elections, 1776–1860: The Official Results by State and County. McFarland & Company. p. 28. ISBN 9780786414390. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  25. "Delaware's Change in Elections". The New York Times. April 14, 1895. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  26. "James Caleb Boggs". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  27. "Michael Newbold Castle". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  28. "About Tom Carper". United States Senate. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  29. Thorpe, Francis Newton (1906). The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America. Government Printing Office. pp. 582–600. ISBN 0-89941-792-2. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  30. Thorpe, Francis Newton (1906). The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America. Government Printing Office. pp. 568–582. ISBN 0-89941-792-2. Retrieved October 26, 2009.

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