List of governors of Michigan

The Governor of Michigan is the head of the executive branch of Michigan's state government and serves as the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.[2] The governor has a duty to enforce state laws;[3] the power to either approve or veto appropriation bills passed by the Michigan Legislature;[4] the power to convene the legislature;[5] and the power to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment.[6] He or she is also empowered to reorganize the executive branch of the state government.[7]

Governor of Michigan
Seal of the Governor
Flag of the Governor
Incumbent
Gretchen Whitmer

since January 1, 2019
StyleHer Excellency[1]
Status
ResidenceMichigan Governor's Mansion
Term lengthFour years, renewable once
PrecursorGovernor of Michigan Territory
Inaugural holderStevens T. Mason
FormationNovember 3, 1835
DeputyLieutenant Governor of Michigan
Salary$159,300 (2019)
Websitewww.michigan.gov/gov

In the 17th and 18th century, Michigan was part of French and then British holdings, and administered by their colonial governors. After becoming part of the United States, areas of what is today Michigan were part of the Northwest Territory, Indiana Territory and Illinois Territory, and administered by territorial governors. In 1805, the Michigan Territory was created, and five men served as territorial governors, until Michigan was granted statehood in 1837. Forty-eight individuals have held the position of state governor. The first female governor, Jennifer Granholm, served from 2003 to 2011.

After Michigan gained statehood, governors held the office for a 2-year term, until the 1963 Michigan Constitution changed the term to 4 years. The number of times an individual could hold the office was unlimited until a 1992 constitutional amendment imposed a lifetime term limit of two 4-year governorships. The longest-serving governor in Michigan's history was William Milliken, who was promoted from lieutenant governor after Governor George W. Romney resigned, then was elected to three further successive terms. The only governors to serve non-consecutive terms were John S. Barry and Frank Fitzgerald.

Governors

Michigan was part of New France until the Treaty of Paris transferred ownership of the region to Great Britain. During the period of French rule, it was governed by the Lieutenants General of New France until 1627, the Governors of New France from 1627 to 1663, and the Governors General of New France until the transfer to Great Britain. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783, ceded the territory that is now Michigan to the United States as part of the end of the Revolutionary War, but British troops did not evacuate the area until 1796. During the period of British rule, their governors administrated the area as part of the territorial holdings of British Canada.[8]

Prior to becoming its own territory, parts of Michigan were administered by the governors of the Northwest Territory, the governors of the Indiana Territory and the governors of the Illinois Territory. On June 30, 1805, the Territory of Michigan was created, with General William Hull as the first territorial governor.[8][9]

Governors of the Territory of Michigan

Governors of the Territory of Michigan
No. Governor Term in office Appointed by
1 William Hull March 1, 1805

October 29, 1813
Thomas Jefferson
2 Lewis Cass October 29, 1813

August 6, 1831
James Madison
3 George Bryan Porter August 6, 1831

July 6, 1834[lower-alpha 1]
Andrew Jackson
Stevens T. Mason July 6, 1834[lower-alpha 1]

September 19, 1835
4 John S. Horner September 19, 1835

July 3, 1836[lower-alpha 2]
Andrew Jackson

Governors of the State of Michigan

Michigan was admitted to the Union on January 26, 1837. The original 1835 Constitution of Michigan provided for the election of a governor and a lieutenant governor every 2 years.[12] The fourth and current constitution of 1963 increased this term to four years.[13] There was no term limit on governors until a constitutional amendment effective in 1993 limited governors to two terms.[14]

Should the office of governor become vacant, the lieutenant governor becomes governor, followed in order of succession by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General.[15] Prior to the current constitution, the duties of the office would devolve upon the lieutenant governor, without that person actually becoming governor.[16] The term begins at noon on January 1 of the year following the election.[17] Prior to the 1963 constitution, the governor and lieutenant governor were elected through separate votes, allowing them to be from different parties. In 1963, this was changed, so that votes are cast jointly for a governor and lieutenant governor of the same party.[13][18]

No. Governor Term in office Party Election Lt. Governor[lower-alpha 3]
1   Stevens T. Mason November 3, 1835

January 7, 1840
Democratic 1835
[lower-alpha 2]
  Edward Mundy
1837
2 William Woodbridge January 7, 1840

February 23, 1841
Whig 1839
[lower-alpha 4]
James Wright Gordon
3 James Wright Gordon February 23, 1841

January 3, 1842
Whig Thomas J. Drake
4 John S. Barry January 3, 1842

January 5, 1846
Democratic 1841 Origen D. Richardson
1843
5 Alpheus Felch January 5, 1846

March 3, 1847
Democratic 1845
[lower-alpha 5]
William L. Greenly
6 William L. Greenly March 4, 1847

January 3, 1848
Democratic Charles P. Bush
7 Epaphroditus Ransom January 3, 1848

January 7, 1850
Democratic 1847 William M. Fenton
8 John S. Barry January 7, 1850

January 1, 1852
Democratic 1849
9 Robert McClelland January 1, 1852

March 7, 1853
Democratic 1851
[lower-alpha 6]
Calvin Britain
1852
[lower-alpha 7]
Andrew Parsons
10 Andrew Parsons March 8, 1853

January 3, 1855
Democratic George Griswold
11 Kinsley S. Bingham January 3, 1855

January 5, 1859
Republican 1854 George Coe
1856
12 Moses Wisner January 5, 1859

January 2, 1861
Republican 1858 Edmund Burke Fairfield
13 Austin Blair January 2, 1861

January 3, 1865
Republican 1860 James M. Birney
(resigned April 3, 1861)
Joseph R. Williams
(died June 15, 1861)
Henry T. Backus
1862 Charles S. May
14 Henry H. Crapo January 3, 1865

January 6, 1869
Republican 1864 Ebenezer O. Grosvenor
1866 Dwight May
15 Henry P. Baldwin January 6, 1869

January 1, 1873
Republican 1868 Morgan Bates
1870
16 John J. Bagley January 1, 1873

January 3, 1877
Republican 1872 Henry H. Holt
1874
17 Charles Croswell January 3, 1877

January 1, 1881
Republican 1876 Alonzo Sessions
1878
18 David Jerome January 1, 1881

January 1, 1883
Republican 1880 Moreau S. Crosby[lower-alpha 8]
19 Josiah Begole January 1, 1883

January 1, 1885
Democratic 1882
20 Russell A. Alger January 1, 1885

January 1, 1887
Republican 1884 Archibald Buttars
21 Cyrus G. Luce January 1, 1887

January 1, 1891
Republican 1886 James H. MacDonald
1888 William Ball
22 Edwin B. Winans January 1, 1891

January 1, 1893
Democratic 1890 John Strong
23 John Treadway Rich January 1, 1893

January 1, 1897
Republican 1892 J. Wight Giddings
1894 Alfred Milnes
(resigned June 1, 1895)
Joseph R. McLaughlin
24 Hazen S. Pingree January 1, 1897

January 1, 1901
Republican 1896 Thomas B. Dunstan
1898 Orrin W. Robinson
25 Aaron T. Bliss January 1, 1901

January 1, 1905
Republican 1900
1902 Alexander Maitland
26 Fred M. Warner January 1, 1905

January 2, 1911
Republican 1904
1906 Patrick H. Kelley
1908
27 Chase Osborn January 2, 1911

January 1, 1913
Republican 1910 John Q. Ross[lower-alpha 8]
28 Woodbridge Nathan Ferris January 1, 1913

January 1, 1917
Democratic 1912
1914 Luren Dickinson[lower-alpha 8]
29 Albert Sleeper January 1, 1917

January 1, 1921
Republican 1916
1918
30 Alex J. Groesbeck January 1, 1921

January 1, 1927
Republican 1920 Thomas Read
1922
1924 George W. Welsh
31 Fred W. Green January 1, 1927

January 1, 1931
Republican 1926 Luren Dickinson
1928
32 Wilber M. Brucker January 1, 1931

January 1, 1933
Republican 1930
33 William Comstock January 1, 1933

January 1, 1935
Democratic 1932 Allen E. Stebbins
34 Frank Fitzgerald January 1, 1935

January 1, 1937
Republican 1934 Thomas Read
35 Frank Murphy January 1, 1937

January 1, 1939
Democratic 1936 Leo J. Nowicki
36 Frank Fitzgerald January 1, 1939

March 16, 1939
Republican 1938
[lower-alpha 9]
Luren Dickinson
37 Luren Dickinson March 16, 1939

January 1, 1941
Republican Matilda Dodge Wilson
38 Murray Van Wagoner January 1, 1941

January 1, 1943
Democratic 1940 Frank Murphy
39 Harry Kelly January 1, 1943

January 1, 1947
Republican 1942 Eugene C. Keyes
1944 Vernon J. Brown
40 Kim Sigler January 1, 1947

January 1, 1949
Republican 1946 Eugene C. Keyes
41 G. Mennen Williams January 1, 1949

January 1, 1961
Democratic 1948 John W. Connolly
1950 William C. Vandenberg[lower-alpha 8]
1952 Clarence A. Reid[lower-alpha 8]
1954 Philip Hart
1956
1958 John Swainson
42 John Swainson January 1, 1961

January 1, 1963
Democratic 1960 T. John Lesinski[lower-alpha 10]
43 George W. Romney January 1, 1963

January 22, 1969
Republican 1962
1964 William Milliken
1966
[lower-alpha 11][lower-alpha 12]
44 William Milliken January 22, 1969

January 1, 1983
Republican Thomas F. Schweigert
1970 James H. Brickley
1974 James Damman
1978 James H. Brickley
45 James Blanchard January 1, 1983

January 1, 1991
Democratic 1982 Martha Griffiths
1986
46 John Engler January 1, 1991

January 1, 2003
Republican 1990 Connie Binsfeld
1994
1998 Dick Posthumus
47 Jennifer Granholm January 1, 2003

January 1, 2011
Democratic 2002 John D. Cherry
2006
48 Rick Snyder January 1, 2011

January 1, 2019
Republican 2010 Brian Calley
2014
49 Gretchen Whitmer January 1, 2019

present
Democratic 2018
[lower-alpha 13]
Garlin Gilchrist

Succession

Other high offices held

Several governors also held other high positions within the state and federal governments. Eight governors served as U.S. House of Representatives members, while seven held positions in the U.S. Senate, all representing Michigan. Others have served as ambassadors, U.S. Cabinet members, and state and federal Supreme Court justices.

* Denotes those offices for which the governor resigned the governorship.
Governor Gubernatorial term Other offices held Source
Lewis Cass 1813–1831 (territorial) President pro tempore of the Senate, Ambassador to France, U.S. Secretary of War, U.S. Secretary of State, Democratic Party candidate for President of the U.S. (1848) [20]
William Woodbridge 1840–1841 Territorial Delegate; United States Senator (March 4, 1841 – March 4, 1847) [21]
Robert McClelland 1852–1853 U.S. Secretary of the Interior* [22]
Russell A. Alger 1885–1887 U.S. Secretary of War [23]
Wilber M. Brucker 1931–1933 U.S. Secretary of the Army [24]
Frank Murphy 1937–1939 High Commissioner to the Philippines, U.S. Attorney General, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Governor-General of the Philippines [25]
G. Mennen Williams 1949–1961 Ambassador to the Philippines, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court [26]
George W. Romney 1963–1969 U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development* [27]
James Blanchard 1983–1991 Ambassador to Canada [28]
Jennifer Granholm 2003–2011 U.S. Secretary of Energy [29]

Living former governors of Michigan

As of July 2021, there are four living former governors of Michigan. The most recent death of a former governor was that of William Milliken (served 1969-83) on October 18, 2019, aged 97. Milliken was also the most recently serving governor of Michigan to have died. The state's living former governors are:

GovernorGubernatorial termDate of birth (and age)
James Blanchard 1983–1991 (1942-08-08) August 8, 1942
John Engler 1991–2003 (1948-10-12) October 12, 1948
Jennifer Granholm 2003–2011 (1959-02-05) February 5, 1959
Rick Snyder 2011–2019 (1958-08-19) August 19, 1958

Notes

  1. Porter died in office; as territorial secretary, Mason acted as governor until a replacement was appointed.[10]
  2. Horner was appointed Secretary and Acting Governor to replace Stevens T. Mason. In October 1835, Michigan authorized a state constitution and elected Mason as governor of the new state, although the state was not admitted until 1837. Horner was mostly ignored by the people of Michigan and resigned to be Secretary of Wisconsin Territory in July 1836.[11]
  3. Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
  4. Woodbridge resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate; as lieutenant governor, Gordon acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
  5. Felch resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate; as lieutenant governor, Greenly acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
  6. After a new state constitution was drafted in 1850, McClelland was elected to a single one-year term in 1851. He was then re-elected to a full two-year term in 1852.[19]
  7. McClelland resigned to be United States Secretary of the Interior; as lieutenant governor, Parsons acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
  8. Represented the Republican Party.
  9. Fitzgerald died in office; as lieutenant governor, Dickinson acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
  10. Represented the Democratic Party.
  11. This was the first four-year term under the new constitution.
  12. Romney resigned to be United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; as lieutenant governor, Milliken succeeded him.
  13. Whitmer's first term expires January 1, 2023.

    References

    General
    • "Former Governor Biographies: Michigan". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    • "Chronology of Michigan History" (PDF). Michigan Manual 2003–2004. Michigan Legislative Council. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
    Constitutions
    Specific
    1. Macomb, Alex (1837). "No. 20: Letter from Major General Macomb, to His Excellency the Governor of Michigan, Accompanying a Copy of Military Tactics". Documents Accompanying the Journal of the Senate. Detroit: John S. Bagg, State Printer. p. 167 via Google Books.
    2. 1963 Michigan Constitution, Article 5, Section 12
    3. 1963 Michigan Constitution, Article 5, Section 8
    4. 1963 Michigan Constitution, Article 5, Section 19
    5. 1963 Michigan Constitution, Article 5, Section 15
    6. 1963 Michigan Constitution, Article 5, Section 14
    7. 1963 Michigan Constitution, Article 5, Section 2
    8. "Chronology of Michigan History" (PDF). Michigan Manual 2003–2004. Michigan Legislative Council. pp. 1–5. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    9. "Laws of Illinois Territory". Western Illinois University. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
    10. Dunbar, Willis F. & May, George S. (1995). Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State (Third Revised ed.). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 276–78. ISBN 9780802870551.
    11. Dunbar, Willis F. & May, George S. (1995). Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State (Third Revised ed.). William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 208–11. ISBN 9780802870551.
    12. 1835 Const. art. V, § 1
    13. MI Const. art. V, § 21
    14. MI Const. art. V, § 30
    15. MI Const. art. V, § 26
    16. 1835 Const. art. V, § 13
    17. "Executive Branch". State of Michigan. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
    18. 1835 Const. art. V, § 3
    19. Gardner, Washington (1913). History of Calhoun County, Michigan. Lewis Pub. Co. p. 220. robert mcclelland michigan governor.
    20. "Cass, Lewis (1782–1866)". Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    21. "Woodbridge, William (1780–1861)". Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    22. "McClelland, Robert (1807–1880)". Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    23. "Alger, Russell Alexander (1836–1907)". Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    24. "Michigan Governor Wilbur Marion Brucker". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    25. "Michigan Governor Frank Murphy". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    26. "Michigan Governor Gerhard Mennen Williams". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    27. "Michigan Governor George Wilcken Romney". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
    28. "Blanchard, James Johnston (1942–)". Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
    29. "Roll Call Vote No. 66". United States Senate. United States Senate.
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