List of Governors of Arkansas
|Governor of Arkansas|
|Residence||Arkansas Governor's Mansion|
|Term length||Four years, renewable once|
|Inaugural holder||James Sevier Conway|
|Formation||1836; Constitution of Arkansas|
|Succession||Every four years, unless re-elected.|
The Governor of Arkansas is the head of the executive branch of Arkansas'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 Arkansas Legislature, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment.
The state has had 45 elected governors, as well as 10 acting governors who assumed powers and duties following the resignation or death of the governor, totaling 55 distinct terms. Before becoming a state, Arkansas Territory had four governors appointed to it by the President of the United States. Orval Faubus served the longest term as state governor, being elected six times to serve twelve years. Bill Clinton, elected five times over two distinct terms, fell only one month short of twelve years. The shortest term for an elected governor was the 38 days served by John Sebastian Little before his nervous breakdown; one of the acting successors to his term, Jesse M. Martin, served only three days, the shortest stint overall. The current governor is Asa Hutchinson, who took office on January 13, 2015 after his election on November 4, 2014.
Governors of the Territory of Arkansas
- For the period before Arkansas Territory was formed, see the list of Governors of Missouri Territory.
Arkansaw Territory (renamed Arkansas Territory around 1822[a]) was split from Missouri Territory on July 4, 1819. It lost land twice, on November 15, 1824, and May 6, 1828, with the land being made unorganized territory both times; this land eventually became part of Oklahoma.
As secretary of the territory from 1819 to 1829, Robert Crittenden served as acting governor whenever the appointed governor was not in the state. This meant he was in fact the first person to perform the office of Governor of Arkansas Territory, since James Miller did not arrive in the territory until nine months after his appointment.
|#||Picture||Governor||Term in office||Appointed by||Notes|
|1||James Miller||March 3, 1819
December 27, 1824
|2||George Izard||March 4, 1825
November 22, 1828
|John Quincy Adams|
|3||John Pope||March 9, 1829
March 9, 1835
|4||William S. Fulton||March 9, 1835
June 15, 1836
Governors of the State of Arkansas
Arkansas was admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836. It seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861, and joined the Confederate States of America on May 18, 1861; there was no Union government in exile, so there was a single line of governors, though as the state fell to Union forces there was a loyalist government put in place with an insignificant Confederate government in exile. Following the end of the American Civil War, it was part of the Fourth Military District. Arkansas was readmitted to the Union on June 22, 1868.
The first state constitution of 1836 established four-year terms for governors, which was lowered to two years in the 1874, and current, constitution. Amendment 63 to the Arkansas Constitution, passed in 1984, increased the terms of both governor and lieutenant governor to four years. Governors were originally limited only to serving no more than eight out of every twelve years, but the 1874 constitution removed any term limit. A referendum in 1992 limited governors to two terms.
Until 1864, the constitutions provided that, should the office of governor be rendered vacant, the president of the senate would serve as acting governor until such time as a new governor were elected or the disability removed, or the acting governor's senate term expired. This led to some situations where the governorship changed hands in quick succession, due to senate terms ending or new senate presidents being elected. For example, after John Sebastian Little resigned in 1907, three senate presidents acted as governor before the next elected governor took office. Should the president of the senate be similarly incapacitated, the next in line for the governorship was the speaker of the state house of representatives.
The 1864 constitution created the office of lieutenant governor who would also act as president of the senate, and who would serve as acting governor in case of vacancy. The 1868 constitution maintained the position, but the 1874 constitution removed it and returned to the original line of succession. Amendment 6 to the constitution, passed in 1914 but not recognized until 1925, recreated the office of lieutenant governor, who becomes governor in case of vacancy of the governor's office. The governor and lieutenant governor are not elected on the same ticket.
Arkansas was a strongly Democratic state before the Civil War, electing only candidates from the Democratic party. It elected three Republican governors following Reconstruction, but after the Democratic Party re-established control, 92 years passed before voters chose another Republican.
|#[k]||Portrait||Governor||Term in office[l]||Party||Term[m]||Lt. Governor[n][o]|
|1||James Sevier Conway||September 13, 1836
November 4, 1840
|Democratic||1||Office did not exist|
|2||Archibald Yell||November 4, 1840
April 29, 1844
|—||Samuel Adams||April 29, 1844
November 5, 1844
|3||Thomas Stevenson Drew||November 5, 1844
January 10, 1849
|—||Richard C. Byrd||January 10, 1849
April 19, 1849
|4||John Selden Roane||April 19, 1849
November 15, 1852
|5||Elias Nelson Conway||November 15, 1852 – November 16, 1860||Democratic||5|
|6||Henry Massey Rector||November 16, 1860
November 4, 1862
|—||Thomas Fletcher||November 4, 1862
November 15, 1862
|7||Harris Flanagin||November 15, 1862
May 26, 1865[t]
|8||Isaac Murphy||April 18, 1864
July 2, 1868
|Republican||9[u]||Calvin C. Bliss|
|9||Powell Clayton||July 2, 1868
March 17, 1871
|Republican||10[w]||James M. Johnson[x]|
|—||Ozra Amander Hadley[y]||March 17, 1871
January 6, 1873
|10||Elisha Baxter||January 6, 1873
November 12, 1874
|Republican||11[z][aa]||Volney V. Smith|
|11||Augustus Hill Garland||November 12, 1874
January 11, 1877
|Democratic||12||Office did not exist|
|12||William Read Miller||January 11, 1877
January 13, 1881
|13||Thomas James Churchill||January 13, 1881
January 13, 1883
|14||James Henderson Berry||January 13, 1883
January 15, 1885[ab]
|15||Simon Pollard Hughes, Jr.||January 17, 1885[ab]
January 17, 1889
|16||James Philip Eagle||January 17, 1889
January 14, 1893
|17||William Meade Fishback||January 14, 1893
January 18, 1895
|18||James Paul Clarke||January 18, 1895
January 18, 1897
|19||Daniel Webster Jones||January 18, 1897
January 18, 1901
|20||Jeff Davis||January 18, 1901
January 18, 1907
|21||John Sebastian Little||January 18, 1907
February 11, 1907[ac]
|—||John Isaac Moore||February 11, 1907[ac]
May 14, 1907
|—||Xenophon Overton Pindall||May 14, 1907
January 11, 1909
|—||Jesse M. Martin||January 11, 1909
January 14, 1909
|22||George Washington Donaghey||January 14, 1909
January 16, 1913
|23||Joseph Taylor Robinson||January 16, 1913
March 8, 1913
|—||William Kavanaugh Oldham||March 8, 1913
March 13, 1913
|—||Junius Marion Futrell||March 13, 1913
August 6, 1913[af]
|24||George Washington Hays||August 6, 1913[af]
January 10, 1917[ag]
|25||Charles Hillman Brough||January 10, 1917[ag]
January 11, 1921[ah]
|26||Thomas Chipman McRae||January 11, 1921[ah]
January 13, 1925
|27||Tom Jefferson Terral||January 13, 1925
January 11, 1927
|28||John Ellis Martineau||January 11, 1927
March 2, 1928
|29||Harvey Parnell||March 2, 1928
January 10, 1933
|39||William Lee Cazort|
|40||Lawrence Elery Wilson|
|30||Junius Marion Futrell||January 10, 1933
January 12, 1937
|Democratic||41||William Lee Cazort|
|31||Carl Edward Bailey||January 12, 1937
January 14, 1941
|Democratic||43||Robert L. Bailey|
|32||Homer Martin Adkins||January 14, 1941
January 9, 1945
|46||James L. Shaver|
|33||Benjamin Travis Laney||January 9, 1945
January 11, 1949
|48||Nathan Green Gordon|
|34||Sid McMath||January 11, 1949
January 13, 1953
|35||Francis Cherry||January 13, 1953
January 11, 1955
|36||Orval Faubus||January 11, 1955
January 10, 1967
|37||Winthrop Rockefeller||January 10, 1967
January 12, 1971
|38||Dale Bumpers||January 12, 1971
January 3, 1975
|Democratic||60||Bob C. Riley|
|—||Bob C. Riley||January 3, 1975
January 14, 1975
|Democratic||Acting as governor|
|39||David Pryor||January 14, 1975
January 3, 1979
|—||Joe Purcell||January 3, 1979
January 9, 1979
|Democratic||Acting as governor|
|40||Bill Clinton||January 9, 1979
January 19, 1981
|41||Frank D. White||January 19, 1981
January 11, 1983
|42||Bill Clinton||January 11, 1983
December 12, 1992
|69[an]||Jim Guy Tucker|
|43||Jim Guy Tucker||December 12, 1992
July 15, 1996
|44||Mike Huckabee||July 15, 1996
January 9, 2007
|Winthrop P. Rockefeller[e]|
|45||Mike Beebe||January 9, 2007
January 13, 2015
|46||Asa Hutchinson||January 13, 2015
Living former U.S. governors of Arkansas
As of January 2016[update], there are five former U.S. governors of Arkansas who are currently living at this time, the oldest U.S. governor of Arkansas being David Pryor (served 1975–1979, born 1934). The most recent death of a former U.S. governor of Arkansas was that of Dale Bumpers (served 1971–1975, born 1925), who died on January 1, 2016. The most recently serving governor to die was Frank D. White, who served from 1981 to 1983 and died on May 21, 2003.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Date of birth (and age)|
|David Pryor||1975–1979||August 29, 1934|
|August 19, 1946|
|Jim Guy Tucker||1992–1996||June 12, 1943|
|Mike Huckabee||1996–2007||August 24, 1955|
|Mike Beebe||2007–2015||December 28, 1946|
- The territory was formally organized with the name "Arkansaw", but spellings including "Arkansas" and "Arkansa" remained common until around 1822, when the popularity of the Arkansas Gazette helped standardize the spelling as "Arkansas".
- James Miller was appointed territorial governor on March 3, 1819, the same date the bill organizing Arkansaw Territory was signed. However, to avoid the hot southern summer, he delayed his departure from New Hampshire until September, and took a non-direct route, finally arriving in the territory on December 26, 1819. Robert Crittenden, secretary of the territory, served as acting governor while Miller was delayed.
- Resigned citing poor health. At the time of his resignation, he had been absent from the territory for 18 months.
- George Izard did not arrive in Arkansas Territory until May 31, 1825; Robert Crittenden, Secretary of the territory, acted as governor in his stead, though Crittenden himself was out of state when Izard arrived.
- Died in office.
- The office was vacant from November 22, 1828, until March 9, 1829. By the time notice of George Izard's death reached Washington, D.C., Andrew Jackson had been elected president, and the United States Senate refused to approve John Quincy Adams's choice for governor, preferring to wait until Jackson took office.
- Pope arrived in the territory in May 1829.
- William S. Fulton served as governor until statehood, when he was elected to the United States Senate.
- Includes one term served by a repeat governor and nine terms served by acting governors.
- Includes one term served by an acting governor.
- The official numbering includes repeat governors and omits acting governors. Subsequent terms for repeat governors are marked with their original number italicized.
- Most dates come from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas list of governors; when differing, either the date was different in the actual articles on the governors and that agreed with other sources, or specific sourcing is supplied to explain the discrepancy.
- Each term for which a governor is elected is listed here; if multiple governors served in a single term, due to resignations, deaths, and the like, then that term will be shared among those governors. If a governor was elected multiple times, then there will be multiple terms listed for that governor.
- The office of lieutenant governor was created in 1864 and abolished in 1874. It was recreated in 1914, and was not filled until 1926. The amendment to the constitution creating the office was narrowly voted in by the electorate in 1914. The Speaker of the House declared that the measure had lost because it did not receive a majority of the highest vote total from that election. In 1925, it was discovered that a 1910 law amended this requirement such that only a majority of the votes on the specific question was required. Therefore, the 1914 initiative was declared to be valid.
- Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
- Yell resigned to run for the United States House of Representatives, winning the election. As president of the senate, Adams acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
- Drew resigned due to the low salary he received as governor. As president of the senate, Byrd acted as governor until Roane was elected in a special election to fill the remainder of the term.
- The 1861 constitution was enacted during Rector's term; while term lengths remained at four years, a new election schedule was created, calling for elections in 1862, two years into his term.
- Rector resigned two weeks before the end of his term. Most sources state it was due to badly losing his bid for re-election but at least one source states it was due to unhappiness that the new constitution would shorten his term. Governor-elect Flanagin was not sworn in until November 15; in the interim, as president of the senate, Thomas Fletcher acted as governor. Fletcher is omitted from most lists of Arkansas governors.
- Some sources state Flanagin left office on April 18, 1864, but that was when Isaac Murphy was sworn in as provisional governor; Flanagin remained governor of the Confederate government-in-exile until May 26, 1865.
- Flanagin fled Little Rock as it fell to Union forces on September 10, 1863, leading a largely inept government in exile in Washington, Arkansas until 1865. Murphy was elected provisional governor by a loyalist government set up after Union control of the state was established, taking office on April 18, 1864, causing a slight overlap in terms, though due to the collapse of the Confederate effort in Arkansas, Flanagin had no authority over the state.
- The 1864 constitution was enacted during Flanagin's term; however, it was drafted by the Union occupation, and had no effect on his government. While term lengths remained at four years, a new election schedule was created, calling for elections in 1864.
- Clayton resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate. The office of lieutenant governor was vacant at the time, so as the president pro tempore of the senate, Hadley acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
- Resigned to take office as secretary of state.
- Ozra Amander Hadley's first name is sometimes spelled "Ozro" in sources; it is unknown which is correct.
- Baxter was removed from office for a short time due to the Brooks–Baxter War.
- The 1874 constitution was enacted during Baxter's term, which shortened his tenure to two years as new elections were scheduled.
- Sources disagree on when Hughes succeeded Berry, with the National Governors Association saying January 17, contemporary sourcing saying January 15, and the Encyclopedia of Arkansas using both dates. This list uses the contemporary source as the least likely to be mistaken.
- Sources disagree on when Little resigned. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas says February 7, but the National Governors Association and a book by University of Arkansas Press say February 11. Due to wider use, February 11 is the date used here.
- Little resigned after suffering a nervous breakdown soon after taking office. As president of the senate, Moore acted as governor until the legislature adjourned, at which time a new president pro tempore of the senate was chosen, Pindall, who acted as governor until his senate term expired. For the remaining three days of the term, Martin, the new president pro tempore of the senate, acted as governor.
- Robinson resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate. As president of the senate, Oldham acted as governor for six days before a new president of the senate was elected. The new president, Futrell, acted as governor until Hays was elected in a special election to fill the remainder of the term. Conflict over whether or not Futrell could succeed Oldham as acting governor led to the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling that he could.
- Some sources state Hays succeeded Futrell on July 23, but that was when the special election that chose Hays occurred; he was sworn in on August 6.
- Sources disagree on whether Brough succeeded Futrell on January 10 or January 11; a contemporary source states January 10, so this list uses that date.
- Sources disagree on whether McRae succeeded Brough on January 11 or January 12; a slim majority of sources say January 12.
- Martineau resigned to be a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. As lieutenant governor, Parnell became governor.
- Bumpers resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate. As lieutenant governor, Riley acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
- Pryor resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate. As lieutenant governor, Purcell acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
- Represented the Democratic Party.
- Gubernatorial terms changed from two years to four years during Clinton's term; he was elected for two-year terms in 1982 and 1984, and for four-year terms in 1986 and 1990.
- Clinton resigned to be President of the United States. As lieutenant governor, Tucker acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
- Resigned after being convicted of mail fraud in the Whitewater scandal. As lieutenant governor, Huckabee acted as governor for the remainder of the term.
- Represented the Republican Party.
- Governor Hutchinson's term expires on January 8, 2019; he is not yet term-limited.
- "Arkansas: Past Governors Bios". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
- Rose, Uriah M. (1891). The Constitution of the State of Arkansas. Press Printing Co.
- "The Road from Conway to Clinton: Biographies of Arkansas's Governors". Old State House Museum. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- "The Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Category: Politics and Government, State". Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- "About The Office – Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas". Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- Herndon, Dallas Tabor (1922). Centennial History of Arkansas. Southern Historical Press. ISBN 978-0-89308-068-6. Retrieved August 3, 2010.
- "Constitution of the State of Arkansas" (pdf). Arkansas State Legislature. 1874. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
- Arkansas; Rose, Uriah M (1868). Constitution of the State of Arkansas. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- Arkansas; Rose, Uriah M (1864). Constitution of the State of Arkansas. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- Arkansas; Rose, Uriah M (1861). Constitution of the State of Arkansas. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- Arkansas; Rose, Uriah M (1836). Constitution of the State of Arkansas. Retrieved October 13, 2008.
- "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
- AR Const. art. VI
- "Timeline – 1822: Indian Peace Treaty". Historic Arkansas Museum. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- "Robert Crittenden (1797–1834)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
- "James Miller (1776–1851)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- "Timeline – 1824: Expansion". Historic Arkansas Museum. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
- "George Izard (1776–1828)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- Bruce, Henry Addington (1909). The Romance of American Expansion. Moffat, Yard & Company. p. 86.
- "Timeline – 1828: Final Indian Treaty". Historic Arkansas Museum. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- Williams, Nancy A.; Jeannie M. Whayne (2000). Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives. University of Arkansas Press. p. 226. ISBN 1-55728-587-X.
- "Fulton, William Savin". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- 1836 Const. art. V, § 4
- AR Const. art. VI, § 1
- AR Const. amendment 63
- "State Gubernatorial Term Limits". Retrieved September 9, 2007.
- 1836 Const. art. V, § 18
- 1861 Const. art. V, § 18
- 1864 Const. art. VI, § 19
- 1864 Const. art. VI, § 20
- 1864 Const. art. VI, § 23
- 1868 Const. art. VI, § 1
- AR Const. art. VI, § 12
- "About The Office – Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas". Retrieved August 31, 2007.
- Arkansas Supreme Court, Bryant v. English, 311 Ark. 187, 843 S.W.2d 308 (1992).
- "Office of the Governor". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor Archibald Yell". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor Thomas Stevenson Drew". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor Richard C. Byrd". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor John Selden Roane". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- 1861 Const. art. IV, § 8
- "Henry Massie Rector". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- The Confederate Governors. p. 51. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Historical Review of Arkansas: Its Commerce, Industry and Modern Affairs, Volume 1. p. 250. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Harris Flanagin". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Harris Flanagin (1817–1874)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
- 1864 Const. art. IV, § 8
- Herndon p. 287
- "Ozro Amander Hadley (1826–1915)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
- Herndon p. 293
- "Arkansas Governor Elisha Baxter". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Herndon p. 306
- "Arkansas Governor James Henderson Berry". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Arkansas Biennial Report of the Auditor of State. Office of Auditor of State, Arkansas. 1886. p. 39. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Simon Pollard Hughes". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Governors of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor John Sebastian Little". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor John Isaac Moore". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor Xenophon Overton Pindall". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "John Sebastian Little (1851–1916)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
- "Arkansas Governor William Kavanaugh Oldham". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor Junius Marion Futrell". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor George Washington Hays". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Futrell v. Oldham, accessed September 9, 2015
- New International Yearbook: A Compendium of the World's Progress. Dodd, Mead and Company. 1914. p. 63. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Somerset Publishers, Inc. 1998. p. 145. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Monthly Checklist of State Publications. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1917. p. 61. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Encyclopedia of Arkansas. p. 147. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Encylcopedia of Arkansas. p. 148. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Arkansas Governor John Ellis Martineau". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Bob Cowley Riley". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- R.H., Melton; Michael Haddigan (May 5, 1996). "Three Guilty in Arkansas Fraud Trial". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
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