List of Governors of Michigan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Governor of Michigan
Seal of Michigan Governor.svg
Seal of the Governor
Flag of the Governor of Michigan.svg
Flag of the Governor
Rick Snyder in 2013.jpg
Rick Snyder

since January 1, 2011
Style His Excellency[1]
Residence Michigan Governor's Mansion
Term length Four years, renewable once
Precursor Governor of Michigan Territory
Inaugural holder Stevens T. Mason
Formation November 3, 1835
Deputy Lieutenant Governor 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]

Michigan was originally part of French and British holdings, and administered by their colonial governors. After becoming part of the United States, numerous areas of what is today Michigan were originally 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, was elected in 2003.

After Michigan gained statehood, governors held the office for a two-year term, until the 1963 Michigan Constitution changed the term to four 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 four-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.


Michigan was part of colonial New France until the Treaty of 1763 transferred ownership to the Kingdom of Great Britain. During this time, 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 1783 Treaty of Paris ceded the territory that is now Michigan to the United States as part of the end of the Revolutionary War, but British troops were not removed from the area until 1796. During the British ownership, their governors administrated the area as part of the Canadian territorial holdings.[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[edit]

# Governor Took office Left office Appointed by Notes
1 William Hull.jpg   William Hull March 1, 1805 October 29, 1813 Thomas Jefferson
2 Lewis Cass, 14th United States Secretary of War.jpg   Lewis Cass October 29, 1813 August 6, 1831 James Madison
3 George B. Porter.png   George Bryan Porter August 6, 1831 July 6, 1834 Andrew Jackson [a]
Stevens T Mason.png   Stevens T. Mason July 6, 1834 September 19, 1835 [b]
4 John S. Horner.png   John S. Horner September 19, 1835 July 3, 1836 Andrew Jackson [c]

Governors of the State of Michigan[edit]

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]


  Democratic (18)   Whig (2)   Republican (28)

# Governor Took office Left office Party Lt. Governor Notes
1 Stevens T Mason.png   Stevens T. Mason[c] November 3, 1835 January 7, 1840 Democratic   Edward Mundy
2 William Woodbridge.jpg   William Woodbridge January 7, 1840 February 23, 1841 Whig   James Wright Gordon [d]
3 J Wright Gordon.JPG   James Wright Gordon February 23, 1841 January 3, 1842 Whig   Thomas J. Drake [e]
4 Jsbarry-1-.jpg   John S. Barry January 3, 1842 January 5, 1846 Democratic   Origen D. Richardson
5 Alpheus Felch.jpg   Alpheus Felch January 5, 1846 March 3, 1847 Democratic   William L. Greenly [d]
6 William Greenly.png   William L. Greenly March 4, 1847 January 3, 1848 Democratic   Charles P. Bush [e]
7 Epaphroditus Ransom 1.jpg   Epaphroditus Ransom January 3, 1848 January 7, 1850 Democratic   William M. Fenton
8 Jsbarry-1-.jpg   John S. Barry January 7, 1850 January 1, 1852 Democratic   William M. Fenton
9 Robert McClelland 1.jpg   Robert McClelland[f] January 1, 1852 March 7, 1853 Democratic   Calvin Britain [g]
  Andrew Parsons
10 Andrew parsons.jpg   Andrew Parsons March 8, 1853 January 3, 1855 Democratic   George Griswold [e]
11 Kingsley Bingham.jpg   Kinsley S. Bingham January 3, 1855 January 5, 1859 Republican   George Coe
12 Mwisner-1-.jpg   Moses Wisner January 5, 1859 January 2, 1861 Republican   Edmund B. Fairfield
13 Austin Blair cph.3b29566.jpg   Austin Blair January 2, 1861 January 3, 1865 Republican   James M. Birney
  Joseph R. Williams
  Henry T. Backus
  Charles S. May
14 Governor-crapo-1-.jpg   Henry H. Crapo January 3, 1865 January 6, 1869 Republican   Ebenezer Grosvenor
  Dwight May
15 Henry P. Baldwin.png   Henry P. Baldwin January 6, 1869 January 1, 1873 Republican   Morgan Bates
16 Jjbagley.jpg   John J. Bagley January 1, 1873 January 3, 1877 Republican   Henry H. Holt
17 Charles Croswell.jpg   Charles Croswell January 3, 1877 January 1, 1881 Republican   Alonzo Sessions
18 David Howell Jerome.jpg   David Jerome January 1, 1881 January 1, 1883 Republican   Moreau S. Crosby
19 Josiah W Begole.jpg   Josiah Begole January 1, 1883 January 1, 1885 Democratic   Moreau S. Crosby (Republican)
20 Russell Alexander Alger by Percy Ives.jpg   Russell Alger January 1, 1885 January 1, 1887 Republican   Archibald Buttars
21 Cyrus Luce.jpg   Cyrus G. Luce January 1, 1887 January 1, 1891 Republican   James H. MacDonald
  William Ball
22 Edwin Winans.jpg   Edwin B. Winans January 1, 1891 January 1, 1893 Democratic   John Strong
23 John T Rich.JPG   John T. Rich January 1, 1893 January 1, 1897 Republican   J. Wight Giddings
  Alfred Milnes
  Joseph R. McLaughlin
24 HazenSPingreeDetroitMayor.jpg   Hazen S. Pingree January 1, 1897 January 1, 1901 Republican   Thomas B. Dunstan
  Orrin W. Robinson
25 Aaron T Bliss.jpg   Aaron T. Bliss January 1, 1901 January 1, 1905 Republican   Orrin W. Robinson
  Alexander Maitland
26 FredMWarner.jpg   Fred M. Warner January 1, 1905 January 2, 1911 Republican   Alexander Maitland
  Patrick H. Kelley
27 Chase S. Osborn.png   Chase Osborn January 2, 1911 January 1, 1913 Republican   John Q. Ross
28 WoodbridgeFerris.jpg   Woodbridge Nathan Ferris January 1, 1913 January 1, 1917 Democratic   John Q. Ross (Republican)
  Luren Dickinson (Republican)
29 Albert Edson Sleeper (December 31, 1862 – May 13, 1934) in 1916.jpg   Albert Sleeper January 1, 1917 January 1, 1921 Republican   Luren Dickinson
30 AlexJGroesbeck.jpg   Alex Groesbeck January 1, 1921 January 1, 1927 Republican   Thomas Read
  George W. Welsh
31 Fred Warren Green in 1917.jpg   Fred W. Green January 1, 1927 January 1, 1931 Republican   Luren Dickinson
32 Wilber Marion Brucker.jpg   Wilber M. Brucker January 1, 1931 January 1, 1933 Republican   Luren Dickinson
33 William A. Comstock (Michigan Governor).jpg   William Comstock January 1, 1933 January 1, 1935 Democratic   Allen E. Stebbins
34 Frank D. Fitzgerald.jpg   Frank Fitzgerald January 1, 1935 January 1, 1937 Republican   Thomas Read
35 Justice Frank Murphy.jpg   Frank Murphy January 1, 1937 January 1, 1939 Democratic   Leo J. Nowicki
36 Frank D. Fitzgerald.jpg   Frank Fitzgerald January 1, 1939 March 16, 1939 Republican   Luren Dickinson [h]
37 Luren D. Dickinson.jpg   Luren Dickinson March 16, 1939 January 1, 1941 Republican   Matilda Dodge Wilson [e]
38 Murray D. Van Wagoner.jpg   Murray Van Wagoner January 1, 1941 January 1, 1943 Democratic   Frank Murphy
39 Harry F. Kelly.jpg   Harry Kelly January 1, 1943 January 1, 1947 Republican   Eugene C. Keyes
  Vernon J. Brown
40 Kim Sigler (Michigan Governor).jpg   Kim Sigler January 1, 1947 January 1, 1949 Republican   Eugene C. Keyes
41 G. Mennen Williams (Michigan Governor).jpg   G. Mennen Williams January 1, 1949 January 1, 1961 Democratic   John W. Connolly
  William C. Vandenberg (Republican)
  Clarence A. Reid (Republican)
  Philip A. Hart
  John B. Swainson
42 John B. Swainson.jpg   John Swainson January 1, 1961 January 1, 1963 Democratic   T. John Lesinski
43 George W. Romney official portrait.jpg   George W. Romney January 1, 1963 January 22, 1969 Republican   T. John Lesinski (Democratic) [i]
  William Milliken
44 William G. Milliken 2 (Michigan Governor).jpg   William Milliken January 22, 1969 January 1, 1983 Republican   Thomas F. Schweigert [j]
  James H. Brickley
  James Damman
  James H. Brickley
45 James Blanchard 1981 congressional photo.jpg   James Blanchard January 1, 1983 January 1, 1991 Democratic   Martha Griffiths
46 John Engler (cropped).jpg   John Engler January 1, 1991 January 1, 2003 Republican   Connie Binsfeld [k]
  Dick Posthumus
47 Jennifer Granholm 5.jpg   Jennifer Granholm January 1, 2003 January 1, 2011 Democratic   John D. Cherry, Jr.
48 Rick Snyder in 2013.jpg   Rick Snyder January 1, 2011 Incumbent Republican   Brian Calley

Other high offices held[edit]

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) [21]
William Woodbridge 1840–1841 Territorial Delegate; United States Senator (March 4, 1841 – March 4, 1847) [22]
Robert McClelland 1852–1853 U.S. Secretary of the Interior* [23]
Russell A. Alger 1885–1887 U.S. Secretary of War [24]
Wilber M. Brucker 1931–1933 U.S. Secretary of the Army [25]
Frank Murphy 1937–1939 High Commissioner to the Philippines, U.S. Attorney General, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Governor-General of the Philippines [26]
G. Mennen Williams 1949–1961 Ambassador to the Philippines, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court [27]
George W. Romney 1963–1969 U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development* [28]
James Blanchard 1983–1991 Ambassador to Canada [29]

Living former U.S. governors of Michigan[edit]

As of September 2018, there are four living former governors of Michigan. The most recent death of a former governor was that of George W. Romney (served 1963–69) on July 26, 1995, 18 days after his 88th birthday. Romney was also the most recently serving governor of Michigan to have died. The state's living former governors are:

Governor Gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
William Milliken 1969–1983 (1922-03-26) March 26, 1922 (age 96)
James Blanchard 1983–1991 (1942-08-08) August 8, 1942 (age 76)
John Engler 1991–2003 (1948-10-12) October 12, 1948 (age 69)
Jennifer Granholm 2003–2011 (1959-02-05) February 5, 1959 (age 59)


  1. ^ Died in office.[10]
  2. ^ As Territorial Secretary, Mason was authorized to become Acting Governor, though there was no formal succession and he was never officially named as governor.[10]
  3. ^ a b 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 U.S. Congress did not recognize the state until 1837. Horner was mostly ignored by the people of Michigan and resigned to be Secretary of Wisconsin Territory in July 1836.[11]
  4. ^ a b Resigned to take a seat in the United States Senate.[10]
  5. ^ a b c d As lieutenant governor, acted as governor for unexpired term.[10]
  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. ^ Resigned to become United States Secretary of the Interior.[10]
  8. ^ Died in office.[10]
  9. ^ Resigned to become United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.[10]
  10. ^ As lieutenant governor, acted as governor for unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.[10]
  11. ^ Binsfeld served during the first two terms; Posthumus served the third term.[20]


  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. ^ a b "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. ^ a b c d e f g h 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. ^ a b 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. 
  20. ^ "Former Lieutenant Governors". State of Michigan. Archived from the original on April 3, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2013. 
  21. ^ "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. 
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ "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. 
  24. ^ "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. 
  25. ^ "Michigan Governor Wilbur Marion Brucker". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Michigan Governor Frank Murphy". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Michigan Governor Gerhard Mennen Williams". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Michigan Governor George Wilcken Romney". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  29. ^ "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.