List of governors of North Carolina

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The governor of North Carolina has a duty to enforce state laws and to convene the legislature.[1] The governor may grant pardons except in cases of impeachment.[2] For about 220 years the governor had no power to veto bills passed by the North Carolina General Assembly, but a referendum in November 1996 altered the state's constitution, so that North Carolina ceased to be the only state whose governor lacked that power.[3]

There have been three Presidents and 69 governors of North Carolina, with six governors (Richard Caswell, Alexander Martin, Benjamin Williams, Zebulon Baird Vance, William Woods Holden, and Jim Hunt) serving non-consecutive terms, totaling 78 terms in both offices. The current governor is Democrat Roy Cooper, who took office on January 1, 2017.

Presidents of the Provincial Council[edit]

North Carolina was one of the original thirteen colonies, and was admitted as a state on November 21, 1789 . Prior to declaring its independence, North Carolina was a colony of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The 13-member Provincial Council, renamed the Council of Safety in April 1776, was essentially the executive authority during the second year of the Revolution, and was appointed by the Provincial Congress. The Presidency of the Council and the Presidency of the Congress could each be considered the highest offices in the state during this time, but the council was supreme when the congress was not in session.

List of presidents[edit]

Terms and backgrounds of the three men who served as president of the Provincial Council:[4][5]

Name County/town Term Length Previous position
Cornelius Harnett
Harnett, CorneliusCornelius Harnett
(1723–1781)
WilmingtonOctober 18, 1775

August 21, 1776
308 daysMember of the House of Assembly
Samuel Ashe
Ashe, SamuelSamuel Ashe
(1725–1813)
New HanoverAugust 21, 1776

September 27, 1776
37 daysMember of the Provincial Congress
Willie Jones
Jones, WillieWillie Jones
(1741–1801)
[a]
HalifaxSeptember 27, 1776

October 25, 1776
28 daysMember of the Provincial Congress

Governors from 1776 to 1836[edit]

Governors were elected to one-year terms by the state legislature. Governors that serve non-consecutive terms are counted twice.

Governors of the State of North Carolina
No. Governor Party Term in office[b] Time in Office Notes
1 Richard Caswell (governor).jpg Richard Caswell No Party November 12, 1776

April 20, 1780
3.5 years
2 AbnerNash.jpg Abner Nash No Party April 20, 1780

June 26, 1781
1.25 years
3 Thomas Burke of North Carolina.jpg Thomas Burke No Party June 26, 1781

April 22, 1782
1 year
4 NCG-AlexanderMartin.jpg Alexander Martin Anti-Federalist April 22, 1782

May 13, 1785
3 years
5 Richard Caswell (governor).jpg Richard Caswell No Party May 13, 1785

December 20, 1787
2.5 years 2nd time
6 Samuel Johnston Bust.JPG Samuel Johnston Federalist December 20, 1787

December 17, 1789
2 years
7 NCG-AlexanderMartin.jpg Alexander Martin Anti-Federalist December 17, 1789

December 14, 1792
2 years 2nd time
8 NCG-RichardSpaight.jpg Richard Dobbs Spaight Federalist December 14, 1792

November 19, 1795
3 years
9 Samuel Ashe Anti-Federalist November 19, 1795

December 7, 1798
3 years
10 William Richardson Davie - Charles Willson Peale (full portrait) (frame cropped).jpg William Richardson Davie Federalist December 7, 1798

November 23, 1799
1 year
11 NCG-BenjaminWilliams.jpg Benjamin Williams Federalist November 23, 1799

December 6, 1802
1 year
12 James Turner Gouverneur von North Carolina.jpg James Turner Democratic-Republican December 6, 1802

December 10, 1805
3 years
13 Nathaniel Alexander Democratic-Republican December 10, 1805

December 1, 1807
2 years
14 NCG-BenjaminWilliams.jpg Benjamin Williams Federalist December 1, 1807

December 12, 1808
1 year
15 NC-Congress-DavidStone.jpg David Stone Democratic-Republican December 12, 1808

December 1, 1810
2 years
16 Governor Benjamin Smith.jpg Benjamin Smith Democratic-Republican December 1, 1810

December 11, 1811
1 year
17 William Hawkins.jpg William Hawkins Democratic-Republican December 11, 1811

November 29, 1814
3 years
18 Governor William Miller.jpg William Miller Democratic-Republican November 29, 1814

December 6, 1817
3 years
19 JohnBranch2.jpg John Branch Democratic-Republican December 6, 1817

December 7, 1820
3 years
20 Jesse Franklin Democratic-Republican December 7, 1820

December 7, 1821
1 year
21 Gabriel Holmes Democratic-Republican December 7, 1821

December 7, 1824
1 year
22 Hutchins Gordon Burton.jpg Hutchins Gordon Burton No party December 7, 1824

December 8, 1827
3 years
23 James Iredell.jpg James Iredell Jr. Democratic-Republican December 8, 1827

December 12, 1828
1 year
24 John Owen.jpg   John Owen Democratic December 12, 1828

December 18, 1830
2 years
25 NCG-MontfortStokes.jpg   Montfort Stokes Democratic December 18, 1830

December 6, 1832
2 years
26 David Lowry Swain.jpg David Lowry Swain National Republican December 6, 1832

December 10, 1835
3 years
27 RDSpaightJr-NC.jpg   Richard Dobbs Spaight Jr. Democratic December 10, 1835

December 31, 1836
1 year

Governors from 1837 to present[edit]

Governors of the State of North Carolina
No. Governor Party Term in office[c] Time in Office Election Lieutenant Governor Notes
28 Edward Bishop Dudley.jpg Edward Bishop Dudley Whig December 31, 1836

January 1, 1841

(Term limited)

4 years No such office First popularly elected
29 John Motley Morehead.jpg John Motley Morehead Whig January 1, 1841

January 1, 1845

(Term limited)

4 years
30 William Alexander Graham - Brady-Handy.jpg William Alexander Graham Whig January 1, 1845

January 1, 1849
(Term limited)
4 years
31 Charles Manly.jpg Charles Manly Whig January 1, 1849

January 1, 1851

(Lost reelection)

2 years
32 DavidSettleReid.jpg   David Settle Reid Democratic Party (United States) January 1, 1851

December 6, 1854

(Resigned)

3 years, 11 months
33 Warren Winslow.jpg   Warren Winslow Democratic Party (United States) December 6, 1854

January 1, 1855
(Not a candidate for election)
1 month
34 Thomas Bragg 1.jpg   Thomas Bragg Democratic Party (United States) January 1, 1855

January 1, 1859

(Term limited)

4 years
35 John Willis Ellis.jpg   John Willis Ellis Democratic Party (United States) January 1, 1859

July 7, 1861

(Died)

2.5 years
36 Henry Toole Clark.jpg   Henry Toole Clark Democratic Party (United States) July 7, 1861

September 8, 1862

(Resigned)

1 year, 3 months
37 Zebulon Baird Vance - Brady-Handy.jpg Zebulon Baird Vance Conservative September 8, 1862

May 29, 1865

(Overthrown)

2 years, 9 months Imprisoned by Union Army
State government dissolved and controlled by United States government
38 NCG-WilliamHolden.jpg William Woods Holden National Union May 29, 1865

December 15, 1865

(Served until state government reestablished)

7 months No such office Not elected; appointed by President Andrew Johnson to serve until special election
State government reestablished
39 Jonathan Worth (North Carolina).jpg Johnathan Worth Conservative December 15, 1865

July 1, 1868

(Not a candidate for reelection)

2.5 years[d] No such office
40 NCG-WilliamHolden.jpg   William Woods Holden Republican July 1, 1868

March 22, 1871

(Impeached and removed)

2 years, 10 months 1868   Tod Robinson Caldwell 2nd time

First elected to four-year term[e]

41 Tod Caldwell.jpg   Tod Robinson Caldwell Republican March 22, 1871

July 11, 1874

(Died)

3 years, 3 months Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
1872   Curtis H. Brogden
42 Curtis Hooks Brogden (1816-1901) portrait.jpg   Curtis Hooks Brogden Republican July 11, 1874

January 1, 1877

(Lost nomination)

2 years, 5 months Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
43 Zebulon Baird Vance - Brady-Handy.jpg   Zebulon Baird Vance[f] Democratic January 1, 1877

February 5, 1879

(Resigned)[g]

2 years, 1 month 1876   Thomas J. Jarvis 2nd time
44 Thomas Jordan Jarvis.jpg   Thomas Jordan Jarvis Democratic February 5, 1879

January 21, 1885

(Term limited)

6 years Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
1880   James L. Robinson
45 NCG-AlfredScales.jpg   Alfred Moore Scales Democratic January 21, 1885

January 17, 1889

(Term limited)

4 years 1884   Charles M. Stedman
46 NCG-DanielFowle.jpg   Daniel Gould Fowle Democratic January 17, 1889

April 7, 1891

(Died)

2 years, 3 months 1888   Thomas M. Holt
47 Thomas Michael Holt Governor of North Carolina.jpeg   Thomas Michael Holt Democratic April 7, 1891

January 18, 1893

(Lost nomination)

1 year, 9 months Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
48 Elias Carr - Gouverneur von Nord-Carolina.jpg   Elias Carr Democratic January 18, 1893

January 12, 1897

(Term limited)

4 years 1892   Rufus A. Doughton
49 Daniel Lindsay Russell.jpg   Daniel Lindsay Russell Republican January 12, 1897

January 15, 1901

(Term limited)

4 years 1896   Charles A. Reynolds
50 Picture of Charles Brantley Aycock.jpg   Charles Brantley Aycock Democratic January 15, 1901

January 11, 1905

(Term limited)

4 years 1900   Wilfred D. Turner
51 Robert Broadnax Glenn.jpg   Robert Broadnax Glenn Democratic January 11, 1905

January 12, 1909

(Term limited)

4 years 1904   Francis D. Winston
52 WilliamWaltonKitchin.jpg   William Walton Kitchin Democratic January 12, 1909

January 15, 1913

(Term limited)

4 years 1908   William C. Newland
53 Locke Craig.jpg   Locke Craig Democratic January 15, 1913

January 11, 1917

(Term limited)

4 years 1912   Elijah L. Daughtridge
54 ThomasWBickett.jpg   Thomas Walter Bickett Democratic January 11, 1917

January 12, 1921

(Term limited)

4 years 1916   Oliver Max Gardner
55 Cameron A. Morrison.jpg   Cameron A. Morrison Democratic January 12, 1921

January 14, 1925
(Term limited)
4 years 1920   William Cooper
56 Angus Wilton McLean.jpg   Angus Wilton McLean Democratic January 14, 1925

January 11, 1929

(Term limited)

4 years 1924   Jacob E. Long
57 Oliver Max Gardner.jpg   O. Max Gardner Democratic January 11, 1929

January 5, 1933

(Term limited)

4 years 1928   Richard T. Fountain
58 JohnEhringhaus.jpg   John C.B. Ehringhaus Democratic January 5, 1933

January 7, 1937

(Term limited)

4 years 1932   Alexander H. Graham
59 Clyde Hoey.jpg   Clyde R. Hoey Democratic January 7, 1937

January 9, 1941

(Term limited)

4 years 1936   Wilkins P. Horton
60 Melville Broughton.jpg   J. Melville Broughton Democratic January 9, 1941

January 4, 1945
(Term limited)
4 years 1940   Reginald L. Harris
61 Robert Gregg Cherry.jpg   R. Gregg Cherry Democratic January 4, 1945

January 6, 1949
(Term limited)
4 years 1944   Lynton Y. Ballentine
62 W. Kerr Scott.jpg   W. Kerr Scott Democratic January 6, 1949

January 8, 1953

(Term limited)

4 years 1948   Hoyt Patrick Taylor
63 William Bradley Umstead.jpg   William B. Umstead Democratic January 8, 1953

November 7, 1954
(Died)
1 year, 10 months 1952   Luther H. Hodges
64 N 85 29 L Hodges-Bill Friday-Bob House 56 (8080601640) (cropped).jpg   Luther H. Hodges Democratic November 7, 1954

January 5, 1961

(Term limited)

7 years, 2 months Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
1956   Luther E. Barnhardt
65 Terry Sanford 1961.jpg   Terry Sanford Democratic January 5, 1961

January 8, 1965

(Term limited)

4 years 1960   Harvey Cloyd Philpott

(Died)

Vacant
66 Dan K. Moore.jpg   Dan K. Moore Democratic January 8, 1965

January 3, 1969

(Term limited)

4 years 1964   Robert W. Scott
67 Robert W. Scott official photo (cropped).jpg   Robert W. Scott Democratic January 3, 1969

January 5, 1973

(Term limited)

4 years 1968   Hoyt Patrick Taylor, Jr.
68 James Holshouser official photo (cropped).jpg   James Holshouser Republican January 5, 1973

January 8, 1977

(Term limited)

4 years 1972   Jim Hunt
69 Jim Hunt (NC, 1981).png   Jim Hunt Democratic January 8, 1977

January 5, 1985

(Term limited)

8 years 1976   James C. Green First elected to two consecutive four-year terms
1980
70 James G. Martin (cropped).jpg   James G. Martin Republican January 5, 1985

January 9, 1993

(Term limited)

8 years 1984   Robert B. Jordan
1988   Jim Gardner
71 Jim Hunt official portrait (cropped).jpg   Jim Hunt Democratic January 9, 1993

January 6, 2001

(Term limited)

8 years 1992   Dennis Wicker 2nd time

Longest-serving (16 years)

1996
72 Mike Easley.jpg   Mike Easley Democratic January 6, 2001

January 10, 2009

(Term limited)

8 years 2000   Bev Perdue
2004
73 Beverly Perdue official photo.jpg   Bev Perdue Democratic January 10, 2009

January 5, 2013

(Not a candidate for reelection)

4 years 2008   Walter Dalton First female
74 Governor McCrory cropped.jpg   Pat McCrory Republican January 5, 2013

January 1, 2017

(Lost reelection)

4 years 2012   Dan Forest
75 Gov. Cooper Cropped.jpg   Roy Cooper Democratic January 1, 2017

Incumbent[h]
6 years, 29 days[i] 2016
2020   Mark Robinson

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Some sources indicate that Jones was president through November 12, when the Fifth North Carolina Provincial Congress convened. This congress also elected Richard Caswell acting governor.
  2. ^ Years are rounded
  3. ^ Years are rounded
  4. ^ Worth served the remainder of the special term plus a 2-year term of his own. Afterward, the new state constitution changed the terms of office to four years.
  5. ^ Holden did not finish this term because of his removal from office
  6. ^ Though in his first term he was overthrown and imprisoned for treason, he was granted amnesty by President Ulysses S. Grant, thus allowing him to serve as governor again]].
  7. ^ Resigned to become United States Senator
  8. ^ Current term will expire January 2025. He will be term-limited.
  9. ^ As of January 30, 2023

References[edit]

  1. ^ NC Constitution article III, § 5 (11).
  2. ^ NC Constitution article III, § 5 (6).
  3. ^ NC Constitution article II, § 22.
  4. ^ Connor, Robert Digges Wimberly (1878-1950), ed. (1913). A Manual of North Carolina Issued by the North Carolina Historical Commission for the Use of the Members of the General Assembly Session. p. 323.
  5. ^ Whitaker, Bessie Lewis (1908). "The Provincial Council and Committees of Safety in North Carolina". Chapel Hill University Press.

External links[edit]

Official
General information