List of governors of Virginia

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The following is a list of the governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Governor of Virginia is the state's head of government and commander-in-chief of the state's official national guard. The governor has the duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Virginia General Assembly, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment.[1]

The first Constitution of 1776 created the office of governor, to be elected annually by the Virginia State Legislature. The governor could serve up to three years at a time, and once out of office, could not serve again for four years.[2] The 1830 constitution changed the thrice renewable one-year term length to a non-renewable three-year term, and set the start date at the first day in January following an election.[3] This constitution also prevented governors from succeeding themselves, a prohibition that exists to the present day.[4] The 1851 Constitution increased terms to four years[5] and made the office elected by the people, rather than the legislature.[6] The commencement of the Governor's term was moved to the first day in February by the 1902 Constitution,[7] and then to the Saturday after the second Wednesday in January by the 1971 and current Constitution.[8]

If the office of governor is vacant due to disqualification, death, or resignation, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia becomes Governor.[9] The office of Lieutenant Governor was created in 1851.[10] Prior to that a Council of State existed; it chose from among its members a President who would be "Lieutenant-Governor" and would act as governor when there was a vacancy in that office.[2][11]

Officially, there have been 74 governors of Virginia; the acting governors are not counted.

Colonial governors[edit]

President of the Committee for Public Safety[edit]

Parties:

# Picture President Took office Left office Party
1 Edmund Pendleton 1872 crop.jpg Edmund Pendleton August 16, 1775 July 5, 1776 None

List of governors (1776-1852)[edit]

Parties:

  Whig
# Picture Governor Took office Left office Lieutenant Governor Party Notes
1 Patrick henry.JPG Patrick Henry July 6, 1776 June 1, 1779 Office vacant

1776-1852

None First under 1776 Constitution
(limit of 3 one-year terms)
2 T Jefferson by Charles Willson Peale 1791 2.jpg Thomas Jefferson June 2, 1779 June 3, 1781 None 3rd President of the United States
3 No image.svg William Fleming June 4, 1781 June 12, 1781 None
4 Thomas Nelson (1700s).jpg Thomas Nelson Jr. June 12, 1781 November 22, 1781 None
No image.svg David Jameson November 22, 1781 November 30, 1781 None Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
5 Benharrv.JPG Benjamin Harrison V December 1, 1781 November 30, 1784 None
6 Patrick henry.JPG Patrick Henry November 30, 1784 November 30, 1786 None Re-elected after 5-year hiatus
(1 more than constitutional minimum)
7 EdmundRandolph.jpeg Edmund Randolph November 30, 1786 November 12, 1788 None First under U.S. constitution
8 No image.svg Beverley Randolph November 12, 1788 December 1, 1791 None
9 HenryLee.jpeg Henry Lee III December 1, 1791 December 1, 1794 Federalist
10 Robert Brooke Virginia Governor.jpg Robert Brooke December 1, 1794 November 30, 1796 Democratic-Republican
11 James Wood (1741-1813, Virginia governor).jpg James Wood November 30, 1796 December 6, 1799 Federalist
No image.svg Hardin Burnley December 7, 1799 December 9, 1799
No image.svg John Pendleton Jr. December 11, 1799 December 19, 1799
12 James Monroe (1758-1831).jpg James Monroe December 19, 1799 December 24, 1802 Democratic-Republican U.S. Senator 1790–1794, fifth President of the United States
13 John Page Rosewell Gloucester County Virginia.jpg John Page December 24, 1802 December 11, 1805 Democratic-Republican
14 William Cabell.gif William H. Cabell December 11, 1805 December 12, 1808 Democratic-Republican
15 John Tyler Sr.jpg John Tyler Sr. December 12, 1808 January 15, 1811 Democratic-Republican
GeorgeWillSmith.jpg George William Smith January 15, 1811 January 19, 1811 Democratic-Republican Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
16 James Monroe (1758-1831).jpg James Monroe January 19, 1811 April 3, 1811 Democratic-Republican U.S. Senator 1790–94, Fifth President of the United States
17 GeorgeWillSmith.jpg George William Smith April 3, 1811 December 26, 1811 Democratic-Republican Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
Later elected in his own right
Died in office
N/A Peyton Randolph Virginia Governor.jpg Peyton Randolph December 27, 1811 January 4, 1812 Democratic-Republican Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
18 BarbourT.jpg James Barbour January 4, 1812 December 11, 1814 Democratic-Republican U.S. Senator 1815–1825
19 Wilson Cary Nicholas 2.jpg Wilson Cary Nicholas December 11, 1814 December 11, 1816 Democratic-Republican
20 Portrait of James Patton Preston.jpg James Patton Preston December 11, 1816 December 11, 1819 Democratic-Republican
21 Thomas Mann Randolph.jpg Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. December 11, 1819 December 11, 1822 Democratic-Republican
22 James Pleasants bioguide.jpg James Pleasants December 11, 1822 December 11, 1825 Democratic-Republican Resigned U.S. Senate to assume Governorship
23 Tyler Daguerreotype crop (restoration).jpg John Tyler December 11, 1825 March 4, 1827 Democratic-Republican Resigned to enter U.S. Senate 1827–1836, 10th United States President
24 Portrait of William Branch Giles.jpg William Branch Giles March 4, 1827 March 4, 1830 Democratic-Republican U.S. Senator 1804–1815
25 John Floyd.jpg John Floyd March 4, 1830 March 31, 1834 Democratic First under 1830 constitution
(limit of 1 four-year term)
26 LWTzw.jpg Littleton Waller Tazewell March 31, 1834 March 30, 1836 Democratic U.S. Senator 1824–1832
Wyndhamrobertsonportrait.jpg Wyndham Robertson March 30, 1836 March 31, 1837 Whig Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
27 David Campbell.jpg David Campbell March 31, 1837 March 31, 1840 Democratic
28 Thomas Gilmer newer.jpeg Thomas Walker Gilmer March 31, 1840 March 20, 1841 Whig
John Mercer Patton.jpg John M. Patton March 20, 1841 March 31, 1841 Whig Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
John Rutherford Virginia Governor.jpg John Rutherfoord March 31, 1841 March 31, 1842 Democratic Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
John Munford Gregory.jpg John Munford Gregory March 31, 1842 January 5, 1843 Whig Acting Governor
(member of Council of State)
29 James McDowell.jpg James McDowell January 5, 1843 January 1, 1846 Democratic
30 Hon. Smith - NARA - 528722.jpg William Smith January 1, 1846 January 1, 1849 Democratic
31 John Buchanan Floyd.jpg John B. Floyd January 1, 1849 January 1, 1852 Democratic U.S. Secretary of War 1857–60

Governors under the constitution of 1851[edit]

Governors are elected to one term of four years, which cannot be renewed.

Governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia (1851 - present)
No. Governor Party Term in office[a] Time in Office Election Lieutenant Governor Notes
32 Joseph Johnson.png   Joseph Johnson Democratic January 1, 1852

January 1, 1856

(Term Limited)

4 years 1851   Shelton Leake First popularly elected
33 HAWise.jpg   Henry A. Wise Democratic January 1, 1856

January 1, 1860

(Term Limited)

4 years 1855 Elisha W. McComas
  William Lowther Jackson
32 JohnLetcher.jpg   John Letcher Democratic January 1, 1860

May 15, 1861

(Overthrown)[b]

1 year, 5 months 1859   Robert Latane Montague
State government dissolved
33 Francis Pierpont portrait.gif   Francis Harrison Pierpont Republican May 15, 1861

April 4, 1868
7 years Elected by Wheeling Convention   Daniel Polsley
  Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper
- Henry Wells.jpg   Henry H. Wells Republican April 4, 1868

September 21, 1869

(Acting)

1.5 years Appointed by

First Military District

36 Gilbert C. Walker (Virginia Governor).jpg   Gilbert Carlton Walker Republican September 21, 1869

January 1, 1870
1 year, 3 months Appointed by

First Military District

  John F. Lewis
State government reestablished with popular elections
Gilbert C. Walker (Virginia Governor).jpg   Gilbert Carlton Walker Democratic January 1, 1870

January 1, 1874

(Term Limited)

4 years 1869 John Lawrence Marye, Jr. Switched from Republican to Democratic party
37 James L Kemper.jpg   James L. Kemper Democratic January 1, 1874

January 1, 1878

(Term Limited)

4 years 1873   Robert E. Withers
  Henry Wirtz Thomas
38 Frederick Holliday.jpg   Frederick Holiday Democratic January 1, 1878

January 1, 1882

(Term Limited)

4 years 1877   James A. Walker
39 WE Cameron.jpg   William E. Cameron Readjuster January 1, 1882

January 1, 1886

(Term Limited)

4 years 1881   John F. Lewis
40 Fitzhugh Lee Governor.jpg   Fitzhugh Lee Democratic January 1, 1886

January 1, 1890

(Term Limited)

4 years 1885   John E. Massey
41 Philip McKinney.jpg   Philip W. McKinney Democratic January 1, 1890

January 1, 1894

(Term Limited)

4 years 1889   James H. Tyler
42 Charles O'Ferrall.jpg   Charles Triplett O'Ferrall Democratic January 1, 1894

January 1, 1898

(Term Limited)

4 years 1893   Robert C. Kent
43 James Hoge Tyler.jpg   James Hoge Tyler Democratic January 1, 1898

January 1, 1902

(Term Limited)

4 years 1897   Edward Echols
44 Andrew J. Montague.jpg   Andrew Jackson Montague Democratic January 1, 1902

February 1, 1906

(Term Limited)

4 years, 1 month[c] 1901   Joseph Edward Willard
45 CASwanson.jpg   Claude A. Swanson Democratic February 1, 1906

February 1, 1910

(Term Limited)

4 years 1905   James Taylor Ellyson
46 William Hodges Mann, ca. 1914.jpg   William Hodges Mann Democratic February 1, 1910

February 1, 1914

(Term Limited)

4 years 1909
47 H.C. Stuart.jpg   Henry Carter Stuart Democratic February 1, 1914

February 1, 1918

(Term Limited)

4 years 1913
48 Governorwestmdavis.jpg   Westmoreland Davis Democratic February 1, 1918

February 1, 1922

(Term Limited)

4 years 1917   Benjamin Franklin Buchanan
49 GovTrinkle.jpg   Elbert Lee Trinkle Democratic February 1, 1922

February 1, 1926

(Term Limited)

4 years 1921   Junius Edgar West
50 Harry F. Byrd.jpg   Harry F. Byrd Democratic February 1, 1926

January 15, 1930

(Term Limited)

4 years 1925
51 JGPollard.jpg   John Garland Pollard Democratic January 15, 1930

January 16, 1934

(Term Limited)

4 years 1929   James Hubert Price
52 GeorgeCPeery.jpg   George C. Peery Democratic January 17, 1934

January 18, 1938

(Term Limited)

4 years 1933
53 JamesHPrice.jpg   James Hubert Price Democratic January 19, 1938

January 20, 1942

(Term Limited)

4 years 1937   Saxon W. Holt

(Died)

Vacant
54 Colgate Darden (VA).png   Colgate Darden Democratic January 21, 1942

January 15, 1946

(Term Limited)

4 years 1941   William M. Tuck
55 William M. Tuck (VA).png   William M. Tuck Democratic January 16, 1946

January 17, 1950

(Term Limited)

4 years 1945   Lewis Preston Collins II

(Died)

56 John S. Battle (VA).png   John S. Battle Democratic January 18, 1950

January 19, 1954

(Term Limited)

4 years 1949
Vacant
  Allie Edward Stakes Stephens
57 Thomas Bahnson Stanley.jpg   Thomas B. Stanley Democratic January 20, 1954

January 11, 1958

(Term Limited)

4 years 1953
58 J. Lindsay Almond (VA).png   J. Lindsay Almond Democratic January 11, 1958

January 13, 1962

(Term Limited)

4 years 1957
59 Albertis Harrison 1962.jpg   Albertis Harrison Democratic January 13, 1962

January 15, 1966

(Term Limited)

4 years 1961   Mills Godwin
60 Mills Godwin 1974.jpg   Mills Godwin Democratic January 15, 1966

January 17, 1970

(Term Limited)

4 years 1965   Fred G. Pollard
61 Linwood Holton 1970.jpg   Linwood Holton Republican January 17, 1970

January 12, 1974

(Term Limited)

4 years 1969   J. Sargeant Reynolds

(Died)

Vacant
Henry Howell
62 Mills Godwin 1974.jpg   Mills Godwin Republican January 12, 1974

January 14, 1978

(Term Limited)

4 years 1973   John N. Dalton 2nd time

Changed parties

63 John N. Dalton (VA).jpg   John N. Dalton Republican January 14, 1978

January 16, 1982

(Term Limited)

4 years 1977   Chuck Robb
64 Chuck Robb (VA).png   Chuck Robb Democratic January 16, 1982

January 11, 1986

(Term Limited)

4 years 1981   Gerald L. Baliles
65 Gerald Baliles 1986.jpg   Gerald Baliles Democratic January 11, 1986

January 13, 1990

(Term Limited)

4 years 1985   Douglas Wilder
66 Douglas Wilder 2003 NIH.jpg   Douglas Wilder Democratic January 13, 1990

January 15, 1994

(Term Limited)

4 years 1989   Don Beyer First African American elected governor in U.S. history
67 George Allen.jpg   George Allen Republican January 15, 1994

January 17, 1998

(Term Limited)

4 years 1993
68 Jim Gilmore 2004 NSTAC crop.jpg   Jim Gilmore Republican January 17, 1998

January 12, 2002

(Term Limited)

4 years 1997   John H. Hager
69 Governor Warner (1).jpg   Mark Warner Democratic January 12, 2002

January 14, 2006

(Term Limited)

4 years 2001   Tim Kaine
70 Gov. Tim Kaine (cropped).jpg   Tim Kaine Democratic January 14, 2006

January 16, 2010

(Term Limited)

4 years 2005   Bill Bolling
71 Bob McDonnell by Gage Skidmore.jpg   Bob McDonnell Republican January 16, 2010

January 11, 2014

(Term Limited)

4 years 2009
72 Virginia Governor Democrats Terry McAuliffe 095 (cropped).jpg   Terry McAuliffe Democratic January 11, 2014

January 13, 2018

(Term Limited)

4 years 2013   Ralph Northam
73 Governor Ralph Northam Gives Inaugural Address (39348612584) (cropped).jpg   Ralph Northam Democratic January 13, 2018

January 15, 2022

(Term Limited)

4 years 2017   Justin Fairfax
74 Youngkin Governor Portrait.jpg   Glenn Youngkin Republican January 15, 2022

Incumbent[d]
212 days[e] 2021   Winsome Sears

Living former governors of Virginia[edit]

As of January 2022, there are nine former governors of Virginia currently living, the oldest being Douglas Wilder (served 1990–1994, born 1931). The most recent governor of Virginia to die was Linwood Holton (served 1970–1974, born 1923), on October 28, 2021.[12][13] The most recently serving governor of Virginia to die was Gerald Baliles (served 1986–1990, born 1940), on October 29, 2019.

Other high offices held[edit]

* Denotes those offices which the governor resigned to take.

This is a table of congressional, confederate and other federal offices held by governors. All representatives and senators mentioned represented Virginia except where noted.

          Governor           Gubernatorial
term
U.S. Congress Other offices held
House Senate
Thomas Jefferson 1779–1781 Delegate to the Second Continental Congress, (1775–1776); Delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (1783–1784); U.S. Minister to France. (1785–1789); 1st U.S. Secretary of State, (1790–1793); 2nd Vice President of the United States, (1797–1801); 3rd President of the United States, (1801–1809)
Thomas Nelson, Jr. 1781 Delegate to the Second Continental Congress, (1775–1781)
Benjamin Harrison V 1781–1784 Delegate to the Second Continental Congress, (1775–1781)
Edmund Randolph 1786–1788 1st U.S. Attorney General, (1789–1794); 2nd U.S. Secretary of State, (1794–1795), Delegate to the Constitutional Convention (United States), (1787-1787)
Henry Lee III 1791–1794 H Delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (1786–1788)
James Monroe 1799–1802
1811
S Delegate to the Congress of the Confederation (1783–1786); U.S. Minister to France, (1794–1796); U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom, (1803–1808); 7th U.S. Secretary of State*, (1811–1817); 8th U.S. Secretary of War, (1814–1815); 5th President of the United States, (1817–1825)
John Page 1802–1805 H
James Barbour 1812–1814 S U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom, (1828–1829); President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, (1819); 11th U.S. Secretary of War, (1825–1828)
Wilson Cary Nicholas 1814–1816 H S
Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. 1819–1822 H
James Pleasants 1822–1825 H S
John Tyler 1825–1827 H S* President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, (1835); 10th Vice President of the United States, (1841); 10th President of the United States, (1841–1845); Provisional Congress of the Confederate States, (1861–1862)
William Branch Giles 1827–1830 H S
John Floyd 1830–1834 H
Littleton Waller Tazewell 1834–1836 H S
Thomas Walker Gilmer 1840–1841 H* 15th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, (1844)
John M. Patton 1841 H
James McDowell 1843–1846 H
William Smith 1846–1849
1864–1865
H Confederate House of Representatives, (1862–1863)
John B. Floyd 1849–1852 24th U.S. Secretary of War, (1857–1860)
Joseph Johnson 1852–1856 H
Henry A. Wise 1852–1856 H U. S. Minister to Brazil, (1844–1847)
John Letcher 1860–1861* H
Francis Harrison Pierpont 1861–1865
Gilbert Carlton Walker 1869–1874 H
Frederick W. M. Holliday 1878–1882 Confederate House of Representatives, (1864–1865)
Charles Triplett O'Ferrall 1894–1898 H
Andrew Jackson Montague 1902–1906 H
Claude A. Swanson 1906–1910 H S 45th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, (1933–1939)
Harry F. Byrd 1926–1930 S
George C. Peery 1934–1938 H
Colgate Darden 1942–1946 H
William M. Tuck 1946–1950 H
Thomas B. Stanley 1954–1958 H
James Lindsay Almond, Jr. 1958–1962 H
Chuck Robb 1982–1986 S
George Allen 1994–1998 H S
Mark Warner 2002–2006 S
Tim Kaine 2006–2010 S

Birth places[edit]

Part of Virginia # of Governors Elected
Central Virginia 17
Not from Virginia 12
Peninsula 10
Southwest Virginia 8
South Central Virginia 7
Northern Neck of Virginia 5
Northwest Virginia 4
West Central Virginia 4
Northern Central Virginia (NOVA) 2
Southeast 2
Eastern Shore of Virginia 2
Not from the United States 1
Total 74
  • These numbers reflect place of residence when taking office, not birthplace

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Years are rounded
  2. ^ The United States government no longer recognized Letcher as Virginia's governor. Instead, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Francis Harrison Pierpont as governor.
  3. ^ Inauguration day moved one month later
  4. ^ Current term will expire January 2026. He will be term-limited.
  5. ^ As of August 15, 2022

References[edit]

  1. ^ VA Const. art. V
  2. ^ a b 1776 Const.
  3. ^ 1830 Const. Art IV section 1.
  4. ^ VA Const. Art V sec 1
  5. ^ 1851 Const. art V section 1.
  6. ^ 1851 Const. Art V section 2.
  7. ^ 1902 Const. Art V section 69.
  8. ^ VA Const. art V section 1.
  9. ^ VA Const. Art V section 16.
  10. ^ 1851 Const. art V section 8.
  11. ^ 1830 Const. art IV section 5.
  12. ^ "A. Linwood Holton Jr., Virginia governor who took bold stance on integration, dies at 98 - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ "Former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton dies at 98".

General[edit]

Constitutions[edit]

Specific[edit]