When Florida was first acquired by the United States, future president Andrew Jackson served as its military governor. Florida Territory was established in 1822, and five people served as governor over six distinct terms. The first territorial governor, William Pope Duval, served 12 years, the longest of any governor to date. Since statehood in 1845 there have been 43 people who have served as governor, one of whom served two distinct terms. Three state governors have served two full four-year terms: William D. Bloxham, in two stints; and Reubin Askew and Jeb Bush, who each served their terms consecutively. Bob Graham almost served two terms, as he resigned with only three days left. The shortest term in office belongs to Wayne Mixson, who served three days following the resignation of his predecessor.
The first Florida Constitution, ratified in 1838, provided that a governor be elected every four years, who was not allowed to serve consecutive terms. The secessionist constitution of 1861 would have reduced this to two years and removed the term limit, but the state fell to the Union before the first election under that constitution. The rejected constitution of 1865 and the ratified constitution of 1868 maintained the four-year term, though without the earlier term limit, which was reintroduced in the 1885 constitution. The current constitution of 1968 states that should the governor serve, or would have served had he not resigned, more than six years in two consecutive terms, he cannot be elected to the succeeding term. The start of a term was set in 1885 at the first Tuesday after the first Monday in the January following the election, where it has remained.
Originally, the president of the state senate acted as governor should that office be vacant. The 1865 and 1868 constitutions created the office of lieutenant governor, who would similarly act as governor. This office was abolished in 1885, with the president of the senate again taking on that duty. The 1968 constitution recreated the office of lieutenant governor, who now becomes governor in the absence of the governor. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket.
Florida was a strongly Democratic state before the Civil War, electing only candidates from the Democratic and Whig parties. It elected three Republican governors following Reconstruction, but after the Democratic Party re-established control, 90 years passed before voters chose another Republican.
As of September 2014[update], six former governors are alive, the oldest being Wayne Mixson (1987, born 1922). The most recent death of a former governor was that of Reubin Askew (1971–1979), on March 13, 2014. The most recently serving governor to die was Lawton Chiles, who died in office on December 12, 1998.
^Jackson's official titles were "Commissioner of the United States" and "Governor of East and West Florida".
^Jackson left Florida on October 8, 1821. His resignation was submitted on November 13, 1821, and the president accepted it on December 31, 1821.
^ abIncludes one partial term served by a governor who represented another party during the same term.
^The official numbering includes repeat terms, as well as the provisional governor.
^The office of lieutenant governor was created in 1868, abolished in 1885, and recreated in 1968.
^Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
^The fractional terms of some governors are not to be understood absolutely literally; rather, they are meant to show single terms during which multiple governors served, due to resignations, deaths and the like.
^Died in office; Milton committed suicide due to the pending defeat of the Confederate States of America, stating in his final address to the legislature that "death would be preferable to reunion."
^As president of state senate, acted as governor for unexpired term.
^Resigned to go into hiding from approaching Union troops, and was captured by them on June 19, 1865. Following his resignation, Florida was without governance until a federal governor was appointed.
^The first governor elected under the 1861 constitution would have been elected in October 1865; however, due to the occupation of the state and drafting of a new constitution, no governor was elected under that constitution.
^Most sources state Walker was a Democrat; the state archives say he was "Conservative".
^During an attempted impeachment of Harrison Reed, Gleason proclaimed himself governor. The Supreme Court eventually sided with Reed, and Gleason was removed from office.
^Reed was popularly elected under the terms of the 1868 constitution, and took the oath of office on June 8, 1868; it was not until July 4, 1868, however, that the federal commander of Florida, still under Reconstruction, recognized the validity of the state constitution and the election.
^Appointed as temporary lieutenant governor to replace William Henry Gleason. However, the state comptroller did not believe the governor could appoint a replacement to an elected office and refused to pay Weeks, and the Senate refused to accept his presidency over them, even proposing a motion to arrest him. Governor Reed called for a special election to replace him, and though Weeks fought it, the Florida Supreme Court declared his term to have ended when the new election results were certified.