List of Governors of Kentucky

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Governor of Kentucky
Seal of Kentucky.svg
Seal of Kentucky
Steve Beshear by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Incumbent
Steve Beshear

since December 11, 2007
StyleThe Honorable
ResidenceKentucky Governor's Mansion
Term lengthFour years, two consecutive with four year pause thereafter
Inaugural holderIsaac Shelby
FormationJune 4, 1792
DeputyJerry Abramson
Salary$125,228 (2009)[1]
Websitegovernor.ky.gov
 
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Governor of Kentucky
Seal of Kentucky.svg
Seal of Kentucky
Steve Beshear by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Incumbent
Steve Beshear

since December 11, 2007
StyleThe Honorable
ResidenceKentucky Governor's Mansion
Term lengthFour years, two consecutive with four year pause thereafter
Inaugural holderIsaac Shelby
FormationJune 4, 1792
DeputyJerry Abramson
Salary$125,228 (2009)[1]
Websitegovernor.ky.gov

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the head of the executive branch of Kentucky's government,[2] and serves as commander-in-chief of the state's militia forces.[3] The governor has a duty to enforce state laws;[4] the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Kentucky Legislature;[5] the power to convene the legislature;[6] and the power to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment.[7] He or she is also empowered to reorganize the state government or reduce it in size. Historically, the office has been regarded as one of the most powerful executive positions in the United States.[8]

Fifty-seven individuals have held the office of governor. Prior to a 1992 amendment to the state's constitution, the governor was prohibited from succeeding himself in office, though four men (Isaac Shelby, John L. Helm, James B. McCreary, and A. B. "Happy" Chandler) served multiple non-consecutive terms. Paul E. Patton, the first governor eligible for a second consecutive term under the amendment, won his reelection bid in 1999. James Garrard succeeded himself in 1800, before the constitutional provision existed.

William Goebel, who was elected to the office in the disputed election of 1899, remains the only governor of any U.S. state to die from assassination while in office.[9] Martha Layne Collins, who held the office from 1983 to 1987, was the first woman to serve as governor and was only the third woman to serve as governor of any U.S. state who was not the wife or widow of a previous governor.[8]

Steve Beshear is the 61st and current governor, having served since December 11, 2007. He defeated incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher in the 2007 gubernatorial election and won re-election in 2011, defeating state Senate President David L. Williams.

Governors[edit]

Kentucky was initially Kentucky County in Virginia. It achieved statehood and was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1792; see the list of governors of Virginia for the period before statehood. There have been 57 governors, serving 61 distinct terms.

An unelected group proclaimed Kentucky's secession from the Union on November 20, 1861, and it was annexed by the Confederate States of America on December 10, 1861. The Confederate government elected two governors (listed separately), but it never held much control over the state, and the main line of governors was preserved.

The original 1792 Kentucky Constitution had the governor chosen by an electoral college for a term of four years.[10] The second constitution in 1799 changed this to a popular vote, and prevented governors from succeeding themselves within seven years of their terms.[11] The third constitution in 1850 reduced the succession limitation to four years.[12] A 1992 amendment to the constitution allowed governors to have a second term before being prevented from succeeding themselves for four years.[13]

Isaac Shelby, 1st and 5th Governor of Kentucky
John J. Crittenden, 17th Governor of Kentucky, and 15th and 22nd U.S. Attorney General
Beriah Magoffin, 21st Governor of Kentucky, and governor at the start of the American Civil War
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr., 30th Governor of Kentucky, and a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army
Happy Chandler, 44th and 49th Governor of Kentucky, and 2nd Commissioner of Baseball
Ernie Fletcher, 60th Governor of Kentucky

      Democratic (35)       Democratic-Republican (9)       Know Nothing (1)       National Republican (2)       Republican (8)       Whig (6)

#GovernorTook officeLeft officePartyLt. Governor
[note 1]
Terms
[note 2]
1 Isaac ShelbyJune 4, 1792June 7, 1796Democratic-
Republican
None1
2 James GarrardJune 7, 1796September 5, 1804Democratic-
Republican
None2
 Alexander Scott Bullitt
3 Christopher GreenupSeptember 5, 1804September 1, 1808Democratic-
Republican
 John Caldwell1
 Thomas Posey
4 Charles ScottSeptember 1, 1808August 24, 1812Democratic-
Republican
 Gabriel Slaughter1
5 Isaac ShelbyAugust 24, 1812September 5, 1816Democratic-
Republican
 Richard Hickman1
6 George MadisonSeptember 5, 1816October 14, 1816Democratic-
Republican
 Gabriel Slaughter12
[note 3]
7 Gabriel SlaughterOctober 14, 1816August 29, 1820Democratic-
Republican
vacant12
[note 4]
8 John AdairAugust 29, 1820August 24, 1824Democratic-
Republican
 William T. Barry1
9 Joseph DeshaAugust 24, 1824August 26, 1828Democratic-
Republican
 Robert B. McAfee1
10 Thomas MetcalfeAugust 26, 1828September 4, 1832National
Republican
 John Breathitt1
11 John BreathittSeptember 4, 1832February 21, 1834Democratic James T. Morehead12
[note 3]
12 James T. MoreheadFebruary 21, 1834August 30, 1836National
Republican
vacant12
[note 4]
13 James ClarkAugust 30, 1836August 27, 1839Whig Charles A. Wickliffe12
[note 3]
14 Charles A. WickliffeAugust 27, 1839September 2, 1840Whigvacant12
[note 4]
15 Robert P. LetcherSeptember 2, 1840September 4, 1844Whig Manlius V. Thomson1
16 William OwsleySeptember 4, 1844September 6, 1848Whig Archibald Dixon1
17 John J. CrittendenSeptember 6, 1848July 13, 1850Whig John L. Helm12
[note 5]
18 John L. HelmJuly 31, 1850September 2, 1851Whigvacant12
[note 4]
19 Lazarus W. PowellSeptember 2, 1851September 4, 1855Democratic John B. Thompson1
20 Charles S. MoreheadSeptember 4, 1855August 30, 1859Know Nothing James G. Hardy1
21 Beriah MagoffinAugust 30, 1859August 18, 1862Democratic Linn Boyd12
[note 6]
vacant
22 James F. RobinsonAugust 18, 1862September 1, 1863Democraticvacant12
[note 7]
23 Thomas E. BramletteSeptember 1, 1863September 3, 1867Democratic Richard T. Jacob1
24 John L. HelmSeptember 3, 1867September 8, 1867Democratic John W. Stevenson12
[note 3]
25 John W. StevensonSeptember 8, 1867February 3, 1871Democraticvacant1 12
[note 8]
[note 9]
26 Preston H. LeslieFebruary 3, 1871August 31, 1875Democratic John G. Carlisle1 12
[note 10]
27 James B. McCrearyAugust 31, 1875September 2, 1879Democratic John C. Underwood1
28 Luke P. BlackburnSeptember 2, 1879September 5, 1883Democratic James E. Cantrill1
29 J. Proctor KnottSeptember 5, 1883August 30, 1887Democratic James R. Hindman1
30 Simon B. BucknerAugust 30, 1887September 2, 1891Democratic James W. Bryan1
31 John Young BrownSeptember 2, 1891December 10, 1895Democratic Mitchell C. Alford1
32 William O. BradleyDecember 10, 1895December 12, 1899Republican William J. Worthington1
33 William S. TaylorDecember 12, 1899January 30, 1900Republican John Marshall13
[note 11]
34 William GoebelJanuary 30, 1900February 3, 1900Democratic J. C. W. Beckham13
[note 11]
35 J. C. W. BeckhamFebruary 3, 1900December 10, 1907Democraticvacant1 13
[note 12]
 William P. Thorne
36 Augustus E. WillsonDecember 10, 1907December 12, 1911Republican William Hopkinson Cox1
37 James B. McCrearyDecember 12, 1911December 7, 1915Democratic Edward J. McDermott1
38 Augustus O. StanleyDecember 7, 1915May 19, 1919Democratic James D. Black12
[note 9]
39 James D. BlackMay 19, 1919December 9, 1919Democraticvacant12
[note 4]
40 Edwin P. MorrowDecember 9, 1919December 11, 1923Republican S. Thruston Ballard1
41 William J. FieldsDecember 11, 1923December 13, 1927Democratic Henry Denhardt1
42 Flem D. SampsonDecember 13, 1927December 8, 1931Republican James Breathitt, Jr.1
43 Ruby LaffoonDecember 8, 1931December 10, 1935Democratic A. B. "Happy" Chandler1
44 A. B. "Happy" ChandlerDecember 10, 1935October 9, 1939Democratic Keen Johnson12
[note 13]
45 Keen JohnsonOctober 9, 1939December 7, 1943Democratic Rodes K. Myers1 12
[note 8]
46 Simeon S. WillisDecember 7, 1943December 9, 1947Republican Kenneth H. Tuggle1
47 Earle C. ClementsDecember 9, 1947November 27, 1950Democratic Lawrence W. Wetherby12
[note 9]
48 Lawrence W. WetherbyNovember 27, 1950December 13, 1955Democraticvacant1 12
[note 8]
 Emerson Beauchamp
49 A. B. "Happy" ChandlerDecember 13, 1955December 8, 1959Democratic Harry Lee Waterfield1
50 Bert T. CombsDecember 8, 1959December 10, 1963Democratic Wilson Wyatt1
51 Edward T. BreathittDecember 10, 1963December 12, 1967Democratic Harry Lee Waterfield1
52 Louie B. NunnDecember 12, 1967December 7, 1971Republican Wendell H. Ford1
53 Wendell H. FordDecember 7, 1971December 28, 1974Democratic Julian M. Carroll12
[note 9]
54 Julian M. CarrollDecember 28, 1974December 11, 1979Democratic Thelma Stovall1 12
[note 8]
55 John Y. Brown, Jr.December 11, 1979December 13, 1983Democratic Martha Layne Collins1
56 Martha Layne CollinsDecember 13, 1983December 8, 1987Democratic Steve Beshear1
57 Wallace G. WilkinsonDecember 8, 1987December 10, 1991Democratic Brereton Jones1
58 Brereton JonesDecember 10, 1991December 12, 1995Democratic Paul E. Patton1
59 Paul E. PattonDecember 12, 1995December 9, 2003Democratic Steve Henry2
60 Ernie FletcherDecember 9, 2003December 11, 2007Republican Steve Pence1
61 Steve BeshearDecember 11, 2007incumbentDemocratic Daniel Mongiardo2
[note 14]
 Jerry Abramson

Confederate governors[edit]

George W. Johnson, 1st Confederate Governor of Kentucky

During the Civil War, a group of Confederate sympathizers met at the Russellville, Kentucky to form a Confederate government for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. While this government never successfully displaced the government in Frankfort, two men were elected governor of the Confederate government: George W. Johnson, who served from November 20, 1861 to his death on April 8, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh, and, on Johnson's death, Richard Hawes, who served until the Confederate surrender on April 9, 1865. The Confederate government disbanded shortly after the end of the war in 1865.[15]

Other high offices held[edit]

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

* Denotes those offices for which the governor resigned the governorship.

In addition, one Confederate governor, Richard Hawes, served as a U.S. Representative.[16]

NameGubernatorial termU.S. CongressOther offices heldSource
HouseSenate
Christopher Greenup1804–1808H[17]
John Adair1820–1824HS[18]
Joseph Desha1824–1828[19]
Thomas Metcalfe1828–1832HS[20]
James T. Morehead1834–1836S[21]
James Clark1836–1839H[22]
Charles A. Wickliffe1839–1840HU.S. Postmaster General[23]
Robert P. Letcher1840–1844HAmbassador to Mexico[24]
John J. Crittenden1848–1850HSU.S. Attorney General* (twice)[25]
Lazarus W. Powell1851–1855S[26]
Charles S. Morehead1855–1859H[27]
John W. Stevenson1867–1871HS*[28]
Preston Leslie1871–1875Governor of Montana Territory[29]
James B. McCreary1875–1879
1911–1915
HS[30]
J. Proctor Knott1883–1887H[31]
John Y. Brown1891–1895H[32]
William O. Bradley1895–1899S[33]
J. C. W. Beckham1900–1907S[34]
Augustus O. Stanley1915–1919HS*[35]
William J. Fields1923–1927H[36]
A. B. "Happy" Chandler1935–1939
1955–1959
S*[37]
Earle C. Clements1947–1950HS*[38]
Bert T. Combs1959–1963Sixth Circuit Court Judge[39]
Wendell H. Ford1971–1975S*[40]
Ernie Fletcher2003–2007H[41]

Living former governors[edit]

As of April 2011, seven former governors were alive, the oldest being Wendell H. Ford (1971–1975, born 1924). The most recent governor to die was Louie B. Nunn (1967–1971), on January 29, 2004.

NameGubernatorial termDate of birth
Wendell H. Ford1971–1974(1924-09-08) September 8, 1924 (age 89)
Julian Carroll1974–1979(1931-04-16) April 16, 1931 (age 82)
John Y. Brown, Jr.1979–1983(1933-12-28) December 28, 1933 (age 80)
Martha Layne Collins1983–1987(1936-12-07) December 7, 1936 (age 77)
Brereton Jones1991–1995(1939-06-27) June 27, 1939 (age 74)
Paul E. Patton1995–2003(1937-05-26) May 26, 1937 (age 76)
Ernie Fletcher2003–2007(1952-11-12) November 12, 1952 (age 61)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The office of lieutenant governor was created by the second Kentucky Constitution, ratified in 1799.[14]
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b c d Died in office.
  4. ^ a b c d e As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term.
  5. ^ Resigned to be Attorney General of the United States
  6. ^ Resigned due to his disagreement with the state legislature over the American Civil War; he espoused neutrality.
  7. ^ As president of the senate, filled unexpired term.
  8. ^ a b c d As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.
  9. ^ a b c d Resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.
  10. ^ As president of the senate, filled unexpired term, and was subsequently elected in his own right.
  11. ^ a b William S. Taylor was sworn into office, but the legislature challenged the validity of his election win, claiming ballot fraud. William Goebel, his challenger in the election, was shot on January 30, 1900. The next day, the legislature named Goebel governor. However, Goebel died from his wounds three days later. Taylor fled the state and never returned, and was pardoned by Governor Augustus Willson in 1909.
  12. ^ As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term until elected to fill it in a special election.
  13. ^ Resigned to take an appointed seat in the United States Senate.
  14. ^ Governor Steve Beshear's second term expires on December 8, 2015, he is term limited for four years.

References[edit]

General
Constitution
Specific
  1. ^ "Kentucky Governor reports making $179,422 in 2009". WPSD-TV. Retrieved July 11, 2010. 
  2. ^ Kentucky Constitution article 69
  3. ^ Kentucky Constitution article 75
  4. ^ Kentucky Constitution article 81
  5. ^ Kentucky Constitution article 88
  6. ^ Kentucky Constitution article 80
  7. ^ Kentucky Constitution article 77
  8. ^ a b Kleber, John E., ed. (1992). "Governor, Office of". The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. 
  9. ^ Kleber, John E., ed. (1992). "Goebel Assassination". The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. 
  10. ^ 1799 Kentucky Constitution article II, § 2–3
  11. ^ 1799 Kentucky Constitution article III, § 3–4
  12. ^ 1850 Kentucky Constitution article III, § 3
  13. ^ Kentucky Constitution article 71
  14. ^ 1799 Kentucky Constitution article II, § 15
  15. ^ Kleber, John E., ed. (1992). "Confederate Government". The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. 
  16. ^ "Hawes, Richard". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Greenup, Christopher". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Adair, John". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Desha, Joseph". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  20. ^ "Metcalfe, Thomas". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  21. ^ "Morehead, James Turner". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Clark, James". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Wickliffe, Charles Anderson". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  24. ^ "Letcher, Robert Perkins". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Crittenden, John Jordan". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  26. ^ "Powell, Lazarus Whitehead". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Morehead, Charles Slaughter". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Stevenson, John White". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  29. ^ "Kentucky Governor Preston Hopkins Leslie". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  30. ^ "McCreary, James Bennett". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Knott, James Proctor". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  32. ^ "Brown, John Young". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  33. ^ "Bradley, William O'Connell". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  34. ^ "Beckham, John Crepps Wickliffe". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  35. ^ "Stanley, Augustus Osley". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Fields, William Craig". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  37. ^ "Chandler, Albert Benjamin (Happy)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Clements, Earle C.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Bertram Thomas Combs (1911–1991)". History of the Sixth Circuit. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  40. ^ "Ford, Wendell Hampton". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 
  41. ^ "Fletcher, Ernest L.". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved July 13, 2010. 

External links[edit]