List of Governors of Michigan

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Governor of Michigan
Seal of Michigan.svg
Seal of Michigan
Rick Snyder

since January 1, 2011
StyleThe Honorable
ResidenceMichigan Governor's Mansion
Term lengthFour years
Inaugural holderStevens T. Mason
DeputyBrian Calley
Salary$159,300 (2011)[1]
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Governor of Michigan
Seal of Michigan.svg
Seal of Michigan
Rick Snyder

since January 1, 2011
StyleThe Honorable
ResidenceMichigan Governor's Mansion
Term lengthFour years
Inaugural holderStevens T. Mason
DeputyBrian Calley
Salary$159,300 (2011)[1]

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, various areas in what is now Michigan were 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.


A painting of a man in a military-style coat and white wig
William Hull, the first territorial governor of Michigan

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 1627–1663, 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 1896. 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]

GovernorTook officeLeft officeAppointed byNotes
Hull, WilliamWilliam HullMarch 1, 1805October 29, 1813Jefferson, ThomasThomas Jefferson
Cass, LewisLewis CassOctober 29, 1813August 6, 1831Madison, JamesJames Madison
Porter, George BryanGeorge Bryan PorterAugust 6, 1831July 6, 1834Jackson, AndrewAndrew Jackson[a]
Mason, Stevens T.Stevens T. MasonJuly 6, 1834September 19, 1835[b]
Horner, John S.John S. HornerSeptember 19, 1835July 3, 1836Jackson, AndrewAndrew Jackson[c]

Governors of the State of Michigan[edit]

A black and white photograph of a young man
Stevens T. Mason, Michigan's first governor
A black and white photograph of an older man
Williams Woodbridge, Michigan's second governor and first Whig governor
A black and white photograph of a middle-aged man
Kinsley S. Bingham, Michigan's eleventh governor and first Republican governor
A middle-aged woman with blond hair, smiling
Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's forty-seventh governor and first female governor

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       Whig       Republican

No.GovernorTook officeLeft officePartyLt. GovernorNotes
1 Mason, Stevens T.Stevens T. Mason[c]November 3, 1835January 7, 1840Democratic Mundy, EdwardEdward Mundy
2 Woodbridge, WilliamWilliam WoodbridgeJanuary 7, 1840February 23, 1841Whig Gordon, James WrightJames Wright Gordon[d]
3 Gordon, James WrightJames Wright GordonFebruary 23, 1841January 3, 1842Whig Drake, Thomas J.Thomas J. Drake[e]
4 Barry, John S.John S. BarryJanuary 3, 1842January 5, 1846Democratic Richardson, Origen D.Origen D. Richardson
5 Felch, AlpheusAlpheus FelchJanuary 5, 1846March 3, 1847Democratic Greenly, William L.William L. Greenly[d]
6 Greenly, William L.William L. GreenlyMarch 4, 1847January 3, 1848Democratic Bush, Charles P.Charles P. Bush[e]
7 Ransom, EpaphroditusEpaphroditus RansomJanuary 3, 1848January 7, 1850Democratic Fenton, William M.William M. Fenton
8 Barry, John S.John S. BarryJanuary 7, 1850January 1, 1852Democratic Fenton, William M.William M. Fenton
9 McClelland, RobertRobert McClelland[f]January 1, 1852March 7, 1853Democratic Britain, CalvinCalvin Britain[g]
 Parsons, AndrewAndrew Parsons
10 Parsons, AndrewAndrew ParsonsMarch 8, 1853January 3, 1855Democratic Griswold, GeorgeGeorge Griswold[e]
11 Bingham, Kinsley S.Kinsley S. BinghamJanuary 3, 1855January 5, 1859Republican Coe, GeorgeGeorge Coe
12 Wisner, MosesMoses WisnerJanuary 5, 1859January 2, 1861Republican Fairfield, Edmund B.Edmund B. Fairfield
13 Blair, AustinAustin BlairJanuary 2, 1861January 3, 1865Republican Birney, James M.James M. Birney
 Williams, Joseph R.Joseph R. Williams
 Backus, Henry T.Henry T. Backus
 May, Charles S.Charles S. May
14 Crapo, Henry H.Henry H. CrapoJanuary 3, 1865January 6, 1869Republican Grosvenor, EbenezerEbenezer Grosvenor
 May, DwightDwight May
15 Baldwin, Henry P.Henry P. BaldwinJanuary 6, 1869January 1, 1873Republican Bates, MorganMorgan Bates
16 Bagley, John J.John J. BagleyJanuary 1, 1873January 3, 1877Republican Holt, Henry H.Henry H. Holt
17 Croswell, CharlesCharles CroswellJanuary 3, 1877January 1, 1881Republican Sessions, AlonzoAlonzo Sessions
18 Jerome, DavidDavid JeromeJanuary 1, 1881January 1, 1883Republican Crosby, Moreau S.Moreau S. Crosby
19 Begole, JosiahJosiah BegoleJanuary 1, 1883January 1, 1885Democratic Crosby, Moreau S.Moreau S. Crosby (Republican)
20 Alger, RussellRussell AlgerJanuary 1, 1885January 1, 1887Republican Buttars, ArchibaldArchibald Buttars
21 Luce, Cyrus G.Cyrus G. LuceJanuary 1, 1887January 1, 1891Republican MacDonald, James H.James H. MacDonald
 Ball, WilliamWilliam Ball
22 Winans, Edwin B.Edwin B. WinansJanuary 1, 1891January 1, 1893Democratic Strong, JohnJohn Strong
23 Rich, John T.John T. RichJanuary 1, 1893January 1, 1897Republican Giddings, J. WightJ. Wight Giddings
 Milnes, AlfredAlfred Milnes
 McLaughlin, Joseph R.Joseph R. McLaughlin
24 Pingree, Hazen S.Hazen S. PingreeJanuary 1, 1897January 1, 1901Republican Dunstan, Thomas B.Thomas B. Dunstan
 Robinson, Orrin W.Orrin W. Robinson
25 Bliss, Aaron T.Aaron T. BlissJanuary 1, 1901January 1, 1905Republican Robinson, Orrin W.Orrin W. Robinson
 Maitland, AlexanderAlexander Maitland
26 Warner, Fred M.Fred M. WarnerJanuary 1, 1905January 2, 1911Republican Maitland, AlexanderAlexander Maitland
 Kelley, Patrick H.Patrick H. Kelley
27 Osborn, ChaseChase OsbornJanuary 2, 1911January 1, 1913Republican Ross, John Q.John Q. Ross
28 Ferris, Woodbridge NathanWoodbridge Nathan FerrisJanuary 1, 1913January 1, 1917Democratic Ross, John Q.John Q. Ross (Republican)
 Dickinson, LurenLuren Dickinson (Republican)
29 Sleeper, AlbertAlbert SleeperJanuary 1, 1917January 1, 1921Republican Dickinson, LurenLuren Dickinson
30 Groesbeck, AlexAlex GroesbeckJanuary 1, 1921January 1, 1927Republican Read, ThomasThomas Read
 Welsh, George W.George W. Welsh
31 Green, Fred W.Fred W. GreenJanuary 1, 1927January 1, 1931Republican Dickinson, LurenLuren Dickinson
32 Brucker, Wilber M.Wilber M. BruckerJanuary 1, 1931January 1, 1933Republican Dickinson, LurenLuren Dickinson
33 Comstock, WilliamWilliam ComstockJanuary 1, 1933January 1, 1935Democratic Stebbins, Allen E.Allen E. Stebbins
34 Fitzgerald, FrankFrank FitzgeraldJanuary 1, 1935January 1, 1937Republican Read, ThomasThomas Read
35 Murphy, FrankFrank MurphyJanuary 1, 1937January 1, 1939Democratic Nowicki, Leo J.Leo J. Nowicki
36 Fitzgerald, FrankFrank FitzgeraldJanuary 1, 1939March 16, 1939Republican Dickinson, LurenLuren Dickinson[h]
37 Dickinson, LurenLuren DickinsonMarch 16, 1939January 1, 1941Republican Wilson, Matilda DodgeMatilda Dodge Wilson[e]
38 Van Wagoner, MurrayMurray Van WagonerJanuary 1, 1941January 1, 1943Democratic Murphy, FrankFrank Murphy
39 Kelly, HarryHarry KellyJanuary 1, 1943January 1, 1947Republican Keyes, Eugene C.Eugene C. Keyes
 Brown, Vernon J.Vernon J. Brown
40 Sigler, KimKim SiglerJanuary 1, 1947January 1, 1949Republican Keyes, Eugene C.Eugene C. Keyes
41 Williams, G. MennenG. Mennen WilliamsJanuary 1, 1949January 1, 1961Democratic Connolly, John W.John W. Connolly
 Vandenberg, William C.William C. Vandenberg (Republican)
 Reid, Clarence A.Clarence A. Reid (Republican)
 Hart, Philip A.Philip A. Hart
 Swainson, John B.John B. Swainson
42 Swainson, JohnJohn SwainsonJanuary 1, 1961January 1, 1963Democratic Lesinski, T. JohnT. John Lesinski
43 Romney, George W.George W. RomneyJanuary 1, 1963January 22, 1969Republican Lesinski, T. JohnT. John Lesinski (Democratic)[i]
 Milliken, WilliamWilliam Milliken
44 Milliken, WilliamWilliam MillikenJanuary 22, 1969January 1, 1983Republican Schweigert, Thomas F.Thomas F. Schweigert[j]
 Brickley, James H.James H. Brickley
 Damman, JamesJames Damman
 Brickley, James H.James H. Brickley
45 Blanchard, JamesJames BlanchardJanuary 1, 1983January 1, 1991Democratic Griffiths, MarthaMartha Griffiths
46 Engler, JohnJohn EnglerJanuary 1, 1991January 1, 2003Republican Binsfeld, ConnieConnie Binsfeld[k]
 Posthumus, DickDick Posthumus
47 Granholm, JenniferJennifer GranholmJanuary 1, 2003January 1, 2011Democratic Cherry, Jr., John D.John D. Cherry, Jr.
48 Snyder, RickRick SnyderJanuary 1, 2011IncumbentRepublican Calley, BrianBrian 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.
GovernorGubernatorial termOther offices heldSource
Cass, LewisLewis Cass1813–1831 (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]
Woodbridge, WilliamWilliam Woodbridge1840–1841Territorial Delegate[22]
McClelland, RobertRobert McClelland1852–1853U.S. Secretary of the Interior*[23]
Alger, Russell A.Russell A. Alger1885–1887U.S. Secretary of War[24]
Brucker, Wilber M.Wilber M. Brucker1931–1933U.S. Secretary of the Army[25]
Murphy, FrankFrank Murphy1937–1939High Commissioner to the Philippines, U.S. Attorney General, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Governor-General of the Philippines[26]
Williams, G. MennenG. Mennen Williams1949–1961Ambassador to the Philippines, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court[27]
Romney, George W.George W. Romney1963–1969U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development*[28]
Blanchard, JamesJames Blanchard1983–1991Ambassador to Canada[29]

Living former governors[edit]

As of September 2014, four former governors are alive. The most recent governor to die, and also the most recently serving governor to have died, was George W. Romney, who left office on January 22 of 1969 and died on July 26, 1995 eighteen days after his eighty-eighth birthday.

GovernorGubernatorial termDate of birth
William Milliken1969–1983(1922-03-26) March 26, 1922 (age 92)
James Blanchard1983–1991(1942-08-08) August 8, 1942 (age 72)
John Engler1991–2003(1948-10-12) October 12, 1948 (age 66)
Jennifer Granholm2003–2011(1959-02-05) February 5, 1959 (age 55)


  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. ^ The Associated Press (January 6, 2012). "Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder returns all but $1 of 2011 salary". Michigan Live. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  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 2013-01-01. 
  9. ^ "Laws of Illinois Territory". Western Illinois University. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Dunbar, Willis F. and 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. and 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 2013-01-03. 
  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. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  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 2013-01-01. 
  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 2013-01-01. 
  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 2013-01-01. 
  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 2013-01-01. 
  25. ^ "Michigan Governor Wilbur Marion Brucker". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  26. ^ "Michigan Governor Frank Murphy". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  27. ^ "Michigan Governor Gerhard Mennen Williams". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  28. ^ "Michigan Governor George Wilcken Romney". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  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 2013-01-01.