Governor of Massachusetts Article

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Governor of Massachusetts
Seal of the Governor of Massachusetts.svg
Seal of the Governor
Flag of the Governor of Massachusetts.svg
Standard of the Governor
Charlie Baker official photo (cropped).jpg
Charlie Baker

since January 8, 2015
Term lengthFour years, no term limit
Inaugural holder John Hancock
FormationOctober 25, 1780
(238 years ago)
Deputy Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
Salary$151,800 (2018) [1]
Website Office of the Governor

The Governor of Massachusetts is the head of the executive branch of the Government of Massachusetts and serves as commander-in-chief of the Commonwealth's military forces. The current governor is Charlie Baker.

Constitutional role

Part of the Second, Chapter II, Section I, Article I, of the Massachusetts Constitution reads,

There shall be a supreme executive magistrate, who shall be styled, The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and whose title shall be – His Excellency.

The Governor of Massachusetts is the chief executive of the Commonwealth, and is supported by a number of subordinate officers. He, like most other state officers, senators, and representatives, was originally elected annually. In 1918 this was changed to a two-year term, and since 1966 the office of governor has carried a four-year term. The Governor of Massachusetts does not receive a mansion, other official residence, or housing allowance. Instead, he resides in his own private residence. The title "His Excellency" is a throwback to the royally appointed governors of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The first governor to use the title was Richard Coote, 1st Earl of Bellomont, in 1699; since he was an Earl, it was thought proper to call him "Your Excellency." The title was retained until 1742, when an order from King George II forbade its further use. However, the framers of the state constitution revived it because they found it fitting to dignify the governor with this title. [2]

The governor also serves as commander-in-chief of the Commonwealth's armed forces.


According to the state constitution, whenever the chair of the governor is vacant, the lieutenant governor shall take over as acting governor. The first time this came into use was five years after the constitution's adoption in 1785, when Governor John Hancock resigned the post, leaving Lieutenant Governor Thomas Cushing as acting governor. Most recently, Jane Swift became acting governor upon the resignation of Paul Cellucci. Under this system, the lieutenant governor retains his or her position and title as "lieutenant governor" and becomes acting governor, not governor.

The lieutenant governor, when acting as governor, is referred to as "the lieutenant governor, acting governor" in official documents. [3]

The Massachusetts Constitution does not use the term "acting governor". The Massachusetts courts have found that the full authority of the office of the governor devolves to the lieutenant governor upon vacancy in the office of governor, i.e., there is no circumstance short of death, resignation, or impeachment that would relieve the acting governor from the full gubernatorial responsibilities.

When the constitution was first adopted, the Governor's Council was charged with acting as governor in the event that both the governorship and lieutenant governorship were vacant. This occurred in 1799 when Governor Increase Sumner died in office on June 7, 1799, leaving Lieutenant Governor Moses Gill as acting governor. Acting Governor Gill never received a lieutenant and died on May 20, 1800, between that year's election and the inauguration of Governor-elect Caleb Strong. The Governor's Council served as the executive for ten days; the council's chair, Thomas Dawes was at no point named governor or acting governor.

Article LV of the Constitution, enacted in 1918, created a new line of succession:

When the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the office of governor remains vacant for the rest of the 4-year term. The lieutenant governor does not succeed but only discharges powers and duties as acting governor. However, if a vacancy in the office of governor continues for six months, and the six months expire more than five months before the next regular biennial state election midway through the governor's term, a special election is held at that time to fill the vacancy for the balance of the unexpired 4-year term. [4]


The governor has a 10-person cabinet, each of whom oversees a portion of the government under direct administration (as opposed to independent executive agencies). See Government of Massachusetts for a complete listing.


The front doors of the state house are only opened when a governor leaves office, a head of state or the President of the United States comes to visit the State House, or for the return of flags from Massachusetts regiments at the end of wars. The tradition of the ceremonial door originated when departing Governor Benjamin Butler kicked open the front door and walked out by himself in 1884.

Incoming governors usually choose at least one past governor's portrait to hang in their office.

Immediately before being sworn into office, the governor-elect receives four symbols from the departing governor: the ceremonial pewter "Key" for the governor's office door, the Butler Bible, the "Gavel", and a two-volume set of the Massachusetts General Statutes with a personal note from the departing governor to his/her successor added to the back of the text. The governor-elect is then escorted by the sergeant-at-arms to the House Chamber and sworn in by the senate president before a joint session of the House and Senate. [5]

Lone walk

Upon completion of their term, the departing governor takes a "lone walk" down the Grand Staircase, through the House of Flags, into Doric Hall, out the central doors, and down the steps of the Massachusetts State House. The governor then crosses the street into Boston Common, thereby symbolically rejoining the Commonwealth as a private citizen. Benjamin Butler started the tradition in 1884. [6] Some walks have been modified with some past governors having their wives, friends, or staff accompany them. [7] A 19-gun salute is offered during the walk, and frequently the steps are lined by the outgoing governor's friends and supporters. [8]

In January 1991, outgoing Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Murphy, the first woman elected to statewide office in Massachusetts, walked down the stairs before Governor Michael Dukakis. In a break from tradition, the January 2007 inauguration of Governor Deval Patrick took place the day after outgoing Governor Mitt Romney took the lone walk down the front steps. [8]

Governor's residence

Despite several proposals for establishing an official residence for the Governor of Massachusetts, including the Endicott Estate which was once acquired for the purpose, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have a governor's mansion.

In 1955, Governor Foster Furcolo turned down a proposal to establish the Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury, built by royal Governor William Shirley, as the official residence. [9]

At one time, Governor John A. Volpe accepted the donation of the Endicott Estate in Dedham from the heirs of Henry Bradford Endicott. He intended to renovate the 19th-century mansion into a splendid governor's residence. [10] After Volpe resigned to become secretary of transportation in the Nixon Administration, the plan was aborted by his successor in consideration of budgetary constraints and because the location was considered too far from the seat of power, the State House in Boston.

Prior to their early-20th century demolitions, the Province House and the Hancock Manor [10] were also proposed as official residences.

Since the governor has no official residence, the expression "corner office," rather than "governor's mansion," is commonly used in the press as a metonym for the office of governor.

List of governors

Since 1780, 65 people have been elected governor, six to non-consecutive terms, and seven lieutenant governors have acted as governor without subsequently being elected governor. Prior to 1918 constitutional reforms, both the governor's office and that of lieutenant governor were vacant on one occasion, when the state was governed by the Governor's Council.

Colonial Massachusetts

The colonial history of Massachusetts begins with the founding first of the Plymouth Colony in 1620, and then the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628. The Dominion of New England combined these and other New England colonies into a single unit in 1686, but collapsed in 1689. In 1692 the Province of Massachusetts Bay was established, merging Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, which then included the territory of present-day Maine.

Colonial governors of Plymouth and the Massachusetts Bay Colony were elected annually by a limited subset of the male population (known as freemen), while Dominion officials and those of the 1692 province were appointed by the British crown. In 1774 General Thomas Gage became the last royally appointed governor of Massachusetts. He was recalled to England after the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775, by which time the Massachusetts Provincial Congress exercised de facto control of Massachusetts territory outside British-occupied Boston. Between 1775 and the establishment of the Massachusetts State Constitution in 1780 the state was governed by the provincial congress and an executive council.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1780–present

In the table below, acting governors are denoted in the leftmost column by the letter "A", and are not counted as actual governors. The longest-serving governor was Michael Dukakis, who served twelve years in office, although they were not all consecutive. The longest period of uninterrupted service by any governor was nine years, by Levi Lincoln Jr. The shortest service period by an elected governor was one year, achieved by several 19th century governors. Increase Sumner, elected by a landslide to a third consecutive term in 1799, was on his deathbed and died not long after taking the oath of office; this represents the shortest part of an individual term served by a governor. Sumner was one of four governors to die in office; seven governors resigned, most of them to assume another office.

Political party Number of governors
Democratic 19
Democratic-Republican 6
Federalist 3
Know Nothing 1
National Republican 1
No party affiliation 6
Republican 31
Whig 7

# Governor Party Years Lt. governor Electoral history
1 John Hancock 1770-crop.jpg
John Hancock
None October 25, 1780 –
February 17, 1785
Thomas Cushing
Resigned due to claimed illness (recurring gout).
A [11] Thomas Cushing, Member of Continental Congress.jpg
Thomas Cushing
None February 17, 1785 –
May 27, 1785
Acted as governor for the remainder of Hancock's term.

Lost election in his own right.
2 James Bowdoin II.jpg
James Bowdoin
None May 27, 1785 –
May 30, 1787
Lost re-election.
3 John Hancock 1770-crop.jpg
John Hancock
None May 30, 1787 –
October 8, 1793
Benjamin Lincoln
Samuel Adams
4 J S Copley - Samuel Adams.jpg
Samuel Adams
None October 8, 1793 –
June 2, 1797
Acted as governor for the remainder of Hancock's term.

Elected and re-elected in his own right until retirement.
Moses Gill
5 IncreaseSumner.jpg
Increase Sumner
Federalist June 2, 1797 –
June 7, 1799
A [11] Moses Gill - John Singleton Copley, circa 1759.jpg
Moses Gill
None June 7, 1799 –
May 20, 1800
Acted as governor for most of the remainder of Sumner's term.

Died ten days before its end.
A [11] Seal of Massachusetts.svg
Governor's Council
None May 20, 1800 –
May 30, 1800
None. The council was headed by Thomas Dawes.
this is the only time both the governorship and the lieutenant governorship were vacant.
6 CalebStrong by HenrySandman.jpg
Caleb Strong
Federalist May 30, 1800 –
May 29, 1807
Samuel Phillips Jr.
Lost re-election.
Edward Robbins
7 James Sullivan.jpg
James Sullivan
May 29, 1807 –
December 10, 1808
Levi Lincoln Sr. Died.
A [11] LeviLincoln.gif
Levi Lincoln Sr.
December 10, 1808 –
May 1, 1809
Acted as governor for the remainder of Sullivan's term.

Lost election in his own right.
8 ChristopherGoreByTrumbull.jpg
Christopher Gore
Federalist May 1, 1809 –
June 10, 1810
David Cobb Lost re-election.
9 Elbridge-gerry-painting.jpg
Elbridge Gerry
June 10, 1810 –
March 4, 1812
William Gray Lost re-election.
10 CalebStrong by HenrySandman.jpg
Caleb Strong
Federalist March 4, 1812 –
May 30, 1816
William Phillips Jr. Retired.
11 Gilbert Stuart, Govenor John Brooks, c. 1820, HAA.jpg
John Brooks
Federalist May 30, 1816 –
May 31, 1823
12 William Eustis.jpg
William Eustis
May 31, 1823 –
February 6, 1825
Levi Lincoln Jr.
Marcus Morton
A [11] Marcus Morton.jpg
Marcus Morton
February 6, 1825 –
May 26, 1825
Acted as governor for the remainder of Eustis's term.

13 LLincolnJr.jpg
Levi Lincoln Jr.
May 26, 1825 –
January 9, 1834
Thomas L. Winthrop
14 John Davis (Massachusetts Governor).jpg
John Davis
Whig January 9, 1834 –
March 1, 1835
Samuel Turell Armstrong Resigned to become US Senator.
A [11] Samuel Turell Armstrong.png
Samuel Turell Armstrong
Whig March 1, 1835 –
January 13, 1836
Acted as governor for the remainder of Davis's term.

Lost nomination.
lost election as independent.
15 Edward Everett.jpg
Edward Everett
Whig January 13, 1836 –
January 18, 1840
George Hull Lost re-election
16 Marcus Morton.jpg
Marcus Morton
Democratic January 18, 1840 –
January 7, 1841
Lost re-election.
17 John Davis (Massachusetts Governor).jpg
John Davis
Whig January 7, 1841 –
January 17, 1843
Lost re-election.
18 Marcus Morton.jpg
Marcus Morton
Democratic January 17, 1843 –
January 9, 1844
Henry H. Childs Lost re-election.
19 George Nixon Briggs.jpg
George N. Briggs
Whig January 9, 1844 –
January 11, 1851
John Reed Jr. Lost re-election.
20 George Boutwell, Brady-Handy photo portrait, ca1870-1880.jpg
George S. Boutwell
Democratic January 11, 1851 –
January 14, 1853
Henry W. Cushman Retired.
21 JohnCliffordByBenoni.jpg
John H. Clifford
Whig January 14, 1853 –
January 12, 1854
Elisha Huntington Retired.
22 EmoryWashburn.jpg
Emory Washburn
Whig January 12, 1854 –
January 4, 1855
William C. Plunkett Lost re-election.
23 GovHenryJGardner.jpg
Henry Gardner
Know-Nothing January 4, 1855 –
January 7, 1858
Simon Brown
Lost re-election.
Henry W. Benchley
24 Nathaniel Prentice Banks.jpg
Nathaniel Prentice Banks
Republican January 7, 1858 –
January 3, 1861
Eliphalet Trask Retired to run for president.
25 Houghton MS Am 1084 (59) - Andrew - edit.jpg
John Albion Andrew
Republican January 3, 1861 –
January 4, 1866
John Z. Goodrich
John Nesmith
Joel Hayden
26 Alexander H. Bullock.png
Alexander H. Bullock
Republican January 4, 1866 –
January 7, 1869
William Claflin Retired.
27 William Claflin - Brady-Handy.jpg
William Claflin
Republican January 7, 1869 –
January 4, 1872
Joseph Tucker
28 William washburn.jpg
William B. Washburn
Republican January 4, 1872 –
April 29, 1874
Resigned to become US Senator.
Thomas Talbot
A [11] GovThomasTalbot.jpg
Thomas Talbot
Republican April 29, 1874 –
January 7, 1875
Acted as governor for the remainder of Washburn's term.

Lost election in his own right.
29 GovWilliamGaston.jpg
William Gaston
Democratic January 7, 1875 –
January 6, 1876
Horatio G. Knight Lost re-election.
30 AHRice.jpg
Alexander H. Rice
Republican January 6, 1876 –
January 2, 1879
31 GovThomasTalbot.jpg
Thomas Talbot
Republican January 2, 1879 –
January 8, 1880
John Davis Long Retired.
32 JDLong.jpg
John Davis Long
Republican January 8, 1880 –
January 4, 1883
Byron Weston Retired.
33 BenFrankButler.jpg
Benjamin F. Butler
Democratic January 4, 1883 –
January 3, 1884
Oliver Ames Lost re-election.
34 GovGeorgeDRobinson.jpg
George D. Robinson
Republican January 3, 1884 –
January 6, 1887
35 Oliver Ames 1831–1895.jpg
Oliver Ames
Republican January 6, 1887 –
January 7, 1890
John Q. A. Brackett Retired.
36 JohnQABrackett.jpg
John Q. A. Brackett
Republican January 7, 1890 –
January 8, 1891
William H. Haile
Lost re-election.
37 GovWilliamERussell.jpg
William E. Russell
Democratic January 8, 1891 –
January 4, 1894
Roger Wolcott
38 Frederick T. Greenhalge.jpg
Frederic T. Greenhalge
Republican January 4, 1894 –
March 5, 1896
39 Roger Wolcott by Frederic Porter Vinton.jpg
Roger Wolcott
Republican March 5, 1896 –
January 4, 1900
Acted as governor for the remainder of Greenhalge's term.

Elected and re-elected in own right until retirement.
Winthrop Murray Crane
40 Winthrop Murray Crane.jpg
Winthrop Murray Crane
Republican January 4, 1900 –
January 8, 1903
John L. Bates Retired.
41 GovJohnLBates.jpg
John L. Bates
Republican January 8, 1903 –
January 5, 1905
Curtis Guild Jr. Retired.
42 WilliamLewisDouglas.jpg
William L. Douglas
Democratic January 5, 1905 –
January 4, 1906
43 Curtis Guild Jr.jpg
Curtis Guild Jr.
Republican January 4, 1906 –
January 7, 1909
Eben Sumner Draper Retired.
44 Ebenezer Sumner Draper crop.jpg
Eben Sumner Draper
Republican January 7, 1909 –
January 5, 1911
Louis A. Frothingham Lost re-election.
45 Governor Foss.png
Eugene Noble Foss
Democratic January 5, 1911 –
January 8, 1914
Louis A. Frothingham
Did not stand for renomination as Democrat.
defeated as independent in general election.
Robert Luce
David I. Walsh
46 David Ignatius Walsh.jpg
David I. Walsh
Democratic January 8, 1914 –
January 6, 1916
Edward P. Barry
Lost re-election.
Grafton D. Cushing
47 SamuelMcCall.jpg
Samuel W. McCall
Republican January 6, 1916 –
January 2, 1919
Calvin Coolidge Retired.
48 John Calvin Coolidge, Bain bw photo portrait.jpg
Calvin Coolidge
Republican January 2, 1919 –
January 6, 1921
Channing H. Cox Retired

Vice President of the United States


President of the United States


49 Channing H Cox.png
Channing H. Cox
Republican January 6, 1921 –
January 8, 1925
Alvan T. Fuller Elected in 1920 (first two-year term).

Re-elected in 1922.

50 Alvin T Fuller.png
Alvan T. Fuller
Republican January 8, 1925 –
January 3, 1929
Frank G. Allen Retired.
51 Frank G Allen.png
Frank G. Allen
Republican January 3, 1929 –
January 8, 1931
William S. Youngman Lost re-election.
52 Joseph Buell Ely.jpg
Joseph B. Ely
Democratic January 8, 1931 –
January 3, 1935
William S. Youngman
Gaspar G. Bacon
53 James Michael Curley.jpg
James Michael Curley
Democratic January 3, 1935 –
January 7, 1937
Joseph L. Hurley Retired to run unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate
54 Charles Francis Hurley 1937.png
Charles F. Hurley
Democratic January 7, 1937 –
January 5, 1939
Francis E. Kelly Lost renomination.
55 LeverettSaltonstall.jpg
Leverett Saltonstall
Republican January 5, 1939 –
January 4, 1945
Horace T. Cahill Retired to run successfully for U.S. Senate
56 Mjtobin.jpg
Maurice J. Tobin
Democratic January 4, 1945 –
January 2, 1947
Robert F. Bradford Lost re-election.
57 Robert F. Bradford (Massachusetts Governor).jpg
Robert F. Bradford
Republican January 2, 1947 –
January 6, 1949
Arthur W. Coolidge Elected in 1946.

Lost re-election.
58 PaulADever.jpg
Paul A. Dever
Democratic January 6, 1949 –
January 8, 1953
Charles F. Sullivan Elected in 1948.

Re-elected in 1950.

Lost re-election.
59 Christian Archibald Herter (politician).jpg
Christian A. Herter
Republican January 8, 1953 –
January 3, 1957
Sumner G. Whittier Elected in 1952.

Re-elected in 1954.

60 Foster Furcolo.jpg
Foster Furcolo
Democratic January 3, 1957 –
January 5, 1961
Robert F. Murphy
Elected in 1956.

Re-elected in 1958.

Retired to run for U.S. Senator.
61 Volpe.gif
John Volpe
Republican January 5, 1961 –
January 3, 1963
Edward F. McLaughlin Jr. Elected in 1960.

Lost re-election.
62 Endicott Peabody Gov.jpg
Endicott Peabody
Democratic January 3, 1963 –
January 7, 1965
Francis Bellotti Elected in 1962.

Lost renomination.
63 Volpe.gif
John Volpe
Republican January 7, 1965 –
January 22, 1969
Elliot Richardson
Elected in 1964.

Re-elected in 1966 (first four-year term).

Resigned to become U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Francis Sargent
64 Governor Francis Sargent.jpg
Francis Sargent
Republican January 22, 1969 –
January 2, 1975
Acted as governor for the remainder of Volpe's term.

Elected in own right in 1970.

Lost re-election.
Donald Dwight
65 Governor Dukakis speaks at the 1976 Democratic National Convention (cropped).jpg
Michael Dukakis
Democratic January 2, 1975 –
January 4, 1979
Thomas P. O'Neill III Elected in 1974.

Lost renomination.
66 Edward J. King.jpg
Edward J. King
Democratic January 4, 1979 –
January 6, 1983
Elected in 1978.

Lost renomination.
67 Governor Michael Dukakis (1).jpg
Michael Dukakis
Democratic January 6, 1983 –
January 3, 1991
John Kerry
Elected in 1982.

Elected in 1986.

Evelyn Murphy
68 William Weld 90s.jpg
Bill Weld
Republican January 3, 1991 –
July 29, 1997
Paul Cellucci
Elected in 1990.

Re-elected in 1994.

Resigned when nominated U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, but was not confirmed to the office.
A [11]
Cellucci paul.jpg
Paul Cellucci
Republican July 29, 1997 –
April 10, 2001
Acted as governor for the remainder of Weld's term.

Elected in own right in 1998.

Resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to Canada.
Jane Swift (1999–2003)
A [11] Jane Swift 2001.jpeg
Jane Swift
Republican April 10, 2001 –
January 2, 2003
Acted as governor for the remainder of Cellucci's term.

70 Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmore 7.jpg
Mitt Romney
Republican January 2, 2003 –
January 4, 2007
Kerry Healey Elected in 2002.

71 Deval Patrick 01-12-2011 Alianza Chile-Massachusetts (6443374287) (cropped).jpg
Deval Patrick
Democratic January 4, 2007 –
January 8, 2015
Tim Murray
Elected in 2006.

Re-elected in 2010.

72 Charlie Baker official photo (cropped).jpg
Charlie Baker
Republican January 8, 2015 –
Karyn Polito Elected in 2014.

Re-elected in 2018.

Living former governors

As of November 2018, there are five former governors or acting governors of Massachusetts who are still alive, the oldest being Michael Dukakis (served 1975–1979 and 1983–1991, born 1933). The most recent governor of Massachusetts to have died was Paul Cellucci (served 1997–1999 [acting] and 1999–2001, born 1948), on June 8, 2013. [12]

Governor Gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
Michael Dukakis 1975–1979
(1933-11-03) November 3, 1933 (age 85)
William F. Weld 1991–1997 (1945-07-31) July 31, 1945 (age 73)
Jane Swift 2001–2003 (acting) (1965-02-24) February 24, 1965 (age 53)
Mitt Romney 2003–2007 (1947-03-12) March 12, 1947 (age 71)
Deval Patrick 2007–2015 (1956-07-31) July 31, 1956 (age 62)

See also


  1. ^ Michaels, Matthew (June 22, 2018). "Here's the salary of every governor in the United States". Business Insider.
  2. ^ Frothingham, Louis Adams. A Brief History of the Constitution and Government of Massachusetts, p. 74. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1916.
  3. ^ An example of this is found in Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2001, where a veto by Swift was overridden by the General Court.
  4. ^ Massachusetts Constitution, Amendment XCI
  5. ^ Massachusetts State Library Information, Governor Transfer of Power, Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  6. ^ "A Tour of the Grounds of the Massachusetts State House". Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
  7. ^ Braun, Stephen (December 3, 2011). "Mitt Romney not alone in destroying records". The Herald News.
  8. ^ a b "Romney takes 'lone walk' out of office". Bangor Daily News. January 4, 2007.
  9. ^ "Shirley Eustis House". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007.
  10. ^ a b "Commonwealth Magazine, Fall 1999".
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Acting governors are not counted.
  12. ^ English, Bella; Phillips, Frank (June 8, 2013). "Paul Cellucci, former Mass. governor, dies at 65 from ALS". Boston Globe. Retrieved June 9, 2013.

External links