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The Governor of North Carolina is the top executive of the government of the U.S.marker state of North Carolinamarker. Bev Perdue, the current governor, is North Carolinamarker's first female governor.


Among other responsibilities, the governor heads the Council of State. The Governor of North Carolina was the last state chief executive to receive veto power; the Governor did not have this power until 1996. The Governor of North Carolina has extensive powers of appointment of executive branch officials, some judges, and members of boards and commissions. Nevertheless, the office has a lower-than-average amount of institutional power compared to governors in other states, according to a 2007 study.


Originally, under the first North Carolina Constitution, the office was very weak, and was elected by the legislature (the North Carolina General Assembly) for a one-year term. Edward B. Dudley became the first governor elected by the people in 1836. Governors served two-year terms from 1836 until a new constitution was adopted in 1868; since then, all governors are elected for four-year terms.

Well into the twentieth century, the North Carolina state constitution made the state's governor one of the weakest in the nation. Until an amendment was added to the state constitution in 1971, North Carolina Governors could only serve a single four-year term and could not run for re-election. After the amendment was passed, in 1980 James B. Hunt became the first governor in state history to be re-elected to a second term. Governors are still limited to only two consecutive four-year terms, but they may run for further non-consecutive terms. Governor Hunt did just that, winning election to a third and fourth term in 1992 and 1996 after being out of the office for the eight years between 1984 and 1992. The Lieutenant Governor is also limited to two consecutive four-year terms. North Carolina was also the last state in the Union to give its governors veto power over legislation, this was not added to the state constitution until a referendum in 1996. Much of North Carolina's traditional resistance to strong executive power came from the harsh treatment the state suffered from British Royal Governors in the colonial period before the American Revolution. After the state gained its independence from Britain, the state constitution deliberately weakened the executive branch of state government and strengthened the legislative branch. Since the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s the overwhelming majority of the state's governors have been Democrats. The only Republican to be elected Governor between 1876 and 1972 was Daniel L. Russell, who served from 1897-1901. As Republican strength grew in North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960's the state's gubernatorial elections became increasingly competitive, and in 1972 James Holshouser became the state's first Republican governor of the twentieth century. Even so, Republicans have still had difficulty in winning gubernatorial elections in North Carolina, and the office has usually remained in Democratic hands.

The Governor lives in the North Carolina Executive Mansionmarker, a Queen Anne style Victorian house in downtown Raleighmarker, which was completed in 1891. His or her principal office is located in the North Carolina State Capitolmarker.

List of Governors, 1776-present

Name Took
Richard Caswell 1776 1780 No party
Abner Nash 1780 1781 No party
Thomas Burke 1781 1782 No party
Alexander Martin 1782 1784 No party
Richard Caswell 1784 1787 No party
Samuel Johnston 1787 1789 Federalist
Alexander Martin 1789 1792 Anti-Federalist
Richard Dobbs Spaight 1792 1795 Federalist
Samuel Ashe 1795 1798 Anti-Federalist
William Richardson Davie 1798 1799 Federalist
Benjamin Williams 1799 1802 Federalist
John Baptista Ashe 1802 1802 Anti-Federalist
James Turner 1802 1805 Democratic-Republican
Nathaniel Alexander 1805 1807 Democratic-Republican
Benjamin Williams 1807 1808 Federalist
David Stone 1808 1810 Democratic-Republican
Benjamin Smith 1810 1811 Democratic-Republican
William Hawkins 1811 1814 Democratic-Republican
William Miller 1814 1817 Democratic-Republican
John Branch 1817 1820 Democratic-Republican
Jesse Franklin 1820 1821 Democratic-Republican
Gabriel Holmes 1821 1824 Democratic-Republican
Hutchins Gordon Burton 1824 1827 No party
James Iredell, Jr. 1827 1828 Democratic-Republican
John Owen 1828 1830 Democrat
Montfort Stokes 1830 1832 Democrat
David Lowry Swain 1832 1835 National Republican
Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr. 1835 1836 Democrat
Edward Bishop Dudley 1836 1841 Whig
John Motley Morehead 1841 1845 Whig
William Alexander Graham 1845 1849 Whig
Charles Manly 1849 1851 Whig
David Settle Reid 1851 1854 Democrat
Warren Winslow 1854 1855 Democrat
Thomas Bragg 1855 1859 Democrat
John Willis Ellis 1859 1861 Democrat
Henry Toole Clark 1861 1862 Democrat
Zebulon Baird Vance 1862 1865 Conservative Party
William Woods Holden 1865 1865 National Union
Jonathan Worth 1865 1868 Conservative Party
William Woods Holden 1868 1871 Republican
Tod Robinson Caldwell 1871 1874 Republican
Curtis Hooks Brogden 1874 1877 Republican
Zebulon Baird Vance 1877 1879 Democrat
Thomas Jordan Jarvis 1879 1885 Democrat
Alfred Moore Scales 1885 1889 Democrat
Daniel Gould Fowle 1889 1891 Democrat
Thomas Michael Holt 1891 1893 Democrat
Elias Carr 1893 1897 Democrat
Daniel Lindsay Russell 1897 1901 Republican
Charles Brantley Aycock 1901 1905 Democrat
Robert Broadnax Glenn 1905 1909 Democrat
William Walton Kitchin 1909 1913 Democrat
Locke Craig 1913 1917 Democrat
Thomas Walter Bickett 1917 1921 Democrat
Cameron Morrison 1921 1925 Democrat
Angus Wilton McLean 1925 1929 Democrat
Oliver Max Gardner 1929 1933 Democrat
John C.B. Ehringhaus 1933 1937 Democrat
Clyde R. Hoey 1937 1941 Democrat
J. Melville Broughton 1941 1945 Democrat
R. Gregg Cherry 1945 1949 Democrat
W. Kerr Scott 1949 1953 Democrat
William B. Umstead 1953 1954 Democrat
Luther H. Hodges 1954 1961 Democrat
Terry Sanford 1961 1965 Democrat
Dan K. Moore 1965 1969 Democrat
Robert W. Scott 1969 1973 Democrat
James E. Holshouser, Jr. 1973 1977 Republican
James B. Hunt, Jr. 1977 1985 Democrat
James G. Martin 1985 1993 Republican
James B. Hunt, Jr. 1993 2001 Democrat
Mike Easley 2001 2009 Democrat
Beverly Perdue 2009   Democrat


  2. Charlotte Observer column by Jack Betts, September 2007
  4. State Capitol / Visitor Services: North Carolina Office of Archives & History
  5. Son of a previous governor, Samuel Ashe; elected by the legislature, but died before taking office.

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