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List of Governors of Kentucky: Map

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Number of Governors of Kentucky by party affiliation
Party Governors
Democratic 35
Democratic-Republican 9
Republican 8
Whig 6
National Republican 2
Know Nothing 1
The Governor of Kentucky is the head of the executive branch of the U.S. state of Kentuckymarker, and serves as commander-in-chief of the state's army, navy, and militia forces. The governor is given broad appointment power, and names many state commissioners and department heads without the need for legislative approval. 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.

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

Fifty-seven individuals have held the office of governor of Kentucky. Prior to a 1992 amendment to the state's constitution, the governor of Kentucky 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 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. Martha Layne Collins, who held the office from 1983 to 1987, was the first woman to serve as governor of Kentucky 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.

Steve Beshear (D) is the 61st and current governor, having served since December 11, 2007. He defeated incumbent Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) in the 2007 gubernatorial election held on November 6, 2007.

Governors

Kentucky was initially Kentucky County in Virginiamarker. 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.



# Name Party Took office Left office Lt. Governor Terms
1 Isaac Shelby Democratic-Republican June 4, 1792 June 7, 1796 None 1
2 James Garrard Democratic-Republican June 7, 1796 September 5, 1804 None 2
Alexander Scott Bullitt
3 Christopher Greenup Democratic-Republican September 5, 1804 September 1, 1808 John Caldwell 1
Thomas Posey
4 Charles Scott Democratic-Republican September 1, 1808 August 24, 1812 Gabriel Slaughter 1


Notes

  1. The office of lieutenant governor was created by the second Kentucky Constitution, ratified in 1799.
  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. Died in office.
  4. As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term.
  5. Resigned to take office as 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 at the time the previous governor resigned, there was no lieutenant governor.
  8. As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.
  9. Resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.
  10. As president of the senate, filled unexpired term at the time the previous governor resigned, there was no lieutenant governor; was later elected in his own right.
  11. William S. Taylor was sworn in to 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 Beshear's first term expires December 13, 2011; he is not yet term-limited.


Confederate governors

During the Civil War, a group of Confederate sympathizers met at the Russellville, Kentuckymarker to form a Confederate government for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.While this government never successfully displaced the government in Frankfortmarker, 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 Shilohmarker, 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.

Other high offices held

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 which the governor resigned to take.



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

Living former governors

, 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. The most recently-serving governor to die was Wallace G. Wilkinson (1987–1991), on July 5, 2002.




References

General


Specific
  • [A]
  • [B]
  • [C]
  • [D]
  • [E]
  • [F]


5
Isaac Shelby
Democratic-Republican
August 24, 1812
September 5, 1816
Richard Hickman
1
6
George Madison
Democratic-Republican
September 5, 1816
October 14, 1816
Gabriel Slaughter
½
7
Gabriel Slaughter
Democratic-Republican
October 14, 1816
August 29, 1820
vacant
½
8
John Adair
Democratic-Republican
August 29, 1820
August 24, 1824
William T. Barry
1
9
Joseph Desha
Democratic-Republican
August 24, 1824
August 26, 1828
Robert B. McAfee
1
10
Thomas Metcalfe
National Republican
August 26, 1828
September 4, 1832
John Breathitt
1
11
John Breathitt
Democratic
September 4, 1832
February 21, 1834
James T. Morehead
½
12
James T. Morehead
National Republican
February 21, 1834
August 30, 1836
vacant
½
13
James Clark
Whig
August 30, 1836
August 27, 1839
Charles A. Wickliffe
½
14
Charles A. Wickliffe
Whig
August 27, 1839
September 2, 1840
vacant
½
15
Robert P. Letcher
Whig
September 2, 1840
September 4, 1844
Manlius V. Thomson
1
16
William Owsley
Whig
September 4, 1844
September 6, 1848
Archibald Dixon
1
17
John J. Crittenden
Whig
September 6, 1848
July 13, 1850
John L. Helm
½
18
John L. Helm
Whig
July 31, 1850
September 2, 1851
vacant
½
19
Lazarus W. Powell
Democratic
September 2, 1851
September 4, 1855
John B. Thompson
1
20
Charles S. Morehead
Know Nothing
September 4, 1855
August 30, 1859
James G. Hardy
1
21
Beriah Magoffin
Democratic
August 30, 1859
August 18, 1862
Linn Boyd
½
vacant
22
James F. Robinson
Democratic
August 18, 1862
September 1, 1863
vacant
½
23
Thomas E. Bramlette
Democratic
September 1, 1863
September 3, 1867
Richard T. Jacob
1
24
John L. Helm
Democratic
September 3, 1867
September 8, 1867
John W. Stevenson
½
25
John W. Stevenson
Democratic
September 8, 1867
February 3, 1871
vacant
26
Preston H. Leslie
Democratic
February 3, 1871
August 31, 1875
John G. Carlisle
27
James B. McCreary
Democratic
August 31, 1875
September 2, 1879
John C. Underwood
1
28
Luke P. Blackburn
Democratic
September 2, 1879
September 5, 1883
James E. Cantrill
1
29
J. Proctor Knott
Democratic
September 5, 1883
August 30, 1887
James R. Hindman
1
30
Simon B. Buckner
Democratic
August 30, 1887
September 2, 1891
James W. Bryan
1
31
John Young Brown
Democratic
September 2, 1891
December 10, 1895
Mitchell C. Alford
1
32
William O. Bradley
Republican
December 10, 1895
December 12, 1899
William J. Worthington
1
33
William S. Taylor
Republican
December 12, 1899
January 30, 1900
John Marshall
34
William Goebel
Democratic
January 30, 1900
February 3, 1900
J. C. W. Beckham
35
J. C. W. Beckham
Democratic
February 3, 1900
December 12, 1907
vacant
1⅓
William P. Thorne
36
Augustus E. Willson
Republican
December 10, 1907
December 12, 1911
William H. Cox
1
37
James B. McCreary
Democratic
December 12, 1911
December 7, 1915
Edward J. McDermott
1
38
Augustus O. Stanley
Democratic
December 7, 1915
May 19, 1919
James D. Black
½
39
James D. Black
Democratic
May 19, 1919
December 9, 1919
vacant
½
40
Edwin P. Morrow
Republican
December 9, 1919
December 11, 1923
S. Thruston Ballard
1
41
William J. Fields
Democratic
December 11, 1923
December 13, 1927
Henry Denhardt
1
42
Flem D. Sampson
Republican
December 13, 1927
December 8, 1931
James Breathitt, Jr.
1
43
Ruby Laffoon
Democratic
December 8, 1931
December 10, 1935
A. B. "Happy" Chandler
1
44
A. B. "Happy" Chandler
Democratic
December 10, 1935
October 9, 1939
Keen Johnson
½
45
Keen Johnson
Democratic
October 9, 1939
December 7, 1943
Rodes K. Myers
46
Simeon S. Willis
Republican
December 7, 1943
December 9, 1947
Kenneth H. Tuggle
1
47
Earle C. Clements
Democratic
December 9, 1947
November 27, 1950
Lawrence W. Wetherby
½
48
Lawrence W. Wetherby
Democratic
November 27, 1950
December 13, 1955
vacant
Emerson Beauchamp
49
A. B. "Happy" Chandler
Democratic
December 13, 1955
December 8, 1959
Harry Lee Waterfield
1
50
Bert T. Combs
Democratic
December 8, 1959
December 10, 1963
Wilson Wyatt
1
51
Edward T. Breathitt
Democratic
December 10, 1963
December 12, 1967
Harry Lee Waterfield
1
52
Louie B. Nunn
Republican
December 12, 1967
December 7, 1971
Wendell H. Ford
1
53
Wendell H. Ford
Democratic
December 7, 1971
December 28, 1974
Julian M. Carroll
½
54
Julian M. Carroll
Democratic
December 28, 1974
December 11, 1979
Thelma Stovall
55
John Y. Brown, Jr.
Democratic
December 11, 1979
December 13, 1983
Martha Layne Collins
1
56
Martha Layne Collins
Democratic
December 13, 1983
December 8, 1987
Steve Beshear
1
57
Wallace G. Wilkinson
Democratic
December 8, 1987
December 10, 1991
Brereton Jones
1
58
Brereton Jones
Democratic
December 10, 1991
December 12, 1995
Paul E. Patton
1
59
Paul E. Patton
Democratic
December 12, 1995
December 9, 2003
Steve Henry
2
60
Ernie Fletcher
Republican
December 9, 2003
December 11, 2007
Steve Pence
1
61
Steve Beshear
Democratic
December 11, 2007
incumbent
Daniel Mongiardo
1
Name
Gubernatorial term
U.S. Congress
Other offices held
House
Senate
Christopher Greenup
1804–1808
H
John Adair
1820–1824
H
S
Joseph Desha
1824–1828
H
Thomas Metcalfe
1828–1832
H
S
James T. Morehead
1834–1836
S
James Clark
1836–1839
H
Charles A. Wickliffe
1839–1840
H
U.S. Postmaster General
Robert P. Letcher
1840–1844
H
Ambassador to Mexico
John J. Crittenden
1848–1850
H
S
U.S. Attorney General* (twice)
Lazarus W. Powell
1851–1855
S
Charles S. Morehead
1855–1859
H
John W. Stevenson
1867–1871
H
S*
Preston Leslie
1871–1875
Governor of Montana Territory
James B. McCreary
1875–1879, 1911–1915
H
S
J. Proctor Knott
1883–1887
H
John Y. Brown
1891–1895
H
William O. Bradley
1895–1899
S
J. C. W. Beckham
1900–1907
S
Augustus O. Stanley
1915–1919
H
S*
William J. Fields
1923–1927
H
A. B. "Happy" Chandler
1935–1939, 1955–1959
S*
Earle C. Clements
1947–1950
H
S*
Bert T. Combs
1959–1963
Sixth Circuit Court Judge
Wendell H. Ford
1971–1975
S*
Ernie Fletcher
2003–2007
H
Name Gubernatorial term Date of birth
Wendell H. Ford
1971–1975
September 8, 1924
Julian Carroll
1975–1979
April 16, 1931
John Y. Brown, Jr.
1979–1983
December 28, 1933
Martha Layne Collins
1983–1987
December 7, 1936
Brereton Jones
1991–1995
June 27, 1939
Paul E. Patton
1995–2003
May 26, 1937
Ernie Fletcher
2003–2007
November 12, 1952

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