List of Governors of Pennsylvania

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Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Standard of the Governor of Pennsylvania.svg
Seal of the Governor of Pennsylvania.svg
Governor Tom Wolf official portrait 2015.jpg
Tom Wolf

since January 20, 2015
Residence Governor's Residence
Term length Four years
renewable once
Inaugural holder Thomas Mifflin
Formation December 21, 1790
Deputy Michael J. Stack III
Salary $187,256 (2013)[1]

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the head of the executive branch of Pennsylvania's state government[2] and serves as the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.[3]

The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to approve or veto bills passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature[4] and to convene the legislature.[5] The governor may grant pardons except in cases of impeachment, but only when recommended by the Board of Pardons.[6]

There have been seven presidents and 46 governors of Pennsylvania, with two governors serving non-consecutive terms, totaling 55 terms in both offices. The longest term was that of the first governor, Thomas Mifflin, who served three full terms as governor in addition to two years as president. The shortest term belonged to John Bell, who served only 19 days as acting governor after his predecessor resigned. The current governor is Tom Wolf, whose term began on January 20, 2015.


Pennsylvania was one of the original thirteen colonies, and was admitted as a state on December 12, 1787. Prior to declaring its independence, Pennsylvania was a colony of the Kingdom of Great Britain; see the list of colonial governors for the pre-statehood period.

The Presidents of the Supreme Executive Council

The first Pennsylvania constitution in 1776 created the Supreme Executive Council as the state's executive branch, with the President as its head.[7] The president was chosen annually by the council, though with no specific term dates.[8]

The original 1776 constitution created the position of "vice-president," though no provision was made if the office of president became vacant, which occurred four times. Contemporary sources continue to label the chief executive in such times as the vice president, without any notion of succeeding to the presidency. One acting president, George Bryan, was subsequently recognized as a full-fledged governor, due to his acting as president for over six months.

# Portrait President Took office Left office Vice President
1 Thomas Wharton Jr. March 5, 1777 May 23, 1778
[note 1]
George Bryan
2 George Bryan May 23, 1778 December 1, 1778 acting as president
[note 2]
3 Joseph Reed December 1, 1778 November 15, 1781 George Bryan
[note 3]
Matthew Smith
[note 3]
William Moore
4 William Moore November 15, 1781 November 7, 1782 James Potter
5 John Dickinson November 7, 1782 October 18, 1785 James Ewing
James Irvine
[note 3]
Charles Biddle
6 Benjamin Franklin October 18, 1785 November 5, 1788 Charles Biddle
Peter Muhlenberg
[note 3]
David Redick
7 Thomas Mifflin November 5, 1788 December 21, 1790 George Ross

Governors of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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Five governors since 1995 (left to right): Mark Schweiker, Tom Ridge, Tom Wolf, Tom Corbett and Ed Rendell (January 2015)
Thomas Mifflin, last President and first Governor of Pennsylvania
Thomas McKean, second Governor of Pennsylvania, President of Delaware, and President of the Continental Congress
Andrew Gregg Curtin, 15th Governor of Pennsylvania, and United States Ambassador to Russia
John W. Geary, 16th Governor of Pennsylvania, and first mayor of San Francisco, California
Dick Thornburgh, 41st Governor of Pennsylvania, and U.S. Attorney General
Tom Ridge, 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania, and first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security

The 1790 constitution abolished the council and replaced the president with a governor,[9] and established a three-year term for governor commencing on the third Tuesday of the December following the election, with governors not allowed to serve more than nine out of any twelve years.[10] The 1838 constitution moved the start of the term to the third Tuesday of the January following the election, and allowed governors to only serve six out of any nine years.[11] The 1874 constitution lengthened the term to four years, and prohibited governors from succeeding themselves.[12] The current constitution of 1968 changed this to allow governors to serve two consecutive terms.[13] There are no limits on the number of terms a governor may serve in total as long as there is a four-year break after a second term.

Under the 1968 constitution, Milton Shapp was the first governor to serve 2 terms, and Tom Corbett was the first incumbent governor to lose a re-election bid.

If the office of governor becomes vacant through death, resignation, or conviction on impeachment, the lieutenant governor becomes governor for the remainder of the term; if the office is only temporarily vacant due to disability of the governor, the lieutenant governor only acts out the duties of governor.[14] Should both offices be vacant, the president pro tempore of the state senate becomes governor.[15] The position of lieutenant governor was created in the 1874 constitution; prior to then, the speaker of the senate would act as governor in cases of vacancy. Originally, the lieutenant governor could only act as governor; it was not until the 1968 constitution that the lieutenant governor could actually become governor in that fashion. The office of governor has been vacant for an extended period once, a 17-day gap in 1848 between the death of the previous governor and the swearing in of his acting successor. Governors and lieutenant governors are elected on the same ticket.[16]


      Anti-Masonic (1)       Democratic (12)       Democratic-Republican (6)        None (1)       Republican (26)       Whig (2)

# Governor Took office Left office Party Lt. Governor
[note 4]
[note 5]
1   Thomas Mifflin December 21, 1790 December 17, 1799 None
[note 6]
None 3
[note 7]
2   Thomas McKean December 17, 1799 December 20, 1808 Democratic-
3   Simon Snyder December 20, 1808 December 16, 1817 Democratic-
4   William Findlay December 16, 1817 December 19, 1820 Democratic-
5   Joseph Hiester December 19, 1820 December 16, 1823 Democratic-
6   John Andrew Shulze December 16, 1823 December 15, 1829 Democratic-
7   George Wolf December 15, 1829 December 15, 1835 Democratic-
8   Joseph Ritner December 15, 1835 January 15, 1839 Anti-Masonic 1
[note 8]
9   David R. Porter January 15, 1839 January 21, 1845 Democratic 2
[note 9]
10   Francis R. Shunk January 21, 1845 July 9, 1848 Democratic 1 12
[note 10]
  Office vacant July 9, 1848 July 26, 1848
[note 11]
11   William F. Johnston July 26, 1848 January 20, 1852 Whig 1 12
[note 12]
12   William Bigler January 20, 1852 January 16, 1855 Democratic 1
13   James Pollock January 16, 1855 January 19, 1858 Whig 1
14   William F. Packer January 19, 1858 January 15, 1861 Democratic 1
15   Andrew Gregg Curtin January 15, 1861 January 15, 1867 Republican 2
16   John W. Geary January 15, 1867 January 21, 1873 Republican 2
17   John F. Hartranft January 21, 1873 January 21, 1879 Republican   None 2
[note 13]
  John Latta
18   Henry M. Hoyt January 21, 1879 January 16, 1883 Republican   Charles Warren Stone 1
19   Robert E. Pattison January 16, 1883 January 18, 1887 Democratic   Chauncey Forward Black 1
20   James A. Beaver January 18, 1887 January 20, 1891 Republican   William T. Davies 1
19   Robert E. Pattison January 20, 1891 January 15, 1895 Democratic   Louis Arthur Watres 1
21   Daniel H. Hastings January 15, 1895 January 17, 1899 Republican   Walter Lyon 1
22   William A. Stone January 17, 1899 January 20, 1903 Republican   John P. S. Gobin 1
23   Samuel W. Pennypacker January 20, 1903 January 15, 1907 Republican   William M. Brown 1
24   Edwin Sydney Stuart January 15, 1907 January 17, 1911 Republican   Robert S. Murphy 1
25   John K. Tener January 17, 1911 January 19, 1915 Republican   John Merriman Reynolds 1
26   Martin Grove Brumbaugh January 19, 1915 January 21, 1919 Republican   Frank B. McClain 1
27   William Cameron Sproul January 21, 1919 January 16, 1923 Republican   Edward E. Beidleman 1
28   Gifford Pinchot January 16, 1923 January 18, 1927 Republican   David J. Davis 1
29   John Stuchell Fisher January 18, 1927 January 20, 1931 Republican   Arthur James 1
28   Gifford Pinchot January 20, 1931 January 15, 1935 Republican   Edward C. Shannon 1
30   George Howard Earle III January 15, 1935 January 17, 1939 Democratic   Thomas Kennedy 1
31   Arthur James January 17, 1939 January 19, 1943 Republican   Samuel S. Lewis 1
32   Edward Martin January 19, 1943 January 2, 1947 Republican   John C. Bell, Jr. 12
[note 14]
33   John C. Bell, Jr. January 2, 1947 January 21, 1947 Republican   vacant 12
[note 15]
34   James H. Duff January 21, 1947 January 16, 1951 Republican   Daniel B. Strickler 1
35   John S. Fine January 16, 1951 January 18, 1955 Republican   Lloyd H. Wood 1
36   George M. Leader January 18, 1955 January 20, 1959 Democratic   Roy E. Furman 1
37   David L. Lawrence January 20, 1959 January 15, 1963 Democratic   John Morgan Davis 1
38   William Scranton January 15, 1963 January 17, 1967 Republican   Raymond P. Shafer 1
39   Raymond P. Shafer January 17, 1967 January 19, 1971 Republican   Raymond J. Broderick 1
40   Milton Shapp January 19, 1971 January 16, 1979 Democratic   Ernest P. Kline 2
[note 16]
41   Dick Thornburgh January 16, 1979 January 20, 1987 Republican   William Scranton, III 2
42   Robert P. Casey January 20, 1987 January 17, 1995 Democratic   Mark Singel 2
[note 17]
43   Tom Ridge January 17, 1995 October 5, 2001 Republican   Mark S. Schweiker 1 12
[note 18]
44   Mark S. Schweiker October 5, 2001 January 21, 2003 Republican   Robert Jubelirer 12
[note 19]
45   Ed Rendell January 21, 2003 January 18, 2011 Democratic   Catherine Baker Knoll[note 20] 2
  Joe Scarnati[note 21]
46   Tom Corbett January 18, 2011 January 20, 2015 Republican   Jim Cawley 1
47   Tom Wolf January 20, 2015 Incumbent Democratic   Michael J. Stack III

Other high offices held

This is a table of other governorships, congressional and other federal offices, and ranking diplomatic positions in foreign countries held by Pennsylvania governors. All representatives and senators mentioned represented Pennsylvania except where noted.

† Denotes those offices from which the governor resigned to take the governorship.
Governor Gubernatorial term U.S. Congress Other offices held Source
House Senate
Joseph Reed 1778–1781 Delegate to the Continental Congress; elected to the U.S. House but declined his seat. [19]
John Dickinson 1782–1785 President of Delaware, Delegate to the Continental Congress from Delaware, Delegate to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania [20]
Benjamin Franklin 1785–1788 Minister to France, Minister to Sweden [21]
Thomas Mifflin 1790–1799 President of the Continental Congress [22]
Thomas McKean 1799–1808 President of Delaware, President of the Continental Congress [23]
Simon Snyder 1808–1817 Some records say he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but some only say state senate. The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress has no record of a U.S. Senate term. [24]
William Findlay 1817–1820 S [25]
Joseph Hiester 1820–1823 H† [26]
George Wolf 1829–1835 H† [27]
William Bigler 1852–1855 S [28]
James Pollock 1855–1858 H [29]
Andrew Gregg Curtin 1861–1867 H Ambassador to Russia [30]
John W. Geary 1867–1876 Governor of Kansas Territory [31]
William A. Stone 1899–1903 H† [32]
John K. Tener 1911–1915 H† [33]
George Howard Earle III 1935–1939 Ambassador to Austria [34]
Edward Martin 1943–1947 S [35]
James H. Duff 1947–1951 S [36]
William Scranton 1963–1967 H Ambassador to the United Nations [37]
Dick Thornburgh 1979–1987 U.S. Attorney General [38]
Tom Ridge 1995–2001 H U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security [39]

The Governor's Residence

See Also Pennsylvania Governor's Residence

See Also Governor's Residence via Pennsylvania Politicals

From Pennsylvania Politicals: Pennsylvania has never used the name "mansion" to describe the governor's official home. Even when the first bill was proposed to purchase a home, the word mansion was not used. Rather, the home was and is designated as a "residence." Even during the 79 years that Keystone Hall was used, it was known simply as that, Keystone Hall. Even today, the home located at 2035 North Front Street is officially known as "The Governor's Residence" not "The Governor's Mansion." The distinction may be both psychological and historical. It may help to remind the governor that he lives in the people's house. It may also remind the electorate that the we, as citizens, own the home and allow the individuals we choose to reside there only temporarily.

As early as 1852, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives proposed funds for "the erection of a dwelling for the residence of the Governor of this Commonwealth." Six years later, on January 18, 1858, Governor Pollock signed the bill authorizing funds for the purchase of a building suitable for the governor. By 1861 and the start of the Civil War, Governor Curtin found the home to be too small to handle the full load of war-related business. Funds were authorized to purchase 313 North Front Street. Governor Curtin and family moved into the residence in 1864.

Twenty years later, the neighboring home was purchased, joined together, and a faux façade was built. Keystone Hall was now a fully functioning residence for the governor. By 1959, the home had fallen into such disrepair that the home was sold and demolished the following year. (The governors used the State House at Indiantown Gap during this period.) Arthur James proposed a new governors residence in 1941. He wanted a grand house built in the William & Mary (Williamsburg) style architecture. However, it took over 25 years for his idea to come to fruition. In 1968, the current residence opened to welcome the Ray Shafer family. It has been the home of the governor ever since.

Living former U.S. governors of Pennsylvania

As of May 2015, there are five former U.S. governors of Pennsylvania who are currently living at this time, the oldest U.S. governor of Pennsylvania being Dick Thornburgh (1979–1987, born 1932). The most recent death of a former U.S. governor of Pennsylvania was that of William Scranton (1963–1967), on July 28, 2013. The most recently serving U.S. governor of Pennsylvania to die was Robert Patrick Casey, who served from 1987 to 1995 and died at the age of sixty-eight on May 30, 2000.

Governor Gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
Dick Thornburgh 1979–1987 (1932-07-16) July 16, 1932 (age 90)
Tom Ridge 1995–2001 (1945-08-26) August 26, 1945 (age 77)
Mark Schweiker 2001–2003 (1953-01-31) January 31, 1953 (age 70)
Ed Rendell 2003–2011 (1944-01-05) January 5, 1944 (age 79)
Tom Corbett 2011–2015 (1949-06-17) June 17, 1949 (age 73)

See also


  1. Died in office.
  2. As Vice President of the Supreme Executive Council, acted as president. Four vice presidents acted as president at various times; however, Bryan's lengthy term has caused his term to since be recognized as being equivalent to president. Contemporary sources listed him only as vice president, acting out the duties of president.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Resigned; no reason was recorded by the Supreme Executive Council.
  4. The office of lieutenant governor was not created until the 1873 Constitution, first being filled in 1875.
  5. 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.
  6. The Federalist Party nominated Mifflin, but he himself carried no party label.
  7. Mifflin was elected governor three times under the 1790 Constitution, having previously been elected once as President of the Supreme Executive Council.
  8. Ritner was the last to serve before the 1838 constitution limited governors to serving six years out of any nine years; that constitution also changed the term to commence the next January from the election, extending Ritner's term by a month.
  9. First governor to serve under the 1838 constitution.
  10. Resigned due to illness; he died of tuberculosis only 11 days later.
  11. Following Francis R. Shunk's resignation, an interregnum of 17 days occurred before the speaker of the state senate, William F. Johnston, was sworn in.
  12. As speaker of the state senate, filled unexpired term, and was subsequently elected governor in his own right.
  13. First governor under the 1874 constitution, which prevented governors from succeeding themselves and lengthened terms to four years. Since Hartranft was originally elected under the previous constitution, he was allowed to succeed himself. Hartranft's first term was shortened from three to two years to fit the electoral schedule of the new constitution.
  14. Resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate. While official sources state Martin resigned on January 3, most contemporary sources reported his resignation as occurring on January 2.[17][18]
  15. As lieutenant governor, acted as governor for unexpired term.
  16. First governor under the 1968 constitution, and thus eligible to succeed himself.
  17. On June 14, 1993, Casey transferred executive authority to Lieutenant Governor Singel, and later that day underwent a heart-liver transplant operation. Singel acted as governor until Casey resumed the powers and duties of the office six months later on December 13, 1993. Because Casey never officially resigned, Singel was only an acting governor.
  18. Resigned to be Director of the Office of Homeland Security.
  19. As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term.
  20. Died in office.
  21. As president pro tempore of the state senate, acted as lieutenant governor.


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  2. PA Constitution article IV, § 2
  3. PA Constitution article IV, § 7
  4. PA Constitution article IV, § 15
  5. PA Constitution article IV, § 12
  6. PA Constitution article IV, § 9
  7. 1776 Constitution § 3
  8. 1776 Constitution § 19
  9. 1790 Constitution article II, § 1
  10. 1790 Constitution article IV, § 3
  11. 1838 Constitution article II, § 3
  12. 1874 Constitution article IV, § 3
  13. PA Constitution article IV, § 3
  14. PA Constitution article IV, § 13
  15. PA Constitution article IV, § 14
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External links