List of mayors of Washington, D.C.

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Former mayor Vincent Gray (right) was sworn-in on January 2, 2011 with his predecessor, Adrian Fenty (left).

The list of mayors of Washington, D.C. is a reflection of the changing structure of its local government. From 1846 to 1871, three separate municipalities were located within the District of Columbia and each was governed separately: the City of Washington, Georgetown, and unincorporated territory known as Washington County. With the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, the three municipalities within the District of Columbia were abolished in favor of a single District government, whose chief executive was a territorial Governor. This office was abolished in 1874, and replaced with a three-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the President. This system existed until 1967, when it was replaced by a single mayor-commissioner and city council appointed by the President. Finally, in 1974, the District of Columbia Home Rule Act allowed for District residents to elect their own mayor.

Currently, the Mayor of the District of Columbia is popularly elected to a four-year term with no term limits. Even though Washington, DC is not a state, the city government also has certain state-level responsibilities, making some of the mayor's duties analogous to those of United States governors. The current mayor of Washington, D.C. is Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, who has served in the role since January 2, 2015.

The lists on this page include all of the chief executives of the District of Columbia in their various forms.

Mayors of the City of Washington (1802–1871)

The persons listed below are the mayors of the now-defunct City of Washington, which was officially granted a formal government in 1802. The Mayor of Washington had authority over city services, appointments, and local tax assessments; however, the duties of the mayor mostly consisted of requesting appropriations from Congress to finance the city. From 1802 to 1812, the mayor was appointed by the President of the United States. Between 1812 and 1820, the city's mayors were then selected by a city council. From 1820 to 1871 the mayor was popularly elected. The present-day boundaries of the "Old City" were Rock Creek to the west, Florida Avenue to the north, and the Anacostia River to the east and south.

Image Mayor[1] Term Began Term Ended
RobertBrent.jpg Robert Brent 1802 1812
No image.svg Daniel Rapine 1812 1813
JamesHeigheBlake.jpeg James H. Blake 1813 1817
Mayor orr.jpg Benjamin G. Orr 1817 1819
No image.svg Samuel N. Smallwood 1819 1822
No image.svg Thomas Carbery 1822 June 1824
No image.svg Samuel N. Smallwood June 1824 September 30, 1824
Gen. Weightman, C.S.A - NARA - 526634.jpg Roger C. Weightman September 30, 1824 1827
Joseph gales.jpg Joseph Gales 1827 1830
John Peter Van Ness (Gilbert Stuart).jpg John P. Van Ness 1830 1834
No image.svg William A. Bradley 1834 1836
Peter Force by Mathew Brady c1858.jpg Peter Force 1836 1840
William Winston Seaton - Brady-Handy.jpg William Winston Seaton 1840 1850
No image.svg Walter Lenox 1850 1852
JohnWMaury.jpg John W. Maury 1852 1854
JohnTTowers.jpg John T. Towers 1854 1856
No image.svg William B. Magruder 1856 1858
JamesGBerret.jpg James G. Berret 1858 August 26, 1861
Mayor Wallach of Washington D.C - NARA - 529273.jpg Richard Wallach August 26, 1861 1868
SaylesJBowen.jpg Sayles J. Bowen 1868 June 7, 1870
No image.svg Matthew G. Emery[2] June 7, 1870 February 28, 1871

Mayors of Georgetown (1790–1871)

Georgetown was a town in Maryland until 1801, when it became a municipality within the District of Columbia. From 1802 until 1871, mayors of Georgetown were elected to one-year terms, with no term limits.[3] Like the City of Washington and Washington County, Georgetown's local government ceased to exist in 1871, when Congress merged the three entities into the single District government.[4]

Mayor[1] Term Began Term Ended
Robert Peter 1790 1791
Thomas Beale 1791 1792
Uriah Forrest 1792 1793
John Threlkeld 1793 1794
Peter Casenave 1794 1795
Thomas Turner 1795 1796
Daniel Reintzel 1796 1797
Lloyd Beall 1797 1799
Daniel Reintzel 1799 1804
Thomas Corcoran 1805 1806
Daniel Reintzel 1806 1807
Thomas Corcoran 1808 1810
David Wiley 1811 1812
Thomas Corcoran 1812 1813
John Peter 1813 1818
Henry Foxall 1819 1820
John Peter 1821 1822
John Cox 1823 1845
Henry Addison 1845 1857
Richard R. Crawford 1857 1861
Henry Addison 1861 1867
Charles D. Welch 1867 1869
Henry M. Sweeney 1869 1871

Governors of the District of Columbia (1871–1874)

In 1871, Congress created a territorial government for the entire District of Columbia, which was headed by a governor appointed by the President of the United States to a four-year term. Due to alleged mismanagement and corruption, including allegations of contractors bribing members of the District legislature to receive contracts,[5] the territorial government was discontinued in 1874.

# Image Governor[1] Term Began Term Ended
1 HD cookeHDc.jpg Henry D. Cooke February 28, 1871 September 13, 1873
2 Alexander-Robey-Shepherd.jpg Alexander R. Shepherd[6] September 13, 1873 June 20, 1874

Presidents of the Board of Commissioners (1874–1967)

From 1874 to 1967, the District was administered by a three-member Board of Commissioners with both legislative and executive authority, all appointed by the President. The board comprised one Democrat, one Republican, and one civil engineer with no specified party. The three Commissioners would then elect one of their number to serve as president of the board. While not quite analogous to the role of a mayor, the president of the board was the city's Chief Executive.

Image President[7] Term Began Term Ended Political Party
William Dennison, Jr.jpg William Dennison[8] July 1, 1874 July 1, 1878 Republican
Seth L. Phelps.jpg Seth Ledyard Phelps July 1, 1878 November 29, 1879 Republican
No image.svg Josiah Dent November 29, 1879 July 17, 1882 Democratic
Joseph R. West - cwpbh 03614.jpg Joseph Rodman West July 17, 1882 March 29, 1883 Republican
No image.svg James Barker Edmonds March 29, 1883 January 1, 1886 Democratic
No image.svg William Benning Webb January 1, 1886 May 21, 1889 None
No image.svg John Watkinson Douglass May 21, 1889 March 1, 1893 None
John Wesley Ross.jpg John Wesley Ross March 1, 1893 June 1, 1898 Democratic
No image.svg John Brewer Wright June 1, 1898 May 9, 1900 None
No image.svg Henry Brown Floyd MacFarland May 9, 1900 January 24, 1910 None
No image.svg Cuno Hugo Rudolph January 24, 1910 February 28, 1913 None
No image.svg Oliver Peck Newman February 28, 1913 October 9, 1917 None
Charles Merriam and Louis Brownlow - White House - 1938-09-23.jpg Louis Brownlow October 9, 1917 September 17, 1920 Democratic
No image.svg Colonel Charles Willauer Kutz (acting) September 17, 1920 September 25, 1920 None
No image.svg John Thilman Hendrick September 25, 1920 March 4, 1921 None
No image.svg Cuno Hugo Rudolph March 15, 1921 December 4, 1926 None
No image.svg Proctor L. Dougherty December 4, 1926 April 10, 1930 None
No image.svg Dr. Luther Halsey Reichelderfer April 10, 1930 November 16, 1933 None
No image.svg Melvin Colvin Hazen November 16, 1933 July 15, 1941 None
No image.svg John Russell Young July 29, 1941 June 2, 1952 None
No image.svg F. Joseph Donohue June 2, 1952 April 6, 1953 None
No image.svg Samuel Spencer April 6, 1953 April 6, 1956 None
No image.svg Robert E. McLoughlin April 6, 1956 July 27, 1961 None
75px Walter Nathan Tobriner July 27, 1961 November 7, 1967 Democratic


Mayor-Commissioner (1967–1975)

In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson presented to Congress a plan to reorganize the District's government.[10] The three-commissioner system was replaced by a government headed by a single mayor-commissioner, an assistant mayor-commissioner, and a nine-member city council, all appointed by the president.[10] The mayor-commissioner and his assistant served four-year terms,[11] while the councilmembers served three-year terms.[10] While the Council was officially nonpartisan, no more than six of Councilmembers could be of the same political party.[11] Councilmembers were expected to work part-time.[10] All councilmembers and either the mayor-commissioner or his assistant was required to have been a resident of the District of Columbia for the three years preceding appointment.[11] All must be District residents while serving their terms in office.[11]

Council members had the quasi-legislative powers of the former Board of Commissioners, approving the budget and setting real estate tax rates.[10] The mayor-commissioner could, without any Congressional approval, consolidate District agencies and transfer money between agencies, powers that the preceding Board of Commissioners had not possessed since 1952.[12] The mayor-commissioner could veto the actions of the Council, but the Council could override the veto with a three-fourths vote.[10]

Despite a push by many Republicans and conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives to reject Johnson's plan, the House of Representatives accepted the new form of government for the District by a vote of 244 to 160.[13] Johnson said that the new District government would be more effective and efficient.[10]

Walter E. Washington was appointed the first mayor-commissioner, and Thomas W. Fletcher was appointed the first assistant mayor-commissioner.[14] The first Council appointments were Chairman John W. Hechinger, Vice Chairman Walter E. Fauntroy, Stanley J. Anderson, Margaret A. Haywood, John A. Nevius, William S. Thompson, J.C. Turner, Polly Shackleton, and Joseph P. Yeldell.[14]

# Image Mayor-Commissioner [1] Term Began Term Ended Political Party
1 75px Walter Washington November 7, 1967 January 2, 1975 Democratic

Mayors of the District of Columbia (1975–present)

Since 1975, the District has been administered by a popularly elected mayor and city council.


      Democratic (8)

# Mayor Term of office Party Term Previous office
1 Walter Washington
January 2, 1975

January 2, 1979
Democratic 1
Mayor-Commissioner of the District of Columbia
Crop of Marion Barry Vincent Gray.jpg
Marion Barry
January 2, 1979

January 2, 1991
Democratic 2
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from the At-large district
Sharon Pratt Kelly.png
Sharon Pratt Kelly[15]
(born 1944)
January 2, 1991

January 2, 1995
Democratic 5
Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee
Crop of Marion Barry Vincent Gray.jpg
Marion Barry
January 2, 1995

January 2, 1999
Democratic 6
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 8
5 Anthony A. Williams
(born 1951)
January 2, 1999

January 2, 2007
Democratic 7
D.C. Chief Financial Officer
Adrian Fenty, 2006.jpg
Adrian Fenty
(born 1970)
January 2, 2007

January 2, 2011
Democratic 9
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 4
Vincent C. Gray
(born 1942)
January 2, 2011

January 2, 2015
Democratic 10
Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia
Muriel Bowser.jpg
Muriel Bowser
(born 1972)
January 2, 2015

Democratic 11
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 4

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Larner, John B. (1920). "List of Principal Municipal Authorities of the Cities of Washington, Georgetown, and the District of Columbia". Records of the Columbia Historical Society. 23: 180–7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Washington Election Yesterday". Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser. via Google News. June 7, 1870.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ecker, Grace Dunlop (1933). A Portrait of Old Georgetown. Garrett & Massie. p. 8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "New Government in Columbia". The New York Times. January 21, 1871.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Bribes Paid by Contractors". The New York Times. March 29, 1974.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "The District of Columbia Governorship". The New York Times. September 13, 1873.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Gilmore, Matthew (July 2001). "Who were the Commissioners of the District, 1874–1967?". H-DC. Humanities & Social Sciences Online. Retrieved 30 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The New District Governors". The New York Times. Associated Press. June 30, 1874.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "DCPL: MLK: Washingtoniana Division: FAQs: DC Commissioners". Retrieved 6 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Carper, Elsie (June 2, 1967). "Johnson Orders New D.C. Rule: Hill Has 60 Days To Act on Plan, But Can't Alter It". The Washington Post. p. A1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "How the District Will Be Run Under Single Head, Council". The Washington Post. August 10, 1967. p. A1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Kaiser, Robert G. (June 2, 1967). "Reorganization Plan Redistributes Current Powers". The Washington Post. p. A7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Carper, Elsie; Milius, Peter (August 10, 1967). "House Accepts New D.C. Rule". The Washington Post. p. A1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Asher, Robert L. (November 2, 1967). "Senate Confirms Council: White House Oath Taking Likely for 9". The Washington Post. p. A1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Elected as "Sharon Pratt Dixon," but remarried in December 1991.

External links