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List of governors of Pennsylvania
|Governor of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
|Term length||Four years
|Inaugural holder||Thomas Mifflin|
|Formation||December 21, 1790|
The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to approve or veto bills passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature and to convene the legislature. The governor may grant pardons except in cases of impeachment, but only when recommended by the Board of Pardons.
There have been seven presidents and 47 governors of Pennsylvania, with two governors (Robert E. Pattison and Gifford Pinchot) 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 of the Continental Congress. The shortest term belonged to John Bell, who served only 19 days as acting governor after his predecessor, Edward Martin 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.
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 of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as its head. The president was chosen annually by the council, though with no specific term dates.
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 later. 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 later 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
|2||George Bryan||May 23, 1778||December 1, 1778||acting as president
|3||Joseph Reed||December 1, 1778||November 15, 1781||George Bryan
|4||William Moore||November 15, 1781||November 7, 1782||James Potter|
|5||John Dickinson||November 7, 1782||October 18, 1785||James Ewing|
|6||Benjamin Franklin||October 18, 1785||November 5, 1788||Charles Biddle|
|7||Thomas Mifflin||November 5, 1788||December 21, 1790||George Ross|
Governors of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
The 1790 constitution abolished the council and replaced the president with a governor, 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. 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. The 1874 constitution lengthened the term to four years, and prohibited governors from succeeding themselves. The current constitution of 1968 changed this to allow governors to serve two consecutive terms, with no lifetime limit.
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. Should both offices be vacant, the president pro tempore of the state senate becomes governor. The position of a 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 the sitting governor in that fashion. The office of governor has been vacant for an extended period once before, a 17-day gap in 1848 between the resignation of the previous governor and the swearing in of his acting successor. Governors and lieutenant governors are elected on the same political party ticket.
|#||Governor||Took office||Left office||Party||Lt. Governor
|1||Thomas Mifflin||December 21, 1790||December 17, 1799||None
|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||2|
|8||Joseph Ritner||December 15, 1835||January 15, 1839||Anti-Masonic||1
|9||David R. Porter||January 15, 1839||January 21, 1845||Democratic||2
|10||Francis R. Shunk||January 21, 1845||July 9, 1848||Democratic||1 1⁄2
|—||Office vacant||July 9, 1848||July 26, 1848||—||—
|11||William F. Johnston||July 26, 1848||January 20, 1852||Whig||1
|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
|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.||1⁄2
|33||John C. Bell Jr.||January 2, 1947||January 21, 1947||Republican||vacant||1⁄2
|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||Ray 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
|41||Dick Thornburgh||January 16, 1979||January 20, 1987||Republican||William Scranton, III||2|
|42||Bob Casey Sr.||January 20, 1987||January 17, 1995||Democratic||Mark Singel||2
|43||Tom Ridge||January 17, 1995||October 5, 2001||Republican||Mark Schweiker||1
|44||Mark Schweiker||October 5, 2001||January 21, 2003||Republican||Robert Jubelirer||1⁄2
|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
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.
The Governor's Residence
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 governors of Pennsylvania
As of December 2020[update], there are four former governors of Pennsylvania who are currently living at this time, the oldest governor of Pennsylvania being Ed Rendell (served 2003-2011, born 1944). The most recent death of a former governor of Pennsylvania was that of Richard Thornburgh (served 1979–1987, born 1932), on December 31, 2020.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Date of birth (and age)|
|Tom Ridge||1995–2001||August 26, 1945|
|Mark Schweiker||2001–2003||January 31, 1953|
|Ed Rendell||2003–2011||January 5, 1944|
|Tom Corbett||2011–2015||June 17, 1949|
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