Print Page     Email Page     Increase Font SizeDecrease Font SizeReset Font Size
Skip Navigation Links

Home / Browse / Governor, Office of the

Office of the Governor

Between being made a territory of the United States in 1819 and becoming a state in 1836, Arkansas was overseen by four territorial governors. Appointed by the president to a three-year term (with the possibility of reappointment), territorial governors simultaneously served as commander of the militia and superintendent of Indian Affairs, though Arkansas’s first territorial governor, James Miller, was little more than an absentee landlord. Miller was appointed on March 3, 1819, but did not arrive in Arkansas until December 26; he was later absent from April 1821 to November 1822 and left again in June 1823 never to return. He never moved his family to Arkansas. In his absence, Robert Crittenden was the de facto governor of the territory. Subsequent territorial governors, such as George Izard and John Pope, however, worked hard to establish Arkansas’s institutions and ready the land for statehood.

The constitution of 1836 created a popularly elected governor responsible for the execution of the laws of the state, with the power to recommend legislation to the Arkansas General Assembly and also the power of veto and pardon. This person served as commander of the state militia. The constitution assigned the governor a term of four years with a limit on reelection to no more than eight total years out of any twelve. There was no position of lieutenant governor; rather, the line of succession went from the president of the state Senate to the speaker of the state House of Representatives. The civilian powers of the governor remained essentially unchanged when Arkansas adopted the constitution of 1861 as it became a part of the Confederate States of America, though the governor’s term was shortened to two years. However, the constitution of 1861 placed the state militia under a three-man board that included the governor, rather than making the governor the commander-in-chief, a move indicative of the hostility many lawmakers felt toward Henry Massie Rector.

In 1864, officials loyal to the Union adopted and ratified a new constitution to obtain Federal recognition and support. The main effect of this document upon the governorship was the creation of the lieutenant governor position. However, the constitution of 1868, adopted to secure Arkansas’s reentry into the Union, greatly expanded the powers of the governor to include the appointment of judges and the selection of assessors; in addition, the elected terms of both the governor and lieutenant governor were expanded to four years.

Arkansas’s current constitution (as of 2008), adopted in 1874 by Democrats largely interested in rolling back Reconstruction-era reforms, reduced the governor’s term to two years, limited powers of appointment, and reduced control over the state militia. The office of lieutenant governor was eliminated. It was later reestablished in the wake of succession problems linked to John Sebastian Little with the adoption of Amendment 6, approved by voters in 1914 and upheld by the state Supreme Court in 1926. The lieutenant governor became first in the line of succession should the governor die, be incapacitated, or vacate the office. Amendment 63, approved in 1984, lengthened the term of all constitutional officers, including the governor, back to four years. In 1992, Amendment 73 imposed term limits on a variety of elected officials, including the governor, who was limited to a maximum of two elected terms in office.

The constitution of 1874 requires the governor to be a U.S. citizen at least thirty years of age and to have resided in Arkansas for seven years. It accords him the status of “commander-in-chief of the military and naval forces of this State, except when they shall be called into actual service of the United States.” The governor can exercise an “item veto” over legislation, as well as pardon, grant reprieves, and commute sentences, save in cases of treason and impeachment. The governor also has the power to call the state legislature into a special session.

 

Territorial Governor

Took Office

Left Office

Party
Affiliation

Appointed by

1

James Miller

3/3/1819

12/27/1824

None

James Monroe

2

George Izard

3/4/1825

11/22/1828

None

James Monroe/
John Quincy Adams

3

John Pope

3/9/1829

3/9/1835

Democrat

Andrew Jackson

4

William Savin Fulton

3/9/1835

6/15/1836

Democrat

Andrew Jackson 

 

 

Governor

Took Office

Left Office

Party
Affiliation

Lt. Governor

1

James Sevier Conway (1796–1855)

9/13/1836

11/4/1840

Democrat

none

2

Archibald Yell (1797?–1847)

11/4/1840

4/29/1844

Democrat

none

3

Thomas Stevenson Drew (1802–1879)

11/9/1844

1/10/1849

Democrat

none

4

John Selden Roane (1817–1867)

4/19/1849

11/15/1852

Democrat

none

5

Elias Nelson Conway (1812–1892)

11/15/1852

11/15/1860

Democrat

none

6

Henry Massie Rector (1816–1899)

11/15/1860

11/4/1862

Democrat

none

7

Harris Flanagin (1817–1874)

11/15/1862

5/26/1865

Democrat

Calvin Bliss

8

Isaac Murphy (1799–1882)

4/18/1864

7/2/1868

Republican

Calvin Bliss

9

Powell Clayton (1833–1914)

7/2/1868

3/17/1871

Republican

James M. Johnson

10

Elisha Baxter (1827–1899)

1/6/1873

11/12/1874

Republican

Vonley V. Smith

11

Augustus Hill Garland (1832–1899)

11/12/1874

1/11/1877

Democrat

none

12

William Read Miller (1823–1887)

1/11/1877

1/13/1881

Democrat

none

13

Thomas James Churchill (1824–1905)

1/13/1881

1/13/1883

Democrat

none

14

James Henderson Berry (1841–1913)

1/13/1883

1/15/1885

Democrat

none

15

Simon Pollard Hughes (1830–1906)

1/15/1885

1/17/1889

Democrat

none

16

James Philip Eagle (1837–1904)

1/17/1889

1/14/1893

Democrat

none

17

William Meade Fishback (1831–1903)

1/14/1893

1/18/1895

Democrat

none

18

James Paul Clarke (1854–1916)

1/18/1895

1/18/1897

Democrat

none

19

Daniel Webster Jones (1839–1918)

1/18/1897

1/18/1901

Democrat

none

20

Jeff Davis (1862–1913)

1/18/1901

1/18/1907

Democrat

none

21

John Sebastian Little (1851–1916)

1/18/1907

2/7/1907

Democrat

none

22

George Washington Donaghey (1856–1937)

1/14/1909

1/16/1913

Democrat

none

23

Joseph Taylor Robinson (1872–1937)

1/16/1913

3/10/1913

Democrat

none

24

George Washington Hays (1863–1927)

8/6/1913

1/10/1917

Democrat

vacant

25

Charles Hillman Brough (1876–1935)

1/10/1917

1/12/1921

Democrat

vacant

26

Thomas Chipman McRae (1851–1929)

1/12/1921

1/14/1925

Democrat

vacant

27

Thomas Jefferson Terral (1882–1946)

1/14/1925

1/11/1927

Democrat

vacant

28

John Ellis Martineau (1873–1937)

1/11/1927

3/4/1928

Democrat

Harvey Parnell

29

Harvey Parnell (1880–1936)

3/4/1928

1/10/1933

Democrat

William Lee Cazort/
Lawrence Elery Wilson

30

Junius Marion Futrell (1870–1955)

1/10/1933

1/12/1937

Democrat

William Lee Cazort

31

Carl Edward Bailey (1894–1948)

1/12/1937

1/14/1941

Democrat

Robert Bailey

32

Homer Martin Adkins (1890–1964)

1/14/1941

1/9/1945

Democrat

Robert Bailey/
James L. Shaver

33

Benjamin Travis Laney Jr. (1896–1977)

1/9/1945

1/11/1949

Democrat

James L. Shaver/
Nathan Green Gordon

34

Sidney Sanders McMath (1912–2003)

1/11/1949

1/13/1953

Democrat

Nathan Green Gordon

35

Francis Adams Cherry (1908–1965)

1/13/1953

1/11/1955

Democrat

Nathan Green Gordon

36

Orval Eugene Faubus (1910–1994)

1/11/1955

1/10/1967

Democrat

Nathan Green Gordon

37

Winthrop Rockefeller (1912–1973)

1/10/1967

1/12/1971

Republican

Maurice Britt

38

Dale Leon Bumpers (1925–)

1/12/1971

1/2/1975

Democrat

Bob C. Riley

39

David Hampton Pryor (1934–)

1/14/1975

1/3/1979

Democrat

Joe Purcell

40

William Jefferson Clinton (1946–)

1/9/1979

1/13/1981

Democrat

Joe Purcell

41

Frank Durward White (1933–2003)

1/19/1981

1/11/1983

Republican

Winston Bryant

42

William Jefferson Clinton (1946–)

1/11/1983

12/12/1992

Democrat

Winston Bryant/
Jim Guy Tucker

43

James Guy Tucker Jr. (1943–)

12/12/1992

7/15/1996

Democrat

Mike Huckabee

44

Michael Dale Huckabee (1955–)

7/15/1996

1/9/2007

Republican

Winthrop Paul Rockefeller

45

Mickey Dale Beebe (1946–)

1/9/2007

1/13/2015

Democrat

Bill Halter/Mark Darr

46

Asa Hutchinson (1950–)

1/13/2015

———

Republican

Tim Griffin

 

For additional information:

Blair, Diane, and Jay Barth. Arkansas Politics and Government. 2nd ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

Brown, Robert L. Defining Moments: Historic Decisions by Arkansas Governors from McMath through Huckabee. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2010.

Donovan, Timothy P., Willard B. Gatewood Jr., and Jeannie M. Whayne, eds. The Governors of Arkansas: Essays in Political Biography. 2nd ed. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1995.

First Families Collection. Old State House Museum Online Collections. First Families Collection (accessed October 3, 2016). 

First Families Exhibition. Old State House Museum Online Collections. First Families Exhibition (accessed October 3, 2016).

Goss, Kay C. The Arkansas Constitution: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Governor of Arkansas. http://www.governor.arkansas.gov/ (accessed October 3, 2016).

Governors of Arkansas Exhibition. Old State House Museum Online Collections. Governors Exhibition (accessed October 3, 2016).

 

Staff of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Related Butler Center Lesson Plans:
Voices from the Past: Voyage to the Future

Last Updated 10/3/2016

About this Entry: Contact the Encyclopedia / Submit a Comment / Submit a Narrative


©2017 The Central Arkansas Library System - All rights reserved - Web Services by Aristotle Web Design.