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List of Governors of Massachusetts
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List of Governors of Massachusetts

Table of contents
1 Governor of Massachusetts
2 Succession
3 List of Massachusetts Governors

Governor of Massachusetts

Part the Second, Chapter II, Section I, Article I of the Constitution of Massachusetts reads,

There shall be a supreme executive magistrate, who shall be styled, The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and whose title shall be -- His Excellency.

With the writing of that sentence in 1780, the executive branch of the new Commonwealth came into being. The Governor of Massachusetts is the chief executive of the Commonwealth, and is supported by a number of subordinate officers. He, like most other state officers, senators, and representatives, was originally elected annually. Eventually this was changed to a two-year term, and currently rests at a four-year term.

The Governor of Massachusetts does not receive a palace, other official residence, or housing allowance. Instead, he continues to reside in his private residence. The title of "His Excellency" is a throwback to the executives of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Province of New England, and Royal Colony of Massachusetts, all of whom as royal appointees were afforded this title.

The governor also serves as Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth's armed forces, a position the power of which has declined as the states of the United States have become less individual nations and more subnational units.


According to the constitution, whenever the chair of the governor is vacant, the lieutenant governor shall take over as governor. The first time this came into use was five years after the constitution's adoption, when in 1785 Governor Hancock resigned his post with five months remaining before the inauguration of Governor Bowdoin.

No Single Governor

Whenever both the governor and his lieutenant left their offices vacant, the Governor's Council was charged with acting as governor. Governor Sumner died in office on June 7, 1799, leaving Lt. Governor Moses Gill as Governor of the Commonwealth. Governor Gill never received a lieutenant, and died himself on May 20, 1800.

For the ten days between Governor Gill's death and Governor Strong's inauguration, the Governor's Council became the executive arm of the Commonwealth's government. Its chair, Thomas Dawes, was the closest person to governor during this time, but was at no point named governor.

New and Current Line of Succession

Article LV of the Constitution annulled this line of succession and created a new line that did not entrust the single leadership post of an eight-member council. The new and current line of succession is as follows:

List of Massachusetts Governors

Colonial governors can be found at page for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.