List of Governors of Arkansas

List of Governors of Arkansas

The following is a list of the Governors of the State of Arkansas and Arkansas Territory. The governor is the head of the executive branch of Arkansas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Arkansas Legislature, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment. [AR Const. art. VI]

The first state constitution, ratified in 1836, established four-year terms for governors. Term lengths changed several times: the second, secessionist constitution of 1860 lowered them to two years; the third, Reconstruction-era constitution of 1868 raised them back to four years, and the fifth constitution in 1874 lowered them again to two years. [cite web | url= | title = Arkansas Constitutions | publisher = Encyclopedia of Arkansas | accessdate=2007-09-01] Amendment 63 to the Arkansas Constitution, passed in 1984, increased the terms of both governor and lieutenant governor to four years. [cite web | url= | title=Amendment 63 - Four Year Terms for State Constitutional Officers.| work = Constitution Of The State Of Arkansas Of 1874 | accessdate=2008-01-18] A referendum in 1992 limited the governor to two terms. [cite web | url= | title = State Gubernatorial Term Limits | accessdate=2007-09-01]

Until 1925, should the office of governor be rendered empty through death, resignation, removal, or other disability, the president of the senate would serve as acting governor, until such time as a new governor were elected or the disability removed, or the acting governor's senate term expired. This led to some situations where the governorship changed hands in quick succession, due to senate terms ending or new presidents of the senate being elected. For example, William Kavanaugh Oldham served only six days in 1913 before he was replaced as president of the senate. Should the president of the senate be similarly incapacitated, the next in line for the governorship was the speaker of the state house of representatives.

Amendment 6 to the state constitution, passed in 1914 but not recognized until 1925, created the office of lieutenant governor, to be elected at the same time as governor for the same term. In case of death, resignation, removal, or other vacancy of the governor's office, the lieutenant governor now becomes governor. [Arkansas Supreme Court, "Bryant v. English", 311 Ark. 187, 843 S.W.2d 308 (1992).]

The current governor is Mike Beebe, who took office on January 9, 2007; his first term will expire in January 2011.


Arkansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase, bought by the United States from France in 1803. The initial military district was commanded by Amos Stoddard. The purchase was split in 1804 into Orleans Territory and the District of Louisiana, which was placed under the jurisdiction of Indiana Territory. In 1805, the district was organized into Louisiana Territory, and renamed Missouri Territory in 1812, to avoid confusion with the new state of Louisiana. Arkansas Territory (named Arkansaw Territory until around 1822#tag:ref|The territory was formally organized with the name "Arkansaw", but spellings including "Arkansas" and "Arkansa" remained common until around 1822, when the popularity of the "Arkansas Gazette" helped standardize the spelling as "Arkansas". [cite web | url= | title= Timeline - 1822: Indian Peace Treaty | publisher=Historic Arkansas Museum | accessdate=2007-08-31] |group='N') was formed in 1819 and changed twice, both times losing land to be unorganized territory, and was admitted as a state in 1836. See the lists of governors of Indiana (1804-1805) and Missouri (1805-1819) for these periods.

Governors of Arkansas Territory

Arkansaw Territory was split from Missouri Territory on July 4, 1819.

As secretary of the territory from 1819 to 1829, Robert Crittenden served as acting governor whenever the appointed governor was not in the state. This meant he was in fact the first person to be governor of Arkansas Territory, since James Miller did not arrive in the territory until nine months after his appointment. Similarly, after George Izard was appointed governor, he did not arrive in the territory for nearly two months, during which Crittenden was again acting governor. He also acted as governor during the times when the territory had no appointed governor.

Living former governors

as of|2008|10, five former governors were alive, the oldest being Dale Bumpers (born birth date and age|mf=yes|1925|8|12). The most recent governor to die was Sid McMath (1949–1953), on October 4, 2003. The most recently-serving governor to die was Frank D. White (1981–1983), on May 21, 2003.





External links

* [ Office of the Governor of Arkansas]

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