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Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Seal of Massachusetts.svg
Karyn Polito

since January 8, 2015
StyleHis Honor/ Her Honor
Member ofGovernor's Council
Term lengthFour years, no limit
PrecursorDeputy Governor of Massachusetts Bay in New England
Inaugural holderThomas Cushing
FormationOctober 25, 1780
(240 years ago)
Salary$165,000 (2018)

The Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts is the first in the line to discharge the powers and duties of the office of governor following the incapacitation of the Governor of Massachusetts. The constitutional honorific title for the office is His, or Her, Honor.

The Massachusetts Constitution provides that when a governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the office of governor remains vacant for the rest of the 4-year term. The lieutenant governor discharges powers and duties as Acting Governor and does not actually assume the office of governor.[1] The first time this came into use was five years after the constitution's adoption in 1785, when Governor John Hancock resigned his post five months before the election and inauguration of his successor, James Bowdoin, leaving Lieutenant Governor Thomas Cushing as acting governor.[2] Most recently, Jane Swift became acting governor when Paul Cellucci resigned in 2001 to become the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.[3]

The lieutenant governor serves in place of the governor when he or she is outside the borders of Massachusetts. Historically a one-year term, the office of lieutenant governor now carries a four-year term, the same as that of the governor. The lieutenant governor is not elected independently, but on a ticket with the governor. The 1780 constitution required a candidate for either office to have lived in Massachusetts for at least seven years immediately preceding election, own at least £1,000 worth of real property and to "declare himself to be of the Christian religion". However, only the residency requirement remains in effect, and both men and women have served in the office.[1][4] Amendment Article LXIV (1918) changed the election from every year to every two years, and Amendment Article LXXXII (1966) changed it again to every four years. The office is currently held by Karyn Polito, who was inaugurated in January 2015.[5]


Any person seeking to become Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts must meet the following requirements:[6]

  • Be at least eighteen years of age
  • Be a registered voter in Massachusetts
  • Be a Massachusetts resident for at least seven years when elected
  • Receive 10,000 signatures from registered voters on nomination papers


The role of Lieutenant Governor has its roots in the role of Deputy Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Originally the Deputy, along with the Governor, and the Council of Assistants were elected by freemen of the colony. They served as executives in the governance of the colony but also as executive officers of the Company of Massachusetts Bay. Originally these royal officers were to remain in London, as was the case with other royal colonial companies. However, John Humphrey and John Winthrop, the first Deputy and Governor respectively, traveled to the colony instead. In the colonial era the Governor and Deputy served as chief magistrates along with the Council, and the Governor served as General of the militia and the Deputy as Colonel.

In the early days of the colony the Deputy Governor was elected to a one year term along with the Governor. With the revocation of the charter of 1629 and the establishment of the Dominion of New England, all this was changed. Now the Royal Officers were to be appointed by the King and Privy Council. They were to follow royal directive and serve the interests of the Crown. The Royal Government in Great Britain was frustrated with their lack of control of the New England colonies and sought to reassert their authority.

Now styled "Lieutenant Governor", the new royal appointees came into conflict with the colonists and General Court who wished to regain authority of provincial affairs. The last Lieutenant Governor was Thomas Oliver who served with Gen. Thomas Gage.

Constitutional role

Part the Second, Chapter II, Section II, Article I of the Massachusetts Constitution reads,[1]

There shall be annually elected a lieutenant governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, whose title shall be, His Honor and who shall be qualified, in point of religion, property, and residence in the commonwealth, in the same manner with the governor: and the day and manner of his or her election, and the qualifications of the electors, shall be the same as are required in the election of a governor.

The Lieutenant Governor also serves ex officio as a member of the Massachusetts Governor's Council.

Other functions

Massachusetts law provides for the lieutenant governor to serve as the chairman of the award selection committee for the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery.[7]


The lieutenant governor is typically elected on a joint ticket with the governor, ensuring that they have the same political party affiliation. When the state constitution was first enacted in 1780, elections for the two offices were independent, and were held annually. Constitutional amendments enacted in 1918 extended the terms of both offices to two years, with elections in even-numbered years. In 1964 the constitution was amended again to extend the terms to four years[8], and in 1966 to allow for the grouping of governor and lieutenant governor on the ballot by political party.[9] Elections are held in even-numbered years that are not presidential election years.

List of lieutenant governors

Lieutenant governors who acted as governor during a portion of their terms (due to vacancy by death or resignation in the governor's seat) are marked by asterisks (*).


  Democratic (17)   Democratic-Republican (7)   Federalist (5)   Know Nothing (1)   Republican (30)   Whig (5)

# Lieutenant Governor Term in office Political party Governor(s)
1 Thomas Cushing* 1780–1788 Independent John Hancock (I)
James Bowdoin (I)
2   Benjamin Lincoln 1788–1789 Federalist John Hancock (I)
3   Samuel Adams 1789–1794 Democratic-Republican John Hancock (I)
4 Moses Gill* 1794–1800 Independent Samuel Adams (DR)
Increase Sumner (F)
Office vacant 1800–1801 Governor's Council
Caleb Strong (F)
5   Samuel Phillips Jr. 1801–1802 Federalist Caleb Strong (F)
6   Edward Robbins 1802–1806 Democratic-Republican Caleb Strong (F)
Office vacant 1806–1807 Caleb Strong (F)
7   Levi Lincoln Sr.* 1807–1809 Democratic-Republican James Sullivan (DR)
8   David Cobb 1809–1810 Federalist Christopher Gore (F)
9   William Gray 1810–1812 Democratic-Republican Caleb Strong (F)
10   William Phillips Jr. 1812–1823 Federalist Caleb Strong (F)
John Brooks (F)
11   Levi Lincoln Jr. 1823–1824 Democratic-Republican William Eustis (DR)
12   Marcus Morton* 1824–1825 Democratic-Republican William Eustis (DR)
13   Thomas L. Winthrop 1825–1833 Democratic-Republican Levi Lincoln Jr. (NR,W)
14   Samuel T. Armstrong* 1833–1835 Whig John Davis (W)
15   George Hull 1836–1843 Whig Edward Everett (W)
Marcus Morton (D)
John Davis (W)
16   Henry H. Childs 1843–1844 Democratic Marcus Morton (D)
17   John Reed Jr. 1844–1851 Whig George N. Briggs (W)
18   Henry W. Cushman 1851–1853 Democratic George S. Boutwell (D)
19   Elisha Huntington 1853–1854 Whig John H. Clifford (W)
20   William C. Plunkett 1854–1855 Whig Emory Washburn (W)
21   Simon Brown 1855–1856 Know Nothing Henry Gardner (KN)
22   Henry W. Benchley 1856–1858 Republican Henry Gardner (KN)
23   Eliphalet Trask 1858–1861 Republican Nathaniel Prentice Banks (R)
24   John Z. Goodrich 1861 Republican John Albion Andrew (R)
25   John Nesmith 1862 Republican John Albion Andrew (R)
26   Joel Hayden 1863–1866 Republican John Albion Andrew (R)
27   William Claflin 1866–1869 Republican Alexander H. Bullock (R)
28   Joseph Tucker 1869–1873 Republican William Claflin (R)
William B. Washburn (R)
29   Thomas Talbot* 1873–1875 Republican William B. Washburn (R)
30   Horatio G. Knight 1875–1879 Republican William Gaston (D)
Alexander H. Rice (R)
31   John D. Long 1879–1880 Republican Thomas Talbot (R)
32   Byron Weston 1880–1883 Republican John D. Long (R)
33   Oliver Ames 1883–1887 Republican Benjamin F. Butler (D,Greenback)
George D. Robinson (R)
34   John Q. A. Brackett 1887–1890 Republican Oliver Ames (R)
35   William H. Haile 1890–1893 Republican John Q. A. Brackett (R)
William Russell (D)
36   Roger Wolcott* 1893–1896 Republican William Russell (D)
Frederic T. Greenhalge (R)
37   Winthrop M. Crane 1897–1900 Republican Roger Wolcott (R)
38   John L. Bates 1900–1903 Republican Winthrop Murray Crane (R)
39   Curtis Guild Jr. 1903–1906 Republican John L. Bates (R)
William L. Douglas (D)
40   Eben S. Draper 1906–1909 Republican Curtis Guild Jr. (R)
41   Louis A. Frothingham 1909–1912 Republican Eben S. Draper (R)
Eugene Noble Foss (D)
42   Robert Luce 1912–1913 Republican Eugene Noble Foss (D)
43   David I. Walsh 1913–1914 Democratic Eugene Noble Foss (D)
44   Edward P. Barry 1914–1915 Democratic David I. Walsh (D)
45   Grafton D. Cushing 1915–1916 Republican David I. Walsh (D)
46   Calvin Coolidge 1916–1919 Republican Samuel W. McCall (R)
47   Channing H. Cox 1919–1921 Republican Calvin Coolidge (R)
48   Alvan T. Fuller 1921–1925 Republican Channing H. Cox (R)
49   Frank G. Allen 1925–1929 Republican Alvan T. Fuller (R)
50   William S. Youngman 1929–1933 Republican Frank G. Allen (R)
51   Gaspar G. Bacon 1933–1935 Republican Joseph B. Ely (D)
52   Joseph L. Hurley 1935–1937 Democratic James Michael Curley (D)
53   Francis E. Kelly 1937–1939 Democratic Charles F. Hurley (D)
54   Horace T. Cahill 1939–1945 Republican Leverett Saltonstall (R)
55   Robert F. Bradford 1945–1947 Republican Maurice J. Tobin (D)
56   Arthur W. Coolidge 1947–1949 Republican Robert F. Bradford (R)
57   Charles F. Sullivan 1949–1953 Democratic Paul A. Dever (D)
58   Sumner G. Whittier 1953–1957 Republican Christian Herter (R)
59   Robert F. Murphy 1957–1960[10] Democratic Foster Furcolo (D)
Office vacant 1960–1961 Foster Furcolo (D)
60   Edward F. McLaughlin Jr. 1961–1963 Democratic John A. Volpe (R)
61   Francis Bellotti 1963–1965 Democratic Endicott Peabody (D)
62   Elliot Richardson 1965–1967 Republican John A. Volpe (R)
63   Francis Sargent* 1967–1971 Republican John A. Volpe (R)
64   Donald Dwight 1971–1975 Republican Francis W. Sargent (R)
65   Thomas P. O'Neill III 1975–1983 Democratic Michael Dukakis (D)
Edward J. King (D)
66   John Kerry 1983–1985 Democratic Michael Dukakis (D)
Office vacant 1985–1987 Michael Dukakis (D)
67   Evelyn Murphy 1987–1991 Democratic Michael Dukakis (D)
68   Paul Cellucci* 1991–1999 Republican William Weld (R)
69   Jane Swift* 1999–2003 Republican Paul Cellucci (R)
70   Kerry Healey 2003–2007 Republican Mitt Romney (R)
71   Tim Murray 2007–2013 Democratic Deval Patrick (D)
Office vacant 2013–2015 Deval Patrick (D)
72   Karyn Polito 2015–present Republican Charlie Baker (R)

Living former lieutenant governors

As of January 2017, there are eight former lieutenant governors of Massachusetts who are currently living at this time, the oldest lieutenant governor of Massachusetts being Francis X. Bellotti (served 1963–1965, born 1923). The most recent death of a former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts was that of Paul Cellucci (served 1991–1999, born 1948), on June 8, 2013.

Lt. Governor Lt. Gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
Francis X. Bellotti 1963–1965 (1923-05-03) May 3, 1923 (age 97)
Donald R. Dwight 1971–1975 (1931-03-26) March 26, 1931 (age 89)
Thomas P. O'Neill III 1975–1983 (1944-09-20) September 20, 1944 (age 76)
John Kerry 1983–1985 (1943-12-11) December 11, 1943 (age 76)
Evelyn Murphy 1987–1991 (1940-05-14) May 14, 1940 (age 80)
Jane M. Swift 1999–2003 (1965-02-24) February 24, 1965 (age 55)
Kerry Healey 2003–2007 (1960-04-30) April 30, 1960 (age 60)
Tim Murray 2007–2013 (1968-06-07) June 7, 1968 (age 52)

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts". Massachusetts General Court. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Hall, Van Beck (1972). Politics Without Parties: Massachusetts 1780–1791. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 136–138. ISBN 978-0-8229-3234-5. OCLC 315459.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Amendments: Article VII removed the religious oath, Article XXXIV removed the property requirement,
  5. ^ Rubino, Rich. "The Unusual and Peculiar Office of Lieutenant Governor"., Inc. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "General Laws: Chapter 6, Section 214". Massachusetts General Court. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  8. ^ Mass. Const. Amendments Art. LXIV
  9. ^ Mass. Const. Amendments Art. LXXVI
  10. ^ Lewis, William (October 7, 1960). "Furcolo Surrenders; Murphy Heads MDC". The Boston Globe.

Hutchinson, Thomas (1749). The History of the Colony (Province) of Massachusetts Bay. 2. Boston: Thomas & John Fleet.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 November 2020, at 20:06
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