The Governor of North Carolina has a duty to enforce state laws and to convene the legislature. The Governor may grant pardons except in cases of impeachment. For about 220 years the Governor had no power to veto bills passed by the North Carolina General Assembly, but a referendum in November 1996 altered the state's constitution, so that North Carolina ceased to be the only state whose governor lacked that power.
There have been three Presidents and 69 Governors of North Carolina, with six Governors (Richard Caswell, Alexander Martin, Benjamin Williams, Zebulon Baird Vance, William Woods Holden, and Jim Hunt) serving non-consecutive terms, totaling 78 terms in both offices. The current Governor is Democrat Roy Cooper, who took office on January 1, 2017.
Presidents of the Provincial Council
North Carolina was one of the original thirteen colonies, and was admitted as a state on November 21, 1789 . Prior to declaring its independence, North Carolina was a colony of the Kingdom of Great Britain. The 13-member Provincial Council, renamed the Council of Safety in April 1776, was essentially the executive authority during the second year of the Revolution, and was appointed by the Provincial Congress. The Presidency of the Council and the Presidency of the Congress could each be considered the highest offices in the state during this time, but the council was supreme when the congress was not in session.
List of presidents
|Wilmington||October 18, 1775|
August 21, 1776
|308 days||Member of the House of Assembly|
|New Hanover||August 21, 1776|
September 27, 1776
|37 days||Member of the Provincial Congress|
|Halifax||September 27, 1776|
October 25, 1776
|28 days||Member of the Provincial Congress|
Governors of North Carolina
After the current state constitution was ratified in 1971, North Carolina Governors are limited to two consecutive four-year terms in office; they had previously been limited to one four-year term from 1835 through 1971. Additionally prior to 1835, North Carolina Governors were not popularly elected, and were instead selected by the state's General Assembly to serve one year terms. The Governors were also subject to strict term limits, and could only hold the office for three out of every six years, leading to many instances of short or nonconsecutive stints in office.
List of governors
|#||Governor||Portrait||Took office||Left office||Party||Notes|
|1||Richard Caswell||November 12, 1776||April 20, 1780||Unaffiliated|
|2||Abner Nash||April 20, 1780||June 26, 1781||Unaffiliated|
|3||Thomas Burke||June 26, 1781||April 22, 1782||Unaffiliated|
|4||Alexander Martin||April 22, 1782||May 13, 1785||Anti-Federalist|
|5||Richard Caswell||May 13, 1785||December 20, 1787||Unaffiliated|
|6||Samuel Johnston||December 20, 1787||December 17, 1789||Federalist|
|7||Alexander Martin||December 17, 1789||December 14, 1792||Anti-Federalist|
|8||Richard Dobbs Spaight||December 14, 1792||November 19, 1795||Federalist|
|9||Samuel Ashe||November 19, 1795||December 7, 1798||Anti-Federalist|
|10||William Richardson Davie||December 7, 1798||November 23, 1799||Federalist|
|11||Benjamin Williams||November 23, 1799||December 6, 1802||Federalist|
|12||James Turner||December 6, 1802||December 10, 1805||Democratic-Republican|||
|13||Nathaniel Alexander||December 10, 1805||December 1, 1807||Democratic-Republican|
|14||Benjamin Williams||December 1, 1807||December 12, 1808||Federalist|
|15||David Stone||December 12, 1808||December 1, 1810||Democratic-Republican|
|16||Benjamin Smith||December 1, 1810||December 11, 1811||Democratic-Republican|
|17||William Hawkins||December 11, 1811||November 29, 1814||Democratic-Republican|
|18||William Miller||November 29, 1814||December 6, 1817||Democratic-Republican|
|19||John Branch||December 6, 1817||December 7, 1820||Democratic-Republican|
|20||Jesse Franklin||December 7, 1820||December 7, 1821||Democratic-Republican|
|21||Gabriel Holmes||December 7, 1821||December 7, 1824||Democratic-Republican|
|22||Hutchins Gordon Burton||December 7, 1824||December 8, 1827||Unaffiliated|
|23||James Iredell Jr.||December 8, 1827||December 12, 1828||Democratic-Republican|
|24||John Owen||December 12, 1828||December 18, 1830||Democratic|
|25||Montfort Stokes||December 18, 1830||December 6, 1832||Democratic|
|26||David Lowry Swain||December 6, 1832||December 10, 1835||National Republican|
|27||Richard Dobbs Spaight Jr.||December 10, 1835||December 31, 1836||Democratic|
|28||Edward Bishop Dudley||December 31, 1836||January 1, 1841||Whig|
|29||John Motley Morehead||January 1, 1841||January 1, 1845||Whig|
|30||William Alexander Graham||January 1, 1845||January 1, 1849||Whig|
|31||Charles Manly||January 1, 1849||January 1, 1851||Whig|
|32||David Settle Reid||January 1, 1851||December 6, 1854||Democratic|
|33||Warren Winslow||December 6, 1854||January 1, 1855||Democratic|
|34||Thomas Bragg||January 1, 1855||January 1, 1859||Democratic|
|35||John Willis Ellis||January 1, 1859||July 7, 1861||Democratic|
|36||Henry Toole Clark||July 7, 1861||September 8, 1862||Democratic|
|37||Zebulon Baird Vance||September 8, 1862||May 29, 1865||Conservative|
|38||William Woods Holden||May 29, 1865||December 15, 1865||National Union|||
|39||Jonathan Worth||December 15, 1865||July 1, 1868||Conservative|
|40||William Woods Holden||July 1, 1868||March 22, 1871[b]||Republican|
|41||Tod Robinson Caldwell||March 22, 1871||July 11, 1874||Republican|
|42||Curtis Hooks Brogden||July 11, 1874||January 1, 1877||Republican|
|43||Zebulon Baird Vance||January 1, 1877||February 5, 1879||Democratic|
|44||Thomas Jordan Jarvis||February 5, 1879||January 21, 1885||Democratic|
|45||Alfred Moore Scales||January 21, 1885||January 17, 1889||Democratic|
|46||Daniel Gould Fowle||January 17, 1889||April 7, 1891||Democratic|
|47||Thomas Michael Holt||April 7, 1891||January 18, 1893||Democratic|
|48||Elias Carr||January 18, 1893||January 12, 1897||Democratic|
|49||Daniel Lindsay Russell||January 12, 1897||January 15, 1901||Republican|||
|50||Charles Brantley Aycock||January 15, 1901||January 11, 1905||Democratic|
|51||Robert Broadnax Glenn||January 11, 1905||January 12, 1909||Democratic|
|52||William Walton Kitchin||January 12, 1909||January 15, 1913||Democratic|
|53||Locke Craig||January 15, 1913||January 11, 1917||Democratic|
|54||Thomas Walter Bickett||January 11, 1917||January 12, 1921||Democratic|
|55||Cameron A. Morrison||January 12, 1921||January 14, 1925||Democratic|
|56||Angus Wilton McLean||January 14, 1925||January 11, 1929||Democratic|
|57||O. Max Gardner||January 11, 1929||January 5, 1933||Democratic|
|58||John C.B. Ehringhaus||January 5, 1933||January 7, 1937||Democratic|
|59||Clyde R. Hoey||January 7, 1937||January 9, 1941||Democratic|
|60||J. Melville Broughton||January 9, 1941||January 4, 1945||Democratic|
|61||R. Gregg Cherry||January 4, 1945||January 6, 1949||Democratic|
|62||W. Kerr Scott||January 6, 1949||January 8, 1953||Democratic|
|63||William B. Umstead||January 8, 1953||November 7, 1954||Democratic|
|64||Luther H. Hodges||November 7, 1954||January 5, 1961||Democratic|
|65||Terry Sanford||January 5, 1961||January 8, 1965||Democratic|
|66||Dan K. Moore||January 8, 1965||January 3, 1969||Democratic|
|67||Robert W. Scott||January 3, 1969||January 5, 1973||Democratic|
|68||James Holshouser||January 5, 1973||January 8, 1977||Republican|
|69||Jim Hunt||January 8, 1977||January 5, 1985||Democratic|
|70||James G. Martin||January 5, 1985||January 9, 1993||Republican|
|71||Jim Hunt||January 9, 1993||January 6, 2001||Democratic|
|72||Mike Easley||January 6, 2001||January 10, 2009||Democratic|
|73||Bev Perdue||January 10, 2009||January 5, 2013||Democratic|||
|74||Pat McCrory||January 5, 2013||January 1, 2017||Republican|
|75||Roy Cooper||January 1, 2017||Present||Democratic|
Subsequent public office
Three former governors held U.S. federal office after serving as governor.
|U.S. senator from North Carolina (1793–1799)|
|Samuel Johnston||6||1787–1789||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1789–1793)|
|Richard Dobbs Spaight||8||1792–1795||U.S. representative from North Carolina (1798–1801)|
|James Turner||12||1802–1805||U.S. representative from North Carolina (1805–1816)|
|John Branch||19||1817–1820||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1823–1829)|
|Gabriel Holmes||21||1821–1824||U.S. representative from North Carolina (1825–1829)|
|James Iredell, Jr.||23||1827–1828||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1828–1831)|
|William Alexander Graham||30||1840–1843||Secretary of the Navy (1850–1852)|
|David Settle Reid||32||1851–1854||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1854–1859)|
|Warren Winslow||33||1854–1855||U.S. representative from North Carolina (1855–1861)|
|Thomas Bragg||34||1855–1859||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1859–1861)|
|Zebulon Baird Vance||37
|U.S. senator from North Carolina (1879–1894)|
|Curtis Hooks Brogden||42||1874–1877||U.S. representative from North Carolina (1877–1879)|
|Thomas Jordan Jarvis||44||1879–1885||U.S. minister to Brazil (1885–1888)|
|Cameron Morrison||55||1921–1925||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1930–1932)|
|O. Max Gardner||57||1929–1933||Under Secretary of the Treasury (1946–1947)|
|Clyde R. Hoey||59||1937–1941||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1945–1954)|
|J. Melville Broughton||60||1941–1945||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1948–1949)|
|W. Kerr Scott||62||1949–1953||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1954–1958)|
|Luther H. Hodges||64||1954–1961||Secretary of Commerce (1961–1965)|
|Terry Sanford||65||1961–1965||U.S. senator from North Carolina (1986–1993)|
- Some sources indicate that Jones was president through November 12, when the Fifth North Carolina Provincial Congress convened. This congress also elected Richard Caswell acting governor.
- William Woods Holden was the second governor in American history to be impeached, and the first to be removed from office through that process. He is the only governor to have been impeached.
- NC Constitution article III, § 5 (11).
- NC Constitution article III, § 5 (6).
- NC Constitution article II, § 22.
- Connor, Robert Digges Wimberly (1878-1950), ed. (1913). A Manual of North Carolina Issued by the North Carolina Historical Commission for the Use of the Members of the General Assembly Session. p. 323.
- Whitaker, Bessie Lewis (1908). "The Provincial Council and Committees of Safety in North Carolina" (PDF). Chapel Hill University Press.
- "North Carolina Constitution of 1971". NCGA.State.NC. 1971. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
- "Constitution of North Carolina: December 18, 1776". The Avalon Project - Yale Law School. 2008.
- John Baptista Ashe was elected in 1802 to succeed Williams but died before he could take office, leading the legislature to elect Turner.
- Provisional Governor appointed by President Andrew Johnson until a special election could be held.
- Russell, while a Republican, was supported by many in the Populist Party as part of an electoral fusion coalition, though a separate Populist candidate was also nominated. http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/58/entry
- Beverly Perdue was elected as the first female governor of North Carolina in the election of 2008.
- Cooper's second term began on January 3, 2021.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Governors of North Carolina.|
- General information
- Governor of North Carolina at Ballotpedia
- Governors of North Carolina at The Political Graveyard
- History of NC Gubernatorial Races at OurCampaigns.com
- Works by or about Governors of North Carolina at Internet Archive
- Works by or about Office of the Governor of North Carolina in libraries (WorldCat catalog)