, United States
. The current governor is Democrat
Constitutional rolePart the Second, Chapter II, Section I, Article I of the Massachusetts Constitution
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. In 1918 this was changed to a two-year term, and since 1966 the office of governor has carried a four-year term. The Governor of Massachusetts does not receive a palace, other official residence, or housing allowance. Instead, he resides in his own private residence. The title "His Excellency" is a throwback to the royally-appointed governors of the Province of Massachusetts Bay
. The first governor to use the title was Richard Coote
in 1699; since he was an Earl
, it was thought proper to call him "Your Excellency." The title was retained until 1742, when an order from the King
forbade its further use. However, the framers of the Constitution revived it because they found it fitting to dignify the governor with this title.
The governor also serves as Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth's armed forces. The power of this position has declined as the states of the United States
have become less like individual nations and more like subnational units.
There shall be annually elected a lieutenant governor of the commonwealth of MassachusettsLieutenant Governor of MassachusettsThe 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...
, 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 election, and the qualifications of the electors, shall be the same as are required in the election of a governor.
The lieutenant governor serves in place of the governor when he is outside the borders of Massachusetts. Historically also a one-year term, the office of lieutenant governor now carries a four-year term the same as that of the governor. Noted in the article above are religious, property, and residency requirements for both the office of governor and lieutenant governor, of which only the residency requirement remains in effect. To be eligible for either office, a candidate must have lived in Massachusetts for at least seven years immediately preceding his election, and originally also had to be a Christian
owning at least £1,000 worth of real property
SuccessionAccording to the state constitution, whenever the chair of the governor is vacant, the lieutenant governor shall take over as acting governor. 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 inauguration of his successor, Governor James Bowdoin
. Most recently, Jane Swift became acting governor upon the resignation of Paul Cellucci
. Under this system, the lieutenant governor retains his or her position and title as "Lieutenant Governor" and never becomes governor; only acting governor.
The lieutenant governor, when acting as governor, is referred to as "the Lieutenant-Governor, acting governor" in official documents. An example of this is found in Chapter 45 of the Acts of 2001, where a veto by Swift was overridden by the General Court:
House of Representatives, July 2, 2001.
This Bill having been returned by the Lieutenant-Governor, Acting Governor with her objections thereto in writing (see House 4281) has been passed by the House of Representatives, notwithstanding said objections, two-thirds of the House (137 yeas to 15 nays) having agreed to pass the same.
Sent to the Senate for its action. Salvatore F. DiMasi, Acting Speaker. Steven T. James, Clerk. Senate, July 12, 2001.
Passed by the Senate, notwithstanding the objections of the Lieutenant-Governor, Acting Governor, two-thirds of the members present (37 yeas to 1 nay) having approved the same.
Linda J. Melconian, Acting President. Patrick F. Scanlan, Clerk.
Approved November 1, 2001.
The Massachusetts constitution has used the term “acting governor” since before the Revolution. All modern constitutions have rejected such language. The Massachusetts courts have found, without rejecting the term, that the full authority of the office of the governor devolves to the lieutenant governor upon vacancy in the office of governor, i.e., there is no circumstance short of death, resignation, or impeachment that would relieve the ‘acting governor’ from the full responsibilities of being the governor.
Old line of succession to the councilWhenever both the governor and his lieutenant left their offices vacant, the Governor's Council
was charged with acting as governor. Governor Increase Sumner
died in office on June 7, 1799, leaving lieutenant governor Moses Gill
as acting governor. Acting Governor Gill never received a lieutenant, and died himself on May 20, 1800.
For the ten days between Acting Governor Gill's death and Gov. Caleb Strong
's inauguration, the Governor's Council became the executive arm of the government. The council's chair, Thomas Dawes
, was the closest person to governorship during this time, but was at no point named governor or acting governor.
New and current line of successionArticle LV of the Constitution created a new line of succession that did not entrust the governorship to an eight-member council.
The new and current line of succession is as follows:
- Governor (Deval PatrickDeval PatrickDeval Laurdine Patrick is the 71st and current Governor of Massachusetts. A member of the Democratic Party, Patrick served as an Assistant United States Attorney General under President Bill Clinton...
- Lieutenant GovernorLieutenant Governor of MassachusettsThe 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...
(Tim MurrayTimothy P. MurrayTimothy P. "Tim" Murray is the current Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. From 2002 to 2007, Murray served as Mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts. He is a Democrat.-Early life and education:...
- Secretary of the CommonwealthMassachusetts Secretary of the CommonwealthThe Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth is the principal public information officer of the state government of the U.S...
(Bill GalvinWilliam F. GalvinWilliam Francis Galvin is the 27th and current Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth .-Early life and career:...
- Attorney GeneralMassachusetts Attorney GeneralThe Massachusetts Attorney General is an elected executive officer of the Massachusetts Government. The office of Attorney-General was abolished in 1843 and re-established in 1849. The current Attorney General is Martha Coakley....
(Martha CoakleyMartha CoakleyMartha Mary Coakley is the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Prior to serving as Attorney General, she was District Attorney of Middlesex County, Massachusetts from 1999 to 2007....
- Treasurer and Receiver-General (Steven Grossman)
- State AuditorMassachusetts AuditorThe Massachusetts State Auditor is a statewide elected office in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The current auditor is Suzanne Bump.-List of state auditors of Massachusetts:-External links:*...
(Suzanne BumpSuzanne M. BumpSuzanne M. Bump is the current Massachusetts State Auditor. She is a former state representative and state secretary of labor.-Early life:...
CabinetThe Governor has a 10-person cabinet, each of whom oversees a portion of the government under direct administration (as opposed to independent executive agencies). See Government of Massachusetts
for a complete listing.
TraditionsWhen the 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 does not succeed but only discharges powers and duties as Acting Governor. However, if a vacancy in the office of governor continues for six months, and the six months expire more than five months before the next regular biennial state election midway through the governor's term, a special election is held at that time to fill the vacancy for the balance of the unexpired four-year term.
The front doors of the state house are only opened when a governor leaves office or a head of state comes to visit the State House, or for the return of flags from Massachusetts regiments at the end of wars. The tradition of the ceremonial door originated when departing governor Benjamin Butler
kicked open the front door and walked out by himself in 1884.
Incoming governors usually choose at least one past governor's portrait to hang in their office.
Immediately before being sworn into office, the governor-elect receives four symbols from the departing governor: the ceremonial pewter "Key" for the Governor's office door, the Butler Bible, the "Gavel", and a two-volume set of the Massachusetts General Statutes with a personal note from the departing governor to his/her successor added to the back of the text. The governor-elect is then escorted by the Sergeant-at-Arms to the House Chamber and sworn in by the Senate President before a joint session of the House and Senate. In January 2007, Governor Mitt Romney and Governor-elect Deval Patrick conducted the transfer ceremony the day before Patrick's inauguration.
The departing governor then leaves on the "Lone Walk" (also called the "Long" or "Lonesome" Walk). Historical accounts indicate that Increase Sumner was the first governor to begin this tradition in 1799. The departing governor, after leaving office, walks alone down the Grand Staircase, through the House of Flags, into Doric Hall, out the central doors and down the steps of the State House. Some walks have been modified. Some past governors have had their wives, some friends, or staff accompany them walking slightly behind. Other governors have had staff and friends line the walking route, offering congratulatory gestures as the honoree passes. A few times the outgoing governor would meet the incoming governor outside on the State House steps. The outgoing governor would descend as the incoming governor ascended. A 19-gun salute would be offered as the two governors met. Frequently the steps are lined by the outgoing governor's friends and supporters. In January 1991, outgoing Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Murphy, the first woman elected to statewide office in Massachusetts, walked down the stairs before Governor Michael Dukakis. In January 2007, the inauguration of incoming Governor Deval Patrick was conducted outdoors in front of the State House. Because of this, outgoing Governor Mitt Romney took the long walk down the front steps the day before.
Governor's ResidenceDespite several proposals for establishing an official residence
for the Governor of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have a Governor's Mansion.
In 1955, Governor Foster Furcolo
turned down a proposal to establish the Shirley-Eustis House
as the official residence. The house had been built by colonial governor William Shirley
At one time, Governor John A. Volpe
accepted the donation of the Endicott Estate
from the heirs of Henry Bradford Endicott. He intended to renovate the 19th century mansion into a splendid governor's residence. After Volpe resigned to become Secretary of Transportation in the Nixon Administration, the plan was aborted by his successor in consideration of budgetary constraints and because the location was considered too far from the seat of power, the State House in Boston.
Other proposals have included the Province House
and the Hancock Manor
Since the governor has no official residence, the expression "corner office," rather than "governor's mansion," is commonly used in the press as a figure of speech for the office of governor.
- List of Governors of Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Governor's CouncilMassachusetts Governor's CouncilThe Massachusetts Governor's Council is a governmental body that provides advice and consent in certain matters such as judicial nominations, pardons, and commutations to the Governor of Massachusetts...
- Government of MassachusettsGovernment of MassachusettsThe form of Massachusetts government is provided by the Constitution of the Commonwealth. The legislative power is exercised by the bicameral General Court, which is composed of the Senate and House of Representatives...
- Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2010Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2010The Massachusetts gubernatorial election of 2010 was held on November 2, 2010. Incumbent Democratic Governor Deval Patrick was re-elected to a second term. Also competing were the Republican Party nominee, businessman Charlie Baker; independent candidate and State Treasurer Tim Cahill; and...
- Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2006Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 2006The Massachusetts gubernatorial election of 2006 was held on November 7, 2006. Former US Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick was elected to a four-year term, from January 4, 2007 until January 6, 2011. In his first elected office, Patrick is the second African-American governor in the United...
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