Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts

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Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Seal of Massachusetts.svg
Karyn Polito official photo (cropped).jpg
Karyn Polito

since January 8, 2015
Government of Massachusetts
Style His Honor/Her Honor
Status Deputy officer
Member of Governor's Council
Reports to Governor of Massachusetts
Residence None official
Seat State House, Boston, Massachusetts
Nominator Political parties
Appointer Popular vote
Term length Four years, no limit
Constituting instrument Constitution of Massachusetts
Formation Original post:
April 30, 1629
Current form:
October 25, 1780
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 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]

When the governor is outside the borders of Massachusetts, the lieutenant governor exercises the power of the governor. 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]


The role of the lieutenant governor has its roots in the role of the 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 GovernorTerm in officePolitical partyGovernor(s)
1 Thomas Cushing*1780–1788Independent John Hancock (I)
James Bowdoin (I)
2  Benjamin Lincoln 1788–1789Federalist John Hancock (I)
3  Samuel Adams 1789–1794Democratic-Republican John Hancock (I)
4 Moses Gill*1794–1800Independent Samuel Adams (DR)
Increase Sumner (F)
Office vacant 1800–1801 Governor's Council
Caleb Strong (F)
5  Samuel Phillips Jr. 1801–1802Federalist Caleb Strong (F)
6  Edward Robbins 1802–1806Democratic-Republican Caleb Strong (F)
Office vacant 1806–1807 Caleb Strong (F)
7  Levi Lincoln Sr.*1807–1809Democratic-Republican James Sullivan (DR)
8  David Cobb 1809–1810Federalist Christopher Gore (F)
9  William Gray 1810–1812Democratic-Republican Caleb Strong (F)
10  William Phillips Jr. 1812–1823Federalist Caleb Strong (F)
John Brooks (F)
11  Levi Lincoln Jr. 1823–1824Democratic-Republican William Eustis (DR)
12  Marcus Morton*1824–1825Democratic-Republican William Eustis (DR)
13  Thomas L. Winthrop 1825–1833Democratic-Republican Levi Lincoln Jr. (NR,W)
14  Samuel T. Armstrong*1833–1835Whig John Davis (W)
15  George Hull 1836–1843Whig Edward Everett (W)
Marcus Morton (D)
John Davis (W)
16  Henry H. Childs 1843–1844Democratic Marcus Morton (D)
17  John Reed Jr. 1844–1851Whig George N. Briggs (W)
18  Henry W. Cushman 1851–1853Democratic George S. Boutwell (D)
19  Elisha Huntington 1853–1854Whig John H. Clifford (W)
20  William C. Plunkett 1854–1855Whig Emory Washburn (W)
21  Simon Brown 1855–1856Know Nothing Henry Gardner (KN)
22  Henry W. Benchley 1856–1858Republican Henry Gardner (KN)
23  Eliphalet Trask 1858–1861Republican Nathaniel Prentice Banks (R)
24  John Z. Goodrich 1861Republican John Albion Andrew (R)
25  John Nesmith 1862Republican John Albion Andrew (R)
26  Joel Hayden 1863–1866Republican John Albion Andrew (R)
27  William Claflin 1866–1869Republican Alexander H. Bullock (R)
28  Joseph Tucker 1869–1873Republican William Claflin (R)
William B. Washburn (R)
29  Thomas Talbot*1873–1875Republican William B. Washburn (R)
30  Horatio G. Knight 1875–1879Republican William Gaston (D)
Alexander H. Rice (R)
31  John D. Long 1879–1880Republican Thomas Talbot (R)
32  Byron Weston 1880–1883Republican John Davis Long (R)
33  Oliver Ames 1883–1887Republican Benjamin F. Butler (D,Greenback)
George D. Robinson (R)
34  John Q. A. Brackett 1887–1890Republican Oliver Ames (R)
35  William H. Haile 1890–1893Republican John Q. A. Brackett (R)
William Russell (D)
36  Roger Wolcott*1893–1896Republican William Russell (D)
Frederic T. Greenhalge (R)
37  Winthrop M. Crane 1897–1900Republican Roger Wolcott (R)
38  John L. Bates 1900–1903Republican Winthrop Murray Crane (R)
39  Curtis Guild Jr. 1903–1906Republican John L. Bates (R)
William Lewis Douglas (D)
40  Eben S. Draper 1906–1909Republican Curtis Guild Jr. (R)
41  Louis A. Frothingham 1909–1912Republican Eben S. Draper (R)
Eugene Noble Foss (D)
42  Robert Luce 1912–1913Republican Eugene Noble Foss (D)
43  David I. Walsh 1913–1914Democratic Eugene Noble Foss (D)
44  Edward P. Barry 1914–1915Democratic David I. Walsh (D)
45  Grafton D. Cushing 1915–1916Republican David I. Walsh (D)
46  Calvin Coolidge 1916–1919Republican Samuel W. McCall (R)
47  Channing H. Cox 1919–1921Republican Calvin Coolidge (R)
48  Alvan T. Fuller 1921–1925Republican Channing H. Cox (R)
49  Frank G. Allen 1925–1929Republican Alvan T. Fuller (R)
50  William S. Youngman 1929–1933Republican Frank G. Allen (R)
51  Gaspar G. Bacon 1933–1935Republican Joseph B. Ely (D)
52  Joseph L. Hurley 1935–1937Democratic James Michael Curley (D)
53  Francis E. Kelly 1937–1939Democratic Charles F. Hurley (D)
54  Horace T. Cahill 1939–1945Republican Leverett Saltonstall (R)
55  Robert F. Bradford 1945–1947Republican Maurice J. Tobin (D)
56  Arthur W. Coolidge 1947–1949Republican Robert F. Bradford (R)
57  Charles F. Sullivan 1949–1953Democratic Paul A. Dever (D)
58  Sumner G. Whittier 1953–1957Republican 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. 1961–1963Democratic John A. Volpe (R)
61  Francis Bellotti 1963–1965Democratic Endicott Peabody (D)
62  Elliot Richardson 1965–1967Republican John A. Volpe (R)
63  Francis Sargent*1967–1971Republican John A. Volpe (R)
64  Donald Dwight 1971–1975Republican Francis W. Sargent (R)
65  Thomas P. O'Neill III 1975–1983Democratic Michael Dukakis (D)
Edward J. King (D)
66  John Kerry 1983–1985Democratic Michael Dukakis (D)
Office vacant 1985–1987 Michael Dukakis (D)
67  Evelyn Murphy 1987–1991Democratic Michael Dukakis (D)
68  Paul Cellucci*1991–1999Republican William Weld (R)
69  Jane Swift*1999–2003Republican Paul Cellucci (R)
70  Kerry Healey 2003–2007Republican Mitt Romney (R)
71  Tim Murray 2007–2013Democratic Deval Patrick (D)
Office vacant 2013–2015 Deval Patrick (D)
72  Karyn Polito 2015–presentRepublican 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. GovernorLt. Gubernatorial termDate of birth (and age)
Francis X. Bellotti 1963–1965May 3, 1923 (age 99)
Donald R. Dwight 1971–1975March 26, 1931 (age 91)
Thomas P. O'Neill III 1975–1983September 20, 1944 (age 77)
John Kerry 1983–1985December 11, 1943 (age 78)
Evelyn Murphy 1987–1991May 14, 1940 (age 82)
Jane Swift 1999–2003February 24, 1965 (age 57)
Kerry Healey 2003–2007April 30, 1960 (age 62)
Tim Murray 2007–2013June 7, 1968 (age 54)

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "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. "April 9 letters to the editor".
  4. Amendments: Article VII removed the religious oath, Article XXXIV removed the property requirement,
  5. Rubino, Rich (June 5, 2013). "The Unusual and Peculiar Office of Lieutenant Governor"., Inc. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  6. [ bare URL PDF ]
  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. Vol. 2. Boston: Thomas & John Fleet.