List of Governors of Utah

Last updated
Governor of Utah
Seal of the Governor of Utah (2011).svg
2013-05-23 Gary R Herbert.JPG
Gary Herbert

since August 11, 2009
Style The Honorable
Residence Utah Governor's Mansion
Term length Four years, renewable, no term limits
Inaugural holder Heber Manning Wells
FormationJanuary 6, 1896
Deputy Spencer Cox
Salary$109,470 (2013) [1]
Website Official website Blue pencil.svg

The Governor of Utah is the head of the executive branch of Utah's state government [2] and the commander-in-chief of its military forces. [3] The governor has a duty to enforce state laws [2] as well as the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Utah Legislature. [4] The governor may also convene the legislature on "extraordinary occasions". [5]

Utah is a state in The United States of America. Its government consists of a state executive, legislative, and judicial branch, laid forth by the constitution and law of the State of Utah.

The Utah National Guard consists of the:


The self-proclaimed State of Deseret, precursor to the organization of the Utah Territory, had only one governor, Brigham Young. Utah Territory had 15  territorial governors from its organization in 1850 until the formation of the state of Utah in 1896, appointed by the President of the United States. John W. Dawson had the shortest term of only three weeks and Brigham Young, the first territorial governor, had the longest term at seven years.

State of Deseret provisional state of the United States between 1849–1850

The State of Deseret was a provisional state of the United States, proposed in 1849 by settlers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. The provisional state existed for slightly over two years and was never recognized by the United States government. The name derives from the word for "honeybee" in the Book of Mormon.

Utah Territory territory of the USA between 1850-1896

The Territory of Utah was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 4, 1896, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Utah, the 45th state.

Brigham Young 19th-century Latter Day Saint religious leader

Brigham Young was an American religious leader, politician, and settler. He was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877. He founded Salt Lake City and he served as the first governor of the Utah Territory. Young also led the foundings of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.

There have been 17 governors of the State of Utah, with the longest serving being Calvin L. Rampton, who served three terms from 1965 to 1977. Olene Walker served the shortest term, the remaining 14 months of Mike Leavitt's term upon Leavitt's resignation to become head of the Environmental Protection Agency. At the age of 36, Heber Manning Wells was the youngest person to become governor. At the age of 70, Simon Bamberger became the oldest person to be elected, while Olene Walker, at age 72, was the oldest person to succeed to the office. Currently, a term of service is set at four years, and there are no overall limits (consecutive or lifetime) to the number of terms one may be elected to serve. Elections for the office of Governor of Utah are normally held in November of the same year as the United States presidential election.

Calvin L. Rampton American politician

Calvin Lewellyn "Cal" Rampton was the 11th Governor of the state of Utah from 1965 to 1977.

Olene Walker Utah politician

Olene Walker was an American politician and Utah's 15th Governor. She was sworn into office on November 5, 2003, shortly before her 73rd birthday, as Utah's first female governor. She was a member of the Republican Party.

Mike Leavitt 8th U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

Michael Okerlund Leavitt is an American politician who served as the 14th Governor of Utah from 1993 to 2003 in the Republican Party, as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2003 to 2005 and as Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2005 to 2009.

The current governor is Gary Herbert, who took office on August 11, 2009, upon the resignation of Jon Huntsman, Jr., to become United States Ambassador to China. Governor Herbert was elected to fill the remainder of Huntsman's term in November 2010, and was later re-elected to serve another term beginning in January 2017.

Gary Herbert American politician

Gary Richard Herbert is an American politician serving as the 17th Governor of Utah since 2009. A member of the Republican Party, he chaired the National Governors Association during the 2015–2016 cycle.

There is an official seal of the Governor of Utah. Borrowing most of the same symbolism from the State Seal, the Governor's seal includes Roman numerals at the bottom, which represent the Governor himself, and this changes with every new Governor. Each Governor therefore has a seal unique to themselves and their administration. The Roman numerals are currently "XVII", representing Gary Herbert, who is the 17th governor of Utah since Statehood.

Seal of Utah Official government emblem of the U.S. state of Utah

The Great Seal of the State of Utah was adopted on April 3, 1896, at the first regular session of the Legislature. The original seal was designed by Harry Edwards & C. M. Jackson and cost $65.00. The great seal is described in Utah Code Annotated, 1953, Volume 7a, section 67-2-9 as follows:

The Great Seal of the State of Utah shall be two and one-half inches in diameter, and of the following device; the center a shield and perched thereon an American Eagle with outstretching wings; the top of the shield pierced by six arrows crosswise; under the arrows the motto "INDUSTRY"; beneath the motto a beehive, on either side growing sego lilies; below the figures "1847"; on each side of the shield an American Flag.; encircling all, near the outer edge of the seal, beginning at the lower left-hand portion, the words, "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF UTAH", with the figures "1896" at the base.


The area that became Utah was part of the Mexican Cession obtained by the United States on May 19, 1848, in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the Mexican–American War. [6]

Mexican Cession Southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S. in Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo after the Mexican–American War.

The Mexican Cession is the region in the modern-day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. This region had not been part of the areas east of the Rio Grande which had been claimed by the Republic of Texas, though the Texas annexation resolution two years earlier had not specified the southern and western boundary of the new State of Texas. The Mexican Cession was the third largest acquisition of territory in US history. The largest was the Louisiana Purchase, with some 827,000 sq. miles, followed by the acquisition of Alaska.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo peace treaty that concludes Mexican-American War of 1846-1848

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, officially titled the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic, is the peace treaty signed on February 2, 1848, in the Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo between the United States and Mexico that ended the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). The treaty came into force on July 4, 1848.

Mexican–American War Armed conflict between the United States of America and Mexico from 1846 to 1848

The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the Intervención estadounidense en México, was an armed conflict between the United States of America and the Second Federal Republic of Mexico from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 American annexation of the Republic of Texas, not formally recognized by the Mexican government, disputing the Treaties of Velasco signed by the unstable Mexican caudillo President/General Antonio López de Santa Anna after the Texas Revolution a decade earlier. In 1845, newly elected U.S. President James K. Polk, who saw the annexation of Texas as the first step towards a further expansion of the United States, sent troops to the disputed area and a diplomatic mission to Mexico. After Mexican forces attacked American forces, Polk cited this in his request that Congress declare war.

State of Deseret

A constitutional convention was convened in Salt Lake City on March 8, 1849, to work on a proposal for federal recognition of a state or territory. The convention resulted in the provisional State of Deseret. Deseret claimed most of present-day Utah, Nevada and Arizona, with parts of California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming. Brigham Young was elected governor on March 12, 1849, and the legislature first met on July 2, 1849. [7] [8] The state, having never been recognized by the federal government, was formally dissolved on April 5, 1851, [9] several months after word of the creation of Utah Territory reached Salt Lake City.

Governors of the Territory of Utah

On September 9, 1850, as part of the Compromise of 1850, Utah Territory was organized, encompassing roughly the northern half of Deseret. [10] The news did not reach Salt Lake City until January 1851. [11] Governors of the Utah Territory were appointed by the president of the United States, and other than Brigham Young, they were frequently considered carpetbagger patronage appointees. [12]

The territory initially consisted of present-day Utah, most of Nevada, and portions of Colorado and Wyoming. On February 28, 1861, the creation of Colorado Territory took land from the eastern side of Utah Territory. Nevada Territory was organized from the western section of Utah Territory on March 2, 1861. [13] Also on that date, Nebraska Territory gained area from the northeastern part of Utah Territory. Nevada Territory gained area from Utah Territory on July 14, 1862, and again on May 5, 1866, after becoming a state. Wyoming Territory was created on July 25, 1868, from Nebraska Territory, taking more area from the northeast corner, giving Utah Territory its final borders.

PictureGovernorTook office [note 1] Left officeAppointed byNotes
BYoung.jpg   Brigham Young February 3, 1851 [15] April 12, 1858 Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
Alfred Cumming.jpg   Alfred Cumming April 12, 1858 [note 2] May 17, 1861 [20] James Buchanan [note 3]
John W Dawson.jpg   John W. Dawson December 7, 1861 [22] December 31, 1861 [23] Abraham Lincoln [note 4]
Stephen Selwyn Harding.jpg   Stephen S. Harding July 7, 1862 [24] June 11, 1863 [25] Abraham Lincoln
James Duane Doty.jpg   James Duane Doty June 22, 1863 [26] June 13, 1865 [27] Abraham Lincoln [note 5]
Charles Durkee portrait.jpg   Charles Durkee September 30, 1865 [28] January 9, 1869 [29] Andrew Johnson
John Wilson Shaffer.jpg   John Shaffer March 20, 1870 [30] October 31, 1870 [31] Ulysses S. Grant [note 5]
Vernon H Vaughan.jpg   Vernon H. Vaughan October 31, 1870 [32] February 1, 1871 [32] Ulysses S. Grant [note 6]
George Lemuel Woods portrait.jpg   George Lemuel Woods March 10, 1871 [33] October 13, 1874 [34] [35] Ulysses S. Grant
Samuel Beach Axtell.jpg   Samuel Beach Axtell February 2, 1875 [36] June 8, 1875 [37] Ulysses S. Grant [note 7]
George W Emery.jpg   George W. Emery July 3, 1875 [39] January 25, 1880 [40] Ulysses S. Grant
Eli Houston Murray.jpg   Eli Houston Murray February 28, 1880 [41] March 16, 1886 [42] Rutherford B. Hayes
Chester A. Arthur
Caleb Walton West.jpg   Caleb Walton West May 12, 1886 [43] May 6, 1889 [44] Grover Cleveland
Arthur Lloyd Thomas.jpg   Arthur Lloyd Thomas May 6, 1889 [44] May 9, 1893 [45] Benjamin Harrison
Caleb Walton West.jpg   Caleb Walton West May 9, 1893 [45] January 4, 1896 Grover Cleveland

Governors of the State of Utah

The State of Utah was admitted to the Union on January 4, 1896.

The governor has a four-year term, commencing on the first Monday of the January after an election. [46] The Constitution of Utah originally stated that, should the office of governor be vacant, the power be devolved upon the Secretary of State, [47] but the office of Lieutenant Governor was created in 1976, [48] and a 1980 constitutional amendment added it to the constitution. [49] If the office of governor becomes vacant during the first year of the term, the lieutenant governor becomes governor until the next general election; if it becomes vacant after the first year of the term, the lieutenant governor becomes governor for the remainder of the term. [50] The offices of governor and lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket. [51] The Governor of Utah was formerly limited to serving three terms, but all term limit laws were repealed by the Utah Legislature in 2003; Utah is one of the few states where gubernatorial term limits are not determined by the constitution. [52]

   Republican (11)      Democratic (6)

GovernorTerm of officePartyTerm [note 8] Previous office Lt. Governor
[note 9]
1 Heber M. Wells.jpg   Heber Manning Wells
August 11, 1859 – March 12, 1938
(aged 78)
January 6, 1896

January 2, 1905
Republican 1Delegate to the
Utah Constitutional Convention
2 John Christopher Cutler.jpg   John Christopher Cutler
February 5, 1846 – July 30, 1928
(aged 82)
January 2, 1905

January 4, 1909
Republican 3None
3 William Spry.jpg   William Spry
January 11, 1864 – April 21, 1929
(aged 65)
January 4, 1909

January 1, 1917
Republican 4None
4 Simon Bamberger.jpg   Simon Bamberger
February 27, 1846 – October 6, 1926
(aged 80)
January 1, 1917

January 3, 1921
Democratic 6 Utah State Senator
5 CharlesRMabey.jpg   Charles R. Mabey
October 4, 1877 – April 26, 1959
(aged 81)
January 3, 1921

January 5, 1925
Republican 7 Utah State Representative
6 George H Dern.jpg   George Dern
September 8, 1872 – August 27, 1936
(aged 63)
January 5, 1925

January 2, 1933
Democratic 8 Utah State Senator
7 Henry H. Blood.jpg   Henry H. Blood
October 1, 1872 – June 19, 1942
(aged 69)
January 2, 1933

January 6, 1941
Democratic 10None
8 Herbert B. Maw.jpg   Herbert B. Maw
March 11, 1893 – November 17, 1990
(aged 97)
January 6, 1941

January 3, 1949
Democratic 12President of the Utah State Senate
9 J. Bracken Lee.jpg   J. Bracken Lee
January 7, 1899 – October 20, 1996
(aged 97)
January 3, 1949

January 7, 1957
Republican 14 Mayor of Price
10 George Dewey Clyde.jpg   George Dewey Clyde
July 21, 1898 – April 2, 1972
(aged 73)
January 7, 1957

January 4, 1965
Republican 16None
11 Calvin L. Rampton.jpg   Calvin L. Rampton
November 6, 1913 – September 16, 2007
(aged 93)
January 4, 1965

January 3, 1977
Democratic 18 Davis County Attorney
20  Clyde L. Miller
12 Scott Matheson speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the USS Salt Lake City, May 12, 1984.JPEG   Scott M. Matheson
January 8, 1929 – October 7, 1990
(aged 61)
January 3, 1977

January 7, 1985
Democratic 21None  David Smith Monson
[note 10]
13 No image.svg   Norman H. Bangerter
January 4, 1933 – April 14, 2015
(aged 82)
January 7, 1985

January 4, 1993
Republican 23 Utah State Representative
  W. Val Oveson
14 Mike Leavitt.jpg   Mike Leavitt
February 11, 1951 (age 68)
January 4, 1993

November 5, 2003
None  Olene Walker
15 Olene Walker.JPG   Olene Walker
November 15, 1930 – November 28, 2015
(aged 85)
November 5, 2003

January 3, 2005
[note 11]
Republican 4th
Lieutenant Governor of Utah
  Gayle McKeachnie
16 Ambassador Jon Huntsman.jpg   Jon Huntsman Jr.
March 26, 1960 (age 59)
January 3, 2005

August 11, 2009
United States Ambassador
to Singapore

  Gary Herbert
17 2013-05-23 Gary R Herbert.JPG   Gary Herbert
May 7, 1947 (age 71)
August 11, 2009

Republican 6th
Lieutenant Governor of Utah
  Greg Bell
(Sept. 1, 2009 – Oct. 16, 2013)
30 Spencer Cox
(Oct. 16, 2013 – present)
Gary HerbertJon Huntsman, Jr.Olene WalkerMichael LeavittNorman Howard BangerterScott Milne MathesonCalvin L. RamptonGeorge Dewey ClydeJoseph Bracken LeeHerbert Brown MawHenry Hooper BloodGeorge Henry DernCharles Rendell MabeySimon BambergerWilliam SpryJohn Christopher CutlerHerbert Manning WellsList of Governors of Utah

Governors by time of service

Calvin L. Rampton and Mike Leavitt are the only Governors of Utah ever to serve more than two terms; Rampton served three full terms while Leavitt resigned during his third term to become Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Olene S. Walker served for 425 days, completing the remainder of Leavitt's third term. Gary Herbert, the current Governor, has served 3,544 days since taking over on August 11, 2009, from Jon Huntsman, Jr., who resigned to become United States Ambassador to China.

# in officeGovernorDaysRank
Calvin L. Rampton
Mike Leavitt
Gary Herbert
Heber Manning Wells
Henry H. Blood
J. Bracken Lee
Scott M. Matheson
William Spry
George Dern
Herbert B. Maw
George Dewey Clyde
Norman H. Bangerter
Jon Huntsman, Jr.
John Christopher Cutler
Simon Bamberger
Charles R. Mabey
Olene S. Walker

Other high offices held

This is a table of congressional seats, other federal offices, and other governorships held by governors.

* Denotes those offices that the governor resigned to take.
GovernorGubernatorial termOther offices heldSource
James Duane Doty 18631865Delegate from Wisconsin Territory, U.S. Representative from Wisconsin,
Governor of Wisconsin Territory
Charles Durkee 18651869U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Wisconsin [54]
George Lemuel Woods 18711875 Governor of Oregon [55]
Samuel Beach Axtell 1875U.S. Representative from California, Governor of New Mexico Territory* [38]
George Dern 19251933 U.S. Secretary of War [56]
Mike Leavitt 19932003 Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency*,
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
Jon Huntsman, Jr. 20052009 Ambassador to Singapore, Ambassador to China*, Ambassador to Russia [58]

See also


  1. Due to the long distance between Washington and Salt Lake City, and the slow speed of communications and travel of the day, weeks or months could go by between the appointment of a governor and the governor actually taking office. The actual dates governors took office are sometimes vague; the ones in this list are cited mostly with contemporary news coverage, but other resources and almanacs give slightly different dates. [14]
  2. Alfred Cumming was appointed governor in April 1857, [16] but due to the Utah War did not take office for a year. In September 1857, he departed from Kansas along with a detachment of the U.S. Army. [17] He wintered at Fort Bridger [18] and entered Salt Lake City on April 12, [19] whereupon he was recognized as governor of the territory.
  3. Resigned early as he felt he would not be reappointed [21]
  4. Resigned after three weeks in office; combative feelings existed between the governor and the state's Mormon population. [23]
  5. 1 2 Died in office
  6. Vaughan was Secretary of the Territory at the time of Shaffer's death, and so acted as governor until word of his own appointment arrived several days later. His appointment was to be only temporary until President Grant could determine a suitable successor. [32]
  7. Resigned to become the Governor of New Mexico Territory. [38]
  8. Each term for which a governor is elected is listed here; if multiple governors served in a single term, due to resignations, deaths, and the like, then that term will be shared among those governors. If a governor was elected multiple times, then there will be multiple terms listed for that governor.
  9. The office of Lieutenant Governor was created in 1976. [48] Lieutenant governors were elected separately from the governor until 1980; those that represented a different party from their governor are noted.
  10. Represented the Republican Party
  11. As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term

Related Research Articles

United States congressional delegations from Utah

Since Utah became a U.S. state in 1896, it has sent congressional delegations to the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives. Each state elects two senators to serve for six years. Before the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, senators were elected by the Utah State Legislature. Members of the House of Representatives are elected to two-year terms, one from each of Utah's four congressional districts. Before becoming a state, the Territory of Utah elected a non-voting delegate at-large to Congress from 1850 to 1896.

Utah Territorial Statehouse building in the United States, now a museum

The Utah Territorial Statehouse, officially Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum, is a state park in Fillmore, Utah, preserving the original seat of government for the Utah Territory. Built from 1852 to 1855, the statehouse was initially intended as a larger structure, but only the south wing was completed before the project was abandoned due to lack of federal funding, and the Utah Territorial Legislature only met in the building once before the capital was moved to Salt Lake City in 1856.

LGBT rights in Utah

Rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Utah are among the most extensive in the United States. Protective laws have become increasingly enacted since 2014, despite the state's reputation as socially conservative and highly religious. Same-sex marriage has been legal there since the state's ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court on October 6, 2014. In addition, statewide anti-discrimination laws now cover sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing. In spite of this, there are still a few differences between treatment of LGBT people and the rest of the population.

Frank J. Cannon United States Senator from Utah

Frank Jenne Cannon was the first United States Senator from Utah, who served from 1896 to 1899.

Utah State Legislature

The Utah State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Utah. It is a bicameral body, comprising the Utah House of Representatives, with 75 state representatives, and the Utah Senate, with 29 state senators. There are no term limits for either chamber.

Margaret Dayton is an American politician from Utah. A member of the Republican Party, she served longer in the Utah Legislature than any other woman in Utah history. After serving a decade in the Utah House of Representatives, she unseated an incumbent senator in 2006 and served in that position until June of 2018, when she resigned for medical reasons.

John R. Murdock (Mormon) American priest and politician

John Riggs Murdock was the leader of the most Mormon pioneer down-and-back companies in Latter-day Saint history, leading ox-drawn wagon trains that carried both merchandise and passengers "down and back" from Missouri to Utah.

Sheryl Allen Utah state representative and candidate for Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Sheryl L. Allen is a Republican politician and educator from Bountiful, Utah. She represented the 19th District of the Utah House of Representatives from 1994 to 2011. Before entering politics, Allen was a teacher and the president of the Davis County Board of Education.

1996 Utah gubernatorial election

The 1996 Utah gubernatorial election took place on November 5, 1996. Republican nominee and incumbent Governor Michael Leavitt won the election.

Patrice M. Arent American politician

Patrice M. Arent is a Democratic member of the Utah State House, representing the state's 36th house district.

Jan Graham was Utah State Attorney General from 1993 to 2001. She was the first woman ever elected to statewide office in the state of Utah.

2016 United States Senate election in Utah

The 2016 United States Senate election in Utah took place on November 8, 2016, to elect a member of the United States Senate to represent the State of Utah, concurrently with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as other elections to the United States Senate in other states and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections.

2020 Utah gubernatorial election

The 2020 Utah gubernatorial election will be held on November 3, 2020, to elect the Governor of Utah, concurrently with the 2020 U.S. presidential election, as well as elections to the United States Senate and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections. Although incumbent Republican Governor Gary Herbert is eligible to run for re-election, he initially announced shortly after being re-elected in 2016 that he would not run for a third full term, but indicated in January 2019 that he was open to the possibility of running again.

Paige Petersen is an American lawyer and judge, who is an associate justice of the Utah Supreme Court. She previously served as a Utah District Court judge from 2015 to 2017.


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