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  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Governor of Arkansas
    Huckabee Sanders is founding partner of Second Street Strategies in Little Rock, Arkansas. She primarily works on national political campaigns and on campaigns for federal office in Arkansas. In 2016, ...
  • John Robert Williamson (1786 - 1861)
    Governor of Arkansas 1844; President General assembly 1833; and Arkansas State Senator for 18 years.
  • Governor Richard Calhoun Byrd, Sr. (1805 - 1854)
    s/o Rev William Byrd and Lydia Adairm#1 Ann unknown circa 1822 AL m#2 Mary E ______ Wilson 1842 AR m#3 Rachel E Johnson 1852 ARHe was a Merchant & Farmer, he moved to Arkansas in 1826 He became Auditor...
  • Frank D. White, Governor (1933 - 2003)
    Durward White (June 4, 1933 – May 21, 2003) was an American banker and politician who served as the 41st governor of Arkansas. He served a single two-year term from 1981 to 1983. He is one of two peopl...
  • Jim Guy Tucker, Governor
    "Jim" Guy Tucker, Jr. (born June 13, 1943) is an Arkansas political figure. He served as the 43rd Governor of Arkansas, the 11th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, Arkansas Attorney General, and U.S. Rep...

The Governor of Arkansas is the head of the executive branch of Arkansas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Arkansas Legislature, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment.

The state has had 45 elected governors, as well as 10 acting governors who took office following the resignation or death of the governor, totaling 55 distinct terms. Before becoming a state, Arkansas Territory had four governors appointed to it by the President of the United States. Orval Faubus served the longest term as state governor, being elected six times to serve twelve years. Bill Clinton, elected five times over two distinct terms, fell only one month short of twelve years. The shortest term for an elected governor was the 38 days served by John Sebastian Little before his nervous breakdown; one of the acting successors to his term, Jesse M. Martin, served only three days, the shortest stint overall. The current governor is Mike Beebe, who took office on January 9, 2007; his second term will expire on January 13, 2015.

Governors of the Territory of Arkansas

Arkansaw Territory (renamed Arkansas Territory around 1822) was split from Missouri Territory on July 4, 1819. It lost land twice, on November 15, 1824, and May 6, 1828, with the land being made unorganized territory both times; this land eventually became part of Oklahoma.

As secretary of the territory from 1819 to 1829, Robert Crittenden served as acting governor whenever the appointed governor was not in the state. This meant he was in fact the first person to perform the office of Governor of Arkansas Territory, since James Miller did not arrive in the territory until nine months after his appointment.

  • James Miller
  • George Izard
  • John Pope
  • William S. Fulton

Governors of the State of Arkansas

Arkansas was admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836. It seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861, and joined the Confederate States of America on May 18, 1861; there was no Union government in exile, so there was a single line of governors, though as the state fell to Union forces there was a loyalist government put in place with an insignificant Confederate government in exile. Following the end of the American Civil War, it was part of the Fourth Military District. Arkansas was readmitted to the Union on June 22, 1868.

The first state constitution of 1836 established four-year terms for governors, which was lowered to two years in the 1874, and current, constitution. Amendment 63 to the Arkansas Constitution, passed in 1984, increased the terms of both governor and lieutenant governor to four years. Governors were originally limited only to serving no more than eight out of every twelve years, but the 1874 constitution removed any term limit. A referendum in 1992 limited governors to two terms.

Until 1864, the constitutions provided that, should the office of governor be rendered vacant, the president of the senate would serve as acting governor until such time as a new governor were elected or the disability removed, or the acting governor's senate term expired. This led to some situations where the governorship changed hands in quick succession, due to senate terms ending or new senate presidents being elected. For example, after John Sebastian Little resigned in 1907, three senate presidents acted as governor before the next elected governor took office. Should the president of the senate be similarly incapacitated, the next in line for the governorship was the speaker of the state house of representatives.

The 1864 constitution created the office of lieutenant governor who would also act as president of the senate, and who would serve as acting governor in case of vacancy. The 1868 constitution maintained the position, but the 1874 constitution removed it and returned to the original line of succession. Amendment 6 to the state constitution, passed in 1914 but not recognized until 1925, recreated the office of lieutenant governor, who becomes governor in case of vacancy of the governor's office. The governor and lieutenant governor are not elected on the same ticket.

Arkansas was a strongly Democratic state before the Civil War, electing only candidates from the Democratic party. It elected three Republican governors following Reconstruction, but after the Democratic Party re-established control, 92 years passed before voters chose another Republican.

List of Governors of the State of Arkansas