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Puerto Rico Governors (under U.S. colonial administration)

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  • Robert Hayes Gore (1886 - 1972)
    Hayes Gore (1886—1972) was an American politician and newspaper publisher who was appointed as the 11th civilian Governor of Puerto Rico, serving from July 1933 to January 1934.Early lifeHe was born in...
  • Benjamin Jason Horton (1873 - 1963)
    Jason Horton (1873–1963) was a Puerto Rico politician and one-time acting Governor of Puerto Rico. He was originally from Lawrence, Kansas. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from ...
  • Guy Jacob Swope (1892 - 1969)
    Jacob Swope (December 26, 1892 – July 25, 1969) was an American teacher, accountant, and Democratic politician. His career included one term as a United States Congressman in the Seventy-seventh United...
  • William Daniel Leahy (1875 - 1959)
    Admiral William Daniel Leahy (May 6, 1875 – July 20, 1959) was an American naval officer, building his reputation through administration and staff work. As Chief of Naval Operations (1937–39) he was th...
  • James R. Beverley (1894 - 1967)
    Rumsey Beverley (June 15, 1894 – June 17, 1967) was a United States lawyer and politician, appointed as Attorney General of Puerto Rico, serving 1927-1932. During this period, he was appointed as actin...

Puerto Rico Governors (under U.S. colonial administration)


When the Spanish Empire colonized Puerto Rico during the 16th century, the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León established himself as the island's first governor replacing Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, who was appointed to take the position of Captain General of the City of Puerto Rico prior to the island's colonization but never performed this function. During this time period, the Spanish monarchy was in charge of appointing the governor of Puerto Rico, the person selected was in charge of the island's development and wealth and was responsible for reporting the colony's status to the Spanish Empire. After 1580 the Captaincy General of Puerto Rico was established, and the office of captain general was added to the governor.

On July 25, 1898, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States when, following a brief armed conflict, the United States Army landed at Guánica. Following the conclusion of the war, Spain was forced to cede Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines and Guam, to the United States under the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Puerto Rico began the twentieth century under the military rule of the United States with officials, including the governor, who were appointed by the President of the United States. In 1900, William McKinley signed the Foraker Act as a United States federal law, this established civilian (limited popular) government on Puerto Rico. The new government had a governor and an executive council appointed by the President, a House of Representatives with 35 elected members, a judicial system with a Supreme Court, and a non-voting Resident Commissioner in Congress. The first civilian governor of the island under the Foraker Act was Charles Herbert Allen. This system was still used after the approval of the Jones-Shafroth Act, which altered the structure of government in Puerto Rico, and was in use until 1948.

Following the approval of the federal Elective Governor Act by President Harry S Truman in 1947, the governor has been elected through a democratic process every four years since 1948. Under this system, the governor is in charge of the island's executive branch. In these elections, every person must vote for one of several candidates, each one of which represents a political party (currently consisting of the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican Independence Party, Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party) following the elective process the votes are counted and the candidate who gathers the plurality (not majority) of votes is certified as governor-elect and takes office on January 2 of the following year in a public inaugural ceremony which may be preceded by a private oath-taking ceremony.

In the governor's absence, or if the governor dies or is unable to perform the executive duties, the Secretary of State of Puerto Rico takes control of the executive position, as Acting Governor during a temporary absence or inability, and as Governor in case of death, resignation or impeachment and conviction.[4] The elected governor must designate a number of secretaries and other agency heads that will control the individual administrative agencies during his time in office, the selected secretaries are in charge of the island's health, natural resources, economy, correctional and judicial agencies and the department of consumer concerns, among others. The Governor's four-year term begins on January 2, the day after the New Year's Day holiday.

Governors under U.S. colonial administration