Lieutenant Governors of Virginia

The modern office of lieutenant governor was created by the Virginia Constitution of 1851 and is not the same office of that name that existed from time to time during the colonial and early national periods when lieutenant governors occasionally functioned as acting chief executives of Virginia in the absence of the governor. The Constitution of 1851 provided for the popular election of a lieutenant governor at the same time and for the same four-year term as the governor. (From 1776 through 1851 the presiding officer of the Senate of Virginia was the Speaker, chosen from among the number of senators. Beginning in 1852, the lieutenant governor presided with the title of president of the Senate.) During the period of Reconstruction, 1865–1870, the commanding general of the military district of Virginia named the lieutenant governor. After Virginia's reentry into the federal Union (January 1, 1870), the lieutenant governor was again popularly elected. Lieutenant governors are eligible for reelection. In case of a vacancy in the office of governor, the lieutenant governor becomes governor, an event that has not happened. Between 1934 and 1958 the terms of the commonwealth's executive officers expired the day prior to the inauguration of their successors; thus for a twenty-four-year period the dates of term expiration and initiation do not agree. Until the General Assembly in 1956 remedied the discrepancy, with the voters' later approval of a constitutional amendment to take effect in 1958, Virginia was without an executive administration for approximately half a day each inaugural year. Each entry includes life dates, place of residence when first elected, period of service, and political party affiliation when known. MORE...

 

Lieutenant Governors under the Commonwealth, 1852–1861

  • Shelton Farrar Leake (1812–1884), from Albemarle County, January 1, 1852–January 1, 1856, Democrat.
  • Elisha Wesley McComas (d. 1890), from Cabell County (now West Virginia), January 1, 1856–December 7, 1857, Democrat. Resigned.
  • William Lowther Jackson (1825–1890), from Wood County (now West Virginia), December 7, 1857–January 1, 1860, Democrat.

Lieutenant Governors during the Civil War, 1861–1865

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Virginia had two state governments. The state officials in office at the time of Virginia's secession in 1861 continued to act in Richmond under the Constitution of 1851 and as one of the Confederate States of America. That government ceased to function in May 1865. The lieutenant governors were Robert Latané Montague and Samuel Price. The other, as one of the United States of America and known initially as the Restored government of Virginia, met first at Wheeling (until West Virginia became a state in 1863) and then at Alexandria, where a new constitution was written in 1864. The officials of that government moved to Richmond in June 1865 as the sole government of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The lieutenant governors were Daniel Polsley and Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper.

  • Robert Latané Montague (1819–1880), from Middlesex County, January 1, 1860–January 1, 1864, Democrat.
  • Samuel Price (1805–1884), from Greenbrier County (now West Virginia), January 1, 1864–May 9, 1865, Democrat. Relinquished office when the state officers abandoned Richmond on April 2, 1865.
  • Daniel Polsley (1803–1877), from Mason County (now West Virginia), June 20, 1861–June 8, 1863, Unionist. Resigned.
  • Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper (1811–1875) from Norfolk County, November 17, 1863–April 29, 1867, Unionist. No successor was elected during period when the assembly did not meet, April 1867–October 1869.

Lieutenant Governors under the Commonwealth, 1869–

  • John Francis Lewis (1818–1895), from Rockingham County, October 5, 1869–January 1, 1870, Republican.
  • John Lawrence Marye Jr. (1823–1902), from Spotsylvania County, January 1, 1870–January 1, 1874, Conservative.
  • Robert Enoch Withers (1821–1907), from Campbell County, January 1, 1874–March 1, 1875, Conservative.
  • Henry Wirtz Thomas (1812–1890), from Fairfax County, March 1, 1875–January 1, 1878, Republican.
  • James Alexander Walker (1832–1901), from Pulaski County, January 1, 1878–January 1, 1882, Democrat.
  • John Francis Lewis (1818–1895), from Rockingham County, March 1, 1882–January 1, 1886, Readjuster Republican coalition.
  • John Edward Massey (1819–1901), from Albemarle County, January 1, 1886–January 1, 1890, Democrat.
  • James Hoge Tyler (1846–1925), from Pulaski County, January 1, 1890–January 1, 1894, Democrat. Became governor January 1, 1898.
  • Robert Craig Kent (1828–1905), from Wythe County, January 1, 1894–January 1, 1898, Democrat.
  • Edward Echols (1849–1914), from Staunton, January 1, 1898–January 1, 1902, Democrat.
  • Joseph Edward Willard (1865–1924), from Fairfax County, January 1, 1902–February 1, 1906, Democrat.
  • James Taylor Ellyson (1847–1919), from Richmond, February 1, 1906–February 1, 1918, Democrat.
  • Benjamin Franklin Buchanan (1857–1932), from Smyth County, February 1, 1918–February 1, 1922, Democrat.
  • Junius Edgar West (1866–1947), from Suffolk, February 1, 1922–January 15, 1930, Democrat.
  • James Hubert Price (1878–1943), from Richmond, January 15, 1930–January 18, 1938, Democrat. Became governor January 19, 1938.
  • Saxon Winston Holt (1871–1940), from Newport News, January 19, 1938–March 31, 1940, Democrat. Died in office; unexpired term unfilled.
  • William Munford Tuck (1896–1983), from South Boston, January 21, 1942–January 15, 1946, Democrat. Became governor January 16, 1946.
  • Lewis Preston Collins II (1896–1952), from Smyth County, January 16, 1946–September 29, 1952, Democrat. Died in office.
  • Allie Edward Stakes Stephens (1900–1973), from Isle of Wight County, elected November 4, 1952, to fill the unexpired term of Lewis Preston Collins II, took office on December 2, and served until January 13, 1962, Democrat.
  • Mills Edwin Godwin Jr. (1914–1999), from Nansemond County, January 13, 1962–January 15, 1966, Democrat. Became governor January 15, 1966.
  • Fred Gresham Pollard (1918–2003), from Richmond, January 15, 1966–January 17, 1970, Democrat.
  • Julian Sargeant Reynolds (1936–1971), from Richmond, January 17, 1970–June 13, 1971, Democrat. Died in office.
  • Henry Evans Howell Jr. (1920–1997), from Norfolk, elected November 2, 1971, to fill the unexpired term of Julian Sargeant Reynolds, took office on December 4, and served until January 12, 1974, Independent.
  • John Nichols Dalton (1931–1986), from Radford, January 12, 1974–January 14, 1978, Republican. Became governor January 14, 1978.
  • Charles Spittal Robb (1939– ), from Fairfax County, January 14, 1978–January 16, 1982, Democrat. Became governor January 16, 1982.
  • Richard Joseph Davis (1921–1999), from Portsmouth, January 16, 1982–January 11, 1986, Democrat.
  • Lawrence Douglas Wilder (1931– ), from Richmond, January 11, 1986–January 13, 1990, Democrat. Became governor January 13, 1990.
  • Donald Sternoff Beyer Jr. (1950– ), from Fairfax County, January 13, 1990–January 17, 1998, Democrat.
  • John Henry Hager (1936– ), from Richmond, January 17, 1998–January 12, 2002, Republican.
  • Timothy Michael Kaine (1958– ), from Richmond, January 12, 2002–January 14, 2006, Democrat. Became governor January 14, 2006.
  • William Troy Bolling (1957– ), from Hanover County, January 14, 2006–January 11, 2014, Republican.
  • Ralph Shearer Northam (1959– ), from the city of Norfolk, January 11, 2014– , Democrat.
Further Reading
Salmon, Emily J. and Edward D. C. Campbell Jr., eds. The Hornbook of Virginia History: A Ready-Reference Guide to the Old Dominion's People, Places, and Past. Fourth Edition. Richmond: The Library of Virginia, 1994.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    The Hornbook of Virginia History. Lieutenant Governors of Virginia. (2014, January 21). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Lieutenant_Governors_of_Virginia.

  • MLA Citation:

    The Hornbook of Virginia History. "Lieutenant Governors of Virginia." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: June 21, 2013 | Last modified: January 21, 2014


Contributed by The Hornbook of Virginia History, a publication of the Library of Virginia.