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Governor of Utah

Governor of Utah
Seal of the Governor
The Honorable
Residence Utah Governor's Mansion
Term length Four years
Inaugural holder Heber Manning Wells
Formation January 6, 1896
Deputy Greg Bell
Salary $109,900 (2009)[1]

The Governor of Utah is the head of the executive branch of Utah's 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]

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.

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 S. 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.

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 his current term will expire on January 7, 2013.

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.


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]

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]

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.[12] 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.

Picture Governor Took office[note 1] Left office Appointed by Notes
Brigham Young February 3, 1851[14] April 12, 1858 Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
Alfred Cumming April 12, 1858[note 2] May 17, 1861[19] James Buchanan [note 3]
John W. Dawson December 7, 1861[21] December 31, 1861[22] Abraham Lincoln [note 4]
Stephen S. Harding July 7, 1862[23] June 11, 1863[24] Abraham Lincoln
James Duane Doty June 22, 1863[25] June 13, 1865[26] Abraham Lincoln [note 5]
Charles Durkee September 30, 1865[27] January 9, 1869[28] Andrew Johnson
John Shaffer March 20, 1870[29] October 31, 1870[30] Ulysses S. Grant [note 5]
Vernon H. Vaughan October 31, 1870[31] February 1, 1871[31] Ulysses S. Grant [note 6]
George Lemuel Woods March 10, 1871[32] October 13, 1874[33][34] Ulysses S. Grant
Samuel Beach Axtell February 2, 1875[35] June 8, 1875[36] Ulysses S. Grant [note 7]
George W. Emery July 3, 1875[38] January 25, 1880[39] Ulysses S. Grant
Eli Houston Murray February 28, 1880[40] March 16, 1886[41] Rutherford B. Hayes
Chester A. Arthur
Caleb Walton West May 12, 1886[42] May 6, 1889[43] Grover Cleveland
Arthur Lloyd Thomas May 6, 1889[43] May 9, 1893[44] Benjamin Harrison
Caleb Walton West May 9, 1893[44] 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.[45] The Constitution of Utah originally stated that, should the office of governor be vacant, the power be devolved upon the Secretary of State,[46] but the office of Lieutenant Governor was created in 1976,[47] and a 1980 constitutional amendment added it to the constitution.[48] 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.[49] The offices of governor and lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket.[50] 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.[51]

      Democratic (6)       Republican (11)

# Picture Governor Took office Left office Party Lt. Governor
[note 8]
[note 9]
1   Heber Manning Wells January 6, 1896 January 2, 1905 Republican None 2
2   John Christopher Cutler January 2, 1905 January 4, 1909 Republican 1
3   William Spry January 4, 1909 January 1, 1917 Republican 2
4   Simon Bamberger January 1, 1917 January 3, 1921 Democratic 1
5   Charles R. Mabey January 3, 1921 January 5, 1925 Republican 1
6   George Dern January 5, 1925 January 2, 1933 Democratic 2
7   Henry H. Blood January 2, 1933 January 6, 1941 Democratic 2
8   Herbert B. Maw January 6, 1941 January 3, 1949 Democratic 2
9   J. Bracken Lee January 3, 1949 January 7, 1957 Republican 2
10   George Dewey Clyde January 7, 1957 January 4, 1965 Republican 2
11   Calvin L. Rampton January 4, 1965 January 3, 1977 Democratic None 3
  Clyde L. Miller
12   Scott M. Matheson January 3, 1977 January 7, 1985 Democratic   David Smith Monson
[note 10]
13   Norman H. Bangerter January 7, 1985 January 4, 1993 Republican   W. Val Oveson 2
14   Mike Leavitt January 4, 1993 November 5, 2003 Republican   Olene S. Walker 2 12
[note 11]
15   Olene S. Walker November 5, 2003 January 3, 2005 Republican   Gayle McKeachnie 12
[note 12]
16   Jon Huntsman, Jr. January 3, 2005 August 11, 2009 Republican   Gary Herbert 1 12
[note 13]
17   Gary Herbert August 11, 2009 Incumbent Republican   Greg Bell 12
[note 14]
[note 15]

As this timeline makes clear, recent governors (Walker and Huntsman) have remained in office for shorter periods of time than their predecessors.

  1. Governors of Utah

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DateFormat = yyyy Period = from:1896 till:2010 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:4 start:1896 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:1 start:1896

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 bar:PRMs color:red width:50 mark:(line,white) align:left fontsize:S
 from:1896   till:1905   shift:(-11,30) color:R   text:Wells
 from:1905   till:1909   shift:(-12,30) color:R   text:Cutler
 from:1909   till:1917   shift:(-11,30) color:R   text:Spry
 from:1917   till:1921   shift:(-27,10) color:D   text:Bamberger
 from:1921   till:1925   shift:(-15,30) color:R   text:Mabey
 from:1925   till:1933   shift:(-11,30) color:D   text:Dern
 from:1933   till:1941   shift:(-12,30) color:D   text:Blood
 from:1941   till:1949   shift:(-10,30) color:D   text:Maw
 from:1949   till:1957   shift:(-9,30) color:R   text:Lee
 from:1957   till:1965   shift:(-12,30) color:R   text:Clyde
 from:1965   till:1977   shift:(-20,30) color:D   text:Rampton
 from:1977   till:1985   shift:(-23,30) color:D   text:Matheson
 from:1985   till:1993   shift:(-22,30) color:R   text:Bangerter
 from:1993   till:2003   shift:(-15,30) color:R   text:Leavitt
 from:2003   till:2005   shift:(-18,10) color:R   text:Walker
 from:2005   till:2008   shift:(-24,-10) color:R   text:Huntsman
 from:2008   till:end   shift:(-17,30) color:R   text:Herbert

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.
Governor Gubernatorial term Other offices held Source
James Duane Doty 1863–1865 Delegate from Wisconsin Territory, U.S. Representative from Wisconsin,
Governor of Wisconsin Territory
Charles Durkee 1865–1869 U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Wisconsin [55]
George Lemuel Woods 1871–1875 Governor of Oregon [56]
Samuel Beach Axtell 1875 U.S. Representative from California, Governor of New Mexico Territory* [37]
George Dern 1925–1933 U.S. Secretary of War [57]
Mike Leavitt 1993–2003 Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency*,
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services
Jon Huntsman, Jr. 2005–2009 Ambassador to Singapore, Ambassador to China* [53]

Living former governors

As of July 2010, four former governors are alive. The most recent death of a former governor was that of Calvin Rampton (1965–1977), who died on September 16, 2007.[58] The most recent governor to serve who has died was Scott Milne Matheson, who was Governor from 1977 to 1985 and died on October 7, 1990.

Governor Gubernatorial term Date of birth
Norman H. Bangerter 1985–1993 (1933-01-04) January 4, 1933 (age 81)
Mike Leavitt 1993–2003 (1951-02-11) February 11, 1951 (age 63)
Olene S. Walker 2003–2005 (1930-11-15) November 15, 1930 (age 83)
Jon Huntsman, Jr. 2005–2009 (1960-03-26) March 26, 1960 (age 54)






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