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How Many United States Presidents Were Governors First?

Several presidents of the United States occupied prior positions in government. Many of them were actually governors, or heads of a state. This may indicate a sense of trust that people place in that office; if a person has proven that he has been able to lead a state, then this could be a sign that he is capable of leading the country.

A total of 17 presidents once held the position of governor, though some of them led at a time when the political system was different and the concept of “governor” applied to territories rather than states. This includes Andrew Jackson who served as Florida territory’s military governor during the late 18th century. William Harrison also served as the governor of the Indiana Territory. Another President, William Taft, was the Governor General of the Philippines at the 20th’ century (at that time, the country was under American rule).

The very first American president who used to be governor was Thomas Jefferson. Both James Monroe and John Tyler were governors of Virginia. Martin Van Buren and Grover Cleveland were both Governors of New York while James Polk and Andrew Johnson were both Governors of Tennessee. Rutherford Hayes and William McKinley were both Governors of Ohio.

The trend continued into the 20th century. Theodore Roosevelt who led the country through the Great Depression once served as Governor of New York. Woodrow Wilson was Governor of New Jersey while Calvin Coolidge was Governor of Massachusetts from 1919-1921. Ronald Reagan, former actor, tested his political mettle as Governor of California and Jimmy Carter served as Govenror of Georgia. Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas and George Bush was Governor of Texas.

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