History and Background

The state’s first constitution in 1845 established the office of governor, to serve for two years, but no more than four years out of every six (essentially a limit of no more than two consecutive terms). The 1861 secessionist constitution set the term start date at the first Monday in the November following the election. The 1866 constitution, adopted just after the American Civil War, increased terms to 4 years, but no more than 8 years out of every 12, and moved the start date to the first Thursday after the organization of the legislature, or “as soon thereafter as practicable.” The Reconstruction constitution of 1869 removed the limit on terms, Texas remains one of 14 states with no gubernatorial term limit. The present constitution of 1876 shortened terms back to two years, but a 1972 amendment increased it again to four years.

The Texas Constitution specifies that the governor must be at least 30 years old, an American citizen and a resident of Texas for at least five years. Texas governors served two-year terms until voters changed the Constitution to provide for four-year terms in 1972.

The first governor of Texas was J. Pinkney Henderson, who took over executive leadership from the final president of the Republic of Texas, Anson Jones, in 1846. Every governor from Richard Coke (1874–1876) to Dolph Briscoe (1973-1979) was a Democrat. Since George W. Bush’s election to the governor’s office in 1994, all four Texas governors have been Republicans.

Texas was the first southern state to elect a female governor. Miriam Ferguson served two terms following the impeachment of her husband, James Ferguson, in 1917 – the only Texas governor ever impeached. The second female governor, Ann Richards, served in the 1990s.

The Texas governor currently receives a $150,000 annual salary, as well as living accommodations. The Texas Governor’s Mansion, immediately southwest of the Texas Capitol building, has been home to Texas governors and their families since 1856.