Governors - The History of the Governorship
New Jersey governorship dates back to the mid-17th century.
In 1664, England took control of land that is now New Jersey.
John Berkeley and George Carteret were named proprietors
of the colony. The proprietors had the power to appoint
the governor of the colony. George appointed his cousin
Philip as the first governor in 1665.
continued appointing the governor until 1702. In 1703,
Queen Anne named Edward Hyde the first royal governor of
New Jersey. Hyde was already governor of New York. New
York and New Jersey shared a governor until 1738. During
this time, all the colonial governors had the difficult
job of serving the interests of the local citizens as well
as those of the king or queen of England.
1763, England increased pressure on the governors to rule
the colonies according to British wishes. Governing the
colonies became very hard. William Franklin, who was royal
governor of New Jersey at that time, remained loyal to
England but was removed in 1776 after the colonists declared
independence. William Livingston became the first governor
of the state of New Jersey in 1776.
the New Jersey Constitution of 1776, the governor had very
few responsibilities. Chosen by the legislature, the governor
served a one-year term. Having just lived under the rule
of a king, the state's founding fathers viewed executive
rulers as threatening to their freedom. Most of the power
of government belonged to the legislature.
the mid-1800s, New Jersey lawmakers began to realize that
the governorship was too weak. As the state population
grew, the responsibilities of the governor needed to increase
as well. The Constitution of 1844 increased the powers
of the governor. The governor was now elected by popular
vote and served a three-year term. Limited veto power and
the right to make appointments were also granted.
the Civil War, the New Jersey governors took varied stances
on the issues of slavery and states' rights. In the railroad
era of the late 1800s, every New Jersey governor had ties
to the railroad industry. The early 1900s saw the rise
of political machines, which would eventually cause lawmakers
to further strengthen the governorship.
1947, the state constitution was once again changed. Social
and economic changes had weakened political machines. Governors
now enjoyed the most power they ever had. Terms were extended
to four years, and veto powers were further increased.
All state boards and commissions were reorganized under
the governor as part of the executive branch.