Contact the NJ State Archives
Mailing Address:
NJ State Archives
P.O. Box 307
Trenton, NJ 08625-0307

Office Address:
225 West State Street - Level 2
Trenton, NJ

Contact Information

Email: Feedback@sos.state.nj.us


Record Group: Department of State
Subgroup: Secretary of State's Office
Series: Oaths of Office of Governors and Acting Governors, 1790-2006
Accession #: 1968.006 and unknown
Series #:  SSTSE007
Guide Date:   1/1997 (JK); rev. 9/2001 (SC & LB); rev. 2006 (EC)
Volume: 

1 c.f. [2 boxes]

 

Content Note

This series consists of the oaths of office of the governors and acting governors of the State of New Jersey from 1790 to the present. The first document also contains oaths of the Vice Presidents of the Legislative Council from 1797-1801 and 1826. The oaths dated 1790-1970 are original, signed documents. They are generally large, manuscript certificates, a number from the twentieth century being also elaborately illuminated with colored inks. For the governors from 1974 forward, photocopies of the oaths found in the Secretary of State's file are included. Three from this period, however, apparently were not filed: Governor Byrne's first oath (1974), Governor Kean's second (1986), and Governor Whitman’s second (1998).

The term and duties of the governor have been defined or redefined three times during New Jersey's statehood. The 1776 state constitution provided for a one-year governor's term and gave the "supreme executive," as he was called, only very limited legislative and judicial responsibility. Abuse of executive power had been a major concern of the authors of the state's first charter. The governor was to be elected by the joint meeting of the legislature at its first sitting after the annual elections. He was to act as president of the legislative council and, in his absence, the vice president of the council (also chosen at the joint meeting) was to serve as acting governor. The 1776 constitution did not prohibit governors from serving multiple and/or consecutive terms, which most did during the 1776-1844 period.

In 1844, a new state constitution expanded the term and duties of the governor. The chief executive was to be elected by popular vote and was to serve for three years commencing on the third Tuesday in January following the election. Governors were prohibited from succeeding themselves; however, several during the 1844-1947 period did serve two, or even three, non-consecutive terms. In the case of a vacancy, the president of the senate was to serve as acting governor. The 1844 constitution also included a special provision allowing the incumbent governor, Daniel Haines, to remain in office until the first inauguration under the new system in January 1845.

The 1947 (current) constitution again expanded the term of office and duties of the governor. The term was increased to four years (commencing January 1950). The president of the senate is to serve as acting governor in the event that the governor's office is vacated.

Finally, in 2006 legislation was passed stipulating that anyone who has served as acting governor for a continuous period of at least 180 days would thereafter hold the title of Governor of the State of New Jersey. This law (P.L. 2005, c. 282), passed 9 January 2006, was made effective retroactive to 1 January 2001.

NOTE: With yearly election of governors during the 1776-1844 period, it was the practice at that time to reuse the governor's oath document year after year. Items 1a and 2-4, consequently, each contain signatures of a number of governors.

Contents

(click on image below for enlarged view)

No.
Caption
Image
Box 1
1a.
Governors’ oath, 1790-1797:
  William Paterson, 3 November 1790 - 29 October 1792 (elected three times)
  Richard Howell, 4 June 1793 - 31 October 1797
(elected five times)

Vice Presidents of Legislative Councils’ oath, 1797- 1801 & 1826 (on reverse):
  James Linn, 24 October 1797 & 23 October 1798
  George Anderson, 22 October 1799, 28 October 1800
  John Lambert, 27 October 1801
  Silas Cook, 18 November 1826


1b.
John Lambert (Acting Governor), 15 November 1802
2.
Governors' oath, 1803-1817:
  Joseph Bloomfield, 28 October 1803 - 28 October 1811 (elected nine times)
  Aaron Ogden, 3 November 1812
  William S. Pennington, 2 November 1813 & 31 October 1814
  Mahlon Dickerson, 30 October 1815 & 29 October 1816
  Isaac H. Williamson, 10 February 1817


3.
Governors' oath, 1817-1840:
  Isaac H. Williamson, 1 November 1817 - 4 November 1828 (elected twelve times)
  Peter D. Vroom Jr., 7 November 1829 - 1 November 1831 (elected three times)
  Samuel L. Southard, 30 October 1832
  Elias P. Seeley, 28 February 1833
  Peter D. Vroom Jr., 30 October 1833 - 3 November 1835 (elected three times)
  Philemon Dickerson, 7 November 1836
  William Pennington, 31 October 1837 - 30 October 1840 (elected four times)

4.
Governors' oath, 1841-1843:
  William Pennington, 2 November 1841 & 1 November 1842
  Daniel Haines, 30 October 1843
5.
Charles C. Stratton, 21 January 1845
6.
Daniel Haines, January 1848
7.
George F. Fort, 21 January 1851
8.
Rodman M. Price, 17 January 1854
9.
William A. Newell, 20 January 1857
10.
Charles S. Olden, 17 January 1860
11.
Joel Parker, 20 January 1863
12.
Marcus L. Ward, 16 January 1866
13.
Theodore F. Randolph, 19 January 1869
14.
Joel Parker, 16 January 1872
15.
Joseph D. Bedle, January 19 1875
16.
George B. McClellan, 15 January 1878
17.
George C. Ludlow, 18 January 1881 
18.
Leon Abbett, 15 January 1884 
19.

Robert S. Green, 18 January 1887

20.

Leon Abbett, 21 January 1890

21.

George T. Werts, 17 January 1893

22.
John W. Griggs, 21 January 1896
23.
Foster M. Voorhees (Acting Governor), 1 February 1898
24.
David O. Watkins (Acting Governor), 18 October 1898 
25.
Foster M. Voorhees, 17 January 1899 
26.
William M. Johnson (Acting Governor), 21 May 1900 
27.
Franklin Murphy, 21 January 1902
28.
Edmund W. Wakelee (Acting Governor), 26 April 1904 
29.
Edmund W. Wakelee (Acting Governor), 14 June 1904
30.
Edward C. Stokes, 17 January 1905 
31.
John Franklin Fort, 21 January 1908 
32.
Woodrow Wilson, 17 January 1911 
33.
Leon R. Taylor (Acting Governor), 28 October 1913 
34.
James F. Fielder (Acting Governor), 1 March 1913 
35.
James F. Fielder, 20 January 1914
Box 2
1.
Walter E. Edge, 16 January 1917
2.
William N. Runyon (Acting Governor), 16 May 1919 
3.
Clarence E. Case (Acting Governor), 13 January 1920
4.
Edward I. Edwards, 20 January 1920
5.
George S. Silzer, 16 January 1923
6.
A. Harry Moore, 19 January 1926
7.
Morgan F. Larson, 15 January 1929
8.
A. Harry Moore, 19 January 1932
9.
Harold G. Hoffman, 15 January 1935
10.
A. Harry Moore, 18 January 1938 
11.
Charles Edison, 21 January 1941
12.
Walter E. Edge, 18 January 1944
13.
Alfred E. Driscoll, 21 January 1947
14.
Alfred E. Driscoll, 17 January 1950
15.
Robert B. Meyner, 19 January 1954
16.
Robert B. Meyner, 21 January 1958
17.
Richard J. Hughes, 16 January 1962
18.
Richard J. Hughes, 18 January 1966
19.
William T. Cahill, 20 January 1970
20.
File-copy oaths, 1974-2004:
 

Brendan T. Byrne, 17 January 1978 [photocopy; 1974 oath not filed with Secretary of State]

 

Thomas H. Kean, 19 January 1982 [1986 oath not filed with Secretary of State]

 

James J. Florio, 16 January 1990

 

Christine Todd Whitman, 18 January 1994

 

Donald T. Di Francesco (Acting Governor), 31 January 2001

 

James E. McGreevey, 15 January 2002

 

Richard J. Codey (Acting Governor), 15 November 2004


Brendan T.
Byrne

Thomas H.
Kean

James J.
Florio

Christine Todd
Whitman

Donald T.
Di Francesco

James E.
McGreevey

Richard J.
Codey

 

Jon S.
Corzine

 



Consult the Reference services page and/or the Guide to Reproduction and Research Services, Policies and Fees for information on reproduction of images included in this collection.


Created January 2007