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Below is a list of mayors of Washington, D.C. and associated political entities.

History of offices[edit]

The federal district of the United States was first designated by the amended Residence Act of 1790. That Act designated that the President could appoint three commissioners to locate, define and survey an area not exceeding ten miles square as the capital district, following the Constitutional mandate to do so.[1] From 1791 to 1802 the District was managed by that three-member Board of Commissioners of the Federal City as listed below.

With the passage of the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1801, the District was brought under the direct political control of Congress. The Board of Commissioners was dissolved. That Act made no provision for an executive for the District as a whole. The District consisted of five political subdivisions: three cities with their own municipal governments, and two rural counties. The pre-existing city of Georgetown and its mayors are listed below. The pre-existing city of Alexandria, Virginia, had its own list of mayors before, during and after its inclusion in the District. And the new City of Washington was chartered shortly after the District, in 1802. Its mayors also appear below. The rural county west of the Potomac, formerly Virginia, was Alexandria County. Finally to the east and outside the cities, formerly Maryland, lay Washington County, D.C.. (Both counties were governed by levy courts made of providentially appointed Justices of the Peace, whose members do not appear below.)

In 1846, Alexandria County and the City of Alexandria returned to Virginia, leaving the District with two independent cities and one county.

In 1871, with the District of Columbia Organic Act, those three subdivisions within the District were unified into a single government, whose chief executive was a territorial Governor. As listed below, only two served before this office was abolished in 1874, and replaced with a temporary three-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the President. The board was made permanent in 1878 and this system continued until 1967, when it was replaced by a single mayor-commissioner and city council appointed by the President. Finally, in 1974, the District of Columbia Home Rule Act allowed for District residents to elect their own mayor.

Currently, the Mayor of the District of Columbia is popularly elected to a four-year term with no term limits. Even though District of Columbia is not a state, the district government also has certain state-level responsibilities, making some of the mayor's duties analogous to those of United States governors. The current mayor of the District of Columbia is Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, who has served in the role since January 2, 2015.

The lists on this page include all of the chief executives of the District of Columbia in their various forms.

1791-1802: Board of Commissioners of the Federal City[edit]

The 1790 Act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the Government of the United States, Act of March 3, 1791, 1 Stat. 214, set up a board of three commissioners to survey and define the territory of the Federal City, and to purchase land for development and oversee the construction of all federal buildings. Some reports name Thomas Johnson as the chairman of the Board of Commissioners, but it appears there was no chair, even if Johnson acted in the manner of a chair.

# Image Member Term Began Term Ended State Political Party
1 No image.svg David Stuart January 22, 1791 September 12, 1794 Virginia Independent
2 Thomas Johnson (governor).jpeg Thomas Johnson January 22, 1791 August 23, 1794 Maryland Federalist
3 Daniel Carroll (NYPL b12349185-425114) (cropped).jpg Daniel Carroll March 4, 1791 May 21, 1795 Maryland Independent
4 Augustus (i.e. Gustavus) Scott, member of the Continental Congress, from Maryland (NYPL b12349185-420090) (cropped).jpg Gustavus Scott August 23, 1794 December 25, 1800 Maryland Independent
5 William-thorton.png William Thornton September 12, 1794 July 1, 1802 Pennsylvania Independent
6 No image.svg Alexander White May 21, 1795 July 1, 1802 Virginia Pro-Administration Party
7 William Cranch.jpg William Cranch January 14, 1801 March 3, 1801 Massachusetts Federalist
8 TristramDalton.jpg Tristram Dalton March 10, 1801 July 1, 1802 Massachusetts Pro-Administration


1802–1871: Mayors of the City of Washington[edit]

The persons listed below are the mayors of the now-defunct City of Washington, which was officially granted a formal government in 1802. The Mayor of Washington had authority over city services, appointments, and local tax assessments; however, the duties of the mayor mostly consisted of requesting appropriations from Congress to finance the city. From 1802 to 1812, the mayor was appointed by the President of the United States. Between 1812 and 1820, the city's mayors were then selected by a city council. From 1820 to 1871 the mayor was popularly elected. The present-day boundaries of the "Old City" were Rock Creek to the west, Florida Avenue to the north, and the Anacostia River to the east and south.

Image Mayor[3] Term Began Term Ended Political Party
RobertBrent.jpg Robert Brent 1802 1812 Democratic-Republican Party
No image.svg Daniel Rapine 1812 1813 Independent
JamesHeigheBlake.jpeg James H. Blake 1813 1817 Independent
Mayor orr.jpg Benjamin G. Orr 1817 1819 Independent
No image.svg Samuel N. Smallwood 1819 1822 Independent
No image.svg Thomas Carbery 1822 June 1824 Independent
No image.svg Samuel N. Smallwood June 1824 September 30, 1824 Independent
Gen. Weightman, C.S.A - NARA - 526634.jpg Roger C. Weightman September 30, 1824 1827 Independent
Joseph gales.jpg Joseph Gales 1827 1830 Independent
John Peter Van Ness (Gilbert Stuart).jpg John Peter Van Ness 1830 1834 Democratic-Republican
No image.svg William A. Bradley 1834 1836 Independent
Peter Force by Mathew Brady c1858.jpg Peter Force 1836 1840 Whig Party
William Winston Seaton - Brady-Handy.jpg William Winston Seaton 1840 1850 Independent
No image.svg Walter Lenox 1850 1852 Independent
JohnWMaury.jpg John W. Maury 1852 1854 Independent
JohnTTowers.jpg John T. Towers 1854 1856 Independent
William B. Magruder.png William B. Magruder 1856 1858 Independent
JamesGBerret.jpg James G. Berret 1858 September 14, 1861 Anti-Know-Nothing-Party
Mayor Wallach of Washington D.C - NARA - 529273 (cropped).jpg Richard Wallach September 14, 1861 1868 Republican
SaylesJBowen.jpg Sayles J. Bowen 1868 June 7, 1870 Republican
No image.svg Matthew G. Emery[4] June 7, 1870 February 28, 1871 Independent

1790–1871: Mayors of Georgetown[edit]

From 1751 to 1789, Georgetown was governed by Commissioners who were either appointed by an act of Maryland or were elected by the other commissioners to fill vacancies. in 1790 the government was changed to include a Mayor, a Recorder, Aldermen and a Common Council. During this time it was governed by nineteen different commissioners.[5]

Georgetown was a town in Maryland until 1801, when it became a municipality within the District of Columbia. From 1802 until 1871, mayors of Georgetown were elected to one-year terms, with no term limits.[6] Like the City of Washington and Washington County, Georgetown's local government ceased to exist in 1871, when Congress merged the three entities into the single District government.[7]

# Image Mayor[3] Term Began Term Ended
1 No image.svg Robert Peter 1790 1791
2 No image.svg Thomas Beale 1791 1792
3 Uriah Forrest.jpg Uriah Forrest 1792 1793
4 No image.svg John Threlkeld 1793 1794
5 No image.svg Pedro Casenave 1794 1795
6 No image.svg Thomas Turner 1795 1796
7 No image.svg Daniel Reintzel 1796 1797
8 No image.svg Lloyd Beall 1797 1799
9 No image.svg Daniel Reintzel 1799 1804
10 Charles Peale Polk, Thomas Corcoran, c. 1802-1810, NGA 176396.jpg Thomas Corcoran 1805 1806
11 No image.svg Daniel Reintzel 1806 1807
12 Charles Peale Polk, Thomas Corcoran, c. 1802-1810, NGA 176396.jpg Thomas Corcoran 1808 1810
13 David Wiley circa 1768- 1813.jpg David Wiley 1811 1812
14 Charles Peale Polk, Thomas Corcoran, c. 1802-1810, NGA 176396.jpg Thomas Corcoran 1812 1813
15 No image.svg John Peter 1813 1818
16 No image.svg Henry Foxall 1819 1820
17 No image.svg John Peter 1821 1822
18 No image.svg John Cox 1823 1845
19 No image.svg Henry Addison 1845 1857
20 No image.svg Richard R. Crawford 1857 1861
21 No image.svg Henry Addison 1861 1867
22 No image.svg Charles D. Welch 1867 1869
23 No image.svg Henry M. Sweeney 1869 1871

1871–1874: Governors of the District of Columbia[edit]

In 1871, Congress created a territorial government for the entire District of Columbia, which was headed by a governor appointed by the President of the United States to a four-year term. Due to alleged mismanagement and corruption, including allegations of contractors bribing members of the District legislature to receive contracts,[8] the territorial government was discontinued in 1874.

# Image Governor[3] Term Began Term Ended Political Party
1 HD cookeHDc.jpg   Henry D. Cooke February 28, 1871 September 13, 1873 Republican
2 Alexander-Robey-Shepherd.jpg   Alexander R. Shepherd[9] September 13, 1873 June 20, 1874 Republican

1874–1878: Commissioners of the District of Columbia[edit]

From 1874 to 1878 the District was administered by a three-member, temporary Board of Commissioners with both legislative and executive authority, all appointed by the President. They were assisted by an engineer (Captain Richard L. Hoxie). The law made no provision for a President to this board of temporary Commissioners, and none was ever elected, but Commissioner Dennison acted in that capacity at all board meetings he attended.

# Image Member Term Began Term Ended Political Party
1 William Dennison, Jr.jpg   William Dennison July 1, 1874 July 1, 1878 Republican
2 HTBlow.jpg   Henry T. Blow July 1, 1874 December 31, 1874 Republican
3 John Henry Ketcham.jpg   John H. Ketcham July 3, 1874 June 30, 1877 Republican
4 Seth L. Phelps.jpg   Seth Ledyard Phelps January 18, 1875 June 30, 1878 Republican
5 Hon. Thomas B. Bryan (1).jpg   Thomas Barbour Bryan December 3, 1877 July 1, 1878 Republican


1878–1967: Presidents of the Board of Commissioners[edit]

In 1878, the Board of Commissioners was made permanent and re-organized. From 1878 to 1967, the District was administered by this new three-member Board of Commissioners with both legislative and executive authority, all appointed by the President. The board comprised one Democrat, one Republican, and one civil engineer with no specified party. The three Commissioners would then elect one of their number to serve as president of the board. While not quite analogous to the role of a mayor, the president of the board was the district's Chief Executive.

# Image President[10] Term Began Term Ended Political Party
1 Seth L. Phelps.jpg   Seth Ledyard Phelps July 1, 1878 November 29, 1879 Republican
2 No image.svg   Josiah Dent November 29, 1879 July 17, 1882 Democratic
3 Joseph R. West - cwpbh 03614.jpg   Joseph Rodman West July 17, 1882 March 29, 1883 Republican
4 No image.svg   James Barker Edmonds March 29, 1883 January 1, 1886 Democratic
5 No image.svg   William Benning Webb January 1, 1886 May 21, 1889 Independent
6 No image.svg   John Watkinson Douglass May 21, 1889 March 1, 1893 Independent
7 John Wesley Ross.jpg   John Wesley Ross March 1, 1893 June 1, 1898 Democratic
8 No image.svg   John Brewer Wright June 1, 1898 May 9, 1900 Independent
9 Henry Brown Floyd MacFarland.png   Henry Brown Floyd MacFarland May 9, 1900 January 24, 1910 Republican
10 No image.svg   Cuno Hugo Rudolph January 24, 1910 February 28, 1913 Independent
11 No image.svg   Oliver Peck Newman February 28, 1913 October 9, 1917 Independent
12 Louis Brownlow 1938.png   Louis Brownlow October 9, 1917 September 17, 1920 Democratic
13 No image.svg   Charles Willauer Kutz
September 17, 1920 September 25, 1920 Independent
14 No image.svg   John Thilman Hendrick September 25, 1920 March 4, 1921 Independent
15 No image.svg   Cuno Hugo Rudolph March 15, 1921 December 4, 1926 Independent
16 Proctor L. Dougherty, (8-3-26) LCCN2016842386.jpg   Proctor L. Dougherty December 4, 1926 April 10, 1930 Independent
17 No image.svg   Luther Halsey Reichelderfer April 10, 1930 November 16, 1933 Independent
18 Melvin C. Hazen.jpg   Melvin Colvin Hazen November 16, 1933 July 15, 1941 Independent
19 No image.svg   John Russell Young July 29, 1941 June 2, 1952 Independent
20 No image.svg   F. Joseph Donohue June 2, 1952 April 6, 1953 Independent
21 No image.svg   Samuel Spencer April 6, 1953 April 6, 1956 Independent
22 No image.svg   Robert E. McLaughlin April 6, 1956 July 27, 1961 Independent
23 Walter N. Tobriner (DC 1).png   Walter Nathan Tobriner July 27, 1961 November 7, 1967 Democratic


1967–1975: Mayor-Commissioner[edit]

In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson presented to Congress a plan to reorganize the District's government.[12] The three-commissioner system was replaced by a government headed by a single mayor-commissioner, an assistant mayor-commissioner, and a nine-member district council, all appointed by the president.[12] The mayor-commissioner and his assistant served four-year terms,[13] while the councilmembers served three-year terms.[12] While the Council was officially nonpartisan, no more than six of Councilmembers could be of the same political party.[13] Councilmembers were expected to work part-time.[12] All councilmembers and either the mayor-commissioner or his assistant was required to have been a resident of the District of Columbia for the three years preceding appointment.[13] All must be District residents while serving their terms in office.[13]

Council members had the quasi-legislative powers of the former Board of Commissioners, approving the budget and setting real estate tax rates.[12] The mayor-commissioner could, without any Congressional approval, consolidate District agencies and transfer money between agencies, powers that the preceding Board of Commissioners had not possessed since 1952.[14] The mayor-commissioner could veto the actions of the Council, but the Council could override the veto with a three-fourths vote.[12]

Despite a push by many Republicans and conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives to reject Johnson's plan, the House of Representatives accepted the new form of government for the District by a vote of 244 to 160.[15] Johnson said that the new District government would be more effective and efficient.[12]

Walter E. Washington was appointed the first mayor-commissioner, and Thomas W. Fletcher was appointed the first assistant mayor-commissioner.[16] The first Council appointments were Chairman John W. Hechinger, Vice Chairman Walter E. Fauntroy, Stanley J. Anderson, Margaret A. Haywood, John A. Nevius, William S. Thompson, J.C. Turner, Polly Shackleton, and Joseph P. Yeldell.[16]

# Mayor-Commissioner [3] Term start Term end Party
1 Walterwashington.jpg Walter Washington[17] November 7, 1967 January 2, 1975 Democratic

1975–present: Mayors of the District of Columbia[edit]

Since 1975, the District has been administered by a popularly elected mayor and district council.


  Democratic (7)

# Mayor Term of office Party Term Previous office
Walter Washington[18]
January 2, 1975

January 2, 1979
Democratic 1
Mayor-Commissioner of the District of Columbia
Marion Barry, 1996 in Washington, D.C (cropped).jpg
Marion Barry[18]
January 2, 1979

January 2, 1991
Democratic 2
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from the At-large district
Mayor Sharon Pratt.jpg
Sharon Pratt Kelly[18][19]
(born 1944)
January 2, 1991

January 2, 1995
Democratic 5
Treasurer of the Democratic National Committee
Marion Barry, 1996 in Washington, D.C (cropped).jpg
Marion Barry[18]
January 2, 1995

January 2, 1999
Democratic 6
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 8
Mayor Williams Anthony.jpg
Anthony A. Williams[18]
(born 1951)
January 2, 1999

January 2, 2007
Democratic 7
D.C. Chief Financial Officer
Adrian Fenty, 2006.jpg
Adrian Fenty[18]
(born 1970)
January 2, 2007

January 2, 2011
Democratic 9
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 4
Vincent C. Gray[18]
(born 1942)
January 2, 2011

January 2, 2015
Democratic 10
Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia
Muriel Bowser photo.jpg
Muriel Bowser[18]
(born 1972)
January 2, 2015

Democratic 11
Member of the Council of the District of Columbia
from Ward 4


See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875; text of Residence Act dated July 16 1790. US Gov't Library of Congress. p. 130. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Tindall, William (1903). "Origin and Government of the District of Columbia". Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Larner, John B. (1920). "List of Principal Municipal Authorities of the Cities of Washington, Georgetown, and the District of Columbia". Records of the Columbia Historical Society. 23: 180–7.
  4. ^ "Washington Election Yesterday". Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser. June 7, 1870.
  5. ^ Tindall, William (1922). "The Executives and Voters of Georgetown, District of Columbia". Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C. 24: 89–117. JSTOR 40067161.
  6. ^ Ecker, Grace Dunlop (1933). A Portrait of Old Georgetown. Garrett & Massie. p. 8.
  7. ^ "New Government in Columbia" (PDF). The New York Times. January 21, 1871.
  8. ^ "Bribes Paid by Contractors" (PDF). The New York Times. March 29, 1974.
  9. ^ "The District of Columbia Governorship" (PDF). The New York Times. September 13, 1873.
  10. ^ Gilmore, Matthew (July 2001). "Who were the Commissioners of the District, 1874–1967?". H-DC. Humanities & Social Sciences Online. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  11. ^ "DCPL: MLK: Washingtoniana Division: FAQs: DC Commissioners". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 6 October 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Carper, Elsie (June 2, 1967). "Johnson Orders New D.C. Rule: Hill Has 60 Days To Act on Plan, But Can't Alter It". The Washington Post. p. A1. ProQuest 143089272.
  13. ^ a b c d "How the District Will Be Run Under Single Head, Council". The Washington Post. August 10, 1967. p. A1. ProQuest 143177148.
  14. ^ Kaiser, Robert G. (June 2, 1967). "Reorganization Plan Redistributes Current Powers". The Washington Post. p. A7. ProQuest 143135451.
  15. ^ Carper, Elsie; Milius, Peter (August 10, 1967). "House Accepts New D.C. Rule". The Washington Post. p. A1. ProQuest 143033620.
  16. ^ a b Asher, Robert L. (November 2, 1967). "Senate Confirms Council: White House Oath Taking Likely for 9". The Washington Post. p. A1. ProQuest 143013366.
  17. ^ "Walter Edward Washington, 88; Mayor of D.C. Prevented Big Riots". Los Angeles Times. October 28, 2003. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mayors of the District of Columbia Since Home Rule". Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  19. ^ Elected as "Sharon Pratt Dixon," but remarried in December 1991.

External links[edit]