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Governor - RG 101 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Governor - RG 101


Historical Note:

The supreme executive power of the state is vested in the Governor who succeeded to the duties of the territorial Governor in 1818. Under all four state constitutions the Governor has been given the power to appoint, upon Senate confirmation, executive branch officers whom he can also dismiss without Senate approval. Every state constitution further has empowered the Governor to require reports from all executive officers, including other elected officials; to issue reprieves, commutations, and pardons; and to act as commander-in-chief of the state's military forces, except when they are under federal service, and in that capacity to commission their officers.

The Governor also has the authority to convene special sessions of the General Assembly and is required to report to it on the condition of the state at the beginning of each session and at the end of his term of office. The Governor's legislative role is more fully described in the administrative history of the General Assembly (RG 600.000).

Over the years the General Assembly has expanded the duties of the Governor to include such responsibilities as negotiating loans for the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal (L. 1826, p. 23); issuing state bonds and settling claims on internal improvements as ex officio Fund Commissioner from 1843 to 1876 (L. 1843, p. 147); issuing proclamations (L. 1861, p. 19), warrants for extraditions of fugitives (Rev. L. 1827, p. 232), and rewards for the apprehension of criminals (L. 1819, p. 254); restoring citizenship rights to convicted criminals (L. 1871, p. 294); and entering into reciprocal agreements with other states and the federal government (L. 1835, Spec. Sess., p. 168).

The Governor's responsibilities expanded throughout the nineteenth century and were codified in 1917 into nine new executive departments (L. 1917, p. 2). To carry out the Governor's executive policies the Civil Administrative Code of 1917 created the Departments of Agriculture, Finance*, Labor, Mines and Minerals, Public Health, Public Welfare*, Public Works and Buildings*, Registration and Education*, and Trade and Commerce.* Since 1917 the following code departments have been created by separate legislation: Conservation, Purchases and Construction*, Insurance, Public Safety*, Revenue, Aeronautics*, Personnel*, Financial Institutions, Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Children and Family Services, Public Aid, Business and Economic Development*, General Services*, Local Government Affairs*, Corrections, Law Enforcement*, Transportation, Aging, Veterans' Affairs, Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Nuclear Safety, Human Rights, Central Management Services, Commerce and Community Affairs, Employment Security, Energy and Natural Resources, Lottery, Professional Regulation, Rehabilitation Services, the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency*, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and the Illinois State Police. The directors of these departments, as well as those of numerous nondepartmental boards and agencies, are appointed by the Governor and are required to report annually to him. The Constitution of 1970 further extended the Governor's authority by granting him the power to reorganize these agencies or to reassign their functions through executive order.

    *These departments no longer are in existence.

Many records of the Governor are required by law to be filed with the Secretary of State and are so listed with RG 103.000. In addition the Governor's correspondence from 1809 to 1905 also was filed with the Secretary of State although no statutory provision required it. This practice ended in 1905 and these series, described in RS 100.001 and RS 101.001 through RS 101.024, have been treated here as more properly records of the Governor rather than of the Secretary of State. For a fuller discussion of the provenance of these records see Margaret C. Norton, "The Archives of Illinois," Illinois Libraries, XXI, no. 9 (September 1939), 14-16.



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