When Republican Gov. Eric Greitens resigned in disgrace ahead of impeachment proceedings on June 1, 2018, then-Lt. Gov. Mike Parson was sworn in to replace him, thus becoming an “accidental governor” – someone who achieved Missouri’s highest elected office by happenstance rather than a vote of the people.
Two years later, Parson, also a Republican, is seeking to become just the second accidental governor in Missouri history to win election to a full term and the first since Democratic Gov. Lilburn Boggs in 1836. State Auditor Nicole Galloway is the Democratic nominee running to unseat Parson in the Nov. 3 general election.
Although Missouri has had a total of nine accidental governors who served out the terms of their predecessors, there have only been two since the 1880s, including Parson. The other was Gov. Roger Wilson, a Democrat who replaced Gov. Mel Carnahan after he died in a plane crash on Oct. 16, 2000. Because the next gubernatorial election was just weeks away and there already was a Democratic nominee, Wilson had no opportunity to seek a full term that year.
Boggs, the only accidental governor to date to win a full term, was lieutenant governor when Gov. Daniel Dunklin resigned in the summer of 1836 with just a few months left on his term to accept a presidential appointment as surveyor general of Missouri and Illinois. Boggs won election to a full term later that year.
During his tenure, Boggs issued the infamous Mormon Extermination Order, which stated that “Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace.” The decree, officially known as Executive Order 44, resulted in the violent removal of Mormons from the state by Missouri militia in 1838.
Boggs also presided over the Honey War, an 1837 dispute in which Missouri claimed its border with Iowa was about 10 miles north of where it is today and attempted to impose taxes on residents of the area. Both states sent militia to the disputed region, which was known for an abundance of honey bee trees, but the situation ended without bloodshed. The U.S. Supreme Court finally resolved the matter in Iowa’s favor in 1849.