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Lamar Alexander

Gov. Lamar Alexander

  • January 17, 1979 - January 17, 1987
  • Republican
  • July 3, 1940
  • Tennessee
  • Vanderbilt University; New York University Law School
  • Married Honey Alexander; four children
  • Succeeded, NGA Chair
  • Senator, Cabinet secretary


LAMAR ALEXANDER was born in Blount County, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and New York University School of Law. He served as legislative assistant to Senator Howard Baker and executive assistant to the White House counselor in charge of congressional relations. He lost his first bid for governor in 1974, but won election on his second try in 1978. At the urging of the Attorney General, Alexander assumed office three days early because of the scandal surrounding pardons issued by Governor Ray Blanton. After his reelection in 1982, Alexander became Tennessee’s first governor to be elected to successive four-year terms. He chaired the National Governors Association (1985-1986) and the Southern Regional Education Board. Education was a top priority of Alexander’s administration, and the governor’s Better Schools Program and a career ladder pay plan for teachers attracted national attention. In 1991, then-President George H.W. Bush named Alexander U.S. Secretary of Education. After leaving that post, he was a television host for the Discovery Channel, chaired the National Commission on Philanthropy & Civic Renewal, and served as a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute. In 1996, Alexander campaigned unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination. Two years later he undertook a successful campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate, for a term ending in 2009.


Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Governor Lamar Alexander’s Papers at Tennessee State Library and Archives

Governor Lamar Alexander inauguration papers, 1978-1979. Tennessee State Library and Archives, May 11, 1992.

Governors of the American States Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors Association, 1984

Lamar Alexander: Official Website

Past Governors of Tennessee

Philips, Margaret I. The Governors of Tennessee. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 2001.

Who’s Who in America, 2005.  New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who’s Who, 2004.

Recent Tennessee Governors