Named after Captain William H. Dobbs and his family who ran a ferry service that traversed the Hudson River at this location, Dobbs Ferry played a vital role in the American Revolutionary War. In July and August, 1781, during the seventh year of the war, Continental Army troops, commanded by General George Washington, were encamped in Dobbs Ferry and neighboring localities, alongside allied French forces under the command of the Comte de Rochambeau. Captain Dobbs worked closely with General Washington on several assignments, he is noted by Washington as a secret Agent for the spying he did and one of Washington's most trusted Pilots. All coordinated at the Dobbs Ferry encampment.
A large British army controlled Manhattan at the time, and Washington chose the Dobbs Ferry area for encampment because he hoped to probe for weaknesses in the British defenses, just to the south. But on August 14, 1781, a communication was received from French Admiral Comte de Grasse in the West Indies, which caused Washington to change his strategy. De Grasse's communication, which advocated a joint land and sea attack against the British in Virginia, convinced Washington to risk a march of more than to the Chesapeake region of Virginia. Washington's new strategy, adopted and designed in mid-August 1781, at the encampment of the allied armies, would win the war. The allied armies were ordered to break camp on August 19, 1781: on that date the Americans took the first steps of their march to Virginia along present-day Ashford Avenue and Broadway, en route to victory over General Cornwallis at the Siege of Yorktown and to victory in the Revolutionary War.
The village was originally incorporated in 1873 as Greenburgh, but the name was changed to Dobbs Ferry in 1882.
The current local government of Dobbs Ferry is headed by Mayor Hartley S. Connett; an independent, Connett was elected in November 2009 along with his three running mates for Village Trustee running on the independent, non-partisan Dobbs Ferry Party line.