Bowdoin, James

Bowdoin, James

(bō`dən), 1726–90, American political leader, b. Boston. He was elected to the Massachusetts General Court in 1753 and served until 1774. Illness prevented him (1774) from taking his place as a delegate to the Continental Congress. Bowdoin was (1775–77) a leading figure in the council that governed Massachusetts during the Revolution, presided over the state constitutional convention in 1779, and served (1785–87) as governor of the state. A conservative, as governor he played an active role in suppressing Shays's RebellionShays's Rebellion,
1786–87, armed insurrection by farmers in W Massachusetts against the state government. Debt-ridden farmers, struck by the economic depression that followed the American Revolution, petitioned the state senate to issue paper money and to halt foreclosure
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 and also forwarded the movement toward a centralized national government. Bowdoin College, in Maine, was named for him.
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Bowdoin, James

(1726–90) Revolutionary statesman, merchant, governor; born in Boston, Mass. A wealthy merchant and property owner, he served in the Massachusetts General Court and Council and although hardly a revolutionary, he did endorse the colonists' economic quarrels with the British. He served as president of the convention that drew up the new constitution for Massachusetts (1779), and then became governor (1785–87). As governor during the period of Shays's Rebellion (1786–87), he responded promptly and vigorously by sending troops to confront and disperse Daniel Shays's followers. He was applauded for this in other states, but his popularity declined in Massachusetts. He was interested in science and literature; Bowdoin College was named for him and was chartered in 1794.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.