Mayors of the City of Providence



1. Samuel W. Bridgham (1774-1840)
Samuel W. Bridgham Served June 1832 to December 1840 (Whig)

Birthplace: Seekonk, Massachusetts. A graduate of Brown University, Bridgham became the first mayor of Providence at a time when disorder and vice threatened the city. His solutions were free public education, temperance, and relief for the poor. He laid down foundations for good municipal government in Providence and served during one of the city's most significant expansions of the public school system. He died in office at 66. (Portrait number five on third floor)


2. Thomas M. Burgess (1806-1856)

Served February 1841 to June 1852 (Whig)

Birthplace: Providence. Burgess graduated from Brown University in 1822. When Providence became a city in 1832, he was elected one of the original members of the Providence Common Council. He served as the President of the Providence and Boston Railroad Company. Burgess was in office during Dorr's Rebellion, a violent free-suffrage movement that promoted voting rights for all men regardless of property ownership. He served during a turbulent time when Rhode Island had two separate governors vying to run the state concurrently. (Portrait number six on third floor)

Thomas M. Burgess


3. Amos C. Barstow (1813-1894)

Served June 1852 to June 1853 (Whig)

Birthplace: Providence. Barstow was a descendent of the first settler of Hanover, Massachusetts, William Barstow. He was active in the temperance and antislavery movements. He recommended the current site for City Hall and was chairman of the committee that purchased and planned for it. He was the first president of the Providence YMCA and built the Providence Music Hall. Barstow was also an active businessman, and his Barstow Stove Company won the Grand Medal of Merit at the 1873 Vienna World's fair for the best cooking stove and range. (Portrait number nine in the Council Chamber)


4. Walter Raleigh Danforth (1787-1861)

Served June 1853 to June 1854 (Democrat)

Birthplace: Providence. After holding judicial posts for eleven years, he left the bench to engage in journalism and politics, which led to his one-year mayoral term. As a journalist, he had a reputation for wit and was known for his political satire. He was a historian and lectured about the early days of Providence. He was the leader of the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers, now known as the Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce. (Portrait number ten in the Council Chamber)