Mayors of the City of Providence



5. Edward Peck Knowles (1805-1881)

Served June 1854 to June 1855 (Whig)

Birthplace: Providence. Despite limited school privileges as a child, he always held a deep interest in education. He was the first to propose evening schools. At one point Knowles was employed as a keeper of the tollgate at Red Bridge, which crossed the Seekonk River. A proponent of the temperance movement, he devoted years to public service before and after his mayorship. After being elected to the Common Council in 1835, he was repeatedly appointed as acting mayor until he was finally elected to the post in 1854. (Portrait number eleven in the Council Chamber)


6. James Young Smith (1809-1876)

Served June 1855 to June 1857 (Republican)

Birthplace: Groton, Connecticut. He served two years as the Mayor of Providence, and was later elected Governor of Rhode Island in 1865. Smith was the first governor-elect to garner a majority vote in every city and town in Rhode Island. He first came to Providence to enter the lumber, and later the cotton trade. Smith served as the President of the Board of Trade, the President of the Bank of Discount, the President of two savings banks, and the director of eight insurance companies. He was also the Director of the Providence and Worcester Railroad Co. and the New York and New England Railroad Co. (Portrait number thirty-one in the Council Chamber)


7. William Mitchell Rodman (1814-1868)

Served June 1857 to June 1859 (Republican-American)

Birthplace: Newport. Rodman attended a school taught by his father before coming to Providence to be a tailor's apprentice. An accomplished writer of prose and verse, he was considered an excellent public speaker, and served as mayor for two consecutive terms starting in 1857. He was a member of the local school committee and served two terms on the Providence Common Council. (Portrait number thirteen in the Council Chamber)


8. Jabez Comstock Knight (1815-1900)

Served June 1859 to June 1864 (Republican)

Birthplace: Warwick. A member of the Providence Common Council, he was elected to the Providence Board of Aldermen. He also served on the committee charged with preparing the plans, costs and location for the new City Hall. Knight served as a trustee of Butler Hospital for 35 years and as commissioner of the Dexter Donation for 21 years. He was so popular that he ran unopposed his last four terms. Aside from his public endeavors, Knight published a poem entitled "Our Golden Wedding." (Portrait number eight on third floor)