James Bowdoin

American leader during the American Revolution (1726-1790)

James Bowdoin II (/ˈbdɪn/; August 7, 1726 – November 6, 1790) was an American politician and educator. He was an important person during the American Revolution.

James Bowdoin
Portrait by Robert Feke, 1748
2nd Governor of Massachusetts
In office
May 27, 1785 – May 30, 1787
LieutenantThomas Cushing
Preceded byThomas Cushing
(as acting governor)
Succeeded byJohn Hancock
Personal details
Born(1726-08-07)August 7, 1726
Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, British America
DiedNovember 6, 1790(1790-11-06) (aged 64)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyNone
ChildrenJames (1750) & died-young Christian (1752)

From 1775 to 1777, he was president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress' executive council, the de facto head of the Massachusetts government. He was elected president of the constitutional convention that drafted the state's constitution in 1779.

He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts in 1780, losing to John Hancock. In 1785, after Hancock's resignation, he was elected governor. He lost his re-election in the 1787 election to Hancock.

Bowdoin worked with Benjamin Franklin in his research on electricity. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and was a founder and first president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Bowdoin College in Maine was named in his honor.

He died from problems caused by dysentery.[1] Bowdoin's funeral was one of the largest of the time in Boston, with people lining the streets to view the funeral procession.[2]


  1. Manuel and Manuel, p. 247
  2. Winthrop, p. 130