Augustus O. Bourn

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Augustus Osborn Bourn
RI Governor Augustus O Bourn.jpg
36th Governor of Rhode Island
In office
May 29, 1883 – May 26, 1885
Lieutenant GovernorOscar Rathbun
Preceded byAlfred H. Littlefield
Succeeded byGeorge P. Wetmore
Member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1834-10-01)October 1, 1834
Providence, Rhode Island
DiedJanuary 29, 1925(1925-01-29) (aged 90)
Resting placeSwan Point Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Elizabeth R. Morrill
Alma materBrown University
Bourn's official State House portrait

Augustus Osborn Bourn (October 1, 1834 – January 29, 1925) was an American politician and the 36th Governor of Rhode Island.

Early life[edit]

Bourn was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 1, 1834. He was the son of George O. Bourn and Huldah B. (Eddy) Bourn and married Elizabeth R. Morrill February 24, 1863.[1] He and his wife had five children.[2] He graduated from Brown University and later established a successful career in rubber business, where he started in his father's company. He continued the business after his father's death and incorporated it as the Providence Rubber Company. He also founded the National Rubber Company, which later merged with the former company.

Military service[edit]

During the Civil War, Bourne enlisted in the Rhode Island Militia but did not see active service with the Union Army. On April 18, 1864 he was elected as paymaster, with rank of 2nd lieutenant, in the Providence Horse Guards (PHG). On April 17, 1865 he was commissioned a first lieutenant in Company A of the PHG.[3] [4] On April 20, 1868 he was elected as captain of Company A and two years later he became captain of Company B. In 1871 he returned his previous position as captain of Company A.

On April 20, 1874 he was commissioned as major of the PHG. On May 13, 1878 he was commissioned as lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Squadron of Cavalry. He held that position until he took office as Governor of Rhode Island in 1883. [5]

Political career[edit]

Bourn was a Republican and was member of the Rhode Island State Senate in 1876–83 and again in 1886–88.[6] He held the governor's office from May 29, 1883 to May 26, 1885. During his administration, a constitutional amendment was proposed to extend suffrage to naturalized citizens. He was the author of this amendment.[7] Later this constitutional amendment became well known as the Bourn Amendment.

Bourn was an active member of the Freemasons.[8]

Later years[edit]

In 1873, Bourn built an opulent Gothic revival mansion in Bristol named Seven Oaks. The mansion was designed by James Renwick, best known for designing the Smithsonian Castle and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and is located at 136 Hope Street near the Herreshoff boat yard.

Bourn was United States Consul General in Rome from 1889 until 1893 under the administration of President Benjamin Harrison.[9]

In 1897 he was elected as a compatriot of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Governor Bourn died on January 29, 1925[10][11] and was buried at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.[12]


  • Sobel, Robert and John Raimo. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978. Greenwood Press, 1988. ISBN 0-313-28093-2
  • Biography of Governor Bourn


  1. ^ The Political Graveyard, Index to Politicians: Boude to Bowe, Bourn.
  2. ^ National Governors Association, Rhode Island Governor Augustus Osborn Bourn.
  3. ^ National Governors Association, as above.
  4. ^ The Report of the Adjutant General of Rhode Island. 1865. pg. 28.
  5. ^ Military Record of Augustus O. Bourn. Rhode Island State Archives.
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard, as above.
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard, as above.
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Freemasons, politicians, Rhode Island
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard, Index to Politicians: Boude to Bowe, Bourn.
  10. ^ Asbury Park Press
  11. ^ Eddy Family Association Bulletin
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard, as above.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alfred H. Littlefield
Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
George P. Wetmore