James Fenner

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James Fenner
Official Rhode Island State House portrait by James Sullivan Lincoln
7th, 11th, and 17th Governor of Rhode Island
In office
May 6, 1807 – May 1, 1811
LieutenantConstant Taber
Simeon Martin
Isaac Wilbour
Preceded byIsaac Wilbour
Succeeded byWilliam Jones
In office
May 5, 1824 – May 4, 1831
LieutenantCharles Collins
Preceded byWilliam C. Gibbs
Succeeded byLemuel H. Arnold
In office
May 2, 1843 – May 6, 1845
LieutenantByron Diman
Preceded bySamuel Ward King
Succeeded byCharles Jackson
United States Senator
from Rhode Island
In office
March 4, 1805 – September 1807
Preceded byChristopher Ellery
Succeeded byElisha Mathewson
33rd Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court
In office
Preceded byTristam Burges
Succeeded byIsaac Wilbour
Personal details
Born(1771-01-22)January 22, 1771
Providence, Colony of Rhode Island, British America
DiedApril 17, 1846(1846-04-17) (aged 75)
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican

James Fenner (January 22, 1771 – April 17, 1846) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator as well as the 7th, 11th and 17th Governor of Rhode Island (on three separate occasions). He was the son of Arthur Fenner, the fourth governor of Rhode Island.


Fenner was born in Providence in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. He graduated from Brown University in 1789, and was married to Sarah Whipple Jenckes (his first cousin, once removed) on November 17, 1792. He served as United States senator from 1805 to 1807, then gave up his senatorship to become Governor of Rhode Island, two years after his father died in office. Fenner served as governor from 1807 to 1811, from 1824 to 1831, and from 1843 to 1845. Fenner was elected to his first two terms as a Democratic-Republican and as his third term as a member of the Law and Order Party of Rhode Island. In his final term, Fenner became the first governor to serve under the Rhode Island Constitution, adopted in 1842.

Fenner died in his mansion "What Cheer" in 1846, and was interred in the North Burial Ground in Providence.

Fenner had four children with his wife, Sarah Jenckes:

  • Almira Theodosia (January 17, 1793 – October 10, 1872)
  • Sarah
  • Freelove (ca. 1799 – August 2, 1817)
  • Arthur (ca. 1810 – March 8, 1832)

External links[edit]

  • United States Congress. "James Fenner (id: F000074)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Gov. James Fenner in the Fenner Genealogy
  • James Fenner at Find a Grave
Party political offices
Preceded by
Peleg Arnold
Democratic-Republican Party nominee for Governor of Rhode Island
1807, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812
Title next held by
Peleg Arnold
First Democratic nominee for Governor of Rhode Island
1824, 1825, 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832
Succeeded by
John Brown Francis
First Law and Order nominee for Governor of Rhode Island
1843, 1844, 1845
Succeeded by
Byron Diman
Political offices
Preceded by
Isaac Wilbour
Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
William Jones
Preceded by
William C. Gibbs
Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Lemuel H. Arnold
Preceded by
Samuel Ward King
Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Charles Jackson
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Christopher Ellery
U.S. senator (Class 2) from Rhode Island
Served alongside: Benjamin Howland
Succeeded by
Elisha Mathewson