Robert Livingston Beeckman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Livingston Beeckman
52nd Governor of Rhode Island
In office
January 5, 1915 – January 4, 1921
Lieutenant GovernorEmery J. San Souci
Preceded byAram J. Pothier
Succeeded byEmery J. San Souci
Member of the Rhode Island Senate
In office
Member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1866-04-15)April 15, 1866
New York City, New York, US
DiedJanuary 21, 1935(1935-01-21) (aged 68)
Santa Barbara, California, US
Resting placeSleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York
Political partyRepublican
Eleanor Thomas
(m. 1902; died 1920)
Edna Marston Burke
(m. 1923)
ResidenceNewport, Rhode Island
Robert Livingston Beeckman
Turned pro1884 (amateur tour)
Career record30–8[1]
Career titles5[1]
Grand Slam singles results
US OpenF (1886Ch)

Robert Livingston Beeckman (April 15, 1866 – January 21, 1935)[2] was an American stockbroker, sportsman, and politician who served as the 52nd Governor of Rhode Island.

Early life[edit]

Beeckman was born on April 15, 1866, in New York City, New York. He was the son of Gilbert Livingston Beeckman and Margaret Atherton (née Foster) Beeckman. His sister, Katherine Livingston Beeckman, was married to Louis Lasher Lorillard, the son of Pierre Lorillard III,[3] and another sister, Martha Beeckman, was married to New York banker Amos Tuck French.[4] His family ancestry can be traced back to Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam dating to 1654. His ancestors include Robert Livingston the Elder, Declaration signer Philip Livingston and "The Chancellor" Robert Livingston.[5]

His family owned the financial firm Lapsley Beeckman & Co. When Beeckman was young, his family moved to Newport, Rhode Island.[6] He left school at the age of sixteen to become a stockbroker.[2]


At the age of 16, Beeckman began his career at a stock brokerage firm in New York.[5] At age 21, Beeckman became one of the youngest ever members of the New York Stock Exchange,[5][6] being a member from 1887 until 1906.[7] By 1916, he retired from the brokerage business.[5] After this time, he was a member of the board of directors of several corporations, including the Industrial Trust Company, the Newport Trust Company, the International Silver Company,[7] and the Newport Casino.[5]


Beeckman was also a prominent polo player and tennis player.[8] He played in the finals of the 1886 United States National Tennis Championships, which took place in Newport. He lost to defending champion Richard Sears with the score was 4–6, 6–1, 6–3, 6–4.[9]

Political career[edit]

Beeckman's first political office was a Rhode Island state Representative in the General Assembly from Newport, from 1908 to 1912.[10][11] At the time, Beeckman said "he was entering active politics because he believed it to be his duty. He felt the time had come for the step, which he had weighed carefully before accepting the responsibilities the office would incur."[12] He was a state Senator from 1912 to 1914,[13] until his election

Elected as the governor of Rhode Island in 1914,[14] he held the office for three terms from January 5, 1915, to January 4, 1921.[15] During his administration, Beeckman pushed for reforms in State institutions including hospitals, prisons, and insane asylums, established an inheritance tax, and established a state Parole Board.[6] Beeckman advocated for removing the property qualification for Rhode Island voters.[5]

He was the governor during the First World War. In formally greeting Marshall Joffre in Boston alongside other New England governors, Beeckman "expressed the hope that France might find in American the same comfort and help that this country [the United States] found in France in the dark days of the Revolution."[16] He visited Rhode Island troops on the battlefield in France and pushed for state appropriations to provide for dependent families of servicemen.[5]

Beeckman was governor during the Spanish flu pandemic, which struck the state in early September 1918.[17] Acting on the advice of superintendent of health Charles V. Chapin, Beeckman delayed issuing a closure order until October 6.[17] The peak of the pandemic occurred October 3–9, with over 6,700 cases reported.[17] Beeckman lifted the closure order on October 25.[17] A second, smaller wave hit Rhode Island schools in January, and the flu was declared eradicated in Rhode Island in February 1919.[17]

A close friend of then Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding, he was mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate in 1920, but ultimately Calvin Coolidge was selected and became president upon Harding's death in 1923.[2]

After stepping down from the governorship, he unsuccessfully ran in 1922 to represent Rhode Island in the United States Senate,[6] losing to the incumbent Democratic senator, Peter Goelet Gerry.[18] During the campaign, it was alleged that Beeckman and his campaign manager, J. Henry Reuter, attempted to bribe Herve J. Lagage with $1,500.[19] Beeckman admitted to the payment, but "insist[ed] that it was their understanding that Lagace had agreed to work for Beeckman and that the money paid to him was to be used for legitimate expenses of the campaign."[20]

Personal life[edit]

The gravesite of Robert Livingston Beeckman

Beeckman was married first to Eleanor Thomas of Zanesville, Ohio, in 1902. She was the daughter of Gen. Samuel Russell Thomas and Ann Augusta (née Porter) Thomas and the sister of Edward Russell Thomas.[21] Upon her father's death in 1903, she inherited the income from half of his $10,000,000 estate.[21]

After his first wife's death in 1920, he remarried Edna (née Marston) Burke at Bar Harbor, Maine, in September 1923. Edna, who was divorced from Oscar Meech Burke, was the daughter of Edwin Sprague Marston, the former president and chairman of the board of directors of the Farmers' Loan & Trust Company (predecessor firm of Citigroup), and Emma Bennett (née Doty) Marston.[22] He had no children.[5] He was an active member of the Freemasons.[23]

In 1911, while staying at the Ritz Hotel in Paris during a tour of France, "a drunken man" lurched in front of Beeckman and his wife's automobile. "The drunken man in the roadway was killed on the spot," Beeckman broke his arm and cut his head, and despite being thrown ten feet from the car, his wife was not injured.[24] In 1912, it was reported that "R. Livingston Beeckman, who has survived more railroad, polo, and yachting accidents than any other member of Newport society," was in a railroad accident in Sulphur Springs which he escaped without serious injury.[25]

He died on January 21, 1935, at his winter home in Santa Barbara, California, of a heart attack.[5] He was interred at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.[2] After his death, his widow remarried to Archibald Gourley Thacher in 1937.[26]


In 1903, Beeckman purchased the former home of Wallace C. Andrews at 854 Fifth Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets for $325,000.[27] He hired architects Warren & Wetmore to build him a six-story Beaux-Arts residence which was completed in 1905. They owned the home until 1912 when they decided to live full-time in Rhode Island and, after leasing it to Pittsburgh banker Benjamin Thaw Sr. for a number of years, the home was sold to George Grant Mason for $700,000.[a][29]

The Beeckman's also owned a winter home in Providence, Rhode Island, which was damaged by a fire in January 1912.[30] Their Newport estate, known as Lands End, was also damaged by a fire in September 1912.[31]

From 1913 to 1921, Beeckman leased 13 Brown Street, the Providence winter home of industrialist and Republican party supporter Alfred M. Coats, which served as the Rhode Island executive mansion while Beeckman was in office as governor.[32][33]

He later became a winter resident of Santa Barbara, California, where he rented the home of Arthur Meeker, although he was renting the Edward Ryerson house at the time of his death.[2]



  1. ^ The home was later sold to Emily Thorn Vanderbilt and her second husband, Ambassador Henry White, in 1925. Today, Beeckman's extant 1905 home serves as the Mission of Serbia and Montenegro, who listed the home for sale for $50,000,000.[28]


  1. ^ a b Robert Livingston Beeckman Tennis Archives Profile
  2. ^ a b c d e "ROBERT BEECKMAN, EX-GOVERNOR, DIES; Descendant Also of Livingstons Served 3 Terms, 1915-21, as Rhode Island Executive. WAS FRIEND OF HARDING Republican, 68, Was Mentioned for Vice President--Had Been in State Legislature" (PDF). The New York Times. 22 January 1935. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  3. ^ "MRS. LORILLARD, 86, OF NEWPORT, DEAD; Sister of Ex-Gov. Beeckman of Rhode Island Had Suffered a Stroke Thursday". The New York Times. 21 July 1941. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  4. ^ "AMOS TUCK FRENCH, DIVORCEE, MARRIES; New York Banker Weds Miss Martha C. Beeckman ;- Engagement Unannounced. FIRST WIFE WAS MISS LEROY Divorce Followed Elopement of a Daughter with Chauffeur ;- Bride Sister of Gov.-elect Beeckman" (PDF). The New York Times. 25 November 1914. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "R.L. Beeckman dies at Santa Barbara Home". Newport, Rhode Island: Newport Mercury and Weekly News. 25 January 1935. p. 3. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Capace, Nancy (2001). The Encyclopedia of Rhode Island. USA: Somerset Publishers, Inc. p. 205. ISBN 0-403-09610-3. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b A Thousand American Men of Mark of To-Day. Chicago, ILL: American Men of Mark. 1917. p. 334. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  8. ^ "WESTCHESTER WINS MEADOW BROOK POLO; Whitney and Waterbury Arouse Enthusiasm by Fast Plays. RAPID SCORING OF GOALS Beeckman Makes Only Point for the Home Club -- Team Work of Victors Well-Nigh Perfect" (PDF). The New York Times. 30 May 1905. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  9. ^ Baltzell, E. Digby (2013). Sporting Gentlemen: Men's Tennis from the Age of Honor to the Cult of the Superstar. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-4128-5180-0. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  10. ^ "R.L. BEECKMAN IN POLITICS.; Newport Society Leader Is a Candidate for Assembly Nomination" (PDF). The New York Times. 18 August 1908. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  11. ^ "R. L. Beeckman Named in Newport" (PDF). The New York Times. 10 October 1908. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  12. ^ "R.L. BEECKMAN IN POLITICS.; Is a Candidate Because He Believes It His Duty" (PDF). The New York Times. 12 October 1908. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  13. ^ "BOOM BEECKMAN AT FAIR.; His Candidacy for Rhode Island Governor Decided Upon" (PDF). The New York Times. 11 September 1914. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  14. ^ "BULL MOOSERS SPLIT.; Efforts to Indorse Beeckman in Rhode Island Cause Row" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 October 1914. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  15. ^ Sobel, Robert and John Raimo. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978. Greenwood Press, 1988. ISBN 0-313-28093-2
  16. ^ "New England Greets Joffre with Wild Enthusiasm at Boston". The Providence Sunday Journal. May 13, 1917. p. 2.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Providence, Rhode Island". Influenza Encyclopedia. University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  18. ^ "BEECKMAN FOR SENATOR.; Rhode Island Republicans Name Gross for Governor After Contest" (PDF). The New York Times. 12 October 1922. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  19. ^ "GERRY CALLED IN SUIT.; Senator Denies He Knew of Charge Against Beeckman" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 November 1922. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  20. ^ "ACCUSERS ARRESTED AS BEECKMAN SUES; Republican Nominee Proceeds Against Providence News Trio for Charging Bribery. MAN INVOLVED ALSO TAKEN All Accused of Conspiracy and Libel Are Freed on Bail Supplied by Democrats. ACCUSERS ARRESTED AS BEECKMAN SUES" (PDF). The New York Times. 24 October 1922. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  21. ^ a b "MRS R. L. BEECKMAN DEAD IN VIRGINIA -- R I Governor's Wife Was Stricken Suddenly". The Boston Globe. December 21, 1920. p. 11. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  22. ^ "EX-GOV BEECKMAN TO MARRY AGAIN -- To Wed Mrs Edna Burck at Bar Harbor Sept 1". The Boston Globe. August 9, 1923. p. 14. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  23. ^ The Political Graveyard: Freemasons, politicians, Rhode Island at
  24. ^ "R.L. BEECKMAN HURT IN MOTOR ACCIDENT; He and His Wife Thrown Out of Car After Running Over and Killing Intoxicated Man" (PDF). The New York Times. 6 June 1911. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  25. ^ "R.L. BEECKMAN AGAIN LUCKY IN ACCIDENT; Newporter Adds Train Smash at Hot Springs to Long List of Other Fortunate Escapes" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 August 1912. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  26. ^ "Mrs. R. L. Beeckman To Be Married". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 16, 1937. p. 7. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  27. ^ "IN THE REAL ESTATE FIELD; No. 854 Fifth Avenue Sold -- Site for New Wall Street Building Enlarged -- Other Dealings" (PDF). The New York Times. 1 May 1903. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  28. ^ Dangremond, Sam (11 December 2018). "Three People Were Injured in a Fire at Manhattan's Last Gilded Age Mansion". Town & Country. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  29. ^ Miller, Tom (2 April 2011). "The R. Livingston Beeckman Mansion - No. 854 5th Avenue". Daytonian in Manhattan. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  30. ^ "FIRE AT R.L. BEECKMAN'S.; Providence Home Suffers $3,000 Damage -- Works of Art Saved" (PDF). The New York Times. 5 January 1912. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  31. ^ "BEECKMANS FIGHT A FIRE.; Senator and Wife Aid in Putting Out Blaze in Their Home" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 September 1912. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Senator Beeckman Host. Entertains Members of Steering Committee at Dinner". The Providence Daily Journal. March 28, 1913. p. 19. Senator R. Livingston Beeckman of Newport, one of the members of the Republican "steering" committee of the upper branch of the General Assembly, entertained his fellow members of the committee at dinner yesterday afternoon at his Providence home, 13 Brown street.
  33. ^ "Brown's New Faculty Club Has Luxurious Home". The Providence Sunday Journal. March 18, 1923. p. 3.
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Rhode Island
1914, 1916, 1918
Succeeded by
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Rhode Island
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Rhode Island
Succeeded by