Samuel W. Bridgham

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Samuel Willard Bridgham
Samuel Willard Bridgham, mayor of Providence.jpg
Official portrait in Providence City Hall
1st Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island
In office
June 1832 – December 1840
Succeeded by Thomas M. Burgess
Personal details
Born May 4, 1774
Seekonk, Massachusetts
Died December 28, 1840(1840-12-28) (aged 66)
Providence, Rhode Island
Resting place North Burial Ground
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Paine Bridgham
Alma mater Brown University

Samuel Willard Bridgham (May 4, 1776 – December 28, 1840) was the first mayor of Providence, Rhode Island.

A graduate of Brown University class of 1794,[1] he became a lawyer before entering politics. He served nineteen terms in the Rhode Island General Assembly, two of those as the Speaker. He also served as Attorney General of Rhode Island for four years. When Providence was incorporated as a city in 1832, he was elected its first Mayor. He served in that office until his death in 1840, at the age of 66. Bridgham became the first mayor of Providence at a time when disorder and vice threatened the city. His solutions were free public education, temperance, and relief for the poor. He laid down foundations for good municipal government in Providence and served during one of the city's most significant expansions of the public school system.

Other career[edit]

Outside politics in 1821 he was elected Trustee of Brown University. He served as Brown's Chancellor from 1828 to 1840.[1][2] For nineteen years he was the President of the Benevolent Congregational Society in Providence.[3] Bridgham was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.[4]


He married Elizabeth Paine in 1798 and they had 6 children: Elizabeth W, Abby C, Samuel F, Julia B, Samuel W, and Joseph.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Rhode Island. Providence, RI: National Biographical Publishing Company. 1881. p. 183. 
  2. ^ Mitchell, Martha. Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Providence, RI: Brown University Library. Retrieved 22 March 2015. Samuel Willard Bridgham 1794 (1828-1840) was the first graduate to be named Chancellor. 
  3. ^ "Samuel Willard Bridgham". Find a Grave. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  4. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
Political offices
Preceded by
Mayor of Providence
Succeeded by
Thomas M. Burgess