ELISHA DYER was born in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduating from Brown University, he entered his father’s mercantile business and became a junior partner at the age of twenty. Dyer was identified with the Republican Party from its inception. He was elected Adjutant General of Rhode Island in 1840 and served in that position for five successive years, during which he oversaw plans and activities of the state government associated with the Dorr War [in which Robert Dorr led a rebellion to seek the expansion of suffrage beyond the propertied class]. Dyer then served on the Providence School Committee for more than a decade. His two terms as governor took place during the struggles and debates leading up to the Civil War, when he captained a company of Rhode Island Volunteers. In 1871 he was appointed Rhode Island's commissioner to the International Exhibition at London. In addition, he was a member and in some cases officer of a number of businesses and civic organizations, including President and Director of the Exchange Bank, Second Vice President of the Rhode Island Art Association, and member of the U.S. Agricultural Society and the Rhode Island Historical Society.
Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638-1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.