JAMES HENRY HIGGINS was born in Lincoln, Rhode Island. He graduated from Brown University in 1898 and the Georgetown University School of Law in 1900, after which he became a partner in the law firm of Fitzgerald and Higgins. He served as both a state Representative and as Mayor of Pawtucket before winning election as governor. The youngest man to date to serve as governor, Higgins represented a reform wing of the Democratic Party that sought to revitalize the party through reforms such as child welfare legislation and women’s voting rights that met with opposition from the Republican-controlled state legislature. As governor, he opposed lobbying practices employed in the State House, and became known for seeking to eject the Republican Party boss from the sheriff’s office, claiming unsuccessfully that the man was conducting personal business on state property. After declining to seek reelection to a third term as governor, Higgins returned to the practice of law.

Sources:

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. 14. 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.

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