Born in Providence, Rhode Island, ARTHUR FENNER was a prosperous merchant. He was a clerk of the Court of Common Pleas in Providence for many years. He became a political party chief in Providence despite his connections with the rural-based Anti-Federalist Party, which opposed a strong central government. With strong backing, Fenner won election for sixteen consecutive terms as governor. During his administration, Rhode Island, although an independent and isolationist state, ratified the U.S. Constitution—the last of the original thirteen states to do so. Also during Fenner’s long gubernatorial service, the Providence Society for the Promotion of the Abolition of Slavery was chartered and an act establishing the method of electing Rhode Island’s U.S. representatives and senators was passed. In addition, the state legislature moved to convert from British to American currency and adopted a resolution objecting to a direct government tax. Fenner died in office.
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.