JOHN COLLINS was born in Newport, Rhode Island. A businessman, he was a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1774 and was reelected to the House of Assistants in 1775 and 1777. In 1776 he served on the Committee sent by the Rhode Island Assembly to report to General George Washington on conditions in the state. He served in the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1781 and again from 1782 until 1783. Three years later he won the governorship of Rhode Island by determination of town meetings, and was reelected three times. Having been supported by the Paper Money Party, he called a special session of the legislature during his first term to enforce an act for the use of paper money. Also while he was governor, the first cotton “spinning jenny” in the United States was constructed in Providence. Collins supported the Rhode Island convention that ultimately accepted the U.S. Constitution to which agricultural interests in the state objected because of their opposition to a strong central government. As a result, he was defeated for a fifth term as governor. He went on to be elected to the first U.S. Congress, but never took his seat.
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.