NEHEMIAH RICE KNIGHT was born in Cranston, Rhode Island. He represented his home town in the state General Assembly in 1802. In 1805 he won election as clerk of the Court of Common Pleas for Providence County, a position that he held for six years. He then served for five years as clerk of the Circuit Court for the District of Rhode Island. During the War of 1812, he was Collector of Internal Revenue for the Rhode Island District. In 1817, Knight—an anti-Federalist—narrowly defeated incumbent Governor William Jones, a Federalist, and won reelection to three additional gubernatorial terms. During his administration, Knight stressed the importance of a common school education and called for the establishment of a public school system. The issues of suffrage and representation also grew in importance during this period. In 1821, Knight was elected to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy and went on to serve in the Senate for two decades until his retirement in 1841.
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.