ODEN BOWIE was born in Prince George’s County, Maryland on November 10, 1826. His education was attained at St. John’s College in Annapolis, and at St. Mary’s College in Baltimore, where he graduated in 1845. During the Mexican War, he enlisted as a private and rose through the ranks, becoming captain of the Votigeur Regiment in the U.S. Army. Bowie entered politics in 1849, serving as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He also served as a delegate to the 1864 Democratic National Convention, was chairman of the Democratic State Central Committee from 1861 to 1865, and was a member of the Maryland State Senate from 1867 to 1869. In 1867, Bowie secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and then went on to win election to the Maryland governorship on November 5, 1867. Under the 1867 Maryland Constitution, Bowie could not take office until January 13, 1869. During his tenure, a free railroad law was promoted; road improvements were sanctioned; and the Maryland and Virginia offshore oyster bed disagreement was resolved. Also, the state was reimbursed by the federal government for funds that were loaned during the Civil War; and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad repaid the money it owed to the state. After completing his term, Bowie left office on January 10, 1872. He stayed active, serving as the president of the Baltimore City Passenger Railway Company. He also continued to buy and breed racehorses. Governor Oden Bowie passed away on December 4, 1894, and was buried at the family graveyard in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Eisenberg, Gerson G. Marylanders Who Served the Nation. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1992.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
White, Frank F., Jr. The Governors of Maryland, 1777-1972. Annapolis, MD: Hall of Records Commission, 1970.
Prince George's County Historical Society
Maryland State Archives