About James Y. Smith, Governor
James Youngs Smith (September 15, 1809 - March 26, 1876) was an American politician and the 29th Governor of Rhode Island (May 26, 1863 - May 29, 1866).
Smith was born in Groton, New London County, Connecticut. He was a store manager in Salem, Connecticut, at the age of sixteen. Next year, he moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where he worked for a lumber business that he became the owner of a decade later. He sold this business to start a manufacturing business with his brother Amos D. Smith, and with their A.D. & J.Y. Smith Mills they became the leading textile investors in the state. They owned mills in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Smith was active in politics as a Republican. He was Mayor of Providence from 1855 to 1857. He was a member of the House of Representatives of Rhode Island. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1861, but won in the election two years later. He succeeded William C. Cozzens on May 26, 1863. He was reelected two times, then declined to run again. He was succeeded by fellow Republican and Civil war general Ambrose Burnside on May 29, 1866.
After leaving office, Smith founded the James Y. Smith Manufacturing Company. He continued as a manufacturer until his death in 1876. He was buried at Swan Point Cemetery, Providence.