Bowdoin, James bō´dən [key], 1726–90, American political leader, b. Boston. He was elected to the Massachusetts General Court in 1753 and served until 1774. Illness prevented him (1774) from taking his place as a delegate to the Continental Congress. Bowdoin was (1775–77) a leading figure in the council that governed Massachusetts during the Revolution, presided over the state constitutional convention in 1779, and served (1785–87) as governor of the state. A conservative, as governor he played an active role in suppressing Shays's Rebellion and also forwarded the movement toward a centralized national government. Bowdoin College, in Maine, was named for him.
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