Class of 2010

Aram Jules Pothier* served as Governor of Rhode Island from 1909 to 1915 and again from 1925 until his death on February 7, 1928.

Born and educated in Quebec, Pothier joined his family in Woonsocket in 1872 at the age of 18 and took a job as a grocery store clerk. Three years later he was offered a position at the Woonsocket Institution for Savings. He learned all facets of the banking business and worked his way up from teller to president of the bank in 1913. He held a similar position with the Union Trust Company in Providence.

Pothier began his political career in 1885 as a member of the Woonsocket School Committee. After two terms in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, Pothier was asked by Governor Taft to be the Rhode Island delegate to the Paris Trade Exhibition. Pothier believed that foreign investment was essential to the industrial growth of Woonsocket. During his first trip to Paris, he reportedly met Joseph Guerin. That meeting led to the establishment of the Guerin Spinning Company, the first large scale spinning plant in the city. Guerin also built several other mills in the city. Pothier also met with the Lepoutre family in France. That family opened the Lafayette Worsted Company on Hamlet Avenue in 1899.

Pothier resumed his political career upon his return from Paris. He served several terms as Woonsocket City Auditor. After several unsuccessful bids for Mayor, Pothier was finally elected in 1893. He was the first French Canadian to be elected to that office, and served two terms as mayor before being elected Lt. Governor in 1897.

In 1897, Pothier was again appointed Rhode Island delegate to International Trade Exposition in Paris. There he met his future wife M. Francoise de Charmigny. He also met important French manufacturers which led to the establishment of the huge French Worsted Company on Hamlet Avenue. In all, he is credited with bringing $6,000,000 in foreign investments to Woonsocket.

Pothier was inaugurated as governor in 1909 and was reelected a total of seven times until 1915. He was elected again in 1925 and served until his death.

While Governor, Pothier had a profound impact on the state. He reorganized the state’s financial structure, revamped the Port of Providence, and established the Rhode Island State Police.
He lived most of his life at his Pond Street house in Woonsocket, and is buried in the Pothier Mausoleum in Precious Blood Cemetery.

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