A Book Review: Revolutionary Blacks: Discovering the Frank Brothers, Freeborn Men of Color, Soldiers of Independence by Shirley L. Green (Yardley, PA: Westholme, 2023)
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Christian McBurney
3M ago
This captivating book tells a new American story. It is the first book to detail the life, challenges, fears and hopes of a Black soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Even better, the lives of two soldiers are examined—brothers, both of whom are freemen. They take wildly divergent paths, which makes for even more fascinating reading. The book raises a key question: in a country that enslaves one’s fellow man, does a Black man fight for it and try to make it better, or does a Black man escape it and start life in a new land? One brother takes one path and the ..read more
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Gaspee Raid Inspires Boston Tea Party Raiders to Disguise Themselves as Narragansetts
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Christian McBurney
6M ago
Last week, this website ran an article providing strong contemporaneous evidence that many of the men who broke open the tea chests and destroyed the tea inside them on board three ships at Griffin’s Wharf in Boston Harbor in the evening of December 16, 1773, disguised themselves as Narragansett Indians—and not as Mohawks, as is often claimed in histories of the Boston Tea Party.[1] This result was not surprising, given that when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, and Puritans poured into Massachusetts Bay in the 1630s, the most numerous and powerful tribe in southern New ..read more
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The Sloop Providence: Its Role in the Revolutionary War and its Rebuilding
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Tall Ship Providence Foundation
8M ago
The Idea for Rebuilding In 1966, a young Harvard graduate in Rhode Island with a passion for naval history noted that the American Bicentennial was approaching. No one else seemed to be paying any attention to this milestone event just yet, but John Fitzhugh Millar thought that Newport, as the heart of a maritime state and the place which prompted the founding of the Continental Navy, ought to contribute to the expected national celebration by focusing on the maritime aspect of Revolutionary history. Eventually, Millar selected five ships he thought could tell the story of the birth of the nav ..read more
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Providence Merchant John Brown Gets Rich Privateering in 1776 and 1777
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Christian McBurney
9M ago
Throughout the churning tides of 1776 and 1777, John Brown, a prominent merchant from Providence, amassed a fortune by investing in privateers. Through reviewing a comprehensive list of his privateers and their values, along with a list of the captures made by some of his privateers, and the values of the captured prize ships and their cargoes, it is possible to begin to determine just how profitable privateering was for Brown. Excerpt of Providence and its waterfront, from a map of Narragansett Bay by the British mapmaker Charles Blaskowitz. Many of the successful privateers in 1776 came fro ..read more
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Did Rhode Island Matter in the American Revolution?
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by John Landry
9M ago
We Rhode Islanders pat ourselves on the back a lot, including when it comes to the Revolution. But did the colony (and later state) really matter much in bringing about this major change in American life? Was Rhode Island, as historian Florence Parker Simister wrote, in “the fire’s center.” With the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence coming soon, let’s look at the arguments. We can start with an excerpt from a history of the state written by William McLoughlin, long-time historian at Brown University: Stubborn, pugnacious, and cocksure, Rhode Island rushed pell-mell toward re ..read more
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Book Review: Revolutionary War Defenses in Rhode Island by John K. Robertson
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Don N. Hagist
9M ago
Mention Rhode Island during the American Revolution, and two things come to mind: the 1772 burning of the Gaspee, and the famous 1st Rhode Island Regiment initially composed largely of African-Americans and Native Americans. Those with more knowledge of the war might also think of the August 1778 siege and battle that was the first combined operation of French and American forces, and the arrival of a French army under General Rochambeau in 1780. Rarely considered is that Rhode Island was on the front lines during much of the war, as host of a British and German garrison for three years and po ..read more
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Ann Bates: British Spy Extraordinaire
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Christian McBurney
9M ago
The popularity of spies in the Revolutionary War, led by AMC’s TURN cable television series and the bestselling book George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution, the impact that spies had on the outcome of campaigns and other aspects of the war has sometimes been exaggerated. I focus on two examples in my book, Spies in Revolutionary Rhode Island. The first example deals with the Culper Spy Ring and was the subject of an earlier article.  This article deals with the second example, the British spy Ann Bates. One of the few known female spies on either s ..read more
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Colonel Daniel Hitchcock in the American Revolutionary War Remembered
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Damien Cregeau
9M ago
As a collateral descendant of Daniel Hitchcock (first cousin, nine times removed), I have always been fascinated by the short but important life of this colonel from Providence, Rhode Island, who was taken by illness following the Battle of Princeton at the young age of thirty-seven. Likely because there is neither an existing house nor a portrait of him, Hitchcock is largely forgotten despite the fact that he had served as a colonel in the Continental Army in five battles in the Revolutionary War by January 1776. Hitchcock was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on February 15, 1739, son of Ca ..read more
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Q&A with John K. Robertson, Author of the New Book, Revolutionary War Defenses in Rhode Island
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by John K. Robertson
9M ago
[From the Editor: John K. Robertson, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who holds a PhD., has just released his second reference book on Rhode Island in the American Revolution. This one, Revolutionary War Defenses in Rhode Island (Rhode Island Publications Society, 2022), contains almost 300 maps and plans (nine maps in color) showing defensive fortifications along most of the entire coastline of Narragansett Bay and southern Rhode Island. Many of the maps are of fortifications on Aquidneck Island, which was occupied during the Revolutionary War at various times by the Amer ..read more
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The Hessians Are Coming! German Auxiliary Forces in Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War
The Online Review of Rhode Island History » American Revolution
by Fred Zilian
9M ago
Occasionally taking rest breaks to play his violin or to sip tea in the stifling summer heat in Philadelphia, in 1776, Thomas Jefferson struggles to discover the precise mix of words to capture both the rationale and the emotion of the American rebellion. After presenting the fundamental parameters, he asserts: “The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having, in direct object, the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world….” Jefferson then unfurls a list of the ..read more
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