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A Presentation of the Gaspee Days Committee

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1 A Presentation of the Gaspee Days Committee
V2.2004 Left Mouse Click to Advance Slides

2 Overview The Colony of Rhode Island The Attack on the Gaspee And what led to…. INDEPENDENCE

3 The Colony of Rhode Island gave its people many freedoms:
freedom to elect their own Governor freedom for their own court system freedom for their own religions

4 Over the years, people of Rhode Island became used to doing things their own way.
But, this gave the British problems later when they tried to tax the American Colonies.

5 Rhode Island depended on sea-trade of items that now were being taxed.

6 People of Rhode Island often smuggled to avoid paying these taxes.
The HMS Gaspee was a British Royal Navy ship sent to the American coast to stop smuggling.

7 The Gaspee wasted no time in stopping, searching, and seizing all types of boats and ships in the bay. The crew of the Gaspee would threaten and beat-up the men on the ships they seized. They also stole livestock, firewood, and food from local farmers.

8 This alarmed the Providence merchants.
Wealthy Providence merchant and sea-trader John Brown and other ‘Sons of Liberty’ made a plan to get rid of the Gaspee.

9 On the afternoon of June 9th, 1772, one of Brown’s ships, the Hannah, left Newport and headed for Providence.

10 The Captain of the Gaspee demanded that the ship stop to be searched.
The Hannah refused, and a chase up Narragansett Bay began.

11 The ships reached Namquid Point where its sandbar was covered by a high tide.

12 The Hannah was lightweight, empty-of-cargo and sat high in the water.
The Hannah easily sailed over the point, inviting the Gaspee to pursue. The deeper-hulled Gaspee followed, ran hard aground, and became stuck.

13 After suitable insults were exchanged, the Hannah quickly proceeded up the river to Providence and reported the plight of the British schooner to John Brown.

14 Brown had his ship captains round up several large longboats, and sent out a drummer to recruit people of Providence to join in a raid on the much-hated ship.

15 That night a large crowd of merchants, sea captains, and younger men met at the Sabin Tavern to plan the attack.

16 That night, seven or eight boats rowed silently down the river on their mission of destruction.
Each boat carried eight men with their faces blackened with camouflage. In the darkness, the boats arrived at Namquid Point, where the Gaspee sat helplessly aground.

17 By 1 am, the sentry aboard the Gaspee spotted the approaching boats and called out the alarm.
Capt. Abraham Whipple, leader of the attack, hailed the ship and declared that he was there to arrest the Captain of the Gaspee.

18 A few shots were fired from the Gaspee in response.
One young raider took aim with his musket and wounded the Captain of the Gaspee with a single shot.

19 Then men in the boats scrambled on board the Gaspee and soon captured her crew with no loss of life.

20 The crew of the Gaspee were tied up, set in the boats, and kept as prisoners overnight in Pawtuxet Village. They were all released in the morning. John Brown, Abe Whipple, and others plundered through the papers and the few valuables aboard the Gaspee.

21 At dawn they set fire to the ship, and left in their longboats.
©Karl Doerflinger

22 Flames soon reached the gunpowder storage, and a loud explosion ripped the Gaspee apart.

23 The boats returned to Providence at dawn, and the men were warned to keep silent about what happened. To their great credit, Rhode Island citizens kept mum about the events, even though many of the raiders were well-known.

24 Of the approximately 64 patriots that took part in the burning of the Gaspee, we know the names of only 26. Perhaps you are related to one of them….. Captain Shepard Turpin Smith Robert Sutton Thomas Swan Joseph Tillinghast and Abraham Whipple Captain Harris John B. Hopkins Justin Jacobs Joseph Jenckes John J. Kilton Paul Allen Ephraim Bowen Aaron Briggs Abial Brown John Brown Joseph Brown Joseph Bucklin Samuel Dunn Rufus Greene Benj. Hammond John Mawney Simeon H. Olney Benjamin Page Simeon Potter Nathan Salisbury

25 Rhode Island leaders quickly realized that the British would be furious at them for the burning of one of His Majesty’s schooners. The Rhode Island Governor and others quickly made plans for ‘damage control’.

26 By offering a reward for the attackers, Rhode Islanders pretended to be outraged about the attack.

27 Officials also claimed they did not know who the attackers were, even though the names were widely known. Even so, the British still did not trust Rhode Island to bring the raiders to justice. The King offered an even larger reward.

28 The British also created a commission of inquiry to find out who the attackers were.
This commission of inquiry bypassed the local Rhode Island courts that the British didn’t trust.

29 They were able to charge suspects….
and send them to England to stand trial for charges of treason.

30 This bypass of local courts, and of sending suspects out of the local area for trial, would make defense impossible. Local courts tended to side with the defendant; British courts would not. If sent away for trial, persons charged would find it hard to have witnesses to help prove their innocence.

31 A trial by a local jury of peers was a long-established right for all Englishmen.
The bypassing of American courts, and the threat of removal of these rights of local trial created alarm in all the other American Colonies as well.

32 Shortly afterwards, Virginia created the first of the permanent Committees of Correspondence to discuss such threats to the Colonies.

33 United States of America.
This was the first step towards uniting the separate Colonies that would later join together as the …... United States of America.

34 ‘Those That Burned the Gaspee’
And it was the eventual result of the actions of Rhode Island patriots…... ‘Those That Burned the Gaspee’

35 Meanwhile, Rhode Island officials scrambled to protect both their freedoms and the identities of citizen raiders. The officials interfered with the British commission of inquiry.

36 Rhode Island officials gave excuses to witnesses so that they did not appear before the commission.
They arranged for witnesses to testify against what other people said before the commission. Other witnesses were threatened so that they did not appear at all.

37 The commission of inquiry never could get enough evidence to identify any of the attackers of the Gaspee. The commission gave up and went home by June of 1773.

38 ‘First Blow for Freedom’®
No one ever stood trial for the destruction of the Gaspee. This was the result of uncooperative Rhode Island citizens, judges, and officials. It was America’s…. ‘First Blow for Freedom’®

39 For further information on the Gaspee Affair visit the Gaspee Virtual Archives at:

40 “Royal American Medley” The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps
written and directed by Dr. John Concannon “Royal American Medley” background music courtesy of The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps Fort Myer, Virginia

41 Gaspee Days Committee April, 2004 This Program was Produced by the
Program ©Gaspee Days Committee Text only is public domain material and may be freely distributed. Copyrights may apply to graphic and audio material.

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