A Dependent People: Newport, Rhode Island in the Revolutionary Era

By Elaine Forman Crane | Go to book overview
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reveals the stresses and tensions that increased dramatically after 1763 and threatened the town's cohesion. Here it becomes clear that given Newport's structure and economic base--given its dependence on the sea--British imperial policy in the decade before the Revolution had a devastating effect. Rebellious and uncompromising, the town was torn apart over the question of livelihood vs. loyalty. The American Revolution was a civil war in Newport, Rhode Island. It was stimulated by economic considerations which in turn created dissension and disorder. The issues were resolved only after a long and costly war which brought a weakened Newport the independence it demanded but could no longer enjoy.

The defense of the Viking theory is best summed up by Philip A. Means, The Newport Tower ( New York, 1942) and Hjalmar P. Holand, America, 1355-1364: A New Chapter in Pre-Columbian History ( New York, 1946), Part I. Irresistible refutation is provided by W. S. Godfrey, Jr., "The Newport Puzzle", Archaeology, 2 ( 1949), 146-49, and "Newport Tower, II," ibid., 3 ( 1950), 82-86, as well as by Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages, A.D. 500-1600 ( New York, 1971), pp. 72-75.
The most detailed study of early Newport (to 1647) is found in A Documentary History of Rhode Island, ed. Howard Chapin, 2 vols. ( Providence, 1916, 1919). For a more recent interpretation of the early years, see Carl Bridenbaugh, Fat Mutton and Liberty of Conscience ( Providence, 1974).
RICR, 188. The nine original settlers were William Coddington, Nicholas Easton, John Coggeshall, William Brenton, John Clarke, Jeremy Clerke [Clarke], Thomas Hazard, Henry Hull, and William Dyer.
RICR, I100.
Coddington angered the unsuspecting Newporters by surreptitiously obtaining an English patent making him governor of Aquidneck Island and in effect separating Aquidneck from the rest of the colony. A flurry of protests caused the commission to be revoked in 1653.
Quoted in Bridenbaugh, Fat Mutton, p. 13.
"Travel Diary of Dr. [1697]", New-York Historical Society Quarterly, 40, No. 1 ( January 1956), 58-60.
Sydney V. James, Colonial Rhode Island: A History ( New York, 1975) p. 240.
George Berkeley to Sir John Percival, Mar. 28, 1729, Redwood Library, Newport.
Howard W. Preston, Rhode Island and the Sea ( Providence, 1932), p. 61. Bostonians, enraged at Newport's unpatriotic behavior, began to seize Newport vessels, forcing the Newporters to retaliate in kind. "'The Lord protect Capt. Hughes, they


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