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

By Elaine Forman Crane | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Epilogue

FROM THE DREARY APPEARANCE OF THE TOWN in the 1780s few strangers would have guessed that before the war Newport was " 'one of the pleasantest places in the world.' " 1 No longer was the community a cultural haven whose very name was synonymous with elegance and urbanity. Instead of prosperity and conviviality a post-war visitor encountered a "reign of solitude... only interrupted by groups of idle men standing with folded arms at the corners of the streets, houses falling to ruin, miserable shops which present nothing but a few coarse stuffs or baskets of apples, and other articles of little value; grass growing in the public squares in front of the court of justice, rags stuffed in the windows." 2 The destruction of Newport seemed to extend to the very spirit of the people.

So many houses had been destroyed during the war that although the population had been reduced to half, a number of people were forced to live together in single dwellings. The 1782 census showed 5,530 people living in Newport. 3 Most of the names on the list were carryovers from pre-war days; some were new. Both English and French forces had occupied the town in the intervening years. With their departure, the curious mixture of whigs and tories was left to get on with each other as best they could. Not surprisingly, by 1782 the whigs had the upper hand. Their ascendancy began in the fall of 1779 when the British troops withdrew from Newport and the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation enabling the state to confiscate the property of any British sympathizer. At the same session the legislature deprived loyalists of the right to vote. Whig retaliation for real and imagined injuries reached its height in the summer of 1780 when the Assembly banished the leading tories from Rhode Island, presumably forever. 4

Forever turned out to be a somewhat shorter period of time than one would have expected from the passionate language of the legislative act. By November 1780 Stephen Ayrault's confiscated lands were reassigned so that he could collect rent on them. By 1783 this "principal and active tory," as Ezra Stiles had labeled him, had resumed his place among the

-157-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Dependent People: Newport, Rhode Island in the Revolutionary Era
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 196

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?