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

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more accurate perception of what a war would do to the city's mercantile interests. It did little good to dwell on the past, however; what was done, was done. "Liberty" had been sacrificed to "ambition and rebellion," and the "Garden of Eden" had been transformed into "a field of blood." For the loyalists, consolation lay in the thought that they had resisted this "public ruin" to the best of their ability. Indeed, tory consciences could be clear because they had not been "accessary to the ruin of [their] country." 33

If those Newporters demanding independence could have foreseen the future in 1776, would they have been so eager to sever the bonds of empire? Perhaps not. But as it was, their actions and commitment to the cause surely encouraged the faint-hearted and brought other Americans more swiftly to a decision for independence than might otherwise have been the case.


NOTES
1.
Unpublished journal of the Baron du Bourg, aide-de-camp to General Rochambeau, as quoted in Thomas Willing Balch, The French in America During the War of Independence of the United States, 1777-1783 ( Philadelphia, 1891), p. 143.
2.
Brissot de Warville, New Travels in the United States, pp. 144-45.
3.
"The Rhode Island Census of 1782", New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 127 ( 1973), 5-17, 138-42; "A Summary of the Inhabitants in the several Towns in the State of Rhode Island, taken A.D. 1782, by order of the General Assembly of Said State", RICR, IX653. The original MS census is at RIHS.
4.
"An Act for the confiscating the estates of certain persons Therein described", RICR, VIII609-14; see also ibid., 605-606, as well as "An Act to prevent certain persons Therein named, and others, who have left this State, or either of the United States of America, and joined the enemy; or who have joined the enemy in this State, from being admitted within this State," ibid., IX139-42.
5.
RICR, IX289; Stiles, Diary, 11134; Town Rate, July 31, 1783, Newport, Rhode Island, RIHS.
6.
Samuel Vernon III to William Vernon, Oct 30, 1782. Vernon Letter Book ♯77, NHS.
7.
RICR, IX728, X10, 46-48; Stiles, Diary, 11132.
8.
RICR, IX252, 15, 350-51, 530; X43, 116.
9.
Correspondence between Charles and Kitty Dudley, 1775-1785), Haight Col-lection, NHS.
10.
In 1774 white males made up 39.7% of the town; white females, 46.2%. Though the proportion of women in the population grew steadily during the war years, the number of female heads of households did not keep pace with this demographic change. Women headed 20% of the households in Newport in 1774, and 22% in 1782. Of these 22%, 17% were widows.

-166-

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