Category: Writings

CHAPTER THIRTEEN – THREE STRIKES FOR STATE HISTORY AND HERITAGE

            The following essay, published in the Providence Journal in 2017, was yet another futile attempt to gain state support for our state’s history. I feel like the man who keeps banging his head against the wall because it feels so good when he stops. **************************             Rhode Island’s government does not support the observance

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN – TAKING DOWN THE INDEPENDENT MAN

            In 2016 and 2017, a temporary craze swept the nation that advocated the destruction of statutes, monuments, and memorials that had been erected to honor an array of nationally prominent white males. Most of the mayhem was directed against those involved either with slavery or with the admittedly disgraceful treatment of Native Americans. The

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN – SQUANDERING RHODE ISLAND’S MARITIME HERITAGE

            Like the preceding essay, this January, 2018 Providence Journal commentary has a similar theme. It is a lament for the loss of the Sloop Providence–not to a storm or a shipwreck but to shortsightedness and stupidity and the failure of the state to intervene to save its designated state flagship—a vessel that graces the

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SAVE OUR MILLS

            It is more than tragic that less than four years after I published the following essay as a Providence Journal commentary extolling the virtues of Rhode Island’s industrial landscape, the bungling administration of Governor Donald Carcieri persuaded a supine General Assembly to curtail the state historic tax credit program.  Our leaders perpetrated this shortsighted

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Rhode Island’s Lost Ships

This essay appeared as a Providence Journal commentary on August 9, 2008, in the midst of another summer season during which the Sloop Providence rested in a restricted private shipyard rather than on my dock for the public to view and visit.  The Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation (on which I once held the vice presidency)

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RHODE ISLAND’S IRISH FAMINE MEMORIAL: A TRIBUTE TO THE SURVIVORS

            In the autumn of 1995 Anne Burns arranged for a memorial Mass to be celebrated at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in remembrance of the million or more Irish who died in the Great Famine, a calamity that began 150 years earlier in 1845.  Over one thousand people attended this sesquicentennial event. 

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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR – HERITAGE HARBOR: PAST and FUTURE PLANS

            My long-time friend and historical colleague Albert T. Klyberg and I collaborated in writing the following synopsis of our 40-year effort to promote the teaching and study of Rhode Island history from my creation of the Ethnic Heritage subcommittees of the state bicentennial commission (ri76) and the short-lived  Rhode Island Heritage Commission, through Al’s

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN – LABORATORY FOR THE LIVELY EXPERIMENT

            The year 2013 marked the 350th anniversary of Rhode Island’s Royal Charter of 1663.  Governor Lincoln Chafee took the initiative in appointing a 35-member 1663 Colonial Charter Commission that sponsored several commemorative initiatives, most notably the creation of a beautifully appointed, climate controlled Charter Room on the first floor of the State House.            

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CHAPTER THREE – JULY 19, THE REAL RHODE ISLAND INDEPENDENCE DAY

            From 1974 to mid-1977 when I served as volunteer chairman of the Rhode Island commission to celebrate American independence (ri76), one thorny issue involved the correction of the long-held belief that Rhode Island declared its independence from England on May 4, 1776.  Glen LaFantasie, my director of publications, refuted this hyperbolic claim in a

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CHAPTER EIGHT – BRISTOL, BROWNELL, AND THE GASPEE

            In June 2019 I made a presidential discretionary grant of $2,000 from the Heritage Harbor Foundation to the Bristol Fourth of July committee for its 234th annual celebration. Along with the grant, I presented the committee with a suggestion that they join in the 250th anniversary of the burning of the British naval vessel,

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STATEHOOD: BRISTOL LED THE WAY!

            The highest civic honor that can be conferred upon a resident of Bristol is the position of chief marshal of the Fourth of July parade, an event first held in 1826.  The local observance of independence actually began much earlier.  It dates from 1785, entitling Bristol to claim that it stages the oldest consecutive

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POKANOKET

Dear Editor:     In 2007 my husband and I bought the so-called King Philip House on Bristol’s Mount Hope, the former summer home of Rudolph Haffenreffer, Jr. It sat on a two-acre parcel surrounded by about 450 acres of additional land that the Haffenreffers gave to Brown University via several donations in the 1950s.  

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THE IRISH IN RHODE ISLAND: THE PROTESTANT PIONEERS

     The Irish presence in Rhode Island dates from the late 1630s. Most early Irish Rhode Islanders were Protestants-mainly Baptists, Quakers, Presbyterians, or Anglicans– and those few with Catholic antecedents soon lost their religious affiliation for lack of Catholic clergy within the colony. Among the handful of seventeenth-century Irish Rhode Islanders were Nicholas Power,

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