Tag: Famous RI Families

Senator Philip Allen

 Allen, Philip, 1785-1865 Senator Philip Allen (1785-1865) of Providence was a merchant, a textile magnate, a reform governor (1851-53), and a one-term United States Senator (1853-1859).   The brother of Zachariah Allen, noted inventor and industrialist, and the uncle of Thomas Wilson Dorr, Allen was also prominent in banking and insurance.   A graduate of Brown

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James Burrill Angell

James Burrill Angell had a remarkably diverse career– Brown University graduate, professor of languages, newspaper editor, university president, and diplomat. He is best known as the longest-serving president of the University of Michigan where he aspired to provide an ‘uncommon education for the common man.’ Born on January 7, 1829, in Scituate, Rhode Island, Angell

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James Newall Arnold

Arnold, James N. (James Newell), 1844-1927 James N. Arnold (1844-1927) whose contributions to the study of Rhode Island history are as fresh and useful today as they were when first transcribed, dealt in data  of family life: official town documents and records; newspaper accounts; birth, marriage, and death records in church archives; and history on

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Burton L. “Buster” Bonoff

Burton “Buster” Bonoff of Phoenix, Arizona and West Warwick was a legendary entertainment entrepreneur who founded the famed Warwick Musical Theatre (WMT), in Warwick, R.I. in 1955. He also served as its general manager and as a promoter of major entertainment talent in Rhode Island and elsewhere for over forty years. Nationally prominent in his

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John Nicholas Brown

John Nicholas Brown, 1900-1979, was a former assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air, senior fellow at Brown University and a director of the Smithsonian Institution. He directed the search and recovery of the works of art stolen by the Nazis for which he was decorated by the French and Belgian governments.

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Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown, 1733-1785, was one if the five famous Brown brothers of 18th century Providence. He was a successful entrepreneur, a respected scientist and astronomer, as well as an accomplished architect whose buildings include the First Baptist Church, the Providence Market House, University Hall and the John Brown House. Photo of Joseph Brown House by

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Moses Brown

Moses Brown, 1738-1836, the youngest of the five Brown brothers was a Providence civic leader, entrepreneur, sponsor of Samuel Slater, and prominent Quaker abolitionist. Moses Brown was also a founder of the Providence Athaneum and Moses Brown School.

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John Carter Brown

Born in 1797, the youngest of the three surviving children of Nicholas Brown II and Ann Carter, daughter of John Carter, the noted Providence printer, John Carter Brown was raised in a family tradition of public leadership and philanthropy. While at Brown University, he joined an undergraduate society to provide needy students with free books.

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Nicholas Brown II

Nicholas Brown II, 1769-1841, Providence businessman and philanthropist, was the son and heir of of Nicholas Brown, one of the five famous Brown brothers of late eighteenth-century Providence. In 1796 he formed the highly successful mercantile-industrial partnership Brown & Ives, which made a fortune in the China trade. When the name of Rhode Island College

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John H. Chafee

John H. Chafee,1922-1999, was a Providence native who entered government service as Secretary of the Navy. Then, in 1963, when he was forty years old, he took office as Governor of Rhode Island. He was one of the youngest men to become Governor in Rhode Island’s history. He had also served in the Rhode Island

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Reverend William Ellery Channing

Reverend William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 – October 2, 1842) was born in Newport, a grandson of William Ellery, a Rhode Island signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was also raised in Newport prior to graduating from Harvard in 1798. Thereafter he often visited Rhode Island, but he made his career in Boston

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LeBaron Bradford Colt

LeBaron Bradford Colt was born in Dedham, Massachusetts to Christopher and Theodora (DeWolf) Colt. He and his equally famous brother, Samuel, had very influential forebears. On their maternal side, they were the grandsons of General George DeWolf of Bristol and the grandnephews of U.S. Senator James DeWolf, a wealthy merchant and notorious slave trader. Other

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Samuel Pomeroy Colt

Samuel Pomeroy Colt, a brother of U.S. Senator LeBaron Colt, shared his sibling’s impressive lineage. Born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1852 as the youngest of six children, he received his early education in Hartford, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1873, and from Columbia Law School in 1876. Samuel (or “Pom” as

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Gov. Samuel Cranston

Samuel Cranston, 1659-1727, of Newport, was a statesman and governor of Rhode Island for almost twenty-nine years–1698-1727–a tenure not only longer than any Rhode Island governor but also exceeding the tenure of any other chief executive of an American colony or state. Cranston presided over the transformation of Rhode Island from a beleaguered cluster of

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Helen Metcalf Danforth

The late Helen Metcalf Danforth, 1887-1984, formerly of Providence, served as President of the Corporation of the Rhode Island School of Design from 1931-1947. She also served as a member of the RISD education committee until 1965, when she was elected Chairman Emeratia. During her term of office she is credited with guiding RISD from

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Joseph Davol

Joseph Davol, a native of Warren, traced his ancestry to William Davol who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony around 1640. After early schooling in Warren, Joseph moved with his parents to Brooklyn, New York where he attended high school. At the age of sixteen he entered the employ of a wholesale dry goods business

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Governors Elisha & Elisha Jr. Dyer

Dyer, Elisha, 1811-1890  Governor Elisha Dyer (1811-1890) and Governor Elisher Dyer, Jr. (1839-1909) traced their illustrious ancestry to William and Mary Dyer of Boston who settled Portsmouth in 1638 as exiled disciples of Anne Hutchinson. They eventually embraced Quakerism, and Mary repeatedly returned to Boston to preach the new doctrine in defiance of the Puritan

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Amasa Eaton

  Eaton, Amasa M. (Amasa Mason), 1841-1914   Amasa Eaton  was a prominent Providence attorney who might be described as the quintessential Progressive reformer. His distinguished lineage included Providence’s Brown family and the Herreshoffs of Bristol.    He was an outspoken advocate of home rule for Providence and a member of the Metropolitan Park Commission, the

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Maud Howe Elliott

Elliott, Maud Howe, 1854-1948 Maud Howe Elliott lived a very long life and certainly made the most of it. She was born at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston on November 9, 1854. Her father, Samuel Gridley Howe, a noted physician and social reformer, directed the institution, but most people became familiar with

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James & Ann Smith Franklin

James Franklin ,1696-1735, and Ann Smith Franklin, 1696-1763, of Newport, were journalists and Rhode Island’s first printers and newspaper publishers. In 1727 they set up Rhode Island’s first printing press. In 1732 he issued the Rhode Island Gazette, Rhode Island’s first newspaper. When James died in February, 1735, the printing shop was continued under the

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Thomas F. Gilbane

Humble origins have been the hallmark of many American and Rhode Island success stories. Not many can match the saga of the Gilbane Brothers and the establishment of the multinational Gilbane Building Company. The Irish potato famine of the1840’s sent myriads of Hibernian refugees to North America. And so it was with Thomas and Bridget

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William J. Gilbane

Humble origins have been the hallmark of many American and Rhode Island success stories. Not many can match the saga of the Gilbane Brothers and the establishment of the multinational Gilbane Building Company. The Irish potato famine of the1840’s sent myriads of Hibernian refugees to North America. And so it was with Thomas and Bridget

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Colonel Robert Hale Ives Goddard

Goddard, Robert H. I. (Robert Hale Ives), 1837-1916 Colonel Robert Goddard (1837-1916) was a son of Professor William G. Goddard, newspaperman and first Chancellor of Brown University, and Charlotte Rhoda Ives Goddard. Through his mother’s line of descent, Goddard was related to the Ives family, who partnered with the Brown family in shipping, manufacturing, real

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Sarah Updike Goddard

Sarah Updike Goddard, 1701-1770, of North Kingstown and Providence was a journalist, publisher, civic leader, and editor of the Providence Gazette. She was descended from the Smiths and Updikes of Cocumscussoc and married DiGiles Goddard in 1735. Her son William founded the Providence Gazette in 1762 but left the business in 1765. Sarah continued to

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Jabez Gorham

After an apprenticeship to Nehemiah Dodge, Jabez Gorham became the foremost Rhode Island producer of jewelry and silverware. While in his twenties, Gorham established a shop at North Main and Steeple Streets, the first of several buildings that formed his original factory complex. By the end of the century, the company he founded was a

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George Washington Greene

  Greene, George Washington, 1811-1883 George Washington Greene, prominent educator and author, was born in East Greenwich and was the grandson of Nathanael Greene, the great Revolutionary War general. As a young man, Greene traveled extensively in Europe gaining proficiency in the Italian and French languages. His first wife was Italian and he served as

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General Francis Vinton Greene

  Greene, F. V. (Francis Vinton), 1850-1921 Francis Vinton Greene, son of General George Sears Greene and Martha Dana, was born in Providence on June 27, 1850. He entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1866, and graduated first in his class in 1870. He married Belle Eugenie Chevallie in 1879 and they had six children. He was descended

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Christopher Greene

Christopher Greene, 1737-1781, of Warwick, was a Revolutionary War hero and Colonel of the famous “Black Regiment.” Greene, a veteran of many campaigns starting with the ill-fated march to Quebec in 1775, met death in a Tory ambush in May of 1781. Lincoln, James Sullivan, “Col. Christopher Greene,” John Hay Library, Brown University, 1863. Brown

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Carl W. Haffenreffer

  Haffenreffer, Carl W. Carl W. Haffenreffer, son of Rudolph Haffenreffer, Jr., continued his father’s tradition of business and philanthropic activity. With brother Rudolph 3rd and the R.F. Haffenreffer Family Foundation, he donated most of the Mount Hope lands and the King Philip Museum to Brown University. He became president of Narragansett Brewery, succeeding brother Rudolf, and

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Rudolph Frederick Haffenreffer Jr.

 Haffenreffer, Rudolph Frederick, 1874-1954 Rudolf Frederick Haffenreffer, Jr. (1874-1954), a native of Boston and a first generation German-American, became a successful Fall River brewer and purchased several hundred acres in Bristol from 1903 to 1912 for use as a summer retreat. His acquisitions included Mount Hope and the Bradford House.  After completing his basic education

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Rudolf Frederick Haffenreffer III

 Haffenreffer, R.F. Rudolf Frederick Haffenreffer, III (1902-1991), the eldest son of Rudolph Haffenreffer, Jr., succeeded to his father’s positions in several family ventures. Rudolph, III graduated from Dartmouth College (where he was an active alumnus) and Harvard School of Business Administration. He served as president of Narragansett Brewery and the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company which the Haffenreffer family

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Rev. Edward Everett Hale

  Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909 Rev. Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909), noted author, social and economic reformer, and Unitarian minister was born in Boston. His father was a nephew of Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale, and his maternal uncle and namesake Edward Everett was a noted orator, U.S. secretary of state, U. S. senator and congressman, governor

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Sylvia K. Hassenfeld

Mrs. Hassenfeld, formerly of Providence, lived in both New York City and Palm Beach, FL.  She was been widely recognized as an outstanding civic, cultural, and philanthropic leader of international communal services for more than 40 years.  Mrs. Hassenfeld has been described as "one of the most significant leaders in the American Jewish community of

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Thomas Robinson Hazard

  Hazard, Thomas R. (Thomas Robinson), 1797-1886   Thomas Robinson Hazard was a South Kingstown manufacturer, agriculturalist, author, and social reformer who embodied the egalitarian spirit of the pre-Civil War age of reform.   Affectionately called “Shepard Tom” because of his prize sheep herd, Hazard was a seventh generation descendant of Thomas Hazard, the progenitor

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Caroline Hazard

  Hazard, Caroline, 1856-1945 Caroline Hazard, educator, philanthropist, and author, was born in the South Kingstown village of Peace Dale on June 10,1856. She was educated by private tutors in Providence, by attending some courses at Brown University, and by private study in Europe. She worked side-by-side with her father, industrialist and social reformer Rowland G. Hazard, in

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Rowland Hazard

  Hazard, Rowland, 1829-1898   Rowland Hazard  was the son of Hall of Fame member Rowland Gibson Hazard and the father of Hall of Fame inductee Caroline Newton Hazard. Born in Newport, he moved at the age of four to his family’s mill village of Peace Dale which remained his principal residence until his death–as well

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John Brown Herreshoff

  Herreshoff, John Brown, 1841-1915 John Brown Herreshoff  was the Bristol-born elder brother and indispensable associate of Hall of Famer Nat Herreshoff. The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, which built seven America’s Cup defenders from 1893 through 1934, was founded in 1878 by “JB” and Nat Herreshoff. This firm operated under JB’s direction for thirty-seven years. JB lost one

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Nathanael G. “Nat” Herreshoff

Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, 1848-1938, was a world-renowned Bristol boatbuilder who teamed with his blind brother John Brown Herreshoff to build a series of world famous racing yachts that dominated the America’s Cup competition from 1893 through 1934. “Captain Nat” and his Herreshoff Manufacturing Company also built luxury yachts, cruising sailboats, and America’s first torpedo boat

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Halsey C. Herreshoff

Halsey C. Herreshoff of Bristol, is an internationally renowned yachtsman, acclaimed America’s Cup competitor, and successful Naval Architect. He is the founder and former president of Herreshoff Marine Museum, which includes the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. He is also a prominent designer, widely recognized civic leader, author, lecturer, businessman, and longtime promoter of maritime

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Commodore Esek Hopkins

Commodore Esek Hopkins, 1718-1802, brother of Stephen Hopkins, became the first Commander-in-Chief of the United States Navy, achieving the rank of Commodore.

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Major General Morphis Albert Jamiel

Major General Morphis Albert Jamiel, 1922-2013, truly exemplified the very best of America. Born into the well-known Jamiel family of Warren in 1922, his parents were the late Albert and Mary Jamiel. He had twelve brothers and sisters. From this humble origin in the small town of Warren, he eventually carved out a notable career as

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Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy

Patrick Joseph Kennedy II was born in Brighton, Massachusetts on July 14, 1967, the son of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and Joan Bennett Kennedy. After graduation from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts in 1986, he began a quarter-century of residence in Rhode Island bringing with him both the benefits and the burdens of the Kennedy

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Benjamin B. and Robert L. Knight

  Knight, Benjamin B., 1813-1898 and Knight, Robert, 1825-1912 The Knight brothers were textile manufacturers and philanthropists, owning twenty-one manufacturing villages under the logo “Fruit of the Loom,” and employing nearly 7000 operatives. Benjamin was born in Cranston, R.I., 3 October 1813 to  Stephen and Welthan (Brayton) Knight, farmers. He spent his early years assisting

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Frank Licht

Mr. Licht, formerly of Providence, was Governor of the State of Rhode Island from 1969 to 1973, and served as an Associate Justice of the Superior Court from 1956 to 1968.  He was also a member of the State Senate for seven years, and was the only Rhode Island Governor to serve in all three

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Frederick Lippitt

Born to a life of privilege, Fred Lippitt (1917-2005) decided it was a privilege to serve others. The Lippitt family was among the first settlers of Rhode Island. In 1638, John Lippitt arrived in Providence. An ancestor, Christopher Lippitt, commanded Rhode Island troops in the Revolution. The Lippitt name also dots Rhode Island’s landscape: one

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Henry & Henry Fredrick Lippitt

Henry Lippitt was a native Rhode Islander who died in 1891, after becoming one of the state’s industrial and financial leaders of his time, serving two terms as governor. Henry F. Lippitt, Henry’s son, died in 1933, after following in his father’s footsteps as an industrialist, a statesman, and a United States Senator. A renowned

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U.S. Senator Jesse H. Metcalf

Jesse Metcalf and his wife Louisa Sharpe Metcalf were the dynamic duo of Rhode Island philanthropy in the early 20th century. Jesse was the son and namesake of the founder of Providence’s Wanskuck Mills, one of America’s largest woolen manufacturers, and his mother, Helen, a Hall of Fame inductee, co-founded the Rhode Island School of

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Louisa Sharpe Metcalf

Jesse Metcalf and his wife Louisa Sharpe Metcalf were the dynamic duo of Rhode Island philanthropy in the early 20th century. Jesse was the son and namesake of the founder of Providence’s Wanskuck Mills, one of America’s largest woolen manufacturers, and his mother, Helen, a Hall of Fame inductee, co-founded the Rhode Island School of

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Col. Stephen Olney

Colonel Stephen Olney, 1756-1832, of North Providence, was a leader of the Second Rhode Island Regiment attaining the rank of Colonel. He fought in numerous campaigns from Bunker Hill to Yorktown. Olney is credited with saving the life of future President James Monroe at the Battle of Princeton, and he was a close and respected

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David Patten

David Patten, 1888-1975, former managing-editor of The Providence Journal-Bulletin, was a Massachusetts native who spent school vacations and several winters at his grandfather’s 260-acre farm in Little Compton, Rhode Island. His career in Providence newspapers as a reporter and editor lasted 35 years. He entertained thousands with his stories of old-time Rhode Island, especially those

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Commodore Matthew Cabraith Perry

Commodore Matthew Cabraith Perry, 1794-1858, was a career naval officer and the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry. He commanded the American naval forces in the siege and capture of Vera Cruz during the Mexican War. He was also a strong proponent of naval education and training programs and a technological innovator who was sometimes

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Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, 1785-1819, naval hero of the famous Battle of Lake Erie during the war of 1812. On September 10, 1813, his ten-ship squadron defeated a comparable British force, thereby giving America control of that strategic waterway, a feat that made Perry a national hero. His terse note to General William Henry Harrison

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Senator William Sprague Jr.

Senator William Sprague, Jr. (1799-1856) was one of the most prominent members of a family that ranked as one of Rhode Island’s richest and most powerful during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century.   He was the son and namesake of William Sprague, founder of the great textile empire, the younger brother of Amasa, whose

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Judah Touro

Judah Touro, 1775-1854, was a Newport philanthropist who made many contributions to his native city, many of them after he became a citizen of New Orleans. He played a major role in the erection of Bunker Hill Monument with considerable financial aide. Mr. Touro gifted Touro Park to the city of Newport and died in

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John Townsend

John Townsend, 1733-1809, of Newport, a leading representative member of America’s most prominent family group of craftsmen -the Townsend Goddard group of Newport whose products make the period 1740-1850, today command the highest auction prices for American furniture. He was only one of at least 18 family members in an extended three-generation family of Townsends

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Wilkins Updike

Wilkins Updike (1784-1867), a member of the noted Cocumscussoc family of North Kingstown, was the youngest of eleven children of Lodowick and Abigail Updike and himself the father of twelve. Wilkins moved to the village of Kingston as a young man after the Updikes lost Cocumscussoc through business reverses, and for many years he represented South Kingstown

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Mary C. Wheeler

Mary Colman Wheeler (1846-1920) the founder of Providence’s Wheeler School, was born on the family farm in Concord, Massachusetts, May 15, 1846. The Wheeler family, direct descendants of one of the first families of Massachusetts, was friends and neighbors of the Transcendentalists and literary leaders of their times; the Alcotts, Thoreaus, Hawthornes, Peabodys and Emersons.

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Abraham Whipple

Abraham Whipple,1733-1819, from Providence, was a renowned privateersman and naval officer. An ally of the Brown family, he directed the raid of the Gaspee and commanded the U.S. Navy’s first ship, Providence, in several successful encounters with the British.

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