Tag: Founders of Rhode Island

Judge Benjamin Bourne

Benjamin Bourne (1755- 1808), a leading advocate of Rhode Island’s ratification of the federal Constitution, was born in Bristol, the son of Shearjashub and Ruth (Bosworth) Church Bourne, the product of two old-line Bristol families. His father served as chief justice of Rhode Island’s highest court from 1778 to 1781. Bourne received a bachelor’s degree

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Samuel Gorton

Samuel Gorton was born in or around 1592 in the small village of Gorton, just outside of Manchester, England, a location that suggests that his family had some local prominence. Though Samuel (he spelled it with a double l) disclaimed a formal education, he was both literate and a linguist who could read the Bible

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Silas Downer

Silas Downer, a patriot and lawyer, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, to a farm family that subsequently moved to Sunderland, Massachusetts, near Deerfield, where Downer got his early schooling. He entered Harvard College at age fourteen and earned an undergraduate degree and a Master of Arts degree by age twenty-one. After graduation in 1750, Downer

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Abraham Whipple

Abraham Whipple (1733-1819) was a successful privateer and naval officer who was born in Providence, the son of Noah and Mary Whipple. Of humble origins, Whipple went to sea at an early age and became associated with the wealthy and influential Brown family of merchant entrepreneurs. During the French and Indian War, he served as

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Captain Robert Gray

On August 10, 1790, a week before George Washington completed his trip from New York City to Rhode Island to acknowledge and celebrate the reluctant thirteenth state’s entrance to the Union, Captain Robert Gray of Tiverton completed another journey in Boston harbor: he was the first American to circumnavigate the world. Gray–who has remained relatively

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Governor and Chief Justice Samuel Ward

Samuel Ward (1725-1776) was born in Newport, one of fourteen children of Governor Richard Ward and Mary (Tillinghast) Ward. He was twice descended (in both paternal and maternal lines) from Roger Williams. His father, a prosperous merchant, served as governor of Rhode Island from 1740 to 1743. Young Sam was destined by his father to

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James Burrill Jr.

James Burrill, Jr., 1772-1820, was chief justice, attorney general (1797-1813), speaker of the house (1814-1816), U.S. Senator (1817-1820), leader of the Federalist Party, brilliant lawyer and orator. The town of Burillville (established 1806) was named for him.

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Roger Williams

Roger Williams (1603? -1683), Rhode Island’s most famous personage, was born in London, the son of James Williams, a merchant, and Alice Pemberton. Remarkably, the precise year of his birth is unknown, and Williams himself gave conflicting accounts of his age. As a very young man, he broke with the Anglican state church and joined

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Colonel William Barton

William Barton (1748-1831), of Warren and Providence, was a Revolutionary army colonel whose most notable exploit was leading a daring raid in July 1777 to seize General Richard Prescott, the commander of the British forces occupying Aquidneck Island. Born in the town of Warren, the son of Benjamin and Lydia Barton, William Barton received a

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John Carter

John Carter (1745-1814) was born in Philadelphia in 1745, the son of Elizabeth Spriggs, and John Carter, a naval officer of Irish ancestry killed in battle two months before his son’s birth. During the late 1750s, Carter was apprenticed in the print shop of Benjamin Franklin and David Hall. In 1767, Carter moved to Providence,

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Major General Nathanael Greene

Nathanael Greene was born in the Potowomut section of the town of Warwick on July 27, 1742 (or August 7, according to the New Style Julian calendar adopted in England and the American colonies in 1752). His father, for whom he was named, was a farmer and an iron maker whose second wife, Mary Mott,

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Leonard J Pannaggio

Leonard J. Panaggio of Newport was one of Rhode Islands all-time leaders in the promotion of tourism to the Ocean State. Few, if any, before or since, have done as much to promote Rhode Island, and especially Newport, as a tourist destination. Len worked so diligently in the tourism field not only because of his

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Ebenezer Knight Dexter

Ebenezer Knight Dexter, 1773-1824, prominent Providence merchant and a United States marshal who became Providence’s greatest philanthropist. In his will he bequeathed nearly 2.3 million square feet of land to Providence for aid to the poor and other civic purposes including the training of militia. His most notable gifts were the Dexter Asylum and the

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Samuel Slater

More than anyone, Samuel Slater pioneered the making of modern Rhode Island. This so-called Father of the Factory System was the catalyst for the economic transformation that gave Rhode Island its salient characteristic – an industrial order that dominated the state’s economy from the early nineteenth century until the dawn of the present postindustrial era.

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Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown (1733-1785), the son of Captain James Brown and Hope Power, was a noted businessman, scientist, professor, and architect, and one of the famous Brown brothers who dominated civic life in Providence during the second half of the eighteenth century. Although he was a successful merchant and the manager of his family’s spermaceti candle

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Dr.Solomon Drowne

Dr. Solomon Drowne, 1753-1834, a noted physician, graduated from Brown in 1773 with Senator Theodore Foster (1752-1828). He returned to Rhode Island from his far-flung travels in 1801 to settle in Foster. His estate, called Mount Hygeia, after the Greek goddess of health, became the setting for many botanical experiments and the formulation of several

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Nehemiah Dodge

Nehemiah Dodge, 1769-1843 was a pioneering Rhode Island industrialist whose craft was that of “manufacturing jeweler”. He is generally regarded as the principle founder of Rhode Island’s costume jewelry industry. His most famous apprentice was Jabez Gorham (1792-1869), founder of the internationally renowned Gorham Manufacturing Company.

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Moses Brown

Moses Brown (1738-1836), a prominent Providence merchant, reformer, and philanthropist, was one of the five Brown brothers, a group that included John, Joseph, Nicholas, and James, the eldest, a twenty-six-year-old ship captain when he died at sea in 1751. They were the children of Captain James Brown and Hope Power, the great-granddaughter of Nicholas Power,

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Theodore Foster

Theodore Foster (1752-1828) was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts, in 1752, the son of Judge Jedediah Foster and Dorothy Dwight of Dedham, a descendant of William Pynchon, an original incorporator of the Massachusetts Bay Company and a founder of Springfield, Massachusetts. As a young man, Foster came to Providence to study at Rhode Island College (now

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Dr. John Clarke

Dr. John Clarke (1609-1676) was the son of Thomas and Rose (Kerrich) Clarke. He was born in Westhorpe, Suffolk, in 1609, the fifth of seven children (according to a listing in the family’s Geneva Bible) and the third of five sons, four of whom ultimately settled in Newport. Before he left England, he was probably

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William Ellery

William Ellery (1727-1820), merchant, congressman, chief justice, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the son of prominent Newport merchant William Ellery and Elizabeth Almy. His well-to-do father sent him to Harvard, from which young William graduated in 1747. He then embarked upon a mercantile career, but when his father’s death in 1764 left

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John Howland

Without hyperbole, John Howland can well be called “the father of free public education in Rhode Island.” He was born in Newport on October 31, 1757, the fourth of eight children in the family of Joseph and Sarah (Barber) Howland. He was the namesake and fifth-generation descendant of a Mayflower passenger who had come to

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William Coddington

William Coddington (1601-1678), principal founder of Portsmouth and Newport and governor of Rhode Island, was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. By his thirtieth year, he had achieved substance and position. In 1630, at about the same time as John Winthrop’s arrival, he came to America as an assistant (director) in the Massachusetts Bay Company in

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George Patrick Duffy

Normally sportscasters ” with such notable excep- tions of Chris Schenkel and Chris Clark ” do not gain accep- tance to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, but if one is a sportscaster for seven decades, the voice of the Rhode Island Reds for a quarter-century, the longtime coach of youth sports in his

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George T. Downing

In Rhode Island, slavery was placed on the road to extinction on March 1, 1784, when the General Assembly passed a gradual manumission act making any Black born to a slave mother after that date free. Those who were slaves at that time had to be manumitted by their masters. Five such slaves were listed

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Reverend Gregory Dexter

Gregory Dexter (1610-1700), born in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England, was admitted to the highly competitive and highly prized company of stationers in London in 1639. Information on his early life is scanty, but his level of literacy and his professional success indicate that he received a sound education. Dexter became a printer for the famous English

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Colonel Christopher Greene

Christopher Greene (1737-1781) of Warwick, a direct descendant of Roger Williams and the second son of Judge Phillip and Elizabeth Wickes Greene, was one of Rhode Island’s most illustrious military figures of the American Revolution. Prior to the outbreak of war, Greene married Ann Lippitt, by whom he had nine children, and he engaged in

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Seth Luther

Of all the Rhode Island leaders profiled herein, no person’s personal life was more erratic, peripatetic or tragic than that of Seth Luther. No one traveled through America as extensively or delivered more public addresses. No one lived in a more impoverished condition or fought as hard for the working class. Luther was born in

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Mary (Barrett) Dyer

Mary (Barrett) Dyer (ca. 1611-1660) was the wife of William Dyer of Somersetshire, England, with whom she came to Massachusetts in the mid-1630s. According to Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop, Mrs. Dyer was “a very proper and fair woman,” and she and her husband were well educated. During the Antinomian controversy that rocked the Bay Colony

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Sidney S Goldstein

Some individuals have been recognized for Hall of Fame induction because of the success and prominence of their business creations. Joseph Banigan, in whose building we conduct this ceremony, is one local example. He was a co-founder of U. S. Rubber Company (Uniroyal) and its early president. Today we honor another creator of a mam-

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Senator William Bradford

William Bradford (1729-1808), born in Plympton, Massachusetts, was the great-great-grandson and namesake of the famous governor of the Plymouth Colony. Bradford studied medicine in Hingham, Massachusetts, and then opened a practice in Warren a few years after that town’s transfer from Massachusetts to Rhode Island in 1747. In 1751, he married Mary LeBaron, the daughter

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William Harris

William Harris (1610-1681) had a reputation among colonial Rhode Islanders for stirring up controversy. In his lifetime, he was the instigator of numerous lawsuits, and he was charged and indicted for tumults and high treason–and subsequently released. While Roger Williams and John Clarke may vie with each other for the title of “Founder of Rhode

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Congressman Jonathan Hazard

Jonathan Hazard (1744-1825) was born to a Newport Quaker family in 1744. As a young man, he moved to rural Charlestown, became a small farmer, and worked as an itinerant tailor. He was passionately involved in the independence movement. During the Revolution, he served for a time as the paymaster of the Rhode Island regiment

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Chief Sachem (Ousamequin) Massasoit

The Wampanoags historically were a tribe of horticulturists, farmers, fishermen, and woodland hunters who inhabited eastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Their name means “People of the East” or “People of the Dawn.” Their tribal organization was in the nature of a confederacy of small bands. These varied sub-tribes, with their approximate areas of settlement,

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Chief Sachem Metacomet

Metacomet, or Metacom (ca. 1638-1676), chief sachem of the Wampanoag Indian confederation from 1662 until 1676, ruled over a shrinking Native American empire on what is now Rhode Island’s East Bay and southeastern Massachusetts. His English name and title, King Philip, were allegedly derived from Philip of Macedonia–a prophetic anointment before his involvement in the

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Reverend Samuel Hopkins

Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803) was a Congregational theologian and reformer. He was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, the son of Timothy Hopkins, a successful farmer with the financial means to send young Samuel to Yale, from which he graduated in 1741. During his senior year at Yale, then operating under Congregational auspices, Hopkins became caught up in

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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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Reverend Samuel Newman

The Reverend Samuel Newman (1602-1663) was a learned clergyman and the first prominent settler of present-day East Providence. He has not received as much acclaim as other Rhode Island founders because his village at Rumford, like the settlement of Thomas Willett at Wannamoisett, was beyond the boundaries of Rhode Island until the state annexed East

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Reverend James Manning

Reverend James Manning (1738-1791), Baptist clergyman and founding president of Rhode Island College (now Brown University), was born in Elizabeth Township, New Jersey, to parents who were probably of Irish origin. He attended Hopewell Academy, a Baptist grammar school, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), a school that operated under Presbyterian auspices. In

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John Aldrich Saunders Jr.

John Aldrich Saunders, Jr. (1808-1882) was the central figure, chronologically and symbolically, of the noted South County family of boat builders, marine entrepreneurs, and seamen. He was born in Newport, the grandson of Stephen Saunders, a shipwright, and the son of Captain John Aldrich Saunders (1786-1832), who built one of the first three-mastered schooners and

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Richard Smith

Richard Smith Sr. (1596-1666) was a prominent entrepreneur and by far the most important early settler of Rhode Island’s present-day Washington (or “South”) County. He was born in Gloucestershire, England, into a family of gentlemen farmers. Because his religious beliefs tended towards nonconformity, he gave up his material advantages in England for a life in

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Colonel Stephen Olney

Stephen Olney (1756-1832), of North Providence, was one of Rhode Island’s most distinguished and longest-serving officers during the War for Independence. He was a fifth-generation descendant of Thomas Olney, a joint proprietor with Roger Williams in the settlement of Providence. In 1774, at the age of eighteen, Stephen Olney became a private in a newly

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Judge Henry Marchant

Henry Marchant (1741-1796), of Newport and South Kingstown, was a well-educated intellectual and a protégé of Ezra Stiles. Marchant was born on Martha’s Vineyard, the son of Hexford Marchant, a sea captain. His mother, whose maiden name was Butler, died when he was four, shortly after the family moved to Newport. His father’s second bride

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Reverend William Blackstone

William Blackstone (1595-1675) was born in Whickham, Durham, England, the son and namesake of a wealthy landowner and poultryman whose surname was also spelled “Blaxton” or “Blackston.” Young William earned his A.B. and M.A. from Emmanuel College of Cambridge University in 1617 and 1621, respectively, and he then became an ordained clergyman of the Anglican

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Mayor and Captain Thomas Willett

Captain Thomas Willett (1611-1674) was the principal early settler of Wannamoisett (present-day Riverside and northern Barrington) and the first English mayor of New York City. Willett was born in England and embraced Calvinist theology as a young man. Like many of the Pilgrim fathers, he left England for Holland, where Calvinism flourished, and like many

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Captain Silas Talbot

Silas Talbot (1751-1813) was born in Dighton, Massachusetts, into a poor farm family, the son of Benjamin Talbot and Rebecca Allen. His mother died when he was four. In his early teens, Silas worked on a coasting vessel and then learned the stonemason’s craft. In 1769 or 1770, he moved to Providence to ply his

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Governor, Chief Justice and Signer Stephen Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins (1707–85), statesman, pamphleteer, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on March 7, 1707, in Providence easterly of a former Indian village called Mashapaug. This site was set off from Providence in 1754, becoming part of the new town of Cranston. It was reannexed in 1868 and is located today in

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Governor Samuel Cranston

Samuel Cranston (1659-1727) was governor of Rhode Island for almost twenty-nine years, from 1698 to 1727, a tenure not only longer than any other Rhode Island governor but also exceeding the tenure of any other chief executive of an American colony or state. Cranston was the son of John Cranston, who was also a Rhode

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Major General James Mitchell Varnum

James Mitchell Varnum (1748-1789), lawyer, Revolutionary War general, and judge, was born in Dracut, Massachusetts, the eldest son of affluent farmer Major Samuel Varnum and his second wife, Hannah Mitchell. He attended Harvard for a year, but his involvement in a student protest prompted him to enroll at Rhode Island College (Brown), where he earned

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