J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

“British Occupation of Newport,” 26 Aug.

On Saturday, 26 August, the Newport Historical Society will host another of its highly regarded living history events, this one depicting “The British Occupation of Newport’s Old Quarter.”  

The overview:
During the Revolutionary War, the British occupied Newport, Rhode Island, for nearly three years—a time that dramatically changed the city. Prior to the war, Newport was the fifth-largest city in the American colonies and was experiencing a Golden Age of wealth. But beginning in December 1776, British troops arrived, and the course of Newport’s future was dramatically altered. Much of the population left, and those who remained struggled; tensions between local Loyalists and British troops grew during each year of the three-year occupation.

The afternoon program will open with a heated argument between two gentlemen who favor the Crown, and will close with the capture of General Richard Prescott.
The activity takes place from 12:00 noon to 5:00 P.M. The main action in the public areas is free. It looks like these include:
  • Eighteenth-century auction beside the Museum of Newport History at the Brick Market.
  • Preparations for a wedding between a British solider and a local woman in the yard of the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House.
  • Sentry box with British soldiers outside the Colony House, a fine opportunity for selfies.
  • In Washington Square, visitors can mingle with such residents as an apothecary, a printer, merchants, food sutlers, and owners of a boarding-house and tavern.
The Newport Historical Society takes advantage of the space around its colonial buildings and attracts some of the country’s best historical reenactors as enthusiastic volunteers. If all goes according to plan, this will be the society’s largest living-history event yet.

In addition, there are special events for additional fees.

The Spy Challenge: “For a $3 fee per family, purchase a handout at the Brick Market Museum Shop that offers clues guiding visitors to collect important intelligence information at select interpretative stations. Participants must then figure out how to transport the intelligence off of the island to help General Washington win the War for Independence. Upon successfully completing the Spy Challenge, participants can collect a small prize. Proceeds help offset event operation costs.”

American Revolution in Newport Walking Tour: This tour will wind its way through the action in Washington Square and end with a “tot of rum” in a reproduction eighteenth-century Royal Navy cup, a silver and brass souvenir included in the tour price. Starting from the Brick Market Museum at 2:00, this tour is for people aged 21 or older with photo identification. It costs $35 per person, $30 for society members and active-duty military personnel. Limited to twenty participants, so reserve a space by calling 401-841-8770.

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