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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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Recreating the Aftermath of the Gaspee in Providence, 2 June

On Saturday, 2 June, the Rhode Island Historical Society and Newport Historical Society are teaming up for a History Space program exploring the aftermath of the Gaspee Affair of 1772.

As you recall, H.M.S. Gaspee was a Royal Navy ship that patrolled Narragansett Bay for smugglers. On 9 June it ran aground. Local merchants and mariners saw an opportunity, stormed the railings, wounded the commander, and set the Gaspee on fire. (That was the third royal government ship that Rhode Islanders had destroyed in a decade.)

At Saturday’s “What Cheer Day” event at the John Brown House Museum, visitors can chat with reenactors portraying such key figures as Gov. Joseph Wanton, merchant John Brown, innkeeper James Sabin, and Lt. William Dudingston of the Royal Navy (presumably recovering from his chest wound). In a market scenario, street peddlers will hawk their wares while upper-class ladies discuss the political situation over tea.

Family-friendly activities include:
  • The Liberty Poll, an interactive scavenger-hunt questionnaire to help officials determine who was responsible for Gaspee’s burning. (Hint: The event’s at John Brown’s house. Though I put more blame for the violence on Simeon Potter.)
  • Making traditional crafts such as a beeswax candle or a clay pinch pot to take home.
  • Eighteenth-century toys and lawn games.
From noon to 2:00 inside the John Brown House Museum, Prof. Adam Blumenthal of Brown University and Optimity Advisors will present a sneak peek at his work-in-progress, “The Gaspee in Virtual Reality.”

“What Cheer Day” is free and open to the public. It will take place rain or shine on the lawn of the John Brown House Museum, 52 Power Street in Providence. The museum will also be free during its regular open hours on Saturday.

1 comment:

Donald Carleton, Jr. said...

Of course the construction of John Brown's house on College Hill lay over a decade in the future when the Gaspee "affair" took place...

The Simeon Potter House in Newport appears to still be there, however, and operating as a bed and breakfast.