WaterFire Providence Presents the Gaspee Project. June 14th, 2014, 242 years after the burning of the HMS Gaspee, as we retell and relive the story of that historic night through a variety of artistic mediums, events, and experiences.
From Flash Mob to Freedom
Join us throughout the day to follow this thrilling story of daring patriotism by seeing it all unfold in the long-lost twitter feeds of that famous day. Starting at 12 noon on June 14, 2014, WaterFire Providence will use technology and social media to bring to life the key characters including Lt. William Dudingston, Captain of the Gaspee, James Sabin, owner of the Sabin Tavern, and many more. Check out the WaterFire Gaspee Twitter feed (#wfgaspee) and witness the revolt as it unfolds. Keep scrolling for background and context and to learn more about Rhode Island’s revolt against British rule.
Sabin’s Tavern – The Great Debate
From 9:15pm to 10:30pm discover a fascinating re-enactment of the lively debate that occurred at Sabin’s Tavern on June 9th, 1772 over whether or not the Colonies should demand independence from Great Britain. At The Wild Colonial Tavern at 250 South Water Street (one block from WaterFire downstream at the intersection of Power Street) three engaging historians, John McNiff, John Concannon, and David Ely, will lead us towards a deeper understanding of what was discussed that night from the perspective of the Providence residents who first started the American Revolution. Learn their grievances and arguments against the Crown, their hopes for a new country, and their fears of reprisal for acting to insure their liberty. Enjoy ale and drinks and a special colonial cocktail, right nearby at The Wild Colonial Tavern at 250 South Water Street, Providence. Performances from 9:15pm until 10:30pm.
The RI Historical Society presents walking tours featuring the Gaspee and much more. Tours depart from the John Brown House Museum located at 52 Power Street at 5:30 pm. Tickets are $10 each. Also, check out the free Independence Trail, a 2.5 mile walking tour of four centuries of history presented via your mobile phone by dialing 401-441-6401. The trail is a loop marked by a green line on the sidewalk and you can start anywhere on the loop. Learn More
Open Historic Houses
John Brown, the Providence merchant who promoted the attack on the Gaspee, later built and resided in a magnificent 18th century mansion. The John Brown House Museum at 52 Power Street will be presenting house tours at 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm. Learn More
Also, make time to see The Governor Stephen Hopkins House located at 15 Hopkins Street (off Benefit Street) and open for tours between 1:00 and 4:00 pm. Learn More
Rhode Island History Resources
About The Gaspee Event: HMS Gaspee and her hated commander, Lt. William Dudingston, were sent by King George III to Rhode Island waters in March of 1772 to enforce the trade laws and prevent smuggling. They made no friends amongst the colonists in harassing shipping and delaying, often unjustly, ships that had properly passed custom inspection in Newport.
Near daylight on June 10th, the Rhode Islanders set fire to the Gaspee, burning her to the waterline whereupon her powder magazine exploded. Efforts of the Crown to learn the names of the culprits were unsuccessful, although a sizable reward had been offered. Public sentiment was in accord with the venture; this spirit of unity soon spread to the other colonies with the formation of the Committees of Correspondence to prevent further threats. It was but a short step from here to the First Continental Congress and eventually the Declaration of Independence.