Notes on collections at the RIHS
As we begin the season of celebrating Gaspee Days (6 May to 13 June)—complete with children dressed as gravediggers—, here’s an item from a past celebration: a commemorative banner from the 50th anniversary of the Gaspee burning.
In 1772 the Gaspee, a British schooner focused on countering smuggling—and therefore much hated by enterprising Rhode Islanders—was lured into shallow water near Warwick, where it ran aground. Later that night a group of men rowed out from Providence and set fire to the ship in the early hours of the morning. It was one of the early acts of violence against Great Britain in the lead-up to the Revolutionary War.
This banner focuses not only on the burning of the boat, but also on the still-living (as of 1826) participants in the event: Benjamin Page, Ephraim Bowen, Turpin Smith and John Mawney, whose names are featured in scrolls surrounding the image of the Gaspee.