Calling all Patriots!

Posted 6/28/23

Editor’s note: Author of the Meeting with Mike column highlighting local personalities appearing in these pages turns his pen to a pet peeve as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day.

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Calling all Patriots!


Editor’s note: Author of the Meeting with Mike column highlighting local personalities appearing in these pages turns his pen to a pet peeve as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day.

It’s time to ready your horses and sharpen your swords!

We call on Governor Maura Healey of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to cease and desist all official manner of communication proclaiming that the Boston Tea Party was the event that “started the American Revolution.”

We further demand that all official publications of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts be further instructed to reflect the fact that the dramatic “Burning of the Gaspee”, which took place on June 10, 1772, more than a full year before the merry pranksters from Massachusetts dumped some tea into the Boston Harbor (history is silent as to whether either of the accompanying boats to the Dartmouth (the Beaver and the Eleanor) had any crumpets on board), was the single act that catapulted the colonists into the revolution.

If the Honorable Governor, and if needed an act of the State Legislature, does not provide such relief to the State of Rhode Island, then we shall be forced to reinforce our militia, led by the Right Honorable Colonel Ron Barnes of the Pawtuxet Rangers, accompanied by a full battalion of lawyers, to secure such relief.

For too long, the State of Massachusetts has reaped billions of dollars in tourism money proclaiming that the American Revolution started on the fateful night in December of 1773.

In fact, they are so brazen that the official Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum proclaims that visitors can “Re-enact the Event that started a Revolution”, and “the single most important event leading up to the American Revolution.”

Rhode Island Historian Laureate Dr. Patrick Conley described the Gaspee significance in his book “Rhode Island’s Contribution to the Formation of the United States,” and various periodicals.

An event that “Rhode Island calls (correctly) “the first blow for freedom.”  “On that evening (June 10, 1772), eight 12-man longboats led by Abraham Whipple rowed from Providence and another came from Bristol under Simeon Potter to attack an armed custom schooner named the Gaspee.   That ship had run aground on a sandbar off the shore of the Town of Warwick, about 6 miles south of Providence.   There Gaspee raiders seized the English naval vessel, shot its Commander, William Dudingston, in the groin when he attempted to resist, removed the crew, and burned the vessel to the waterline.  A daring attack on His Majesty’s Navy.”

 Dr. Conley called the much later Boston Tea Party, or the dumping of 340 casks of tea into the water “far more famous, but far less bold than the burning of the Gaspee.”

But Rhode Island, being who we are, could not help but join in the fun.

In typical Rhode Island style, according to Dr. Conley, “on March 2, 1775, Providence had its own tea party by burning 300 pounds of that valuable leaf in its Market Square.   Then on May 4, 1776, Rhode Island became the first colony to formally renounce allegiance to King George III – an act we now celebrate (with a little hyperbole) as Rhode Island Independence Day.:

The word is spreading, and it has certainly caught the attention of Warwick State Representative Joseph M. McNamara (Rep. District 19 – Cranston/Warwick) who also serves as State Democrat Party Chairman.

Representative McNamara states: “There is no comparison between the act of minor vandalism that occurred on the docks of Boston on December 16, 1773, and the burning of the Gaspee that preceded it by 16 months.   The only reason that the Boston Harbor incident is so well recorded in our history is because most of our United States history textbooks were published in Boston.   The burning of the Gaspee was a highly coordinated attack on a British revenue schooner.  It required coordination from the east and west bays of the Providence River.  Well-armed Gaspee raiders apprehended the HMS Gaspee which had run aground on what was then known as Namquid Point in Warwick.  The raiders shot the captain but didn’t kill him, captured the crew and burned the ship to the water line.   The action definitely fits the definition of “an act of war.”   The vandalism event in Boston involved a group of intoxicated colonists who lamely tried to disguise themselves as Native Americans and then muster the courage they could to throw a couple of crates of tea into Boston Harbor.  This act was much closer to a fraternity prank than an act of war.”

This is no doubt that history is on our side.

We just haven’t had the proper inclination to set the record straight.

As we approach our Nation’s Semiquincentennial (the 250th Anniversary of the 1776 Declaration of Independence), the time is now to “set the record straight.”

Not for the sake of tourism dollars (though I never saw an occasion when RI Government officials missed a nickel), but to make sure that history gets it right.

We’re Rhode Islanders.

We love to have a little fun and fight when there is no other course.

God knows we have a ton of lawyers in Rhode Island that can help us in this crusade, and as mentioned at the start of this column, the Pawtuxet Rangers are standing ready to lead the charge.

In the words of Colonel Ron Barnes, Commander of the Pawtuxet Rangers and member of the Rhode Island 250 Commission, “the road to the Revolution started here in the Pawtuxet Village.  The Gaspee raiders did not disguise themselves or worry about tea.   They shot the Captain of His Majesty’s ship in the groin, captured him and his crew then set the ship ablaze – a year prior to the tea party.   Lt. Dudingston truly suffered the first bloodshed of the fight for independence.  We stand by to have the Boston Tea Party set sail off to the horizon and to have the burning of the Gaspee be acknowledged as the first blow for freedom that stated the Revolution.”

Here! Here!

You can join in the fun by showing your patriotic colors and order the Gaspee Day license plates by contacting the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles – charity plate site.

Celeste and I have already ordered ours.

patriots, patriot, patriotic