While the Dorr Rebellion is of course centered in Rhode Island, the conflict became national news, and leaders across the country took sides. One such leader, Connecticut Governor Chauncey Cleveland, a Democrat, was a known supporter of Thomas Wilson…

While Samuel Ward King, as Rhode Island’s other governor, was Dorr’s most obvious rival, his opponents were many. One of these opponents, John Brown Francis, had himself served as governor of Rhode Island a decade before King and Dorr. Francis,…

“While there is life, let us act. Let not the damning sin of his murder rest upon us . . . Rhode Islanders, Americans! Have you thought of this? Are you prepared for this? Will you permit this?” This rallying cry graced the windows of a bookstore…

“We claim . . . that to deprive the colored people of this State of the immunities of citizenship, on account of the color of the skin, (a matter over which they have no control), is anti-republican; and against such a procedure we enter our solemn…

A strange-smelling package arrived at the residence where Thomas Wilson Dorr was staying during his exile in 1842. He opened the box to find the following: “one prime codfish weighing 15 lbs., 2 mackerell [sic], 1 peck of clams, and a few…

“The public mind was awake” in Rhode Island, wrote Frederick Douglass (1817?-1895), “and one class of its people at least was ready to work with us to the extent of seeking to defeat the proposed constitution,” which would disenfranchise…

“Infantry! To the Rescue!” shouted a lieutenant as the militia prepared to overtake the rebels at a tavern in Chepachet, wrote William M. Rodman in 1842. Rodman (1814-1868), a merchant tailor with a shop on Westminster Street, served as Master…

A crowd of 1,500 had gathered in Millville on a late fall day in 1842 to show their support for their exiled hero, Thomas Wilson Dorr. One of the most well-known women in the crowd was Catherine R. (Arnold) Williams (1790-1872), who, despite some…

Thomas Wilson Dorr has been called an unlikely people’s hero in the Rebellion that bears his name. A well-educated lawyer, Dorr hailed from an upper-crust Rhode Island family. His father, Sullivan Dorr, amassed great wealth through his dealings in…

Rhode Islanders were pretty pleased with their royal charter in 1663, which granted them freedom from religious persecution. But even a beloved antique can lose its luster eventually, and so by the 19th century, when Rhode Island still operated under…

Prominent textile manufacturer Henry Lippitt, his wife and six children lived in this opulent Italian Renaissance Revival house, a testament to the burgeoning wealth of industrial Providence. Lippitt’s business ventures and investments proved so…

Success, ambition, and glamour dominate this block of Benefit Street. John Brown became wealthy from his family’s shipping business, which included privateering, the China Trade, and Triangular Trade. John, along with his brothers Nicholas, Joseph,…

Only two months before Washington would burn at the hands of British troops during the War of 1812, Providence would witness the destruction by fire of a major monument atop the East Side. A victim of arson, the First Congregational Church (1795) was…

This home of Declaration-signer Stephen Hopkins (1707 – 1785) is among the oldest still standing in Rhode Island and the oldest in Providence. Hopkins lived here with his family and their slaves, in eight rooms that are now chock-full of antiques,…

If the walls of University Hall could talk, they might tell you about the time they met George Washington (although don’t believe them if they tell you he slept here). The first building constructed on Brown’s campus, University Hall, has played…

In the mood for a seance? If you were a member of the cultural elite in 19th-century Providence, all signs would have pointed to yes. East Side artists and intellectuals attended seances held in private homes, which also played host to literary…

As you stroll the streets of the East Side, pay attention to the street signs: many of the streets you pass bear witness to some of the significant people and structures that have come and gone, making and remaking the city. Power Street, for…

The Rhode Island School of Design, most commonly known by its acronym RISD, is an internationally acclaimed leader in art and design education. Established in 1877 by 34 members of the Rhode Island Women’s Centennial Commission, the school embarked…

As the population of the East Side grew in the 18th century, residences sprang up quickly along Benefit Street. Intended for “the common benefit of all.” Benefit Street encouraged the construction of homes higher on the ridge of modern-day…

Providence’s tightly-knit community of artists and collectors created the Providence Art Club to congregate, create, and display art. It is the second oldest art club in the country after the Salmagundi Club in New York City. The westernmost of the…

Rhode Island is perhaps inordinately proud of its superlatives and firsts: first to establish religious freedom, first to rebel against the British crown, longest hold-out before ratifying the newly minted Constitution.  And, in the 20th century,…

Providence began as a sleepy farming village along the Great Salt Cove and The Great Salt River (the Providence River, today). It stayed that way into the eighteenth century, even while seaports like Newport amassed incredible wealth through the…

A visionary and independent thinker, Roger Williams (c. 1603 – 1683) was warned by the Puritan authorities in Massachusetts Bay Colony to refrain from spreading his “new and dangerous opinions.” Williams’s “opinions” did not sit well with…

At the crest of Smith Hill, once pastureland for a sleepy colonial town, sits a marble giant, the Rhode Island State House. Designed by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, responsible for the design of the Boston Public Library…