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…