Today state legislators will celebrate the annual Gaspee Days State Proclamation Ceremony, thereby kicking off a month of festivities to commemorate the burning of HMS Gaspee, the English ship that Rhode Island colonists torched in 1772. The Gaspee affair was the first planned attack on the British and marked the start of the Revolutionary War, according to the British government. One highlight of today’s festivities is the mock indictment of Chuck Easterbrooks, a descendent of Nathaniel Easterbrooks, one of those feisty colonists who attacked the Gaspee. And if you’re here this summer, you can watch a reenacted burning of the Gaspee June 12 in Pawtuxet Park Cove. We hear it leaves WaterFire in the dust.
Speaking of commemorating history, a bill urging Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 to pardon Irish-Catholic immigrant and accused mill owner-murderer John Gordon has cleared a House committee. Gordon was hanged in 1845 for killing wealthy mill owner Amasa Sprague. Lawmakers contend that widespread prejudice against Irish Catholics at the time prevented Gordon from getting a fair trial. Others argue that this may not be the best use of legislators’ time — they should be out celebrating Gaspee Days, of course! [Read more →]