Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project
Posted By: D. K. (Kathy) Abbass, Ph.D., Director
Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP)
Foundation for the Preservation of Captain Cook's Ships
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! ! ! ALERT -- ALERT -- ALERT ! ! !
and we promise to respond as soon as possible. Meanwhile, please be aware that hackers who hi-jack your mailing lists and send out spurious messages that seem to be from your friends and that say thing like: "I am stuck in ___ and was robbed, so need cash to return home" will make Yahoo lock your account. In the past couple of years RIMAP has received three such messages, the last of which was in late April, and although we didn't respond to it, apparently the receipt of the message was enough for Yahoo to lock us out of our mailbox.
Meanwhile, we are trying to resolve the security issue that Yahoo has installed, but we have no assurance that we will ever be successful. Phone calls, on-line sleuthing, and e-mails to that company have generated no relief for the problem, so RIMAP is making arrangements for an e-mail account that is more user-friendly. Thank you for your patience.
D. K. Abbass
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! ! ! RIMAP ANNUAL MEETING ! ! ! PUBLIC INVITED
SATURDAY, MAY 4 -- NOON TO 1 P.M.
PORTSMOUTH TOWN HALL, PORTSMOUTH, RHODE ISLAND
! ! ! FOLLOWED BY A TOUR OF BUTTS HILL FORT AND A PRESENTATION ABOUT THE BATTLE OF RHODE ISLAND ! ! !
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CHECK OUT THE NEW 2013 TRAINING SCHEDULE, POSTED UNDER MEMBER ACTIVITIES - TRAINING PROGRAM !!
THE FIRST INTRODUCTION TO MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY CLASS ON FEBRUARY 2 AND THE TWO CLASSES ON ARTIFACTS ON FEBRUARY 10 HAVE BEEN RE-SCHEDULED. PLEASE CONTACT US FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.
THE RHODE ISLAND IN THE REVOLUTION CLASS AND THE MUSEUM THEORY CLASS SCHEDULED FOR FEBRUARY 24 ARE STILL AVAILABLE, BUT THE DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION IS NOON ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 18.
AGAIN, DUE TO BAD WEATHER, THE FEBRUARY 24 CLASSES HAVE BEEN CANCELLED AND WILL BE OFFERED LATER IN THE SPRING. PLEASE CONTACT US FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.
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THE RIMAP DINNER STORIES -- OR HOW TO WIN AN OSCAR WITH BIG STORIES FROM THE SMALLEST STATE !!
One of the fun things RIMAP teams do when we engage in our historical studies and archaeological fieldwork is to decide who should play each of us if ever a movie (or long-running PBS special) were to be made about our activities. In the absence of a call from Hollywood (or London), we offer these DINNER STORIES as a way to share our excitement with you. And it gives you a chance to be part of the stories, too.
We set this up as a series of discussions, as if we were sitting after a meal with good friends at historic locations around Rhode Island. The RIMAP Principal Investigator tells one story at a time relating to local history. Some of the stories will take place in exotic locations around the world, with dramatic events and glamorous characters. Others will have a more local Rhode Island focus.
Imagine yourself sitting at the table discussing these stories. Then imagine that we are being filmed for a movie and that the stories are to be dramatized, too. If you want to be featured in the DINNER CAST on this blog, please e-mail us the name of the person who should play you in the movie (and if you want your real name included). And for the STORY CASTS (posted at the end of the stories), please suggest names of those who should play the story roles.
There is no prize for participating but the on-line table will seat everyone who wants to join us, and you will get your 15 minutes of fame for being included in the blog update.
THE DINNER CAST:
Narrator: D. K. (KATHY) ABBASS, Ph.D. (RIMAP Project Director and Principal Investigator, and author of these trifles)
Played by: SIGOURNEY WEAVER, possibly JANE FONDA
At the table: KERRY LYNCH, Ph.D. (Professional Archaeologist and RIMAP Archaeology Field Supervisor)
Played by: JODIE FOSTER
At the table: ELLIOTT CALDWELL (Professional Archivist and Current RIMAP Board Chair; )
Played by: MERYL STREEP
At the table: JOHN HOAGLAND (PADI Instructor, RIMAP Dive Safety Officer and Past RIMAP Board Chair)
Played by: DENZEL WASHINGTON
At the table: DEBBY DWYER (Diver, RIMAP Site Manager for the Empire State in Bristol, and RIMAP Board Secretary)
Played by: JUDI DENCH
At the table: JOHN/JANE DOE (possibly you?)
Played by: LORD/LADY OLIVIER (choose an actor)
THE MOVIE TO BE DIRECTED BY: PETER JACKSON, when he finishes the Hobbit
THE MOVIE'S MUSIC BY: JEFF BEAL, and using a variation on Khatchaturian's Adagio from Spartacus for the sailing scenes
OTHER SUGGESTIONS ?
DINNER STORY #3 -- Spies in the American Revolution: The German maid, the slave, and the judge
(Posted February 23, 2013; Copyright Abbass/RIMAP 2013)
THE LOCATION: We are seated at a beach picnic at Sachuest Point, where the view of the southern part of the Sakonnet River gives the panorama of where the spies came asore.
THE STORY (told by SIGOURNEY WEAVER):
“After British and Hessian troops occupied Aquidneck Island on December 6, 1776, they quickly became aware that local shores were difficult to control. Citizens easily crossed the Sakonnet River from the mainland to Portsmouth at Howland’s Ferry and Fogland Ferry. From Little Compton they came into Middletown at Taggart’s Ferry, and from there made their way into Newport.
“Those who owned their vessels could cross to many other locations along the shore, and the southeast corner of Aquidneck Island at Sachuest Point and Third Beach was especially open to those who wished to sneak ashore. A cell of Patriot spies, including a German-born girl, a slave, and a local judge (and his family) collected important information about British activities on the island for the American leadership on the mainland.
“Gertrude had immigrated to Newport with her family as a young girl and spoke flawless English, although German was her native tongue. She was a barmaid at the Marquis of Granby, John Fry's tavern near the Colony House. When Hessian soldiers were in the tavern and spoke of their activities, they were unaware that Gertrude could understand them and that she was taking note of what they said.
“Other women collected intelligence for the Patriots during the Revolutionary War. One wrote down all she could learn and gave it to a Quaker who lived near Wood Castle, a small peninsula along the southeastern shore of Aquidneck Island. Her messages were concealed in a hole under a great rock nearby.
“Judge William Taggart (also spelled Taggert) lived with his large family in Middletown, also along the southeastern section of Aquidneck Island, near a common Sakonnet River crossing to Little Compton. When a Hessian officer and his retinue were billeted in their home, Mrs. Taggart began to fear for her daughters' safety. William, the oldest son of the twelve children in the family, took his mother and younger siblings to the Sisson farm at Little Compton. The property was known as Seaconnet Farm, near Warren Point.
“Meanwhile the Judge and the two next oldest boys stayed behind in Middletown to manage the family property. At intervals, Judge Taggart would come into Newport on business where he would collect information from Gertrude at the Marquis of Granby tavern. Then he returned to his home near the shore and signaled the mainland that there was important news to retrieve. The judge’s son William, or Lt. Seth Chapin, would see that gates were left in a certain position, or wash lines were arranged in a certain way, and they would cross from Little Compton in order to pick up the news.
“If Judge Taggart couldn’t come into town, he sent his slave Cudjo Sisson, and Gertrude would send her news by him. Because the Taggart mother, the oldest son William and younger children had moved to the Sisson farm at Little Compton, Cudjo may have used Sisson as his last name. It is unknown if this is the same Cujo Sisson who played a leading role in Colonel Barton's raid to capture General Prescott at the Overing House on West Main Road. Details of this episode are described in a future Dinner Story.
“Judge William Taggart and his son William were exposed as Patriot spies in 1777 when the American plan to attack Aquidneck Island failed. When William, Lt. Charles Handy of Newport, and two other officers crossed the Sakonnet River to visit the Judge, they heard that the British force had only 2,000 men, that their military works were few, and that their navy was small. Based on this information, the American army under General Spencer gathered at Tiverton and prepared to attack.
“It was the Taggarts’ responsibility to gather draft animals to transport the cannons that Spencer's troops were supposed to bring across the river. On the night of October 19th, William and a party of thirty men crossed the river, met his father and two brothers, captured a British sergeant and private from the 17th Dragoons at Sachuest Beach, and then moved to Black Point as instructed. The Taggart party waited until almost day-break for the signal from the mainland that the American army was on its way.
“Unfortunately General Spencer had decided that the weather was not satisfactory and cancelled the American army's planned move onto Aquidneck Island. That left the Taggarts exposed as American spies and sympathizers and forced them to abandon their Middletown property. They joined the rest of the family at Little Compton. The next year, in 1778, Judge Taggart and his sons William and Isaac helped to transport the American troops, this time under General Sullivan, as they crossed onto Aquidneck Island to put Newport under siege. That attempt also failed to dislodge the British and Hessians, and ended in the Battle of Rhode Island as the American withdrew after a month of effort.
“The most poignant Taggart family story took place when a party of "Refugee" soldiers (Americans serving with the British) landed undiscovered on the Little Compton shore some time after the Battle. The Patriot sentinels found the "Refugee" schooner and fired warning shots, but were quickly captured and silenced. William was captured, but his younger brother jumped a stone wall and in his attempt to escape, a soldier shot the young boy in the thigh and then killed him with a bayonet.
“William Taggart was taken across the Sakonnet River and put in the Newport jail. On a night two weeks later, he and Capt. Benjamin Borden of Fall River cut their way out of the basement of the building and escaped. To hide their identities as they walked away, they talked to each other as if they were recent arrivals from New York. Taggart and Borden then made their way out of town down Broadway and then crossed the heavily guarded British lines between Tonomi Hill and Irish's house (near the intersection of East Main and West Main Roads).
They walked eight or nine miles north toward Bristol Ferry. That shore was closely guarded and there were no boats, so the two escapees used fence rails to make a raft and launched it without discovery between two of the sentries. The night was calm and a thick fog came up, which helped to hide them, but they didn't know which way to steer, and the raft was not buoyant enough to keep them out of the water. Although they were still close enough to shore to see the sentries at daybreak, they eventually landed on the south point of Prudence Island and from there were taken in a boat to Bristol. Each then made his way home.
“Following the war the Taggart family returned to their Middletown property, only to find that British General Pigot had ordered their livestock to be distributed to the troops, their grain sent to the British stores, and their house given to the Hessians, who plundered it and then pulled it down. By the 1830s, the Judge’s son William was living in poverty with his own family on a small portion of the original Middletown property. The Taggart family fortunes had never recovered.”
ANONYMOUS ASKS: “Is the John Frye tavern the same as the Pitt’s Head Tavern of Dinner Story 2, below?”
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: “Probably another business. There were many taverns and coffee shops in Newport at this time. In any case, A John Frye House still exists on Second Street, in Newport. It once had been part of a bakery, but it isn’t known if this had also been a tavern in the Revolutionary War.”
ANONYMOUS ASKS: “Why the Taggart family move to Little Compton?”
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: “The Revolutionary War was a great see-saw of property ownership, depending on which side was in control at any given time. For instance, shortly after the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of the War, Rhode Island began to claim the Tory properties abandoned by the British supporters, especially those on the mainland in areas of strong Patriot support. Once the British and Hessian troops occupied Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands in December of 1776, they claimed the properties abandoned by the Patriot owners who had escaped from the two islands. During the British occupation of Newport, they burned between 300-600 of these Patriot-owned buildings for fuel. Then when the British left Rhode Island in 1779, most of the Tory sympathizers went with them, and they left their properties behind. These were claimed by the state and then sold to defray the expenses of the war. The Sisson farm in Little Compton had belonged to a Tory and itt came to the Taggarts, a well-known Patriot family, when the state confiscated the property.”
ANONYMOUS ASKS: “Why did General Spencer cancel the planned attack in 1777?”
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: “General Joseph Spencer was criticized for this failure, and was called "Granny" for what was seen as cowardice. However, he was an experienced officer from Connecticut and had previously served with distinction in the Seven Years War. He may have known that the Taggart estimate of British troop strength was too low, but he gave bad weather as his reason for abandoning the plan that night. Despite the disappointment and dislocation of local citizens, Spencer's threatened attack was successful in keeping the British and Hessian troops in Rhode Island from leaving to reinforce General Burgoyne’s army in New York. Burgoyne lost at Saratoga, partly because he lacked those Rhode Island reinforcements, and when the French saw that the Americans could win a major battle, they decided to join with the American cause. Therefore, Spencer's failure in Rhode Island in 1777 was a direct catalyst for the French to join the Americans as allies. Later Spencer returned to Connecticut, left the army, and served in Congress.
ANONYMOUS ASKS: “How did William Taggart and Benjamin Border escape from the jail in Newport?”
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: “Apparently the prisoners in the Jail were allowed to visit the basement for short periods, and William Taggart and Benjamin Borden quickly noticed that the window bars there were wood, not iron. It is unclear why they had a knife, but they were able to cut their way through the bars on the east side of the building. The sentries had taken refuge from the rain in their box around the corner, and so failed to see their escape. The Newport jail building still survives. George Lawton supervised its construction in 1772, and he may be the same George Lawton who met William Trevett on his January 1777 spying trip, noted in Dinner Story #2. The Jail building was enlarged about 1900, remodeled for contemporary use about 1960, and once the new police headquarters in Newport was finished, the old building was again remodeled and the "jail" is now open to the public as an inn.”
DINNER STORY #2: SPIES IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: JOHN TREVETT AND HIS DOG -- A SAILOR/SPY IN NEWPORT
(Posted January 31, 2013; Copyright Abbass/RIMAP 2013)
We are seated at a restaurant dining room on Long Wharf overlooking Newport’s Inner Harbor (the waters east of Goat Island).
THE STORY (told by SIGOURNEY WEAVER):
“By the 1680s this area was a center of maritime activity, and it changed dramatically when the Proprietors of Long Wharf incorporated and built a structure to connect the Newport commercial area on the east to a spit of land on the west called Gravelly Point. This wharf enclosed the shallow waters to the north called “the Cove.” Over the centuries the Cove has filled in, the wharf has been reinforced, and modern development has erased all but the basic footprint of the historic wharf’s structure. More than a hundred years ago there was a railroad terminal where the bus station and parking lot are now located. Here the passengers to and from Boston would make the connection to the nearby steamship landing.
“During Colonial times, and into the American Revolution, Long Wharf provided shop spaces for many local shipwrights and other maritime tradesmen. Larger vessels, even Royal Navy frigates, were serviced on the harbor side of the wharf and smaller craft passed through a draw bridge in the middle of the wharf to gain access to the shallower Cove side.
“It was at Long Wharf that John Trevett, commander of the marine detachment on board the Sloop PROVIDENCE, began his adventure as a Patriot spy during the Revolution. He was not yet 30 years old when the British troops occupied Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands on December 6, 1776. Like many other Patriot supporters in Newport, his mother and father, and his brother's wife and son abandoned their family property to avoid the arriving troops. They escaped to East Greenwich with only some bedding and a few clothes.
“Trevett took part in many daring actions during the Revolution, including the Continental fleet’s successful attack on the Bahamas in 1776, and the defense of East Greenwich from a raid by American troops serving with the British in 1778. However, his most audacious adventure was in January of 1777, just a month after the British arrived in Newport. That is when he visited the city in disguise to gather first-hand information about the enemy’s strength and locations.
“John Trevett was clever, but because Newport citizens were divided in their loyalties, he knew he would be in trouble if British sympathizers recognized him, so he let his beard grow and wore rough clothes as a disguise. Then he and two Midshipmen from the Sloop PROVIDENCE joined the crew of a Patriot ship (called a “cartel”) sent from Providence to Newport to exchange prisoners. The cartel was under the command of Boston’s Captain John Ayers who had frequently been to Narragansett Bay and knew local waters well.
“When the cartel arrived at Newport she was ordered to anchor west of Goat Island near the Royal Navy’s RENOWN. Trevett reported that the cartel's cable was too poor to anchor in those rough waters, so instead a midshipman and some men from the RENOWN brought her into the Inner Harbor where she anchored near Long Wharf. When Captain Ayres took the prisoners ashore for the exchange, the rest of the crew stayed on board.
“It was so cold that the Cove behind Long Wharf had frozen over, and Trevett knew that in such weather British officers liked "a sling or canhook in the morning." He also knew that there was plenty of rum, sugar, and a cask of water on board to make the drink, and that the men from the RENOWN would likely ask for it in the morning.
“John Trevett’s first step in his spy mission was to creep into the hold of the cartel ship, where he turned the water cask's bung down so it would run dry. The next morning, when the British officer asked for "a sling, well to the northward," Trevett told his shipmate to fetch the water while he got the rum and sugar ready. When the news came that there was no water on board, Trevett, as a local Newporter, said he knew where there was good water near Long Wharf. The thirsty officer ordered him to take two crewmen ashore and be gone not more than twenty minutes.
“Trevett and his two Patriot companions took the empty cask in a small boat to Philip Wanton's dock, where his men waited while he went to a nearby pump. There he met George Lawton and asked to borrow a funnel to fill the cask. Lawton sent him to Mrs. Battey. The Batteys were one of the many Rhode Island families split in their loyalties. Mrs. Battey's son, Captain Henry Dayton, was serving with the Americans, but Trevett had long suspected that Mr. Battey was a Tory sympathizer because he worked as a pilot on board the Royal Navy ships. Luckily Mr. Battey was absent from the wharf.
“When Mrs. Battey recognized Trevett’s voice, she warned him that British officers were boarded in the rooms overhead, and told him to speak low. Trevett refused the meal she offered but shared news of her son. Mrs. Battey then gave him the gossip about the town, lent him the funnel, and warned him to avoid her husband.
“Trevett filled the cask, returned the funnel, and then rejoined the two crew at the boat left on Long Wharf. He ordered them to let the boat go aground on the falling tide so that they would not be able return immediately to the cartel vessel. Then Trevett took "a cruise round town," to gather information.
“He first went to Peleg Barker's house on Clarke Street where the commanders of the Hessian troops were quartered. He found sentries at the front door and at the nearby wharf access, but went to the back door two wharfs down. Passing through the kitchen full of Hessians, he found Mr. Barker and Deacon Peckham from Middletown in the southwest room. They were frightened to see him, but gave him useful information about the condition of the occupying troops and where they were stationed on Aquidneck Island. Trevett also found the small dog that his family had left behind in their haste to leave Newport the month before.
“At 11 a.m. Trevett went to Captain Lillibridge's tavern on Charles Street, near the Parade (now called Washington Square). This was called the Pitt’s Head Tavern and in modern times the building was moved from its original location to Newport’s Point section. It is now a private home. Although Lillibridge had been ill-treated by the British and did not support them, the tavern's common room was crowded with British and Hessian officers.
“Trevett followed Lillibridge out to the barn and made himself known. When the two men went back to the east room of the house where they could talk alone, Trevett 'could see all the British officers and soldiers, and old refugee torys, walking about the parade.' Lillibridge was afraid that Tory sympathizers, who frequented the tavern, would arrive and recognize Trevett.
“Trevett was nearly caught when he saw Will Crosen, 'one of the worst of villains,' come running up the steps toward the door to the room where he sat with Captain Lillibridge. Trevett went to the door and put his finger on the latch, making Crosen believe it had been locked and forcing him to go through the bar into the kitchen.
“Trevett immediately left the building and ran directly into John Wanton, another of Newport's prominent Tories. Wanton called him by name, but Trevett quickly went off toward the Point section of town. There he took refreshment at the Waldron house and by about 3 p.m. he thought the boat would be afloat, so he retrieved his dog and started for Long Wharf. On the way, near Jacob Richardson's place, he again saw Peleg Barker, this time with his son, but they pretended not to know him.
“The thirsty Royal Navy officer left behind that morning on the cartel cursed him as Trevett returned to the ship with his men. Captain Ayres was also angry because news had got around Newport that someone was spying in town, and he had been ordered to return to the cartel earlier than planned.
“The next day some passengers and the exchanged American prisoners were put on board and the cartel returned to Providence. Trevett shaved and dressed in his Sunday clothes to make his report. At first Captain Ayres didn’t recognize him, but when he heard what Trevett had done in Newport, he said: ‘I would not run the risk for the Cartel loaded with dollars.’
“Although his story is exciting, the penalty for Trevett's capture would have been fatal. Men who had enlisted in the Patriot army or navy, and who were caught spying behind enemy lines in civilian clothes, could suffer the ultimate punishment. Local citizens who gave information to such spies could also be punished.
“John Trevett was lucky. He served in the Continental Navy until 1782, then returned to Newport where he raised his family and wrote the story of his adventures, and died here in 1823."
JUDI DENCH ASKS: "Why are there so few women featured in these stories?"
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: "Women played important roles in the American Revolution, and indeed throughout history. It was often the case, like in the 18th century when these stories are set, that women's contributions were not considered as significant as those of the men who served in various armies and navies. Most histories of the Revolution have focussed on heroic front-line action, and the populations with few literate individuals who could write about their own experiences, like women and minorities, disappeared from view. In the past 30 years, however, historians have begun to pay more attention to such under-represented populations. Now it is clear that women did many heroic things, and so there will be a few Dinner Stories in which a woman plays a leading part. But more importantly, as Milton's poem says: 'They also serve who only stand and wait.' That is why our Dinner Stories recognize that the Rhode Island women who stayed close to home, like Mrs. Battey, contributed to the success of the Revolution."
ANONYMOUS ASKS: "Was the weather really cold enough for the Cove to freeze?"
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: "Local inhabitants reported that in the early 1770s Rhode Island winters had been so cold that the passages between the north end of Aquidneck Island to Bristol and Tiverton had frozen so solid that a horse and carriage could safely pass over. The following winters were just as brutally cold, with more of Narragansett Bay freezing. One year it froze for six weeks, with the ice extending out to sea. Bottles of water, mustard, pickles, and even port wine and other liquor froze inside houses. Poultry and animals, as well as some sentries at their posts, died of the cold. Frostbite was common. Sea smoke was seen in the harbour and strong storms blew down houses, one with snow drifting as high as 20 feet."
ANONYMOUS ASKS: "Did cartel vessels often come to Newport?"
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: "Yes. During the Revolution, army and navy prisoners could be exchanged if there were men of equal rank taken by both sides, and detailed negotiations for such exchanges were common between American and British commanders. In the case of officers, the trade was sometimes delayed until the opponent had secured someone of appropriate rank. This was one of the reasons that William Barton captured General Richard Prescott (to be told in a later Dinner Story). High-raking officers could be set free on "parole" (their promise not to return to service until they were exchanged), and if they had money, they could buy extra food and special treatment during their wait. However, the experience of low-ranking prisoners could include harshness and cruelty, especially when they were kept on board prison ships. In the story of John Trevett’s spy mission that took place in January of 1777, the British had just arrived the month before to occupy Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands in Narragansett Bay. The Patriots in Providence obviously had some British prisoners in American custody and the cartel carried them to Newport to exchange for the Patriots in British custody."
ANONYMOUS ASKS: "What was meant by refugee troops?"
SIGOURNEY WEAVER ANSWERS: "These were American troops serving with the British, many in exclusively American regiments. There were a number of violent actions against Patriots that sometimes were the result of pre-existing rivalries between long-time local enemies, and these could be particularly heinous when they pitted family members against each other. There are a number of tales to be told (in an upcoming Dinner Story) about the horrors of war suffered by the Patriot families who stayed behind when the British arrived. Although the greatest local fear was about the violence of the British and Hessian soldiers, many of the worst episodes were perpetrated by friends and neighbors, many of whom served in these refugee groups."
DINNER STORY #1: SPIES IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: METCALF BOWLER -- DOUBLE AGENT
(Posted January 19, 2013; Copyright Abbass/RIMAP 2013)
We are seated at a table in the Vernon House at 56 Clarke Street, in the Colonial section of Newport, Rhode Island.
THE STORY (told by SIGOURNEY WEAVER):
"Wealthy Boston merchant Charles Bowler bought this house in 1748 and sold it to his son, Metcalf, in 1759. Metcalf Bowler made the additions that created the structure that we see today. The next year Metcalf bought 70 acres in south Portsmouth near Wapping Road for his country estate. There he established one of the most magnificent Colonial gardens in North America. Both father and son were prominent local citizens, but Metcalf Bowler was one of the cleverest spies in the American Revolution.
"In 1773 Metcalf Bowler sold his Clarke Street property to William Vernon and retired to his Portsmouth estate. When the British troops occupied Newport three years later, Vernon moved to Boston. There he served as president of the Eastern Board of the Continental Navy, similar to the modern Secretary of the Navy.
"The British used the Vernon house in Newport as officer's quarters until they abandoned Rhode Island in 1779. Then General Rochambeau, commander of the French allies that arrived in Newport in 1780, used the house as his headquarters. George Washington stayed with Rochambeau in this building in March of 1781, and here they discussed the plan that led to Yorktown and the successful conclusion of the Revolution.
"In 1782 William Vernon returned to Newport and repaired his house on Clarke Street. Ninety years later the house passed from the Vernon family, and in the 20th century it was partially restored. One of those restorations discovered and preserved the early Chinese-style wall paintings. Now the property belongs to the Newport Restoration Foundation.
"In 1776 Metcalf Bowler was living in Portsmouth and was a Rhode Island Justice. On May 4 of that year he signed the Rhode Island Renunciation of Allegiance to King George III. This was two months before the Declaration of Independence, so our colony was the first to begin formal separation from England.
"During the Revolution, Metcalf Bowler was careful to appear as an ardent Patriot and supporter of the Revolution. When the British arrived in Rhode Island at the end of 1776, they took over many Newport properties owned by other Patriots who had left the city, including the Vernon house that once had belonged to Bowler. To protect his Portsmouth property, Bowler secretly put himself under the King's protection, and using the name 'Rusticus' he sent information to General Henry Clinton, the British commander in New York.
"All the while he was spying for the British, Metcalf Bowler was active for the American cause. In 1775 he had been on a Rhode Island General Assembly committee that hired two armed vessels to protect the Colony. These were the KATY and the WASHINGTON. The KATY later became the Sloop PROVIDENCE, the first vessel in the Continental Navy. Bowler was also a member of the committee tasked with managing the Continental Navy vessels that protected Rhode Island waters, and he was a member of Newport's Committee of Safety.
"When the French troops and ships under Admiral d'Estaing came to the aid of the Americans in 1778, the Continental army and local militia under General Sullivan organized to put the British in Newport under siege. The American division under the command of Lafayette was quartered at Bowler's country home in Portsmouth. When the attempt to capture the British garrison in Newport failed, the Americans retreated to the north end of Aquidneck Island on August 29. There the British engaged them in what is now called the Battle of Rhode Island.
"The British troops abandoned Rhode Island in 1779, and the French returned in 1780, this time under General Rochambeau. Shortly after the French arrival, Metcalf Bowler was among the local dignitaries who sponsored diplomatic ceremonies to welcome the French. There is also an unconfirmed tradition that Metcalf Bowler gave Washington a dinner party at his country estate in Portsmouth, while the American general was visiting Rochambeau at the Vernon House in Newport in 1781. This confusion may come from the fact that there had been a dinner and a ball for Washington at the Vernon House in Newport in 1781, and that the Vernon property had previously been owned by Bowler. It is likely that Bowler, as a perceived Patriot, would have attended that event.
"After the Revolution Bowler moved to Providence and operated a shop and boarding house diagonally across from the Old State House at 150 Benefit Street. The State House is now the office of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, and the location of the Bowler property is now a parking lot.
"During the Revolution, other British supporters openly provided information to the British, but Metcalf Bowler died in 1789 without his duplicity being discovered. It was not until 1926 that evidence was found that he had been a British spy and played both sides in the Revolution in order to protect his Portsmouth property. He succeeded during the War, but then left Portsmouth and moved to Providence.
"Modern fiction stories about spies can be thrilling, but they could learn a lesson from the wily Metcalf Bowler -- and it's all true."
MERYL STREEP COMMENTS: "The Colonial residence at 31 Clarke Street is still to be seen near the Vernon House. It was occupied in 1779 by Rochambeau’s aide, Swedish Count Axel de Fersen. Fersen was a very attractive young aristocrat and has the reputation of having been Marie Antoinette's lover. He certainly helped the French Royal family in their failed escape attempt during the French Revolution. After many years of later diplomatic service, Fersen died in Sweden in 1810 when a mob beat him with sticks and umbrellas, and a seaman jumped on his chest."
SIGOURNEY WEAVER RESPONDS: “It was a period of political and social unrest in which many aristocrats lost their lives in Europe. Newport was a center of Tory support for the British in the years leading up to the American Revolution. There were mob actions against local British government representatives that destroyed property and burned effigies, but no reported instances of such brutality and murder. In 1776, after the British occupied the area during the Revolution, many of the Patriots abandoned the city, leaving mainly British supporters behind.
“The British departed with many of their Tory sympathizers in 1779. Rochambeau and the French allies arrived the following year, and Count Axel de Fersen became a Newport favorite. Local lore reports that he became enamored of Eliza Hunter, the 18-year-old daughter of a prominent Newport family, and that Eliza refused Fersen’s offer of marriage. Fersen never married and his journal gives no details to support this story, but there apparently was a later marriage between the Fersen and Hunter families. In any case, it adds to the romance of the Revolution in Rhode Island.”
THE CAST FOR DINNER STORY #1: Spies in the American Revolution: Metcalf Bowler -- Double Agent
Charles Bowler (British businessman, originally moved to Boston, then Newport): ____________________________________
Metcalf Bowler (wealthy young local man, possibly a spoiled brat): ____________________________________
William Vernon (wealthy middle-aged Patriot from old Newport family): ___________________________________
Count de Rochambeau (French aristocrat who was less of a snob than others): ____________________________________
General George Washington (Virginia aristocrat, etc.): ____________________________________
King George III (not really a bad guy?): ____________________________________
General Henry Clinton (British officer class): ____________________________________
Count d'Estaing (French aristocrat, couldn't get along with the Americans): ____________________________________
General John Sullivan (self-made New Englander, couldn't get along with the French): __________________________________
Marquis de Lafayette (young French aristocrat who served as a general in the American army): ____________________________________
Count Axel de Fersen (Swedish aide to Rochambeau): ____________________________________
Eliza Hunter (18-year-old daughter of prominent Newport family; target of Fersen attention): ____________________________________
THE CAST FOR DINNER STORY #2: Spies in the American Revolution: John Trevett and his dog – A Sailor/Spy in Newport
John Trevett (Commander of Marines on board the Continental Navy’s Sloop PROVIDENCE): ____________________________________
John Trevett’s father (not identified in this story): ____________________________________
John Trevett’s mother (not identified in this story): ____________________________________
John Trevett’s brother’s wife (not identified in this story): ____________________________________
John Trevett’s nephew (not identified in this story): ____________________________________
Capt. John Ayres (commander of the cartel vessel): ____________________________________
Unidentified Patriot midshipman One: ____________________________________
Unidentified Patriot midshipman Two: ____________________________________
Unidentified Royal Navy midshipman (from the RENOWN): ____________________________________
Philip Wanton: (Trevett came ashore at his place): ____________________________________
George Lawton (sent Trevett to Mrs. Battey): ____________________________________
Mrs. Battey (Patriot sympathizer): ____________________________________
Mr. Battey (British supporter; pilot for Royal Navy vessels): ____________________________________
Capt. Henry Dayton (Mrs. Battey’s son, serving in Continental Army): ____________________________________
Peleg Barker (Patriot supporter living on Clarke Street; had the Trevett family dog): ____________________________________
Peleg Barker’s son (Unidentified): ____________________________________
Deacon Peckham (Patriot from Middletown visiting at Barker’s; possibly part of the local spy network): ____________________________________
Capt. Lillibridge (Patriot owner of Pitt’s Head Tavern): ____________________________________
Will Crosen (Tory sympathizer): ____________________________________
John Wanton (leading local Tory): ____________________________________
Waldron (family where Trevett ate before returning to the cartel): ____________________________________
Jacob Richardson (location only mentioned): ____________________________________
William Barton (Patriot soldier, captured Gen. Prescott, told in future Dinner Story): ____________________________________
General Prescott (British officer, his history told in future Dinner Story): ____________________________________
Miscellaneous British and German soldiers: ____________________________________
THE CAST FOR DINNER STORY #3: Spies in the American Revolution: The German maid, the slave, and the judge
Gertrude (the German barmaid): ____________________________________
Judge William Taggart (patriarch of his large family): ____________________________________
William Taggart (the younger): ____________________________________
Mrs. Taggart (matriarch of her large family): ____________________________________
Cudgo Sisson (the intrepid slave with other tales to tell): ____________________________________
John Fry (tavern owner): ____________________________________
Unidentified woman (spy who gave information to the Quaker near the shore): ____________________________________
Unidentified Quaker (posted information under rock): ____________________________________
Lt. Seth Chapin (American spy): ____________________________________
Lt. Charles Handy (American officer who participated in the failed Spencer attempt): ____________________________________
General Spencer (American general who 1777 attack failed): ____________________________________
General Sullivan (American general who in 1778 put Newport under siege and led troops in the Battle of Rhode Island: ____________________________________
Capt. Benjamin Border (American escaped with Taggart from Newport jail): ____________________________________
Isaac Taggart (who helped transport American troops in 1778): ____________________________________
Younger Taggart boy (killed by American serving with the British): ____________________________________
Other youger Taggart boys and girls: ____________________________________
General Burgoyne (lost at Saratoga): ____________________________________
Miscellaneous British, German, and American soldiers: ____________________________________
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And watch for these stories COMING SOON !! (not offered in any particular order):
DINNER STORY #4 -- The British response to the American threat in 1777: The Endeavour story, Part I.
DINNER STORY #5 -- The British response to the American threat in 1778: The Endeavour story, Part II.
DINNER STORY #6 -- The British response to the American threat in 1778: The Royal Navy story.
DINNER STORY #7 -- The British response to the American threat in 1777-78: The local land features.
DINNER STORY #8 -- Why Capt. Cook's Endeavour and his Resolution were confused in Newport Harbour.
DINNER STORY #9 -- RIMAP teams and a potential 19th-century "slave ship" in Newport Harbour.
DINNER STORY #10 -- RIMAP teams and the Royal Navy ship in the Sakonnet and Narragansett Bay.
DINNER STORY #11 -- RIMAP teams and the fleet of transports in Newport Harbour: The search for Endeavour.
DINNER STORY #12 -- RIMAP teams and the other vessels in Rhode Island associated with Capt. Cook.
DINNER STORY #13 -- The dark side of war: Suicide, murder, rape, and other violence (on both sides).
DINNER STORY #14 -- The lighter side of war: Generosity, kindness, and respect (on both sides).
DINNER STORY #15 -- Why Capt. Cook is important to world history, and why Rhode Island should care.
AND MANY OTHERS
Consult RIMAP's publications for references and details about these stories. See the list under the "Research" button of this website, above,
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THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (January 17, 2013)
Four new RIMAP heritage trail guides for the American Revolution are now available. They give local history and identify interesting places to visit in our state that relate to the forts, the industries, the hospitals, and the 18th-century transportation and communication systems. All RIMAP members, local schools, libraries, and historical societies will receive a set. A limited number of copies are also available to the public free of charge. These publications are made available by the courtesy of a grant from the Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities, so please contact us if you would like a set before they are gone!
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THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (November 17, 2012)
On Tuesday, November 13, RIMAP hosted a visit to our offices at Naval Station Newport by John and Caroline Montagu, the 11th Earl and Countess of Sandwich.
The Montagu family has long been interested in our search for the LORD SANDWICH transport that had been the ENDEAVOUR Bark of Captain Cook's first circumnavigation. They also are partners in the growing international chain of restaurants called the Earl of Sandwich. The 4th Earl of Sandwich (the present Earl's ancestor) was responsible for creating the meal made of meat or other filling between two pieces of bread. Over the past few years RIMAP has kept the family updated on our progress to understand the history of that vessel and its loss, and especially our progress to identify a particular site as the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour from among the fleet of thirteen transports sunk in Newport Harbour in 1778.
The Montagus were in Boston on Monday, November 12, to open a new restaurant on the Common and took the opportunity to visit RIMAP the next day. They saw the historical and archaeological resources RIMAP has assembled, heard about the progress of RIMAP's work, gave advice about RIMAP's future plans for a museum to feature the ship and maritime history of Rhode Island, and saw what sorts of tourism and other business infrastructures that already exist in Newport. Special thanks to RIMAP volunteer Claudette Weissinger for providing transportation for all of these activities.
As noted elsewhere on this website, the 4th Earl of Sandwich was the First Lord of the Admiralty (of the Royal Navy) and he was resposible for sending Cook on his voyages in the late 1700s. When the Endeavour was sold out of the Navy and became a transport to carry Hessian troops to North America in the American Revolution, the new owner named the vessel Lord Sandwich after the 4th Earl. RIMAP's historical research overturned the 200-year-old story that the Endeavour had been lost along the Newport shore in 1793 and proved that instead she was lost in Newport harbour in 1778. The vessel that had been thought to be the Endeavour was probably the Resolution of Cook's second and third voyages. That means that Newport was (and possibly still is) the home to two of the four vessels that sailed around the world with Captain Cook. In addition, there are many other associations between Cook's men and ships in Rhode Island.
RIMAP welcomes a continuing dialogue with the Montagu/Sandwich family, and we especially look forward to sharing with them our future success.
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THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (November 2, 2012)
The RIMAP office, located at Naval Station Newport, survived the recent storm without apparent incident. We covered the files and bookshelves with plastic sheets in case of leaks, but the building's roof was not compromised and our research resources are intact. Unfortunately, many of our neighbors along the Rhode Island coast didn't fare so well and there were even more tragic consequences for those further south. Our thoughts are with them all.
RIMAP's first Revolutionary War heritage trail guide has been published, about the hospitals used by the American, British, and French soldiers in the area. Most of the buildings used as hospitals have long since disappeared, although mention of some of their locations is made in the guide. However, the histories and locations are given of three hospital buildings that can still be seen: University Hall on the campus of Brown University in Providence, the Colony House at Washington Square in Newport, and the Brenton farm house at the entrance to Fort Adams State Park in Newport. These buildings are not open to the public, but the guide summarizes why their histories are an important part of Rhode Island's contributions to the American Revolution, and gives a sketch map of how to find each.
RIMAP is also publishing a series of "Cook Hooks." These are short essays about the important contributions Captain James Cook made to the world, and how his explorations, ships, and men are part of Rhode Island's history. To date we have published Cook Hooks about the Gaspee affair, astronomy and the Transit of Venus, and the plants collected by Joseph Banks on Cook's first circumnavigation in the Endeavour Bark. These are available free to RIMAP members.
THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (October 15, 2012)
Watch this spot for the availability announcement of our two new publications:
The RIMAP "Map" heritage trail/guide series. This is a set of five small fold-out maps that represent various themes of the American Revolution in Rhode Island, the importance of our small state in that conflict, and how to locate some of the structures, industrial sites, and archaeological sites that still exist. The first trail/map will be a revision of the earlier RIMAP pamphlet "Guide to the Rhode Island Revolutionary War Forts in Public Parks." The others will feature such themes as the hospitals used during the Revolution, the local industries that supported the war, the early warning systems, and the taverns. Preparation of these guides has been sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and they will be made available to all of the historical societies and libraries in the state. RIMAP members will receive a set of the trail/guides, other copies will be available to the public at selected locations, and some details will be posted on this website.
The RIMAP "Cook Hook" series. These are short publications printed on colored card stock. They are designed to show the international importance of Capt. James Cook's explorations in the late 18th century, and how his men and ships were associated with Rhode Island, mainly during the American Revolution. Cook not only explored and mapped more of the world than any other navigator in history, but Capt. Cook, his ships, and men influenced many aspects of modern life, and each "Cook Hook" features a particular influence. For instance, one "Hook" explains the importance of the plant (and animal) specimens collected by Joseph Banks on Cook's first voyage in the ENDEAVOUR. Another describes the importance of Cook's astronomical observations of the Transit of Venus in Tahiti (again in the ENDEAVOUR), and the Rhode Island navigators who participated in local observations of that event. A third describes what Cook was doing when Rhode Islanders burned the GASPEE, a preliminary event leading to the Revolution. Other "Cook Hooks" on selected topics will be forthcoming. RIMAP members will receive a set of the "Cook Hooks" and they will be available to the interested public.
Note: The Rhode Island Historical Society is sponsoring special events in Providence on Saturday, October 13, called: "What Cheer Day" to understand our state's involvement in various historical conflicts. If you are interested in Colonial history, the American Revolution, the Civil War, concerns about more modern threats, and how our local population supported (or rejected) such national causes, you might like to attend. For further details about the activities and how to register, take a look at their website: www.rihs.org.
THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (September 30, 2012)
RIMAP'S 2012 FIELDWORK AND VOLUNTEER SCHEDULES are now completed. However, we will continue with training, publication, fund-raising, and other administrative activities throughout the winter. And there may be occasional opportunities to help with artifact management. Please watch this website for the new calendar of activities, and contact us for further details.
THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (August 20, 2012)
AN ESSAY TO EXPLAIN ATHE LEGAL PROTECTIONS ON THE TRANSPORT FLEET, AND THE ENDEAVOUR IN NEWPORT HARBOUR
The British transports sunk in Newport in 1778 were not ships of war (i.e. Naval vessels from a combatant country) and that is why they are not protected by the convention that Naval vessels lost in acts of war always belong to their country of origin. Because the transports were privately owned and only chartered to the British government to carry troops to North America (and the Endeavour had been sold out of the Royal Navy to a private owner who then offered her back to the government for that use), whatever remained of the transport fleet sunk in Newport Harbour was eligible for salvage.
Salvage is a legal admiralty action that is designed to "return goods to the stream of commerce" and that means that a ship and/or its cargo is saved for commercial purposes. On historic shipwrecks the salvors usually sell what they take, which is against historical and archaeological preservation ethics. Unfortunately, the preservation laws to protect historic shipwrecks are not as strong as those related to commercial salvage.
For instance, many years ago a salvage challenge to a state's attempt to protect an historic shipwreck went to the US Supreme Court (the Brother Jonathan case) and the preservationists were trounced by commercial interests. That is why 12 years ago RIMAP asked the Rhode Island Attorney General (now our junior US Senator) to manage the salvage actions in Federal Court to protect the transports. The State of Rhode Island took a salvage award (with RIMAP as its agent), and then later took title to the fleet. So now Rhode Island owns "all non-motorized wooden vessels" in the 2-square mile area where we know the transports were sunk.
There is also a lot of other non-transport stuff in that area that fits the same description, but that particular legal move was to ensure that when we found the transports, the State would own them and not some company that would cut them up to sell bits for souvenirs. There can only be one salvage claim to property at a time, and there was the possibility that a salvor could come into Newport Harbour, find the transports and claim them while we were still working. Because preservation laws wouldn't stop that intrusion on our archaeological work, we became salvors to forestall such an eventuality, and now that the State has title, there will be no competition over ownership. We are still historians and archaeologists and our goal is to protect history -- we just are using a better legal tool to achieve that goal.
Unfortunately, any protection of the lost fleet is only as good as its enforcement. If divers were to be seen coming out of the water on a transport site with artifacts in their hands, the question is: who will do the arrest (there aren't very many folks who have the authority and they are spread thin throughout the RI's waters), who will then prosecute (that's an expensive process), and will there be a deterrent penalty if the prosecution succeeds (the fines are very low)? But now that the State owns the sites and RIMAP was the "salvor of record" and we are the State's agent, that puts any vandalism/theft into the economic sphere. And now that we are positioning our project to take advantage of what we see as potential international heritage tourism, the current Rhode Island Attorney General is on record that he will support us.
There will always be thieves and malicious vandals who will break the law, but another problem is also that the transport fleet in Newport harbour is at risk of unintentional damage. The area is very busy with lots of different kinds of boat and large ship traffic, anchorages and mooring fields, lobster trawls and other fishermen, yacht races, and parts of the area have been dredged. All of this activity has had an impact on the bottom, including shipwreck sites. In addition, the Newport Bridge was built through the northern end of the line of transports, which also disturbed the sites that were there. Much of this interference was done long before heritage preservation was an issue, and certainly long before anyone knew that important things might be disturbed. We even have found 19th-century news items of divers tearing up intact old ships that were still to be seen under those waters (and probably that were transports, although the descriptions are not conclusive).
Anyway, today we can't impede the traditional uses of the water in the whole study area, but more than 6 years ago RIM\AP went to the Rhode Island Governor for help in making a no-anchor/no-dive zone at a smaller rectangle in the harbour where we had found sites near each other. The State's Coastal Resources Management Council awarded that restriction, and as we find the rest of the fleet, we hope to expand that protection. Of course there still are problems of oversight and enforcement. Unfortunately, anyone who watches us work will know generally where the sites are, and yes, we have seen vandalism, even when we are actively working on a site. And if it has been some time since our last visit to a particular location, the chances of that happening increase.
There isn't enough money (not just here in Rhode Island but for every project like this one) to monitor everything 24/7 from vandals and thieves, and from unintentional damage. The only project in this country that successfully protected its site was the Civil War submarine Hunley. Southerners are passionate about protecting their heritage. Luckily that ship was found in a geographic area that was congenial to complete oversight of a quickly established no-passage zone (with the resources to vigorously enforce it), and the money also was found for conservation and display of the ship and its contents.
At least in Rhode Island there is a growing number of local folks who know that there is something important in Newport harbour and some of those who live along the waterfront nearby are watchdogs for the Newport Harbourmaster. He is quite vigilant on our behalf, but he also has a limited staff, the harbour is large, and they have many other responsibilities, most important of which is public safety.
So what this all means is that there are always folks who will do mischief, regardless of what the law says. Our hope instead is to educate the general public so that they know that such behaviour is illegal and to the detriment of the public good. And we hope that they will help to protect the transport fleet, whether or not we ever prove we have found the Endeavour.
THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (July 25, 2012)
UPDATE ON THE NEWPORT HARBOUR TRANSPORT STUDY (aka "THE SEARCH FOR THE LORD SANDWICH ex ENDEAVOUR")
We will eventually put the image of the poster on this website, but the associated explanatory text follows:
RIMAP has mapped eight potential 18th-century sites in Newport Harbour that we consider possible candidates to be among the thirteen British transports sunk there in 1778. One of these transports is known to have been the Lord Sandwich, the vessel that had been the Endeavour Bark of Captain James Cook’s first circumnavigation. As we continue our field research, the chances will increase that the Endeavour will be found. In any case, the comparative study of so many vessels sunk in one event is an important contribution to the understanding of 18th century ships, and it especially confirms Rhode Island’s importance in the American Revolution.
This “Poster” illustrates the footprints of six of the mapped sites, done to the same scale. The difference in how much detail is seen in each image depended on funding for the mapping of that particular site. The apparent size of each site as shown in its map may not be a true representation of that site’s size, but instead may reflect the difference in how much is still covered by silt, or even how much the site may have been disturbed in the 200+ years after loss. RIMAP will include the other two sites we have mapped in future “Posters”, and if more sites in Newport Harbour are located, the total number of potential transports will increase.
Note that the identification of which ship was which will depend on detailed studies of each site. This will include excavation of at least part of each site to allow ship structure studies, artifact collection, and sample retrievals, all of which will require RIMAP to have a proper facility to care for the removed materials. On June 3, 2012, RIMAP revealed this “Poster” at the beginning of our capital campaign to raise the funds for such a facility -- a place where RIMAP can share the results of this exciting work with the public.
RIMAP is an organization that offers volunteers the opportunity to participate in local maritime history and marine archaeology studies. Please see further details elsewhere in this website, and contact us using the information below.
THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (June 4, 2012):
On Sunday, June 3, RIMAP sponsored a public event to announce our progress: "UPDATE ON THE RIMAP NEWPORT HARBOUR TRANSPORT FLEET STUDY and the SEARCH FOR CAPTAIN COOK'S ENDEAVOUR BARK".
A summary of our presentation is below:
1) The story of Captain Cook's ships and men in Rhode is much larger than just the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour. The story includes the Endeavour, the Resolution that was mis-identified as the Endeavour, possibly the Tryal, and certainly the Rose, that were considered but not selected for the first voyage, and the commander of the Adventure who was later posted to Rhode Island in the Revolution and lost the frigate Syren here;
2) RIMAP has found and made pre-disturbance maps of eight potential 18th-century ship sites in the area where the thirteen transports are known to have been lost in 1778, one of which had been the Lord Sandwich ex Endeavour. That means we have a 63% chance that the Endeavour is among those sites already mapped;
3) RIMAP will continue to look for further, and more subtle, sites in the study area while we continue with our historical investigations and preliminary archaeological research steps;
4) RIMAP will have to make test excavations of each site to determine which ship might be which. The State of Rhode Island will decide how many details related to this RIMAP process will be released to the public, but you can be assured that the specific site locations will not published;
5) Excavation will generate a great number of artifacts and samples, and these artifacts and samples will require a special lab and staff to manage them;
6) Therefore RIMAP has begun a CAPITAL CAMPAIGN to raise the funds to have such a lab and staff, and also a facility to share the story of Cook's men and ships in Rhode Island with an international audience.
ANNOUNCING THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN:
The June 3, 2012, event was scheduled because it was the 243rd anniversary of Capt. Cook's effort to measure the Transit of Venus at Tahiti in 1769, and two days before this century's last Transit. Our plan is to spend the next two to three years in due diligence about what will be needed for the facility, including the studies to determine if it could be financially self-supporting. If the answer is positive, then we will raise the funds, build, and open the RIMAP facility on June 3, 2019, the 250th anniversary of Cook at Tahiti.
Currently the RIMAP offices are housed at Naval Station Newport. We are grateful for the Navy's generosity, but we are not easily open to the public, which is another reason we want our own facility. Currently our visitors must be American citizens and pass the Navy's security checks (started just this year). Despite this, we do accommodate visitors, so watch this space for an organized tour, and updates about the details of our research activities and other plans.
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4th ANNUAL HERITAGE TOURISM MEETING 2-3 P.M. Sunday, August 12 Old State House, 150 Benefit Street, Providence, RI All members of the public are invited to hear about RIMAP's plans for international heritage tourism in Rhode Island, as well as updates on local historical socieities' activities. FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: PRESS CONFERENCE UPDATE ON THE RIMAP NEWPORT HARBOUR TRANSPORT FLEET STUDY and the SEARCH FOR CAPTAIN COOK'S ENDEAVOUR BARK Sunday, June 3: 1-2 p.m. Roger Williams University - Marine Affairs Building, Bristol, RI MEETING IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Please: No Media Interviews prior to June 3