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1900- I 90 I




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George Parker Winship
William MacDonald
Frank Greene Bates


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2 • . rnovibBNCB^

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List of Officers, ........ 5

Abstract of Proceedings, ....


President's Address, ....


Librarian's Report, ....


Treasurer's Report, ....


Report of Committee on Grounds and Buildings,


Report of Library Committee, .


Report of Lecture Committee, ....


Report of Publication Committee,


Report of Committee on Genealogical Researches,

. 46

Necrology, .....


List of Donors, .....


List of Members, .....


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Elected January 8, 1901.


Vice Presidents,
J. Franklin Jameson, Robert H. I. Goddard.

Wilfred H. Munro.

Richmond P. Everett.

Librarian and Cabinet-Keeper,
Clarence S. Brigham.

standing committees.

Nominating Committee,

Albert V. Jencks, Edward I. Nickerson,

Theodore F. Green.

Library Committee,

William D. Ely, Henry R. Chace,

George P. Winship.

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Lecture Committee,

William B. Mead, George G. Wilson,

Clarence S. Brigham.

Publication Committee.

Amasa M, Eaton, Edward Field,

Howard W. Preston.

Committee on Grounds and Buildings,

Isaac H. Southwick, Jr., Edwin Barrows,

Norman M. Isham.

Committee on Genealogical Researches,

George T. Hart, Fred A. Arnold,

Charles W. Hopkins.

Committee on Necrology,

Wilfred H. Munro, Clarence S. Brigham,

George F. Weston.

Finance Committee,

Robert H. I. Goddard, Richmond P. Everett,

Samuel R. Dorrance.

Audit Committee.

James Burdick, Joshua M. Addeman,

Ferdinand A. Lincoln.

For Newport, George Gordon King,

Pawtucket, Samuel M. Conant,

North Kingstown, David S. Baker.

Hopkinton, George H. Olney,

Glocester, Albert Potter.

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April, 1900, to January, 1901.

The Quarterly Meeting was held April 3, 1900. The
librarian made his quarterly report. The library committee
and the committee on publications presented verbal reports.
The following named persons were elected active members :
Mrs. Anna Reed Wilkinson, Mr. William Conrad Rhodes of
Providence, and Mr. James S. Slater of Slatersville,

Section 16 of the By-Laws was amended to read as follows :
" Section 16. The librarian and cabinet-keeper shall have
charge of the cabinet and its contents, and he shall safely keep,
under the direction of the library committee, in the cabinet of
the society, all books, manuscripts, papers, documents and
other articles committed to his charge."

On motion of Mr. Everett it was

Resolved, That two hundred and fifty dollars be appropriated
for the buildings and grounds from the Dr. Parsons Improve-
ment Fund.

On motion of Mr. Ely it was

Resolved, That for the current year, the president, the vice-
presidents, the secretary, the treasurer, the librarian, and the
chairmen of the several standing committees, shall constitute
an advisory committee at whose meetings the president shall

The advisory committee shall exercise a general supervision
in behalf of the society. It shall consult, plan and advise as

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to the general interests and administration of the society, and
act in all matters not directly referred or committed to the
president, or to a standing or special committee. It shall
consult with, advise and aid any committees which may desire
the counsel or aid, and shall discharge such other duties as
may be assigned to it by the society. Any four members of
the committee shall be a quorum for business and a notice for
a meeting of the society shall be deemed notice for a meeting
of this committee.

On motion of Mr. Winship, this committee was requested
to report a plan for the appointment of an executive board to
care for the interests of the society.

The president presented a letter from Governor Dyer, sug-
gesting that this society should take steps towards the erection
of a memorial to the Narragansett Indians on the Indian Bury-
ing Hill, Charlestown, R. I. On motion of Mr. Winship this
letter was referred to a committee of three, to consist of the
president and two other members to be appointed by him, for
such action as might to them seem advisable. The president
appointed Mr. Rowland G. Hazard of Peacedale, and Mr. Wil-
liam P. Sheffield of Newport.

On motion of the chairman of the library committee, per-
mission was granted to the relatives of the late Zachariah
Allen to have a copy of his portrait painted for the gallery
in Sayles Memorial Hall, Brown University.

The president reported in behalf of the committee appointed
to investigate the matter of the Roger Williams House and
Spring, situated near the village of Phillipsdale, East Provi-
dence, stating that measures would be taken to mark this

Attention was called to the fact that the auditorium of the
cabinet had been filled with chairs, etc., and was now the
regular meeting place of the society.

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The Second Quarterly Meeting of the society was held
July 3, 1900. The usual report of the librarian was presented.
On motion of the nominating committee, Nathaniel Rowland
Brown of East Greenwich, R. I., and Miss Georgiana Guild of
Providence were elected active members. The president an-
nounced the death of John Nicholas Brown, Harold Brown,
and OUver S. Cressey. The library committee reported on
the advisability of printing the Warwick records. The publi-
cation committee reported, stating its recommendations re-
specting the publication of the "Moses Brown Papers" as
two new volumes of the collections.

On motion of Mr. George T. Paine, it was

Resolved, That the society approve the publication of the two
volumes,;provided that they shall be issued without cost to the
society beyond the annual appropriation made for publications.

On motion of Professor Jameson, the secretary was in-
structed to prepare and to enter upon the minutes a notice of
the late John Nicholas Brown.

The Third Quarterly Meeting of the society was held
October 2, 1900. The librarian and library committee pre-
sented their usual reports. Theodore W. Foster and Mrs.
Maria R. Hoadley of Providence, were elected active mem-
bers. The matter of the John Warner Papers was referred to
the advisory committee with power.

Mr. William B. Weeden called attention to the fact that the
librarian had presented to the society his own collection of
books and papers relating to Rhode Island history, and re-
ferred to the value of the same.

The president announced the death of Stephen Ludlow
Adams and Charles Henry Smith.

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The seventy-ninth annual meeting of the society was held
on January 9, 1901, the president in the chair.

The president gave his annual address.

The treasurer presented his annual report, duly audited.

The annual reports of the following committees were pre-
sented : The library committee, the committee on grounds
and buildings, the committee on genealogical researches, the
lecture committee, the publication committee.

The librarian presented his first annual report.

On motion of the nominating committee the following
named persons were elected active members : Anne Ives
Carrington Dwight Ames of Providence, Henry C. Anthony
of Portsmouth, Albert Allison Baker, Esther Hinckley Baker,
Henry Bowen, Charles R. Brayton, of Providence, Walter
Francis Brayton of Cranston, John Clarke Budlong, M. D.,
Elizabeth Dorrance Bugbee, Albert Lawton Calder, 2d, of
Providence, Henry Clinton Dexter of Central Falls, John
Doran, Herbert Nicholas Fenner, of Providence, William
Gregory of Wickford, Robert Harris of Pomfret, Conn.,
Albert Rowland Greene of Warwick, William L. Hodgman of
East Greenwich, Frederic Hayes, Leonard Wheaton Horton,
George Humphrey, Arthur Livingston Kelley, Thomas Zelotes
Lee, George Abner Littlefield, Richard E. Lyman, Joseph P.
Manton, of Providence, Harold Metcalf, M. D., of Wickford,
Walter Lee Munro, M. D., of Providence, Franklin P. Owen
of North Scituate, Dexter Burton Potter, Nathaniel W. Smith,
J. Edward Studley, William Henry Thornley, Joseph Draper
Warren, of Providence, Lewis Anthony Waterman of War-

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wick, Hardin Chester Waters of Providence, John Jay Wat-
son, Jr., of Jamestown, George Eldridge Webster of East
Providence, John Robert Wheaton of Warren, and Alfred
Wilson of Providence.

The annual election of officers and members of the stand-
ing committees resulted in the choice of those whose names
appear in the list on page 5.

On motion of Mr. Edward Field the salary of the librarian
was fixed at ^1,000 for the ensuing year.

On motion of Isaac H. Southwick, Jr., it was
Resolved^ That the thanks of the Rhode Island Historical
Society be given to Mr. William E. Smith of Providence, for
the painting of the old Hoyle Tavern and its surroimdings,
and that a copy thereof be sent to Mr. Smith.

On motion of the Rev. Samuel H. Webb, that part of
the president's address relating to the disposition of a portion
of the initiation fees was referred to the finance committee.

On motion of Mr. Edward Field it was

Resolved^ That the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars be
and is hereby ordered paid to Richmond P. Everett, as a
slight compensation for the faithful and efficient services
rendered by him to the society as its treasurer during a long
period of years.

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president's address. 13


We stand to-night upon the threshold of a century. His-
tory is continuous ; it ceaseth not, day nor night ; but it has
its epochs, and none more marked than the period of a hun-
dred years. The completion of such a cycle brings at once to
our minds suggestions of its history and thoughts of its great

This is not the occasion to review the annals of the nine-
teenth century, yet, before we close our corporate record upon
it, we may at least count ourselves happy that we have lived
in it Which of all its predecessors, save the first, has been
so prolific in marvellous changes, in great advances and in
wonderful development of men and things ? If we had read
of it, instead of being a part of it, we would have said, "What
an interesting and inspiring time to have lived in I " We
would have thought how thrilling it must have been to see
and to note the almost miraculous achievements with which
its record abounds. Being in it, we have been so gradually
pref)ared for much that was to come that there was no shock
of surprise and hardly a feeling of wonder at its most impor-
tant advances. And yet as we stand to-day and look back a
hundred years, comparing the things that are with the things
that were, we can but take up the words of the Psalmist,
"This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes."

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, this country,
not recovered from its long and exhausting struggle for inde-
pendence, occupied only a sparsely settled fringe of the At-
lantic coast, with a population less than that of the state of
New York at the present time.

It was indeed an infant republic, facing problems of exist-
ence and policy with which it seemed to be too feeble to cope.
How wild would have been the prophecy that in a hundred

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years the five would have become over seventy-six millions of
people; that the vast western wilderness would be the granary
of the world, with great cities and states spreading continuous
civilization to the shores of the Pacific ; and that, beyond the
Golden Gate, its islands would look to us for government and
protection ! How like a fairy tale seems the veritable history
of our country in the past century ! Its geography has changed
so greatly that our fathers would not recognize it, and so rap-
idly that we ourselves can hardly carry it correctly in our

Almost at the beginning of the century there were two
events of such supreme importance to the development of the
nation, in which Rhode Island was so large a factor, that they
should at least be mentioned at this time.

While the first generation after the Revolution was strug-
gling to repair the waste of an eight years' war, it was called
upon to show its ability to maintain the independence which
its fathers had won. If the previous struggle had appeared to
be a forlorn hope, against so powerful a foe, it must have
seemed to be well nigh impossible to stand in naval warfare
against a nation which proudly boasted that she was the ruler
of the seas. With calm confidence and courage, and with a
spirit worthy of their sires, they manned their feeble ships,
defended their long coast line, pressed hard upon opposing
forces on sea and land in apparently unequal strife ; but when
the nation could shout in triumph with Perry on Lake Erie,
" We have met the enemy and they are ours," the final out-
come was assured. As Rhode Island gave the first com-
mander to the navy in the Revolution, so, in the war of 1812,
it gave the chief commander, whose valor contributed so much
to the victory which established our place among the nations.

The closing incident of the war presents a vivid illustration
of the remarkable changes to which I have alluded. So im-
perfect and slow were the means of communication that the
battle of New Orleans was fought two weeks after the treaty
of peace had been signed at Ghent, the news of the battle did
not reach New York until three weeks after the victory had

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president's address. 15

been won, and it was nearly two months before our govern-
ment knew that the treaty had been concluded. In the late
war, Spain had the full terms of the protocol in less than that
number of hours.

The second event, in which Rhode Island had even a larger
share, was the establishment of cotton spinning at Pawtucket,
by Samuel Slater, through the aid of Rhode Island enterprise
and capital. No one event has done more to develop and es-
tablish so large a manufacturing industry, as the starting of
cotton spinning in this little state. Its influence extended
through the North and South. It led to rapid increase in pop-
ulation, employment and wealth, and it has remained one of
the most valuable industries of the country.

I cannot stop to recount Rhode Island's contributions to the
century. They have been neither few nor unimportant, and
it will be a pleasant task for some one of our members to
make up the record in full. These two which I have men-
tioned stood out so conspicuously in the early days of the last
hundred years as to compel attention.

Although as we enter upon a new epoch our minds are
deeply moved with memories of the past and hopes of the
future, yet, as we take our bearings, we find ourselves travel-
ing the familiar path of daily duty. Such is the record of the
society for the past year, and along this line are the things
which I have to bring to your notice. The ordinary work has
been done with faithfulness, and more than ordinary effort has
been made to open up and complete the records which have
been gathered here. A full report of these matters will be
given in the reports of the library committee and the libra-

I have several times called attention to the serious limita-
tion of our work, in securing valuable books and documents,
from the lack of a fund which would enable the society to
purchase them when we find an unexpected chance to do so.
I cannot better illustrate this necessity than by reference to a
rare opportunity, which, through great consideration for this
society, is still open to us. A large collection of letters, plats

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and documents, finely bound and indexed, known as the
" Warner Papers," many having come from John Warner, the
former clerk of Warwick, is offered for sale. The librarian
can give a full list of the contents, but I wish to call attention
to one very important paper, which settles the origin of the
name of the state. It is a letter of Roger Williams, probably
to the town of Warwick, in relation to paying John Clarke for
his services, as agent of the colony, in England. It was
written in January, 1666. In Fuller's History of Warwick ^
pp. 63-4, reference is made to correspondence on this subject,
and a vote is quoted passed at a general training, March 26,
1666, referring to Mr. Williams's letter, which doubtless is
this one. The letter was published in the Rhode Island Book^
in 1 84 1, but was omitted in the Narragansett Club volume of
Williams's letters. It was also published in our Quarterly
Publication in October, 1900.

There has been much speculation and discussion about the
origin of the name Rhode Island. It has been supposed to
come from a fancied resemblance of the island of Aquidneck
to the Isle of Rhodes, on the coast of Asia Minor in the Medi-
terranean Sea. There is no apparent reason for coupling in
name these two islands, so far apart in situation and so little
alike in size and form. The Isle of Rhodes is three times as
long as the island Rhode Island, and more than three times as
wide. It is traversed by a range of mountains over 4,500 feet
high. Mr. Rider, who has made the most exhaustive examina-
tion of the subject of any that I know, says in Book Notes, vol.
7, p. 29 (Feb. 15, 1890), that this theory rests simply on a ref-
erence made in Hakluyt's account of Verrazano's voyage, in
1524, to an island distant from the main land three leagues,
"about the bigness of the Ilande of the Rodes." Whatever
island this referred to, it could not have been Aquidneck, be-
cause the latter was nowhere near the bigness of the Isle of
Rhodes, nor was it three leagues distant from the main land.
On Dutch charts it was called " Roode Eylandt," i. e,. Red Is-
land. But our soil is not so highly colored as to warrant that
name. Arnold, however, adopts this theory {Hist. R. /., vol

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president's address. 17

I, p. 70), and although he wrote after this letter of Williams
was published in the Rhode Island Book^ probably he had not
seen it, as he does not mention it.

At the General Court of Elections held at Newport, March
13, 1644, this vote was passed : "It is ordered by this Court
that the ysland commonly called Aquethneck, shall be from
henceforth called the Isle of Rhodes, or RHODE ISLAND."
{R, L Col Rec, i; 127.) In this letter of 1666, Williams says :
" Rode Hand (in the Greeke language) is an He of Roses, and
so th« Kings' Ma**«* was pleased to resent it." By the usage of
that time the word resent meant receive. Hence the passage
clearly implies that the name of the Isle of Roses was adopted
as a derivative from the Greek rodon^ rose, or rode, rose tree,
and so accepted by the king in the charter of 1663. This
settles the question. We all remember how vividly Dr. Ed-
ward Everett Hale, in his lecture before this society, Decem-
ber 26, 1899, pictured our southern shore in the glory of the
rhododendron bloom and, quite apart from this letter of Roger
Williams, suggested the Isle of Roses. The point I wish to
make is this. While this evidence of the origin of the name is
not a new discovery, and although the letter has been in print,
how desirable it is that this original letter, a conclusive wit-
ness on such an important point, should be preserved in our
archives. Here is the place to look for it When a collection
turns up with such a gem, we should be in a position to
secure it.

Another similar example has been brought to my attention
by the librarian. A copy of Williams's Queries of highest
consideration, published in London, 1644, is offered for sale in
London. Only three copies of this pamphlet are known to be
in existence ; one in the British Museum, one in the Lenox
Library, and one in the John Carter Brown Library in this
city. This pamphlet was reprinted in the Narragansett Club
Publications, and while it is not of the historic value of the
letter above referred to, still the pamphlet, in its original edi-
tion, should be here.

The efl&ciency of a society depends largely upon its ability

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to take advantage of opportunities. The common things re-
lating to our history many people may have. The rare things
should be collected by a society like this, or else it fails to per-
form an especially useful function. To do this, however, the
help of those who appreciate such valuable service to the
public must be constant and generous.

Historical societies ofifer no social attractions, nor any charm
of novelty. They excite no compassionate impulse nor do they
result in that obvious help to our fellow-men which moves the
liberality of many. They deal with no popular issues. They

Online LibraryRhode Island Historical SocietyProceedings of the Rhode Island Historical Society → online text (page 1 of 37)