Henry A Barker.

The southern gateway of New England online

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Online LibraryHenry A BarkerThe southern gateway of New England → online text (page 1 of 4)
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It has often been said - and it is probably true — that no similar area in the United States is as
diversified as is Rhode Island, in landscape and contour, in foliage, in flora and fauna and in geological
formation. Frotn these facts it has come to pass that no State in the Union possesses greater diversity
of opportunities for summer pastimes and recreation.

Variety, indeed, appears to be the most striking characteristic of the smallest of all the States. Its
industries, its institutions, and its people are astonishingly varied. Its opinions, its occupations and all
the manifestations of its existence have been unusual and individual, through the years of its history.
'■Of all the American States," writes fames Brice, "Rhode Island is that one that best deserves the
study of the philosophic historian." , , . , , ^ ^ ,

NASMUCH as Rhode Island is so' very densely populated
and is surroundfed By 'slich .very rich and populous States,
it is not to be v/ondered at .that her beaches and her
wave-swept rpeks, her. lakes' ar*'d her hills, and the winding
shores of her glorious great bay furnish inspiration for
scores of thousands who make their summer homes amid
her charms.
Rhode Island is milder and less variable in climate than the other New
England States, although there is considerable difference between the northern
and the southern portions, and as a consequence, much of the wild foliage,
especially of "South County," is of a distinctively southern type not else-
where found in New England. Here, however, it grows beside the char-
acteristic foliage of the North, some of which finds its southern limit in
Rhode Island.

There is a splendid assortment of the beautiful things of nature; broad
glistening beaches, and wild, wooded hills, rocky cliffs overhanging the




ocean, hundreds of miles of bay shores, winding, rushing rivers, and dense
tangled forests where the advent of man is as yet scarcely known.

There are many lakes and there are barren sand dunes; there are exquisite
and fashionable summer places that vie with any in the world, and there are
secluded camps where nature is untroubled in her luxuriance.

Although Rhode Island is growing in density of population faster than
any other state of the Union, she nevertheless has a larger proportion of
wooded area than any other, and almost within sight of her bustling cities,
there are trails through the tanglewood that have survived in much of their
primitive wildness, since th? days when. the red men made them. There are
quaint hamlets, lovely farms and everything' that is oldest and newest in our
civilization. There are splemhd modern roads that give ready access to


roiNT jUDlTn

every part of the State and the two adjoining States. Rhode Island is an
automobihst's paradise, and all roads lead to Providence.

For the poor as well as the rich Rhode Island is lavish with her summer
offerings. The trolley car and the humble bicycle, will take one out from
the center of her "Metropolitan District" to varied scenes of beauty and
delight. The man with the big steam yacht who smokes long cigars upon
its deck, finds Narragansett and Newport much to his liking. The sturdy
chap with his feet braced against the tiller of a cat boat, or the captain of
a little green canoe working his way down a dancing stream under over-
hanging boughs, find equal opportunities for unalloyed delight.

There are great and splendid hotels, and there are tenting places on the
hillsides where thousands find health and strength and happiness.

Narragansett Bay, the chief asset of picturesque as well as commercial
interest in the State, is about thirty miles long and from two to twelve miles
wide. Its shores are extremely varied and deeply indented by a multitude
of small bays and harbors. The three main entrances are deep and direct,
yet well protected from the ocean by the twolarger islands: — ^Aquidneck,upon


which Newport is situated ; and Conanicut, upon which is Jamestown.
There are miles upon miles of shores bordered by beautiful summer estates,
and fine old towns snugly tucked away behind long headlands.

In the summer, multitudes of campers occupy all the vantage points that
are unbuilt, while upon the sparkling waters of the bay vast numbers of
pleasure boats, from tiny canoes to great crowded excursion steamers are
forever in the view. Rhode Island is famous for its boating facilities of
every kind.

The back country towns present many attractions. Scores of abandoned
farms, which until the advent of the trolley were as difficult of access as if they
were hundreds of miles away, have been bought by private clubs and
individuals for country estates, and there are many nooks and corners that
yet remain, like islands of wilderness, surrounded by the throbbing sea of
civilization. The old "South County" in particular is a country of marked
individuality and charm, and its enthusiastic devotees have built many bunga-
lows and camps along its bay and ocean fronts and beside the still waters
of its forest bordered lakes.

The chief rivers of the State are the Blackstone, the Pawtuxet, the Wood
River, the Usquepaug, the Queens River and the Pawcatuck. They form
a network of waterways, by which, with slight "carries," the State may be




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traveled in many directions with as much fascination to the canoeist as may
the wilds of Ontario or Maine.

The Indian names of these hills and lakes and streams are a source of
joy to the stranger who revels in such specimens as Shumunkanuc and
Watchaug; Quonochontaug and Pausacaco.

It is not to be wondered at that there are world famous summer clubs,
like Squantum and Pomham, upon the bay shore; that yachts abound on
Narragansett's waters; that canoeing and rowing and salt water bathing
seem to be a second nature to most Rhode Islanders. Nor is it to be won-
dered at that Rhode Island's skill in naval designing has produced the great
"cup defenders " that have held supremacy against all foreign challenge.




Newport, the "Queen of Watering Places" is famous for many things.
It is the most fashionable resort in America. The "Cottages " or villas of
its summer residents are magnificent in the extreme. Its cliffs and its beaches,
its superb ocean drive, and its stately shaded "Avenue," are known through-
out the world. Its history from its beginning in 1633, is full of incident and
charm. One of the greatest of naval stations is located here and it is an
army post of much importance. Fort Adams at the entrance of the harbor
is one of the strongest defenses in the United States, and the power of the
government is also represented here by the United States Naval War College;


the Government Training Station and Torpedo Station ; the Naval Hospital
and other extensive enterprises. Newport rejoices in the annual "war
games" of its military and naval forces, which are exceedingly interesting
features of its summer life.

At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, which destroyed most of its
commerce, the quaint old town was vastly more important than Providence,


ranking fourth in the Colonies, and many old buildings of extraordmary
interest remain, notably the Old State House, ovedooking the Parade, and
the Henry Bull house on Spring Street. The famous "Old Stone Mill"
has created a never ending controversy as to its origin. The antiquarian
and the artist will find quite as much of delight in the old town as the
general tourist or follower of fashion will in the new.

The natural setting of Newport, where bay and ocean meet, is exquisite
in the extreme, and the methods of getting there are most attractive. The
locality has many natural curiosities, such as the Hanging Rocks, Spouting
Cave and the Glen. But to
the tourist, Newport is recom-
mended for a day's excursion,
as the hotel accommodations
are quite inadequate.

Narragansett Pier is only a
little less famous than New-
port. It is celebrated for its
great hotels, its superb bathing
beach, its splendid summer
residences and the varied
assortment of delightful drives.



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Rocky Point —

A Typical
Popular Resort

A Rhode Island
Suburban Avenue


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where the Cup

Defenders are built



1'a\vtuxp;t cove and nkck — upper bay

The Parade at


Showing Ohver Perry


A Summer

Day at

^■Jt i



,v,-,, WxT'^ '''■


Street in
Old Newport

A Newport




It IS, indeed, one of the
most fashionable resorts
of the East. The out-
look is directly upon the
ocean at the mouth of
the "West Passage" of
Narragansett Bay. A
fine promenade extends
along the rocks south of
the old "Pier," and a
famous drive leads to a
rocky corner of the State
at Point Judith.


Watch Hill IS another celebrated hotel
and cottage resort. It has a fine ocean
beach and still waters for bathing and
sailing and it guards the western entrance
of Long Island Sound.

Very different from any of these
places IS Block Island, the "Isle of
Manisees." This is a barren, wind-
swept isle far out to sea ; — very undulat-
ing in its surface, with a multitude of


'The Avenue "


fresh water ponds
in the deep hollows
between its rolling
hills. On the south
shore are majestic
cliffs that are for-
ever washing away
and bringing great
sandbars around to
the northern end of
the Island. There
are numerous big
hotels, a splendid
bathing beach and


some pleasant drives, including
the one to Beacon Hill, which
is several hundred feet high.
A hardy race of mariners
inhabit the island. Although
the business of catering to
summer guests is preeminent,
the fisheries are of much


Of the smaller and less fashionable resorts, the cottage colonies and the
places of popular excursions, the mere mention of them would extend far
beyond the limits of this article.

To those who know them best, Bristol and Seaconnet, Warwick and
Saunderstown, Jamestown and Matunuck are magic names.

But whether one sees fit to dwell amid the abodes of fashion in a marble
palace upon the cliffs, or finds his ideal of happiness and home in some
little brown house in the woods by the lakeside, Rhode Island is marvellously
lavish with her gifts to all who have eyes to see, or the taste to appreciate.





F all the States in America, Rhode Island, perhaps, is the
most entitled to look back over its record, with unalloyed
satisfaction. With honor and justice it began its career.
With fearless loyalty and dignity it has continued its
existence. Its name is writ large in American History.
The principles of liberty that now guide our government
are the ones set forth by its founder. The stirring events
that preceded the formation of the union took place within its borders.

It struck the first successful blow for freedom when the citizens of Provi-
dence captured the Gaspee in June, 1 772. It was first among the Colonies
to protest publicly against taxation without represent-
ation, and sent representatives to England for the pur-
pose. The first step and the final step in the establish-
ment of our government were taken by Rhode Island.
Providence was the scene of the first Colonial Declar-
ation of Independence, and two months before the
delegates of the various Colonies met
at Philadelphia to declare their sepa-
ration from the Mother Country, the
Legislature of Rhode Island met at

the old State House in Providence

and in sublime defiance of every
dictate except its own conception of J
justice and right, formally declared
Rhode Island to be a sovereign and



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The First Repudiation of Allegiance to Great Britain by any American Colony — Adopted by the
Rhode Island Colonial Assembly, May 4lh, 1776.





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Photo'/rtipli by John W. Aiity


independent State. When the war of the Revolution was over, she
hesitated to surrender the hberties enjoyed under her charter and was the
last of all the states to sign the Federal Constitution.

She was the first to recognize religious liberty and to try in a practical
way the great experiment of Separatory Church and State. The story of
liberty cannot properly be written without some reference to the "Lively
Experiment" instituted by Roger Williams.

The settlement of Providence stood for a definite ideal. It meant some-
thing to civilization, for Providence stood for freedom of thought when
freedom was elsewhere unknown.

Mighty men have had their daily walks within the lands now dominated
by the majestic dome of the new Capitol, and mighty deeds have been done
v*ithin its present sight.

We might note that the building itself is a very conspicuous and noble
example of the achievements of the 1 9th century. It is said that its architects
and Its builders labored upon it with endless zeal to make it their most
notable work, and to produce the best of which their great art and skill was
capable. Such a building as this, in one of the old world cities, would be
marked with three special stars in Baedeker's guide book and its rotunda
and State reception room would be admired by throngs of worshipping
American visitors, as examples almost unsurpassed in beautiful architecture.
Perhaps two or three stars would also be given to Gilbert Stuart's fine
painting of Washington, which hangs amid
such fitting surroundings. There are many
pedestals waiting for occupants upon the
marble terrace, but it is not through lack of
Rhode Island heroes that they are still

Short as is the history of this State and
brief as is its span in the world's great
history, it has nevertheless been long
enough for the principles of its great and
prophetic founder to extend far beyond the
seas. The cherished purpose is announced
m the words of one of his distinguished
associates, upon the facade of the Capitol :
"To set forth a lively experiment, that a
most flourishing civil State may stand and
best be maintained, with full liberty of

Drawn by Sidney Burleigh

GILBERT Stuart's birthplace

religious concernments." It is astounding to us now to recall that only such
a short time ago liberty of thought and freedom to worship as one pleases and
believes to be right should have been universally denied, yet Providence
was founded upon an absolutely untried principle that has revolutionized the
whole science of government. Roger Williams builded even better than he
knew. No hero of Europe ever set forth a more lively experiment, for not
only has his "Flourishing State" maintained itself on this great principle,



but the whole nation is conducted upon this plan, and the voice of liberty
is calling around the world. We can look back to the career of this man
among his fellow-men with unalloyed delight, for he was upright and honest;
and his dealings with the native inhabitants were generous and fair; and so
Providence not only stood for liberty of conscience but it stood for justice.

There are other pedestals upon this terrace that might well be occupied
by figures of those noble red men, whose histories are so worthy; — the chiefs
who made the setdement of Roger Williams a possibility, — Miantonomi and
Canonicus. Splendid representatives they were of the race that has almost
disappeared before the victorious white man.

A short mile from the northern windows of the State House stands the
mansion, — now dedicated to the use of all the people, — wherein dwelt, the
first Admiral and Commander-in-chief of the American Navy, that versatile
man, Esek Hopkins, "master mariner, politician, brigadier general, naval
officer and philanthropist." The country which has had such a splendid
Navy as ours, through all these years unconquered, need not look to the
history of any other land for examples of wadike achievement, but, be it
remembered, Rhode Island was the first to recommend and urge upon
Congress the establishment of a Continental Navy. Congress chose Rhode
Island to execute the plans, and in that navy, of which Esek Hopkins was
the first Commander, at least three-fourths of all the officers were from the



little State of Rhode Island, whose bold mariners were the very vikings of
the American Revolution. In those troublous times Rhode Island never
waited for her sister colonies to blaze the trail or point the way. She was
the first of them all to create a Navy of her own. She gave the command
to Abraham Whipple who forthwith captured the first prize (the tender of
the British frigate Rose, then off Newport) and fired the first cannon at the
Royal Navy, June 1 5, 1 775. But Abraham Whipple was no novice.

From the dome of the State House we may look down upon the site of
Sabin's Inn, where the men of Providence organized an expedition one June
night in 1 772, and in long boats pulled silently down the river to destroy
His Majesty's ship, Gaspee. To Capt. Whipple belongs the honor of
leading the first armed expedition against a naval vessel of the enemy.
Large as was the reward offered by the British Government for information
against anyone who had taken part in this expedition, no man in Providence
was disloyal enough to furnish any assistance. The English Commander,
however, knew well enough who the leader was, and history records the
letter that he wrote to him: "You, Abraham Whipple, on the 1 0th of June,
I 772, burned His Majesty's vessel, the Gaspee, and I will hang you at the
yard arm;" and the reply: "Sir James Wallace — Always catch a man
before you hang him.

At the foot of Capitol Hill, as commemorated by the tablet upon the
Board of Trade building, the people of Providence effectively protested


against unjust taxation by dumping cargoes of tea into the river, and in the
older State House, over on the opposite hill, Rhode Island's Legislature
led the way for the other colonies by instructing its officers to disregard the
Stamp Act, and insured them immunity for so doing. It w^as the first to
support the resolutions passed by the House of Burgesses in Virginia in 1 769,
declaring that in them alone was vested the right of taxation. Rhode Island
had explicitly declared the same thing four years earlier.

The "People of Providence in Town Meeting Assembled, " was the first
authorized body to recommend the permanent establishment of a Continental
Congress, May 1 7, 1 774, and the General Assembly of Rhode Island on
June 1 3, 1 774, appointed Samuel Ward and Esek Hopkins as the first
delegates thereto.

Near the top of that East Side hill is old University Hall, where once
were quartered the French allies of the struggling Republic, and half way
down the hillside we can see the hotel where Washington and Jefferson and
Madison were entertained, and where Lafayette was once more received
when he revisited these shores after half a century had passed.

Not far away, a tablet marks the house of Governor Stephen Hopkins, —
a bright star in the brilliant galaxy of his time, who as an early constitution
framer, has well been classed with Benjamin Franklin.



Scarcely beyond our vision, in the old colonial city down the bay, dwelt
two other men whose names will always live in the annals of our Navy,
and one of them is no less honored in Japan, which he opened to modern

There is another who should be honored, lest it be said that States are
ungrateful. The nation has not been forgetful of him, for there is a fine
equestrian statue in Washington, and the memorial at Savannah bears
testimony to the admiration of Georgia for our great General, Nathaniel
Green. He who was called the "Saviour of the South," — who, in command
of the Continental army was next to Washington, and whose military genius
has had few equals since time began, — has never yet been honored by his
own State. His splendid career should furnish inspiration for some great
sculptor's work. It is a shame and almost a disgrace that Rhode Island has
so long neglected to pay adequate tribute to his memory.

Gilbert Stuart, also, the earliest of great American portrait painters,
deserves fitting recognition by the people of his state. He who so worthily
portrayed other great men of his time, well deserves a similar appreciation.

And let us not forget that in more modern days there was one who was
the idol of Rhode Island, and whose memory should not suffer because
financial reverses came to him in the midst of his public-spirited career.
From the hill on which now stands our marble hall, with its superb white
dome rising against the sky like a fairy palace, one might have heard, in the
days of '61, the drums of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment as it started for
Washington to be first in the field, most prompt of all the nation's defenders,
at the President's call to arms. And Governor William Sprague was at its

But the victories of Rhode Island have been those of peace more notably
than those of war.

The guiding principles
of Rhode Island have
become the principles of
our nation and our civili-
zation IS fast becoming
the inspiration and
power of the world.

Is not this honor
enough for so small a





Reckoned by similar methods of enumeration, the official population of the city of London is only
about one-fifth as great as that of Providence. Moreover, that of London is constantly diminishing.
Providence, because its corporate limits are not quite as restricted, has not yet begun a retrograde
movement, yet like London it finds a constantly larger proportion of its real population living beyond its
legal boundaries, and thus, like London, she is a city within a greater city. The metropolitan district,
which includes the immediate environs, is the real Providence. In only one or two other A merican
cities is a statement of its population so misleading as to its size and real importance. It may sound
paradoxical to say that the growth of Providence is largely outside of Providence, but this is literally
true for while the growth of Providence during the last ten years has amounted ( Census report I 9 1 0)
to 27.8 per cent, the cities and towns immediately contiguous to Providence enjoyed a growth of
about 39 per cent and the metropolitan district now contains about three-quarters of the whole popu-
lation of the State.

In no other American State is there found anything like so large a proportion of the entire popu-
lation, surrounding a single centre and constituting a single continuously built community.

Since it is true that a prophet has Httle honor m his own family, the
real position of a city may be similarly unrealized by its own citizens. Its
praises may go unsung, its beauties be left unheralded, its wealth and pros-
perity only vaguely suspected, and its most precious treasures hidden.

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Online LibraryHenry A BarkerThe southern gateway of New England → online text (page 1 of 4)