Cover image for A dependent people : Newport, Rhode Island in the revolutionary era
A dependent people : Newport, Rhode Island in the revolutionary era
Crane, Elaine Forman.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Fordham University Press, [1992]

Physical Description:
xii, 196 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Reading Level:
1550 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F89.N5 C8 1992 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
F89.N5 C8 1992 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



This work tells a story about the sea, an American colonial town, and the British. It relates how Newport's dependence on the Atlantic Ocean dominated nearly every aspect of its existence. Newport learned early from its watery surroundings that its survival and prosperity were inextricably linked to commerce. Dependent on a thriving trade, Newporters were willing to explore and combination of routes which suggested a successful return in voyage and investment.

Newport's single-minded commitment to commerce produced a society in which people were also dependent on each other. Merchant and dockworker, sailmaker and rope-walk owner developed symbiotic relationships as a result of their common efforts to ensure the success of each voyage. Dependency also extended to social networks where the affluent took responsibility for other members of the community.

Because of their dependence on unobstructed trade, Newporters had evaded British customs for generations, using methods which cast some doubt on their commitment to the law. Thus, when it became clear in 1764 that Britain would go to great lengths to enforce new duties, the stage was set for confrontation. In the end, events outstripped the ability of Newport to chart its own course as the violence escalated. The Revolution prematurely ended Newport's golden age and destroyed the town both physically and spiritually. A dependent people had gained independence but at a cost only a few could foresee.

Author Notes

Elaine Forman Crane is Professor of History at Fordham University.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations and Short Titlesp. vi
Editorial Notep. vi
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Preface to the Paperback Editionp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Notesp. 6
I A Good Voyage and Safe Return""p. 9
1 Any Scheme of Trade""p. 11
2 The First Wheel of Commerce""p. 16
Reflectionsp. 34
II An Interdependent Peoplep. 47
3 A Mercantile Metropolisp. 49
4 The World of the Wealthyp. 53
5 Dependent People, Helping Handsp. 63
6 The Cruel Seap. 69
7 The Black Communityp. 76
8 A Lawless Rabblep. 84
Reflectionsp. 91
III A Dependent Peoplep. 107
9 Economic Arguments and Mob Rulep. 109
10 A Town at War with Itselfp. 126
Reflectionsp. 141
Epiloguep. 157
Notesp. 166
Bibliographyp. 169
Indexp. 187