The Rhode Island Charter – 353rd Anniversary

Dr. John Clark, Baptist minister, charter author, physician, city co-founder. This portrait was probably made in the 1650s.

Dr. John Clark, Baptist minister, charter author, physician, city co-founder. This portrait was probably made in the 1650s.

Today marks the 353rd anniversary of King Charles II “Charter for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”.

In November 1651, John Clarke (brother of my 8th g-grandfater Joseph Clark) traveled to London with my 10th g-grandfather Roger Williams to cancel William Coddington’s special patent that made Coddington “Governor for Life” over Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands and to secure a new charter for the colony of Rhode Island. Having succeeded in getting Coddington’s charter revoked, Williams returned to Rhode Island in 1654, but Clarke stayed in England as the colony’s agent. When the monarchy was restored in 1660 and Rhode Island ‘s charter of 1644 was voided, Clarke worked against great odds to obtain a new charter. On 8 Jul 1663, Charles II of England granted a Royal Charter to Rhode Island . John Clarke wrote the charter, and it contained an explicit guarantee of religious freedom:

“…that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter shall be any wise molested [harassed], punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony; but that all and every person and persons may, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their own judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of land hereafter mentioned, they behaving themselves peaceable and quietly…”

The royal charter’s words are carved on the frieze of the Rhode Island State House: “…to hold forth a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained…with a full liberty in religious concernments.” That charter remained the foundation of government in Rhode Island until 1842.

Dr. Stanley Lemons (Professor Emeritus, Rhode Island College) explained the Charter’s significance as follows:

“Rhode Island’s Colonial Charter holds a unique place in the evolution of human rights in the modern world. When King Charles II approved the Charter in July 1663, it marked the first time in modern history that a monarch signed a charter guaranteeing that individuals within a society were free to practice the religion of their choice without any interference from the government. This freedom was extremely radical in an age marked by wars of religion and persecution of people for religious beliefs… Like the Declaration of Independence, Rhode Island’s Charter was a product of an amazing confluence of stubborn resolve, diplomatic skill, and ability to capitalize on a moment of opportunity. His charter was unique in its grant of “freedom of religious concernments” and its language soon echoed in the charters of other colonies. Its principles were subsequently written into the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Rhode Island’s Colonial Charter holds a unique place in the evolution of human rights in the modern world. When King Charles II approved the Charter in July 1663, it marked the first time in modern history that a monarch signed a charter guaranteeing that individuals within a society were free to practice the religion of their choice without any interference from the government. This freedom was extremely radical in an age marked by wars of religion and persecution of people for religious beliefs. Like the Declaration of Independence, Rhode Island’s Charter was a product of an amazing confluence of stubborn resolve, diplomatic skill, and ability to capitalize on a moment of opportunity. Roger Williams had secured a charter from Parliament in 1644 when the monarchy was overthrown, but this charter was voided by King Charles II when the monarchy was restored in 1660. John Clarke, who had been in England since 1651 serving as an agent to protect Rhode Island’s interests against the attempts of the neighboring colonies to dismember and subvert the colony, was able to obtain a new charter for Rhode Island despite great obstacles and opposition. His charter was unique in its grant of “freedom of religious concernments” and its language soon echoed in the charters of other colonies. It’s principles were subsequently written into the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Charter arrived in Newport, in November 1663, where it remained until removed to the new State House in Providence when it was occupied in 1900. (Dr. Stanley Lemons - Professor Emeritus, Rhode Island College)

The Charter arrived in Newport, in November 1663, where it remained until removed to the new State House in Providence when it was occupied in 1900.

 

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Happy Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Founders’ Day (1638)

A sheet of paper with frayed edges and a small hole turned 378 today and residents of this small Aquidneck Island town today filtered through Town Hall to pay their respects. (photo credit: Rose Hehl)

A sheet of paper with frayed edges and a small hole turned 378 today and residents of this small Aquidneck Island town today filtered through Town Hall to pay their respects. (photo credit: Rose Hehl)

Happy Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Founders’ Day! The council chambers at Town Hall were packed today for a public viewing of the Portsmouth Compact, the document that marked the town’s founding on this date in 1638.

The Portsmouth Compact of 1638 was signed by a group of outcasts that had been banished for challenging the authority of the theocratic leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Anne Hutchinson and a some of her followers gathered on March 7 of that year and signed the document proclaiming their intention to create a “bodie politick” based on their own principles. Their search for land led them to Roger Williams, who in turn urged them to buy Aquidneck Island from the Narragansett Indians.

Now a priceless document held in the Rhode Island state archives, the Portsmouth Compact not only established the Aquidneck Island town, but also set a precedent. It was the first document to establish political and religious independence from England.

Direct ancestors of mine who were signers of the Portmouth Compact are: William Dyer (husband of Mary Dyer), William Freeborn, William Hutchinson (husband of Anne Hutchinson), Edward Hutchinson, Jr. (eldest son of William and Anne Hutchinson, called “Jr.” to distinguish him from his uncle Edward Hutchinson Sr.), and John Walker, all of whom are discussed under their own headings (follow the links). John Clarke and his brother Thomas (my 8th g-grand uncles – brothers of Joseph Clarke), John Coggeshall (father of my 7th g-grand uncle Samuel Rathbun, brother of Thomas Rathbun), Edward Hutchinson Sr. (my 10th g-grand uncle), and Thomas Savage (husband of my 9th g-grand aunt Faith Hutchinson, brother of Edward Hutchinson Jr.) were also signers.

Here’s a link to an online article about today’s event in Portsmouth from the Portsmouth Patch.

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The Raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts of 1704

deerfield_monument

Monument to the victims of the Deerfield (Massachusetts) massacre of 29 Feb 1704

Deerfield, Massachusetts was the northwesternmost outpost of New England settlement for several decades during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It occupies a fertile portion of the Connecticut River Valley and was vulnerable to attack because of its position near the Berkshires highlands. For these reasons it was the site of intertribal warfare and several Anglo-French and Indian skirmishes during its early history.

In the winter of 1704, a group of about 300 French soldiers and Native American warriors of various tribes attacked the English settlement of Deerfield. Around 50 colonists were killed, half of which were children, and more than 100 were taken captive and forced to march 300 miles through the New England winter to Quebec, Canada. Many died on the way, and some were killed because they could not keep up.

Those who were killed in the settlement were all buried in a mass grave that can be found in the corner of a small cemetery at the end of Albany Road in Deerfield that is sometimes called “Deerfield Cemetery” and other times “Old Albany Cemetery”. At the top of a small hump of grave land there is a squat, pointed monument with inscriptions on two of its four sides. On one side it states, “The Dead of 1704”. On the opposite side, it states, “The grave of 48 men women and children, victims of the French and Indian raid on Deerfield. February 29, 1704.”

Deerfield_signMy family has connections to some of the early settlers of Deerfield, who died in the massacre:

  • Benjamin, Waite was born about 1645 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He was the son of Thomas Waite (1601-1665) and Eleanor Paine (1605-1676) – my 10th g-grandparents. Thomas was born in England, arrived in Massachusetts in the mid-1630s and settled in Rhode Island in 1638. His wife, Eleanor, arrived in Rhode Island before 1640. I have written up a full account of what is known of the Waite family on his own blog article: http://wp.me/P2HCbU-wH. Thomas and Eleanor’s son, Benjamin, removed to Hadley, Massachusetts and married Martha Leonard. He was slain at the taking of Deerfield on 29 Feb 1704, and he is buried in Deerfield Cemetery, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
  • Joseph Ingersoll (1675-1704), was also killed in the same attack. He was a son through his third wife of my maternal 9th g-grandfather, John (of Westfield) Ingersoll (1626-1684), who is discussed under his own heading: http://wp.me/P2HCbU-iv.

 

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Richard Nixon was born on today’s date in 1913

Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States (1969-1974) was born on today’s date in 1913.  Nixon & I are distant cousins on my father’s side, through both Nixon’s mother (8th cousins 2x removed) and his father (9th cousins 2x removed). The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953-1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Nixon walking on the beach in San Clemente, California

Nixon walking on the beach in San Clemente, California

 

 

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Narraganset Expedition of 1675 and the “Great Swamp Fight”

Tomorrow is the 340th anniversary of the “Great Swamp Fight” of 19 Dec 1675, which took place in South Kingston, Rhode Island during the conflict between the English colonists (and their native allies) and other Native American tribes during King Philip’s War. King Philip’s War was the single greatest calamity to afflict seventeenth-century New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in American history, when casualties are compared to the overall population of the time. It is believed that more than half of the 90 settlements in the region had been attacked and a dozen destroyed. The colony’s economy was all but ruined, and both the English and Native populations were decimated, with the English settlers losing one-tenth of all men available for military service. Whole Indian villages were massacred, entire tribes were eradicated, and indigenous refugees fled westward and northward. Thereafter settlers felt free to expand without fear into former Indian territory across southern New England.

My 8th g-grandfather, John Baker (1654-1722) is mentioned in the record of 16 men who banded together as part of the Narraganset Expedition (1675) and fought in the “Great Swamp Fight”, as reported in a book on King Philip’s War by Bodge and a history of Woburn, Massachusetts by Sewell. He was wounded in that battle.  For John’s service in King Philips War, he was given a grant of land in Narragansett Township #4 (now Greenwich, Massachusetts). After the War, he returned to Woburn, Massachusetts and around 1687 he settled in Swansea, Massachusetts.

Another 8th g-grandfather, John Mason (Jr.) (1646-1676) was also involved in the battle, commanding the 5th Company of the Connecticut Regiment under Major (later Governor) Robert Treat.  On 18 Sep 1676 at Norwich, New London, Connecticut, John Mason died of wounds suffered several months earlier in the “Great Swamp Fight”.

Follow the links for more information on the family lines of John Baker and John Mason.

Great Swamp Fight Memorial South Kingston, Rhode Island, was the site of the last stand of the Narragansett Indians in King Philip’s War against the Colonists – In 1906 a rough granite shaft about 20 feet high was erected by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars to commemorate this battle. Around the mound on which the shaft stands are four roughly squared granite markers engraved with the names of the colonies which took part in the encounter and two tablets on opposite sides of the shaft give additional data.

Great Swamp Fight Memorial South Kingston, Rhode Island, was the site of the last stand of the Narragansett Indians in King Philip’s War against the Colonists – In 1906 a rough granite shaft about 20 feet high was erected by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars to commemorate this battle. Around the mound on which the shaft stands are four roughly squared granite markers engraved with the names of the colonies which took part in the encounter and two tablets on opposite sides of the shaft give additional data.

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On This Day In Newport History: Touro Synagogue Dedicated in 1763

From the website, What’sUpNewp (information from Touro Synagogue’s website & Wikipedia):

Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, was dedicated during the Chanukah festival celebrations on 2 Dec 1763.

Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, was dedicated during the Chanukah festival celebrations on 2 Dec 1763.

According to the Touro Synagogue’s website, the dedication ceremony was a regional celebration attended not only by the congregation, but also by clergy and other dignitaries from around the colony including Congregationalist Minister Ezra Stiles who later became the president of Yale University.

Five Fun Facts

  1. The Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, the oldest surviving Jewish synagogue building in North America and the only surviving synagogue building in the U.S. dating to the colonial era.
  2. It was designed by noted British-Colonial era architect and Rhode Island resident Peter Harrison and is considered his most notable work.
  3. The interior is flanked by a series of twelve Ionic columns supporting balconies. The columns signify the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. Each column is carved from a single tree.
  4. The building is oriented to face east toward Jerusalem.
  5. In 1790, the synagogue’s warden, Moses Seixas, wrote to George Washington, expressing his support for Washington’s administration and good wishes for him. Washington sent a letter in response. Each year, the Touro Foundation sponsors an educational lecture series and holds a public reading of the George Washington letter as a celebration and pronouncement of religious freedom.

Touro-stamp-20cIn 1677, the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island purchased land for a burial place from my 8th g-grandfather, Nathaniel Dickens (1614-1690). Touro Synagogue is considered by some to be the most historically significant Jewish building in the United States. You can read more about my connection to this bit of history in a post that I wrote earlier this year —> HERE, and you can read more about Nathaniel Dickens and his family line — > HERE.

 

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Hylbom Family Thanksgiving, 2015

Many members of the Hylbom family were able to get together in Maryland for the week of Thanksgiving. This shot includes Penelope Hylbom, her living children and their spouses:

L ---> R: Tom Shook, Amy Hylbom Shook, Tor Hylbom, Penny Hylbom, Mary Hylbom, Matt Hylbom, Sherry Austerfield Berglund (photo taken 28 Nov 2015, Parkville, Maryland; credit: Gabbie Salomon)

L —> R: Tom Shook, Amy Hylbom Shook, Tor Hylbom, Penny Hylbom, Mary Hylbom, Matt Hylbom, Sherry Austerfield Berglund (photo taken 28 Nov 2015, Parkville, Maryland; credit: Gabbie Salomon)

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What Happened to the Home of the Brave?

#refugeeswelcome

Reported in the New York Times online edition, 18 Nov 2015. Another article, from today’s Intercept, provides some much-needed perspective.

liberty-in-clouds

On Twitter on Wednesday, President Obama denounced Republicans’ efforts: “Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values. That’s not who we are. And it’s not what we’re going to do.”

“We also win this fight with our values. America can ensure our own security while welcoming refugees desperately seeking safety from ISIL,” he added.

When pressed, most Republicans could not specify which aspects of the rigorous refugee vetting program that they found inadequate. Mr. Ryan’s staff members cited a Bloomberg poll of 1,002 adults released on Wednesday, conducted by Selzer & Company, that found that 53 percent of those surveyed said the resettlement program should be halted.

 

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Mary Dyer statue (Earlham College)

Julie Esker Dishman posted a nice photo on Facebook that she took yesterday of the Mary Dyer statue on the campus of Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. I’m posting it here with her permission, and THANK YOU, Julie! The college was founded by Quakers in 1847, and Mary Dyer was a Quaker martyr and champion of religious freedom in colonial New England. I believe this is a casting of the same statue that sits in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Check out the linked page for more information about Mary (Barrett) Dyer (1611-1660), my 9th g-grandmother. I am descended from two of Mary’s grandchildren. As a result, she is also my 10th g-grandmother.

Mary Dyer statue, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana (photo credit: Julie Esker Dishman)

Mary Dyer statue, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana (photo credit: Julie Esker Dishman)

 

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John Adams was born 280 years ago today

John Adams was born 280 years ago today.  He served as the 1st Vice President (1789-1797) and 2nd President (1797-1801) of the US and was an American Founding Father, lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. He is also my 3rd cousin 8x removed. There is more information of all of my connections to the Adams Family of Massachusetts —> HERE. John Adams died on 4 Jul 1826, the 50th anniversary of the traditional “signing” date of the Declaration of American Independence — coincidently the same day as the death of Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration’s author.

This bust was made from the life mask of John Adams at age 90:

This bust of John Adams was made from his life mask at age 90.

This bust of John Adams was made from his life mask at age 90.

 

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Ingrid Hetfield, 1934-2015

The Cape Gazette (Delaware), online edition published 27 Oct 2015:

Ingrid Hetfield, 81, of Ocean View (Delaware), died Tuesday, 20 Oct 2015, at home.

Ingrid (Hylbom) Hetfield (1934-2015)

Ingrid (Hylbom) Hetfield (1934-2015)

She was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the daughter of the late Tor and Elizabeth (Hamlin) Hylbom.  Ingrid was a graduate of Northhampton School for Girls and Smith College.  Prior to moving to Ocean View she raised her family in Plainfield, New Jersey, where she was active in Twins Mother’s Club and was a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader.  Ingrid was preceded in death by her husband Walter L. Hetfield IV; her sister Elizabeth Frazer; brother Martin Hylbom; and nephew Paul Hylbom.

She had been employed at Fabric Land in North Plainfield, New Jersey, Hess Apparel in Ocean City, Maryland, the Rose Garden in Bethany Beach and Good Earth Market in Ocean View.  Since December 1971 Ingrid has been a proud friend of Bill W.  She was a Master Gardener who was happiest when working in the garden.  She was a world traveler who as a child lived in Sweden, and traveled across the United States, Canada, Europe, Brazil and Egypt.

She is survived by a son, Walter L. Hetfield V of Milton; three daughters, Betsy Joyner and husband Greg of Burlington, North Carolina, Kathy Magee and husband Bob of Ocean View and Peggy Horner of Moore, South Carolina; seven grandchildren, Grace and Ingrid Hetfield of Rehoboth Beach, Patrick Magee of Concord, North Carolina, Timothy Magee of Ocean View and Caroline, Katherine and Anna Horner of Moore.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, 31 October, at Mariners Bethel United Methodist Church in Ocean View. Friends may call from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church and a reception will follow.  Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to POW&R of Autism Delaware, 924 Old Harmony Road, Newark, DE 19713, Delaware Nature Society, P.O. Box 700, Hockessin, DE 19707, The Wilson House, P.O. Box 46, East Dorset, VT 05253, Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, 832 John B. White Sr. Blvd., Spartanburg, SC or Delaware Hospice, 100 Patriots Way, Milford, DE 19963.

Condolences may be sent by visiting Hastings Funeral Home.

Walter "Skip" L. Hetfield (1934-1977) and Ingrid (Hylbom) Hetfield (1934-2015), circa 1956.

Walter “Skip” L. Hetfield (1934-1977) and Ingrid (Hylbom) Hetfield (1934-2015), circa 1956.

 

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Tax dollars pay to maintain Confederate graveyards — but not historic black cemeteries

Interesting article by Seth Freed Wessler published in The Nation (2 Nov 2015 edition, published online 15 Oct 2015):

Black Deaths Matter: Historic black cemeteries have devolved into trash dumps and overgrown forests, while tidy Confederate memorials still draw public funding

East End Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, is one of several historic black cemeteries that have been overtaken by weeds and trash. (Brian Palmer)

East End Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, is one of several historic black cemeteries that have been overtaken by weeds and trash. (Brian Palmer)

Follow —> THIS LINK to read the entire article.

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