Monday, July 13, 2015

Illumunating the American Revolution

Illumunating the American Revolution

Welcome to Newport, Rhode Island! It's July 10, 1780 and Newport has been occupied by the British for three years since December 1776. The British finally left in fall 1779. Over half of the town’s population fled. Now we have learned that thousands of French soldiers are coming to occupy the city. Some people are happy to welcome the strangers but others are not. Those who are happy about the arrival of the French are holding an illumination tomorrow evening. Everyone will put candles in their windows on all the streets leading out of town. 

I stop at the Colony House, the colonial version of a state house, to see what was going on. Newport was one of the shared capitals of the colony of Rhode Island. 

The townspeople gather at Colony House to hear the news and receive their candles.

I look at the newspapers to see what's happening.

A man told me I could sit down and look through this basket. He said they're all his son's things. My guardian asked where his son was and if his son would mind. He said his son was upstairs taking a nap - he's only 1. That man thought I was a baby! Do I look like a baby to you?!
 I like this lady's dress - green and purple- my favorite colors!

 The men discuss current events.
The boy is the son of the man next to him. The man kept asking some visiting boys what they do and how they support themselves. They said "nothing" and the man was very surprised. Boys back then had to work hard. Maybe the boys go to school. This man's son might be an apprentice. 

Here are some maps of Newport in 1780

This spoon belonged to General Rochambeau.

Boom! This cannon was used in the Revolutionary War in the Battle of Newport.

 We lit candles and paraded through the streets.

Then to the Brick Marketplace
"Vive le roi! Long live King Louis!" the men cry.

"Hip Hip Huzzah! Hip Hip Huzzah!" everyone cries out.

From July-August 1778 French forces under the command of of the comte d'Estaing attempted to help American troops and planned a siege of Newport from the British. First they miscalculated and then a large storm blew in so the French were forced to retreat. They tried again two years later. On July 11, 1780, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived with French troops in the tall ship L'Hermione (in French they say it "er me own"). Then General comte de Rochambeau and his troops finally reached Newport. 

The French stayed in Newport until 1781. In March 1781 George Washington arrived in Newport and met with General Rochambeau to plot out their next move. Rochambeau and his troops left Newport and met up with Washington and his troops in Yorktown, Virginia. Rest assured, Felicity, that the battle will be a victory for our side!
I want to go see the Hermione but the only way to get to Fort Admas is by boat and my guardian gets seasick. She was already travel sick from the very long carriage [you can call it a bus] ride to Newport so she said no. We planned to go to Boston the next day but my guardian said it was too hot and her back hurt so we stayed home. A pox on my guardian's plaguey back! I read about the event I time traveled to in the newspaper over 200 years later.
Bonus pictures: Look what I found in the gift shop! I see Caroline, Addy, Samantha, Rebecca and Kit - where's Felicity?!

 Stay tuned for more on Newport history next post.

1 comment:

  1. Susanna, Cécile can't believe you got to see Comte de Rochambeau's spoon! Since her sister married a noble who is also a military man, Cécile's a bit obsessive with that kind of trivia... We're sorry it's too hot to enjoy the Hermione (and thank you for explaining the Frenc pronounciation in such a clear manner!) but we hope you at least enjoy the illumination! Louise comes from Lyon, a city where every year during the Feast of Lights, illuminations with candles are still celebrated. It's something to be seen for sure, wherever it happens!