The Gaspee Affair was a significant event in the lead-up to the American Revolution. H.M.S. Gaspee was a British customs schooner that enforced the Navigation Acts in and around Newport, Rhode Island in 1772. It ran aground in shallow water while chasing the packet ship Hannah on June 9 near Gaspee Point in Warwick, Rhode Island. A group of men led by Abraham Whipple and John Brown attacked, boarded, and torched the ship.
The event increased tensions between the American colonists and British officials, following the Boston Massacre in 1770. British officials in Rhode Island wanted to increase their control over trade—legitimate trade as well as smuggling—in order to increase their revenue from the small colony. But Rhode Islanders increasingly protested the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and other British impositions that had clashed with the colony’s history of rum manufacturing and other maritime trade.
This event and others in Narragansett Bay marked the first acts of violent uprising against the British crown’s authority in America, preceding the Boston Tea Party by more than a year and moving the Thirteen Colonies as a whole toward the war for independence.
Jay Chapman, Red Cliffs of Zion chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution
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