Call for Submissions: The Gaspee Affair in Context

August 4, 2021

Reposted from:

The Rhode Island Historical Society and the Newport Historical Society will publish the second themed “combined issue” of their respective peer-reviewed journals in the Spring of 2022, entitled The Bridge. This is a call for article submissions on or before January 15, 2022.

Prior to the end of the Seven Year’s War in 1763, the British colonies had enjoyed what historians often called “salutary neglect,” which had enabled economic and political development with little interference from the crown for nearly a century. After 1763, the British government took advantage of a period of European peace to overhaul the empire, seeking tighter control and more revenue, especially from North America. The late 1760s saw a series of acts which sent shock waves through the colonies and sparked various forms of colonial opposition. One such instance in Rhode Island was the Gaspee Affair.

On June 9, 1772, the British customs schooner HMS Gaspee ran aground on a sandbar at what is today known as Gaspee Point, Warwick, Rhode Island. The Gaspee had been chasing the Hannah, a packet vessel that had evaded the empire’s customs duties at Newport. At Providence, the Hannah’s captain Thomas Lindsey notified merchant John Brown of the Gaspee’s compromised position. Mobilizing other merchants including Simeon Potter, Joseph Tillinghast, Ephraim Bowen, and Abraham Whipple in protest of the empire’s customs duties, Brown instigated a mob, including artisans, merchants, and several enslaved people, to attack the beached Gaspee. At dawn on June 10, the rioters boarded the Gaspee, shot the vessel’s captain, forced its crew to abandon ship, seized the vessel’s documents, and set the vessel ablaze. Since the Revolution, Rhode Islanders have commemorated the Gaspee Affair as one of the earliest watersheds of the movement toward American independence.

We seek article submissions which re-contextualize the Gaspee Affair within the broader imperial crisis of its era, with a focus on such topics as other acts of colonial resistance to the crown prior to the Boston Tea Party; a better understanding the Gaspee Affair within the development of global capitalism; situating the role of enslaved and indigenous people in forms of colonial resistance in Revolutionary War period; examining the ways in which the Gaspee has been remembered, reconstructed and recast in various moments of American history; and a better understanding of how communication about pre-war acts of resistance helped to form regional identities that carried into the New Republic period.

Length: 5,000–7,000 words

Format: Microsoft Word (double spaced, absent the author’s name)

Style: Chicago (17th ed)

Deadline: Submit for peer review by January 15, 2022


Richard Ring, Editor of Rhode Island History

Deputy Executive Director for Collections & Interpretation, RIHS



Banner: The Burning of the Gaspee by Charles deWolf Brownell, circa 1892. Courtesy of RI Historical Society