History Bytes: Fort George

August 11, 2014

Since colonial Rhode Island’s earliest days, Goat Island has been a fortified military site. On 9 July 1764, Governor Stephen Hopkins ordered gunners from the Newport Artillery Company to fire on the British Schooner St. John, which had been illegally impressing New England sailors. It was recognized as “the first shots in resistance to British authority in America,” as commemorated on a bronze plaque installed on the island in the 1970s. Partially designed by Peter Harrison, Fort George later became Fort Wolcott and slowly disappeared as the Naval Torpedo Station complex spread across the island.

Above: J.P. Newell’s lithograph of Newport Harbor, printed in 1884. The image represents Newport as seen c. 1740 copied from an 18th-century overmantel painting.