Sullivan Dorr House

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Sullivan Dorr House


Various images of the Sullivan Dorr House located on the corner of Bowen Street and Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island.

Sullivan Dorr (1778-1858) was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Ebenezer (1739-1809) and Abigail (Cummingham) Dorr (1762-1796). Ebenezer was a leather dresser, owner of the schooner Dove, and a merchant with a store at No. 27 Long Wharf, Boston. During the Revolutionary War, while Paul Revere was warning those north of Boston of the coming of the British troops, Ebenezer was warning Roxbury and Boston Neck of the attack.

Sullivan Dorr married Lydia Allen (1782-1859), daughter of Zachariah and Ann (Crawford) Allen, on October 14, 1804. They had four sons and three daughters: Thomas Wilson (1805-1854); Allen (1808-1889); Ann Allen (Dorr) Ives (1810-1884); Mary Throop (Dorr) Ames (1811-1869); Sullivan Jr. (1813-1884); Candace Crawford (Dorr) Carrington (1815-1886); and Henry Crawford (1820-1897).

His son, Thomas Wilson Dorr, is well known as the leader of the Dorr Rebellion. Dorr had become the leader of the "Law and Order" Party that had a platform of suffrage reform. The party held a convention and adopted a "People's Constitution," in 1842, under which Dorr was elected Governor. However, the Rhode Island legislature did not recognized Dorr's legitimacy. Dorr made a failed attempt to take over the State Arsenal and failed in his attempt to convene a General Assembly. With these failures Dorr fled Rhode Island, only to turn himself in a year and a half later. He was tried in 1844 and sentenced to life in prison. Dorr was released in 1845 due to a legislative act that freed all prisoners sentenced for treason. In 1854, Dorr's record was expunged as some of those in power can to believe he had be wrongly convicted.

Early in life Sullivan was engaged in the fur trade on the northwest coast of the United States and at the age of twenty, he went to Canton, China to follow mercantile pursuits. Much of his business was for the firm of J. & J. Dorr; based in Boston and owned by his brothers, Jonathan and Joseph. He stayed in Canton for five years (1799-1803) and upon returning to the States he settled in Providence and became a prosperous merchant. He resided in a home he built in 1811 on the northeast corner of Benefit and Bowen Streets.

Sullivan served as a Brown University trustee (1813-1858) and was the second president of the Providence Washington Insurance Company (1838-1858). He died on March 3, 1858 and was buried at the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence.
Source: Rhode Island Historical Society-Sullivan Dorr Papers

See also:
Dorr, Thomas Wilson, 1805-1854.

Dorr Rebellion, 1842.

Rhode Island--Constitution

Rhode Island Historical Society-Sullivan Dorr Papers

Dorr Rebellion - Map of Road Leading to Chepachet (1842)

Rhode Island: A Study in Separatism by Irving Berdine Richman, 1905

Adjutant General - Correspondence Received (1790 - 1915)

Adjutant General - Orders Issued, Dorr Rebellion (1842)

Dorr Rebellion - Committee on Accounts

Dorr Rebellion - Correspondence, 1820-1846

Dorr Rebellion - Insurrectionary Claims (1842 - 1843)

Dorr Rebellion - Map of Road Leading to Chepachet (1842)

Dorr Rebellion - Martial Law, Travel Passes Granted (June 24 - 29, 1842)

Dorr Rebellion - Military Returns, Orders (April 1842)

Dorr Rebellion - Militia Field Reports (June 25 - July 1, 1842)

Dorr Rebellion - Payment Vouchers (1842 - 1843)

Quartermaster General - Correspondence, Reports, Orders-Dorr War (1842 - 1843)

Quartermaster General - Orders & Accounts (1842 - 1847) / Musket Inventory (1837)


Preston, Howard W.




Rhode Island State Archives


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Preston, Howard W., "Sullivan Dorr House," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #210, (accessed November 17, 2019).