Admiral Esek Hopkins statute in Providence, R.I.

All Titles

  • Admiral Esek Hopkins statute in Providence, R.I.

Dublin Core


Admiral Esek Hopkins statute in Providence, R.I.


United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.


Image of the Admiral Esek Hopkins statute in Providence, R.I. 

Excerpt from: Esek Hopkins Papers at the Rhode Island Historical Society
Esek Hopkins (1718-1802) was born April 26, 1718 in Chapumiscook (Scituate), RI and was one of nine children born to William (c.1685-1738) and Ruth Wilkinson Hopkins (c.1685-1738). He was the brother of Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785), who served as governor of Rhode Island for ten terms between 1755 and 1768 and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hopkins spent his childhood on his parents' farm until he left at the age of twenty to pursue a career as a sailor. He quickly rose up the ranks and became a prominent master mariner by the time he married Desire Burroughs (c.1722-1794) of Newport in 1741, with whom he had eight children: John (1742-), Heart (1744-1825), Abigail (1746-), Samuel (1748-1750), Amey (1751-), Stephen (1753-1761), Susanna (1756-), and Esek (1758-1777). Hopkins flourished as a captain and soon became highly successful and involved in privateering, Rhode Island's most profitable enterprise during the years before the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).

As war between Great Britain and the American colonies grew more imminent, Rhode Islanders feared a British invasion through their harbors; since, the American colonies did not provide any naval protection against the British. Therefore, R.I. was one of the first colonies to provide naval protection for itself and Esek Hopkins was asked to command the colony's naval forces. Rhode Island delegates impressed upon Congress the need for a navy of equal strength to the Continental Army and in October 1775 they appropriated funds for a new navy and soon appointed Esek Hopkins, now in his sixties, to be the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy. Hopkins did have some success as the Commander but he and the American Fleet were forced to compete for both supplies and men with privateers, who traveled along the seas and fought and captured enemy vessels on their own. Hopkins' navy failed to meet Congress' expectations and by October 16, 1776, Congress made a vote of censure against Hopkins and he went before a Naval Committee with John Adams (1735-1826) as his defender. Unfortunately, this was not enough and Commodore Hopkins was dismissed from the Navy on January 2, 1777. After his dismissal from the navy, Hopkins settled near Providence and he continued to serve his country as a member of the state general assembly. Hopkins died February 26, 1802 at his home farm at the age of eighty-two.




Rhode Island State Archives


Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.





Still Image Item Type Metadata


"Admiral Esek Hopkins statute in Providence, R.I.," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #859, (accessed July 18, 2019).