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American History: summary of 1772 Rhode Island attack on English ship Gaspee.

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Gaspee Hist v.013

Copyright entire site protected © Leonard Bucklin
1998 through 2013.

Naval War Museum Picture of Gaspee BurningShortest Summary of the Gaspee Attack and Its Importance in American History (275 words).

The 1772 Attack by Rhode Island on the English Royal Navy Ship Gaspee!

The Gaspee was an English revenue cutter, preventing smuggling and collecting import taxes from ships entering Rhode Island ports. When the Gaspee went aground, Rhode Island leaders planned an attack. More than a hundred men rowed out in ten large boats, and attacked the Gaspee.  Joseph Bucklin was among the attackers.

Joseph Bucklin took aim and fired. Dudingston fell, and Bucklin burst out:
   "I have killed the rascal!"

Joseph Bucklin shot and severely wounded the English Navy captain. The American attackers successfully boarded and overpowered the crew. They took the English navy crew as prisoners off the ship, and burned the Gaspee. King George III of England attempted to find who was involved, and sent a Royal Commission to Rhode Island to bring the attackers back to be tried in England. The colonists insisted that this Royal Commission violated the rights of Englishmen to be tried by a jury in their own local vicarage.  Although the attackers included many prominent men of Rhode Island, the people of Rhode Island successfully kept the identity of the attackers secret from the English until after the end of the Revolutionary War.

There is general agreement among historians that the shot fired by Joseph was the first time an American deliberately shot a an English military man as a part of a deliberate attack --- planned by colony leaders --- on the English military forces.  They also agree that the English attempt to bring the attackers to England for trial as traitors caused the first united resistance by the legislatures of all the  colonies. The colonies coordinated efforts by "committees of correspondence," which lead to the formation of the First Continental Congress of the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

Home page of Bucklin society Pages on the history of the Gaspee Affair. Pages on American colonial history Pages on Bucklin family history and genealogical data. History & other books, plus T-shirts, mugs, and other logo gift items