Some facts regarding Providence at the start of the Revolutionary War
At least three of the streets of Providence were paved after 1761. In that year the Providence Street Lottery was authorized. According to the proceedings of the General Assembly, held in East Greenwich, Rhode Island on February 23, 1761 a petition was received from several of the inhabitants of Providence (Joseph Bucklin and John Brown were two of them) requesting a lottery so that the profits could be used to pave the streets of that city. They stated the streets were not passable at certain times of the year and the high volume of traffic made it impossible to keep the roads in good repair. The only solution was to have the dirt streets paved. The petitioners for the lottery suggested three steps. The proceeds of a first class lottery would be used to pave from the Great Bridge and Market Square northerly on the main street as far as the money would allow. Proceeds from a second class lottery would be used to pave from the Great Bridge and Market Square southerly on the main street as far as the lottery proceeds would allow. Finally there would be a third class lottery to subsidize the paving from the Great Bridge westward over Weybosset and continue as far as finances would allow. This plan was passed, granting the right to conduct a lottery of three classes to raise the sum of £6,000 to be used for the paving of the streets in Providence. The directors of the lottery were; Nicholas Cooke, John Brown, Knight Dexter, Joseph Bennett, Joseph Bucklin and George Jackson.
Of interest is the fact that although Joseph Bucklin’s wharf, shop, and warehouse were on Westminster Street, the petition was for the paving of Weybosset Street, also referred to as Broad Street. This suggests that by 1761 Weybosset Street had a higher volume of traffic than did Westminster street.
This division of the city of Providence into three parts occurs many times in the period before 1799, indicating the city population seemed divided somewhat equally into three sections of town.
Providence in 1770 had a flourishing maritime trade, a merchant aristocracy, a few industries, a body of skilled artisans, a newspaper, a stagecoach line, and several public buildings. Fortunes of many of the merchants and ship owners had been built on the shipping of tea and sugar and molasses, rum, and slaves, as well as whaling. Tea, sugar, sugar, molasses and rum were examples of items which the English tried to tax and the Providence merchants preferred to import without paying the tax. Joseph Bucklin 4th was one of those merchants.
In 1770 — there were listed 15 public buildings (4 School Houses, 1 college; 1 President’s House; 1 Court House; 1 Jail, 1 Work House, 1 Church, 1 Baptist Meeting House, 1 Presbyterian Meeting House, 1 New Light Meeting House, 1 Friends’ Meeting House, and 1 Powder house), 184 Store Houses and Shops, but only 309 Dwelling Houses. Carpenter 1771 001]
In Providence in 1772 there were six distilleries, two spermaceti candle works, two tanneries, two gristmills, a slaughterhouse, a potash works, and a paper mill. Economic activity was dominated by merchants engaged in shipping. The three largest were the mercantile firms of: Nicholas Brown and Company, Joseph and William Russell, and Clark and Nightingale.