Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Henry Knox Papers II Finding Aid

The Swain Report, Number 13

Henry Knox papers II

by David Swain

Introductory Information

The Henry Knox Papers II are only a part of the papers of Henry Knox housed at the Massachusetts Historical Society:

-- The Henry Knox Papers owned by the New England Historic Genealogical Society and deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society consist of a 55 reel microfilm collection, of which the David Library owns a complete copy.

-- The Henry Knox Papers III consist of a yet unfilmed manuscript collection held only by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

-- The Henry Knox Papers II, with whose contents we are concerned here, are partially microfilmed, and the David Library owns a microfilm copy of all the items that have been microfilmed. These include two reels of recent acquisitions containing the Diary (part of the Revolutionary War papers) and the Waste Book and Letterbook (part of the Bookseller papers), plus three reels of orderly books (part of the Revolutionary War papers), previously acquired and catalogued by the David Library in a separate microfilm collection titled Revolutionary War Orderly Books.
The entire Papers II collection is organized as follows:
                   I. Personal papers, 1736-1803

                   II. Professional papers, 1771-1823
                                A. Revolutionary War papers, 1775-1781
                                B. United States War Office papers, 1786-1790
                                C. Bookseller papers, 1771-1823

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Abraham Whipple Papers Finding Aid

The Swain Report, Number 12

Abraham Whipple Papers

by David Swain

Background Information

Abraham Whipple (1733-1819) was a native Rhode Islander and a “native” seafarer. Early in life he sailed on merchantmen, captaining a ship for wealthy Providence merchants and slave traders Moses and John Brown in the West Indies trade. During the French and Indian War, he turned to privateering, at which he was enormously successful (and lucky), capturing 23 French ships during one particularly lucrative six-month period.

By 1772, he had changed the country whose shipping he hunted from France to England—and, in the process became an early revolutionary patriot. In June 1772, he and John Brown led a party who burned the grounded British revenue cutter Gaspée off of Warwick, RI. The Gaspée had been chasing an American packet boat, seeking to enforce British customs collection and cargo inspection laws. Thus, the act of arson was recognized as a politically defiant, even revolutionary act.

In 1775, the Rhode Island General Assembly decided to take direct action against the British Frigate HMS Rose, which had been “interfering” with Rhode Island trade. It chartered two sloops to do the job, the Katy, owned by John Brown, and the Washington. Abraham Whipple was made captain of the Katy and commodore of the fleet of two. This “Rhode Island Navy” promptly captured the Rose.

As the US Navy began to be created in late 1775, the Katy became one of its first ships, renamed the Providence (a modern replica now floats by the quay in downtown Providence) Whipple also joined the nascent navy as captain of another ship, the USS Columbus. Both ships participated in a 1776 raid on the British military garrison at Nassau, Bahamas, successfully seizing supplies badly needed by the Americans.