A Burning of the Gaspee Storytelling Presentation

This Summer, we opened The Burning of the Gaspee Storytelling Presentation.  For those from Rhode Island, you have probably heard about the Gaspee, and this is just for you!!  On June 9th of 1772, Captain Benjamin Lindsay. Captain of the sloop Hannah, sailed out of Newport, and was it was soon followed by the HMS Gaspee, a tax collecting ship commanded by Lieutenant William Duddingston (1740-1817).

What ensued is considered the first act of resistance committed by colonists against the rule of King George III.   The Gaspee was well-hated by the people of Rhode Island.  When Duddingston visited Providence, he had to wear a costume.  The chase ends when the hated Gaspee becomes caught on a sandbar off Namquit Point in Warwick. (Now called Gaspee Point).  After a meeting in Providence, about sixty colonists got on boats, sailed to Namquit Point, removed the crew, and burned the Gaspee to its gunwales.

The Burning of the Gaspee Storytelling Presentation includes the history of the burning of the HMS Gaspee in 1772, and includes an introduction to the life and accomplishments of Roger Williams. Rhode Islanders do not know the details of the Gaspee event that well.  One of the major points of this historic episode was that King George ordered that the perpetrators of the raid be apprehended and shipped to England to be tried in a Royal Court and NOT in the colony where the accused lived–where they would have been tried by a jury of their peers.  This demand was the match that lit the flame that would become the bonfire of Revolution. By the Fall of 1772, Samuel Adams started the Committee of Correspondence which spent months discussing the King’s demands about the Gaspee Raiders, It was that Committee that created the foundation for our Revolution. Reverend John Allen’s pamphlet “An Oration on the Beauties of Liberty” (December 1772), was one of the most revolutionary speeches of the day. He mentions the Gaspee and the trial struggles no less than six times. We use stories, some “boat” puppets, and songs to help the children learn things that will change their attitudes towards our past. They will gain knowledge and pride about the Gaspee Raiders and Roger Williams.   Roger Williams?  Yes, at one point during the debate in the Tavern, one Raider asks why that have to do anything.  I then tell how John Brown explained the legacy of the life and ideas of Roger Williams.  Born in 1603, Williams was picked to do stenography for the British Supreme Court at the age of eight to ten.  After being sent to the best schools, Roger graduates knowing Latin, Hebrew, Greek, French, and Dutch!  He then became a Puritan Separatist minister.  Oliver Cromwell was his cousin.  He immigrated to Massachusetts to convert Indians,  And then, after founding the Providence Plantations, he writes the first dictionary and cultural study of and American Indian tribe.   John Brown finishes with all the great inspirations for Rhode Islanders to be independent,  Then, we all go to burn the Gaspee!

Ms. Lianne Masucci of the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park wrote this recommendation for the presentation: “…Marc’s presentations are fun and engaging as well as informational. He interacts well with the kids and sparks their interest in the history of Rhode Island. Marc’s presentation teaches children facts without being overwhelmingly informational. Overall his show was a great addition to our summer reading program…”

This storytelling session is best for 1-6 grades, runs 50 minutes, and can be done for audiences up to 150. A discussion follows each presentation.

Each presentation includes a publicity packet and poster, and a Teacher’s Aid to be used to prepare audience  before the Presentation. The Captain Marcus Pirate Show toured RI libraries in 2007.  See the full list of Storytelling presentations at marcwkohler.com.

For bookings, contact us at 401-441-2129  or marcwkohler@aol.com.