1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 Stephen Hopkins Collection

 Governor of Rhode Island, signer of the Declaration of Independence

 Collected papers, 1747-1775.

 Size: 0.5 linear feet (one box, one loose volume)

 Catalog number: MSS 492

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, November 1995

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) is best known as a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He served as governor of Rhode Island for most of the period between 1755 and 1768, alternating in the office with his rival, Samuel Ward. He also served in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1780. Though raised in what is now Scituate, Rhode Island, Hopkins lived for most of his adult life in Providence. He was a member of the Society of Friends. His first wife was Sarah Scott, who he married in 1726. After her death in 1753, he married Anne (Arnold) Smith, widow of Benjamin Smith, in 1755.


Biographical Cyclopedia of Rhode Island, 99.

Foster, William E. Stephen Hopkins: A Rhode Island Statesman (Providence, 1884).

Kepler, Frank Roy. Thomas Hopkins of Oyster Bay (Detroit, 1954).

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Scope and content:

            These papers have been collected by the Historical Society from many gifts and purchases, beginning as early as 1845. It is, for the most part, a collection of largely unrelated single items. It includes letters both sent and received, spanning 1749 to 1775, as well as several receipts signed as Governor, undated essays, and an early account book.

            Of particular interest are a run of letters from 1767 and 1768 between Hopkins and various friends of Samuel Ward, which provide details on a heated political battle. A 1754 letter from Hopkins to his future wife, a copy of a 1760 letter from English Secretary of State William Pitt, an essay on liberty, and several documents relating to the French and Indian War are also noteworthy.

            Hopkins had saved a large trunk of his public papers; unfortunately, according to John Howland (in his "Life and Recollections", p. 47), these papers were swept out of the house they were stored in by the Great Gale of 1815.

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            The provenance for many of these items is unknown. Information is provided below when known.

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Processing note:

            These papers were probably first brought together as a collection around 1975, from the Society's miscellaneous holdings. In 1995, other items were added, and the collection was organized chronologically in an archival box and folders.

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Unboxed volume:

Account book, 1747-1757, of Stephen Hopkins, containing notes, supplies for the brigantine Hope, lists of soldier's bounties and military accounts in the French and Indian Wars, accounts of Hope Furnace, etc. Also includes accounts of Benoni Colvin of Scituate selling lumber to the Arkwright Company, Hope Factory, etc., 1813-1836.

            Accn. 1952.20, purchased from "A girl employed at Brown University".

Folder 1 (1754-1755)

1754, Nov. 19 Letter, S.H. to Mrs. Anne Smith. 3 p.

Humorous letter to future wife dealing with gossip and his improving health.

Accn # 1964.37, purchased of Parke-Bernet Galleries.

                        Formerly Misc. Mss. H-777

1755, May 12 Letter, S.H. to Gerrard Beekman. 1 p.

Letter of recommendation for Christopher Champlin, raising supplies for Crown Point expedition.

Formerly R.I.S.H.M. 12-11.

            1755, June 10 Order, S.H. et al to Thomas Richardson. 1 p.

Order by the Committee of War to pay Jonathan Nichols for supplies for the expedition against the French.

Accn #1956.27, purchased of Ben Bloomfield with money from the Jonathan Chace Memorial Fund.

                        Formerly Misc. Mss. H-777

            1755, June 14 Letter, S.H. to wife Anne Hopkins. 1 p.

Awaits condemnation of French prize.

Accn. ca. 1969???

Formerly "Misc. Mss. Ho"

            1755, August and September. Orders, S.H. to Thomas Richardson. 1 p.

Orders to pay Samuel Chace as postmaster. 3 orders on one sheet.

                        Formerly Misc. Mss. H-777

1755, Oct. 27 Letter, Thomas Stephens, to S.H.? 2 p.

                        Regarding manufacture of potash. Recipient uncertain.

                        Accn. unknown.

Folder 2 (1756)

1756, March 6 Letter, S.H. to N.Y. Gov. Charles Hardy. 2 p.

Raising troops in Rhode Island "for reducing Crown Point and Lake Champlain." Refers to Robert Rogers. Typed transcription in folder 3.

Accn. #1956.25, purchased of Robert K. Black with money from the Jonathan Chace Memorial Fund.

                        Formerly Misc. Mss. H-777

1756, August 3 Order, S.H. et al to Thomas Richardson. 1 p.

                        Order by the Committee of War to pay Hopkins for expedition against Crown Point.

                        Formerly Misc. Mss. H-777

Folder 3 (Copies, 1749-1757)

            1749, June 16 Letter, James MacSparran to S.H. 1p.

Typed copy. Evangelical letter from a prominent Episcopalian minister, sending two books. From Shepley Library. A manuscript copy supposedly donated as well, but not found in collection.

1755, Sep. 9 Letter, S.H. to R.I. House of Deputies. 1 p.

Facsimile copy, with engraving of Hopkins monument. Request for one thousand men. From R.I.H.S.M., 15-135. Accn #1880.10.2, gift of William Brotherhead.

Original owned at time of printing by F.J. Dreer of Philadelphia.

1755, Sep. 24 Letter, S.H. to Maj. Gen. Johnson. 2 p.

Facsimile copy, with engraving of Hopkins monument. Congratulations on victory.

From Shepley Library, vol. 7, p. 139. Original owned at time of printing by F.J. Dreer of Philadelphia.

1756, March 6. Typed transcription of letter in folder 2.

1756, May 12 Proclamation, S.H. 1 p.

Photocopy. Call for prayer and repentance in face of war and hardship.

Copied in May 1985 from an original owned by Stuart A. Goldman of Satellite Products of New England, 63 Highland Ave., Randolph MA 02368.

            1757, February 3. Letter from Hopkins to wife Anne.

Photocopy, copied circa 1997-1999 from an original owned by Joseph Rubinfine of American Historical Autographs, West Palm Beach, FL.

Folder 4 (1759-1761)

Letter of Marque and Reprisal, S.H. to Capt. Abraham Whipple of the Game Cock, July 14 1759. Bound, with similar letter to Capt. Whipple for sloop Katy, from Gov. Cooke, Sep. 11 1775.

Letter of Marque and Reprisal, S.H. to Capt. Abraham Whipple of the King George, Aug. 19 1761. Bound.

Folder 5 (1760-1764)

1760, Aug. 23 Letter, William Pitt to S.H. Two copies of the letter- 3 p; 1 p..

From Whitehall. Re suppression of illegal trade with the French.

Three page manuscript copy made 9/3/1838, by "C.E.R." from an original in possession of Edward Brinley of Newport, son of Francis Brinley, a colonial legislator.

            1762, June 14 Letter, S.H. to R.I. General Assembly. 1 p.

Requesting payment for the past year's service, and a settlement of his accounts.

                        Accn #1965.29, purchased of Parke-Bernet Galleries.

                        Formerly Misc. Mss. H-777.

1764, Mar. Letter to S.H. from W. Musgrove, et. al. 1 p.

Recommending John Nicoll as Comptroller of Customs.

Accn. unknown; possibly a purchase from the American Autograph Shop, Merion Station, PA.

Folder 6 (1767)

            Ca. 1767 Response to S.H. by Nicholas Easton. 2 p.  

                        On behalf of a group of friends of former Gov. Ward.

                        Accn. unknown.

1767, Feb. 28 Letter, Elisha Brown et al to S.H. 2 p.

From friends of Samuel Ward.

Accn . unknown. Note reads "RICR 6:551"

            1767, Mar. 13 Letter, Daniel Jenckes et al. to S.H. 3 p.

                        Letter in support of Gov. Hopkins. In poor condition.

                        Accn. unknown.

1767, Mar. 13 Letter, S.H. to Elisha Brown. 1 p.

Includes quote in full of letter from S.H. to Samuel Ward, from the same date, offering to retire if Ward does.

Accn. unknown. Note reads "RICR 6:551"

1767, Mar 25 Letter, Gideon Wanton et al to S.H. 2 p.

Contemporary mss. copy. From friends of Samuel Ward.

Accn. unknown.

1767, Mar. 25 Letter, Samuel Ward to S.H. 1 p.

Contemporary copy. Declines Hopkins' offer.

Accn. unknown. Note reads "RICR 6:553"

1767, Oct. 28 Letter, S.H. to R.I. General Assembly. 1 p.

Draft of letter re: compensation of Dr. Moffett; sales of land by the Narragansett sachem; offer to resign as Governor to bring peace to colony.

Accn. unknown.

Folder 7 (1768, 1775)

            1768, Mar. 5 Draft letter, S.H. to Nicholas Easton. 1 p.

Re political peace. Also a draft of an essay titled "Proposal for Getting Peace in the Collony for the Future."

Accn. unknown.

1768, Mar. 11 Letter, John Tweedy et al to S.H. 2 p.

From friends of Samuel Ward.

Accn. unknown.

1768, Mar. 17 Letter, S.H. to Henry Ward et al. 2 p.

                        Draft of letter to friends of Samuel Ward.

1768, Mar. 18 Letter, Joseph Wanton et al to S.H. 2 p.

Discussion of prox from friends of Samuel Ward.

Accn. unknown.

1768, Mar. 24 Letter, John Tillinghast et al to S.H. 1 p.

                        From friends of Samuel Ward, re plan for peace.

                        Accn. unknown.

1775, May 25 Letter, S.H. to Ruth Hopkins. 1 p.

To stepdaughter. Congress proceeding slowly.

Formerly "Misc. mss. Ho."; accn. ca. 1969?

Folder 8 (copies, 1775)

1775, April 28 Letter, S.H. to Massachusetts Congress. 1 p.

Photostat copy. Requesting assistance to Joseph and Moses Brown in obtaining the release of their brother John Brown from a ship of war.

Copied 12/1914 from "Massachusetts Revolutionary Archives, Vol. 193: Revolutionary Letters" Accession date: 12/29/1969, gift of Mr. Abbott.

1775, October 9 Letter, S.H. and Samuel Ward to Gov. Cooke.

                        4 page letter copied on three photostat pages.

                        Developments in Philadelphia.

                        Accession and provenance unknown.

Folder 9 (Undated)

Acrostic in verse, the original letters spelling Stephen Hopkins. Docketed, apparently by Moses Brown, "Stephen Hopkins hand Writing & doubtless his own composing."

                        Accn. #1962.41.5?, purchased of Leon Caron. Formerly Misc. Mss. H-777

Manuscript copy of the same.

Poem, "On the Death of Silvanus Hopkins son of Stephen Hopkins Esq. a youth about nineteen years old who was cast away on the Cape Briton Shore and Barbarously Murdered by inhuman savages about the 24th of April Anno Dom 1753." 2 p.

                        Accession unknown.

Manuscript copy of the same.

Essay, beginning "Suppose two men by their own crimes plunged in an horrible pit..." Religious. 1 p.

Fragment of an essay, beginning "with Credit ability and faithfullness..." 1 p.

Essay, on liberty and good government, beginning "Liberty! That sacred name...". 3 p.

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Arkwright Company

Beekman, Gerrard

Brown, Elisha (1717-1802)

Brown, John (1736-1803)

Brown, Joseph (1733-1785)

Brown, Moses (1738-1836)

Chace, Samuel

Champlin, Christopher (1707-1766)

Colvin, Benoni (1750-1844?)

Cooke, Nicholas (1717-1782)

Crown Point Expedition, 1755

Easton, Nicholas

Game Cock (ship)

Hardy, Charles (ca.1716-1780)

Hope (brigantine)

Hope Company

Hope Furnace

Hopkins, Anne (Arnold) (Smith)

Hopkins, Ruth (Smith)

Hopkins, Sylvanus (1734-1753)

Johnson, William (1715-1774)

Katy (sloop)

King George (ship)

MacSparran, James (ca.1693-1757)

Narragansett Indians

Nicoll, John

Pitt, William (1708-1778)

Rhode Island - Politics and Government, 1750-1775

Richardson, Thomas

Rogers, Robert (1731-1795)

Stephens, Thomas

United States - History - French and Indian War, 1755-1763

United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783

Ward, Samuel (1725-1776)

Whipple, Abraham (1733-1819)

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