The Gaspee

Burning of the Gaspee

Picture of the Burning of the Gaspee

This article on the Gaspee provides fast facts and information about the early government in Colonial America

  • What was the Gaspee Affair?
  • Why was it important?
  • The events that led to the burning of the HMS Gaspee
  • The role of Samuel Adams
  • Facts, history and interesting information and 40 facts about the burning of the Gaspee
Sons of LibertyContinental Congress
Committees of CorrespondenceSamuel Adams
American Colonies Index

History of the first 13 Colonies and how they became the United States

The colonization of America and the fascinating events that led colonists and patriots down the Road to Revolution

The Gaspee Affair
The Gaspee Affair Definition and Summary: The Gaspee Affair occurred on June 9, 1772. The HMS Gaspee, a British customs ship, ran aground in Rhode Island and a Sons of Liberty group attacked and set fire to the ship. The British Government threatened to send the American perpetrators for trial in England, but no arrests were made. However their threat to send Americans to trial in England sparked alarmed protests in the colonies who were informed of the affair via the Committees of Correspondence. The establishment of the permanent Committees of Correspondence led to the founding of the First Continental Congress and eventually the Declaration of Independence.

40 Facts about the Gaspee Affair
The following facts about the Gaspee Affair provides interesting facts in the quick, comprehensive format of the Gaspee fact file.

40 Facts about the Gaspee Affair

Gaspee Affair Fact 1The Gaspee Affair took place on June 9, 1772 at Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island
Gaspee Affair Fact 2Background Info: The Revenue Act, one of the laws in the Townshend Acts, set new import duties (taxes) on British goods. The revenues raised were to clear the massive war debt incurred by the French Indian Wars (including the Seven Years War 1754-1763) and maintain British troops in America and pay the salaries of Royal Officials.
Gaspee Affair Fact 3The British Royal Navy's Sea Officers were enlisted to help enforce customs laws in American colonial ports.
Gaspee Affair Fact 4HMS Gaspee was one of the British Navy ships sent to enforce maritime trade laws and the collection taxes on goods shipped from Britain to America.
Gaspee Affair Fact 5Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, was suspected by the British of being a haven for what they regarded as pirates who were involved in smuggling activities in goods such as rum and molasses.
Gaspee Affair Fact 6The Gaspee was a two-masted schooner with eight cannon and a crew of approximately 26
Gaspee Affair Fact 7The HMS Gaspee was commanded by Lieutenant William Dudingston who came from Scotland
Gaspee Affair Fact 8Lieutenant William Dudingston took command of His Majesty's Schooner Gaspee in September 1768
Gaspee Affair Fact 9The Gaspee entered Narragansett Bay in February of 1772.
Gaspee Affair Fact 10Lieutenant Dudingston and his fellow officers had strict orders and generous financial incentives to stamp out illegal smuggling along the American coast.
Gaspee Affair Fact 11British legislation deputized these officers as customs officials, and they were awarded a share of the value of any illicit cargo seized by them
Gaspee Affair Fact 12Lieutenant Dudingston was an extremely arrogant man and his calculated, and heavy-handed, approach in carrying his duties of trade law enforcement by stopping and interfering with ships in Narragansett Bay soon resulted in bitter resentment from the colonists.
Gaspee Affair Fact 13Lieutenant Dudingston seized a ship called the Fortune owned by the powerful Greene family and he and his crew beat Rufus Greene who commanded her. Lieutenant Dudingston condemned the sloop and her cargo, which included rum, as a prize of customs enforcement, and sent the boat to Boston for sale by the Admiralty who were based there.
Gaspee Affair Fact 14A wealthy Providence merchant called John Brown and other prominent citizens of the Rhode Island colony petitioned Deputy Governor Darius Sessions and Governor Joseph Wanton to investigate claims of piracy and theft on the part of the Gaspee and whether the Gaspee had the authority to act in this way.
Gaspee Affair Fact 15On June 9, 1772 a ship called the Hannah, captained by Benjamin Lindsay, arrived in Narragansett Bay. The Hannah had already cleared customs in Newport
Gaspee Affair Fact 16Captain Benjamin Lindsay deliberately refused to lower his flag in deference to the patrolling Gaspee, and a chase began up Narragansett Bay
Gaspee Affair Fact 17Captain Lindsay deliberately led the Gaspee across a submerged sandbar sticking out from Namquid Point (now called Gaspee Point), and the Gaspee ran aground.
Gaspee Affair Fact 18The Hannah then proceeded up the Providence River to report the British Gaspee's plight to the merchant, John Brown
Gaspee Affair Fact 19John Brown called a meeting of local sea captains and merchants in Providence. They made the decision to attack and destroy the Gaspee.
Gaspee Affair Fact 20They called for volunteers to take part in the attack which would be planned by was Abraham Whipple.
Gaspee Affair Fact 21At 10 pm on June 9, 1772 seven or eight large long boats, each carrying eight men, set out from Fenner's Wharf and proceeded down the Providence River to where the Gaspee had run aground.


Gaspee Affair Fact 22The long boats travelled in silence, with their oars muffled. The faces of the men on the long boats were blackened with camouflage to ensure they could make a surprise attack on the Gaspee.
Gaspee Affair Fact 23They were joined by another couple of long boats at Pawtuxet Village and reached the Gaspee at 1am on June 10th, 1772.
Gaspee Affair Fact 24The Gaspee spotted the approaching boats and sounded the alarm. Abraham Whipple announced he had come to arrest Lieutenant  Dudingston. Shots were fired Lieutenant Dudingston received a bullet in his arm and groin.
Gaspee Affair Fact 25The patriots in the long boats boarded the Gaspee which, after a brief struggle, surrendered. The Gaspee crew were imprisoned overnight and released the following morning to join the British fleet at Newport. Lieutenant  Dudingston was taken ashore, tended by a doctor and eventually went to Newport.
Gaspee Affair Fact 26The patriots then set fire to the Gaspee returned to Providence. The identities of the men involved in Gaspee affair were protected by a veil of secrecy.


Gaspee Affair Fact 27Deputy Governor Sessions investigated the affair interviewing the crew of the Gaspee and Lieutenant Dudingston. Deputy Governor Sessions reported his findings to Great Britain.
Gaspee Affair Fact 28Lieutenant Dudingston was shipped back to Europe. Whenever a ship had been lost it was obligatory to undergo Court Marshal proceedings. Lieutenant Dudingston was therefore Court Marshalled in Portsmouth, England in October, 1772. He was acquitted of any responsibility for the loss.
Gaspee Affair Fact 29William Duddingston continued his naval career and was made an Admiral in 1806. He died 27October 1817 in Earlsferry, Fife, Scotland at the age of 76.
Gaspee Affair Fact 30The burning of the Gaspee was viewed by the British as an extremely serious and rebellious act, requiring firm action. Rewards were offered to anyone disclosing the identity of the participants and an investigatory Royal Commission was established to find the rebels.
Gaspee Affair Fact 31The Royal Commission into the Gaspee affair was authorized by the British government to send any culprits directly to England on charges of treason. to trial by a jury of their own peers in the county of the alleged offence.
Gaspee Affair Fact 32The intention to send colonial political protestors to England for trial deprived American colonists of their right to trial by a jury of their own peers in the county of the alleged offence, was therefore unconstitutional and threatened the independence of the colonies.
Gaspee Affair Fact 33Deputy Governor Sessions asked Samuel Adams for advice. The response  from Samuel Adams was that he saw the threat as being part of an attempt to rescind the Rhode Island charter which had been granted to the colonists in 1663.

Picture of Sam Adams

Gaspee Affair Fact 34The Rhode Island Charter of 1663 established colonial self government and guaranteed  Rhode Island colonists the same rights as if they had been born in England.
Gaspee Affair Fact 35Whilst considering these issues Samuel Adams used the Committees of Correspondence to discuss the threats from Great Britain.
Gaspee Affair Fact 36Samuel Adams agitated for the union of all the colonies stating,

 "... an attack on the liberties of one Colony
was an attack on the liberties of all.''

Gaspee Affair Fact 37The Virginia legislature followed Sam Adam's lead and established permanent Committees of Correspondence in March 1773 led by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.
Gaspee Affair Fact 38No drastic actions were taken by Great Britain. The Royal Commission investigating the Gaspee affair failed to get any cooperation from the colonies and were unable to make any charges against the colonists.
Gaspee Affair Fact 39On the 23 June, 1773, the commission closed its investigation. Their final report to the King stated that the Gaspee was destroyed by persons unknown.
Gaspee Affair Fact 40The Burning of the Gaspee sparked the idea for the Committees of Correspondence which led to the founding of the First Continental Congress and eventually the Declaration of Independence.

Interesting Facts & Information about the Gaspee

History and 40 Facts about the Gaspee Affair
The article containing Gaspee Affair facts is presented in a short, easy fact file format that is highly suitable for kids and schools.

The facts about the Gaspee Affair are a fast and accurate way to gain a good understanding of the people and events surrounding famous document that plays a major role in American history. The facts include the  important dates and the roles of different people who feature in the history of the Gaspee Affair.


  • Meaning and Definition of the Gaspee

  • History of the Gaspee Affair of 1772

  • 40 Fast Facts and info about Gaspee

  • The Gaspee article is a great history resource for kids

  • Social Studies Homework help for kids on the Burning of the Gaspee

Burning of the Gaspee - Burning - Affair - Colonial America - America - Facts - Great Britain - Colonists - British - England - Colonies - History - US - History - Interesting Facts - Information - Info - Events - Dates - Short - Kids - Children - Studies - Gaspee  - US - United States - America - USA - British - Social Studies Teaching resource - Social Studies - History - Teachers - Kids - Dates - Famous - Events - Colonial America - Burning of the Gaspee