1844 Directory, Providence, RI

A Chronological History of Remarkable Events, in the Settlement and Growth of Providence.

| 1650 | 1700 | 1750 | 1800 |

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1636.  First settlement of the town, by Roger Williams and his companions, viz. William Harris, John Smith (miller) Joshua Verin, Thomas Angell and Francis Wikes.

The track of land which constitued the town of Providence, which then extended to the present limits of the county, was purchased by Mr. Williams for a valuable consideration, as appears from a deed made to him, and signed by the two Narragansett chiefs, Connanicus and Meauntunomie, 1639, which was in confirmation of a parol grant made two years prior to that date.  These lands were in 1661 parcelled out in equal proportions to the rest of the Company, by Mr. Williams.  Soon after this, "the Town street was laid out, which is now known as North Main and South Main streets.  To each member of the Company were assigned a home lot and a six acre lot; and the home lot of Mr. Williams was in the vicinity of what is now St. John's Church.  The spring of fresh water, where it is believed these pilgrims first stopped, is a little southerly from the church, in the rear of the large brick block of Nehemiah Dodge, on the westerly side of North Main st.

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1640.  Until this year, the government was purely democratic.  A town government was now organized, by the appointment of five Disposers, whose duties were to settle all differences between individuals, to dispose "of lands, and also of the town's stock and all general things," and by the further appointment of "one to keep record of all things belonging to the town and lying in common," which answered to the more modern office of Town Clerk.  In this first delegation of power, the inhabitants provide for the preservation of "liberty of conscience."

1643.  In the summer of this year, Roger Williams sailed from New-York to England. for the purpose of procuring a charter of incorporation for the colonies of Rhode-Island and Providence.  Miantonomi, one of the Narragansett Chiefs, a true friend to Williams and his company, was this year barbarously murdered by Uncas, sachem of the Mohegans, pursuant to a decision of Commissioners of the United Colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Hartford and New-Haven.

1644.  Mr. Williams obtained a Charter, which united Providence, Portsmouth and Newport in a corporate body, styled "The incorporation of Providence Plantations in the Narragansett Bay, in New-England," giving full power for making and executing "civil laws" - "conformable to the laws of England," and returned through Boston, being protected from arrest there, by a letter addressed to the Governor of Massachusetts by members of the English Parliament.

1647.  The first General Assembly, or "General Court," or Court of Commissioners of this Colony, was held at Portmouth, May 16, as was composed of delegates chosen by the towns of Providence, Portsmouth, Newport and Warwick, which body accepted and adopted the Charter, and organized the government under it.  The meeting at Providence gave written instructions to the ten "loving and well betrusted friends and neighbors," whom they appointed delegates, and in view of the dangers they might encounter, in their journey to the North end of Rhode-Island, they invoke "the Lord's Providence for their safe arrival there," and conclude their letter of instructions in these words:-" Thus betrusting you with the premises, we commit you unto the protection and direction of the Almighty, wishing you a comfortable voyage, a happy success, and a safe return unto us again."  A code of laws was enacted and established by this General Court.

1650.  The General Assembly (which title the Commissioners now first assumed) probably with a view to put the inhabitants in a posture of defence against the Indians, passed an order for the towns to furnish themselves with arms and warlike stores, and Providence was required to have one barrel of powder, 500 pounds of lead, six pikes and six muskets, to be kept fit for use.  Warwick was to have a similar supply, and each of the towns of Portsmouth and Newport were required to furnish more than double the quantities of such arms ammunition.

1651.  Mr. Coddington, who went to England last year, returned this summer, with a commission appointing him Governor of the [Page 232] Islands of Rhode-Island and Conanicutt during his lifetime, which put an end to the then existing Colony government under the Charter. Providence and Warwick continued united, and appointed Mr. Williams to visit England, to procure a new charter for their government.  About this same time, a large number of the inhabitants of Portsmouth and
Newport, who were disaffected towards Gov. Coddington, appointed Dr. John Clark to go to England, procure a revocation of his commission; and these agents sailed in company.

1652.  These agents presented a joint petition to the Council, who vacated Coddington's commission, and directed a re-union of all the towns under the Charter.  Hugh Bewitt, who had been tried by the General Court of trials, and convicted of "Treason against the power and authority of the State of England," was again tried before the Court of Commissioners, and acquitted.

1654.  All the towns re-united this year, under the Charter, the towns on the main land having been separated from those on the island since the commission to Gov. Coddington.  Trade with the Dutch was prohibited.  A law was passed against selling liquors to the Indians. There was a General Election at Warwick Sept. 12.  First recorded election of military officers in Providence.

1654.  All the inhabitants were required, by the Court of Commissioners, to sign a submission to the Protector and the Parliament.  The sale of liquors and wines was regulated:  Indians were to be whipped, or laid "neck and heels" for being drunk, and the ordinary keeper who sold him the liquor, was to be fined.  A prison and a pair of stocks were ordered to be built in Providence.  The number of freemen in Providence was forty-two.  Four military trainings a year were ordered by the Town.

1656.  A law was passed that publications of marriage should be made in a Town meeting, or on a training day at the head of the company, or by a magistrate's certificate posted up in some public place.  In town-meeting, the erection of a fort was authorized on Stamper's hill.

1657.  William Harris was put under 500 pounds bond on a charge of High treason, made by Mr. Williams.  He was never tried.

1658.  This town refuses to banish such Quakers as are here, or to prohibit others from coming, though strongly urged to such a course by the Commissioners of the united Colonies, and replies to the intolerant request, that they prize freedom of conscience as the greatest happiness men can possess in this world.  This place had then become a city of refuge to the cruelly persecuted Quakers of Massachusetts.  By a municipal vote, all those who enjoyed lands within the jurisdiction of the town were freemen.

1659.  On the accession of Charles II. a commission was ordered by the General Assembly to be sent to Mr. Clark, in England, to procure a renewal of the charter from that monarch.

1662.  Up to this time, the act requiring the conveyances in land to be made in writing was not generally observed, and regulations were made on this subject to prevent apprehended difficulties, confusion and litigation.  A bridge was order by the town to be built over Moshassuck river, near the dwelling of [Page 233] Thomas Olney, jun.  This is supposed to have been at or near what is now called Randall's bridge.

1663.  Town meetings were called to elect Commissioners, to meet at Newport in November, to receive the Charter which was reported to have arrived;  and the President of the Colony issued an order to the Captain or other commissioned officer of this town, and probably to the other towns, to warn and require all the freemen of the town to accompany the commissioners, in their arms, to solemnize the Charter.  The box containing the Charter was produced before a great assembly of the people, which was opened by order, and the "king's gracious letter," the Charter, were read in the hearing and view of all the people. Mr. Clarke had been a very efficient agent in England in procuring this Charter, and grants of money had been made to him at various times, and at this time a gratuity of £100 was voted to him.  The old government was then dissolved, and a new government was organized under the charter of Charles II, and "continued as the basis of the State Government" till it was superceded by the adoption of a Constitution in 1843.  This is the "Old Charter," about which so much as been written and spoken for the last few years, in this much agitated and disturbed community.  It was an exceedingly liberal instrument to emanate from a royal hand and was adapted to the wants of the colonists at the time it was granted, and for a long period after;  but was not suitable for the fundamental law in these days of progressive improvement;  many of its provisions had become obsolete, and none of them restrained or limited the power of the General Assembly.

1664.  At the October session of the General Assembly, a tax of £600 was ordered, of which the proportion of Newport was £285, and Providence £100 - the rateable property of Newport in the valuation at the time, being estimated at nearly three times as much as Providence.  The tax assessed by Providence, to pay the proportion of the above, was to be paid "in wheat at four shillings and sixpence per bushel, peas at three shillings and sixpence, pork at £3, 10 per barrel, or horses or cattle equivalent."

1665.  On the proposition of Roger Williams, he was authorized to receive tolls for passing Weybosset bridge, for which he engaged to keep it in repair.  Toll was to be exacted from strangers, and "of townsmen what they are free to give."

1666.  Nothing was paid from or received in the Town Treasury.

1672.  Roger Williams held a public disputation with three Friends or Quakers, which continued three days at Newport and one in Providence. Deputies or members of the General Assembly were for the first time required to take an oath or affirmation on commencing their official duties.  This was protested against by those of Providence.

1676.  Thirty houses were burnt by the Indians.  The war commenced the year previous, and the master-spirit who moved all the tribes was the famous king Philip.  He was killed in battle this year, and peace was restored.

1678.  A ferry was established across Seekonk river, where Central bridge is now.

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1700.  The burial ground at the North end of the city was established

1703.  The Colony was divided into two counties - Providence Plantations, and Rhode-Island.

1710.  Paper money, for the first time in this State, was authorized by the General Assembly to be emitted.  It became very common afterwards for 60 or 70 years.

1717.  The town debt had been accumulating several years, and this year the tax was more than double the ordinary amount, and was assessed for £150.

1727.  Joseph Jenckes, of Providence, being elected Governor, removed with his family to Newport, all his predecessors in that office having resided there.

1739.  A public ferry was established where Washington bridge now is, at India Point.

1744.  The General Assembly granted a lottery to raise funds for building a bridge at Weybosset, which bridge was built the following year, and was 18 feet wide.  What an appearance would such a bridge make now, in the focus of this city's business!

1748.  Population of Providence was - whole number of whites 3177, Negroes 225, Indians 50.

1749.  There were 31 licensed Tavern-keepers.

1754.  The inhabitants petitioned this town for power to purchase a "large water engine," which was afterwards, in the course of two or three years, procured.

1755.  Population of Providence,  747 men,  741 women, 655 boys, 754 girls, 262 blacks, 275 men able to bear arms, 406 enlisted soldiers.

1758.  The old Court House erected in 1730, was destroyed by fire, and with it the books of the Providence Library Company.  The town was authorized to appoint fire-wards.

1759.  A new Court House was ordered to be built by the General Assembly, which was completed in a few years, by the grant of a lottery, and by the issue of bills of credit.

1761.  Weybosset bridge was destroyed by a heavy gale of wind and the highest tide ever known before that time.  To rebuild it, the General Assembly made a grant, and authorized a lottery.  It was rebuilt with a draw to admit the passage of vessels, as many were built then as far north as St. John's church, and West India cargoes were unladen at wharves in that vicinity. Newport was still much ahead of Providence in the valuation of taxable property, as appears by a State tax assessed this year, Newport paying £3,200, and Providence £972.

1762.  The first printing office was established by William Goddard. The first play performed in New-England, was in this town, this year. Such performances were afterwards prohibited by law.

1765.  Some spirited instructions were passed at a Town meeting to the town's representatives in the General Assembly, against the right of Great Britain to impose taxes without the Colony's consent.  They were strong, bold and explicit.  They were shadows of "coming events," which led to the declaration of Independence.  The General Assembly acted up to them, and their [Page 235] acts, and similar ones followed by other Colonies, produced the repeal of the odious Stamp act the next year.

1767.  The act of the British Parliament laying a duty on Tea and other articles went into operation, and the inhabitants in Town meeting prepared an agreement, to be signed individually, pledging themselves to each other not to import nor use those articles.

1768.  A large elm tree, near Olney-street , was dedicated as the tree of liberty, and an address made by Silas Downer.

1772.  The British armed schooner Gaspee was destroyed in Providence river, on the west shore.  She had been sent to enforce the British revenue laws.  This was the prologue to the revolutionary drama which was soon performed with unbounded applause.  Some of the most worthy citizens were engaged in this enterprise.

1774.  Population of this town 4321.  Number of dwellings 421; families 655.

1781.  Gen. Washington visited Providence, His arrival was announced by a salute from the artillery.  He was conducted to the house of Hon. Jabez Bowen, (now Manufacturer's Hotel,) and the town was illuminated at night.  Next day he dined with the citizens in the Court House, and in the evening attended a splendid ball.  A formal address was presented to him by a committee of the most distinguished citizens, to which he made a felicitous reply, and expressed much gratification at the respectful attentions he received.

1782.  Population of the town 4306.

1783.  The news of the restoration of peace, and the acknowledgment of our independence, was celebrated with great pomp, April 22.  There was feasting and training, a sermon and an oration, canon-firing, bell-ringing and flag-displaying, from morning till night; and fire-works and a brilliant illumination terminated the joyful demonstration in a blaze of splendor.

1787.  The first ship, from this State, sailed for Canton - the General Washington, Captain Jonathan Donnison.  The number of vessels in this port, then, exceeded that of New York, being 110, and the tonnage 10,590.

1789.  The anniversary of Independence and the adoption of the Federal Constitution by nine States, were jointly celebrated on the 4th of July.  There was a military parade, bells were rung and cannon fired. An address was delivered by Rev. Dr. Hitchcock, in the First Baptist meeting house; and an ox was roasted whole on the plains North of the Cove, at which five or six thousand persons were present.  Some three or four hundred men from the country, of the anti-federal party, which then had the ascendancy on the State, appeared near the ground under arms, and threatened an attack.  A committee of citizens was delegated to meet and remonstrate with them - the difficulty was compromised, and the enemy quietly withdrew, and left the citizens to enjoy their feast.

1790.  A State convention at Newport, in May, voted, to adopt the Federal Constitution; and this State came into the Union, the [Page 236] last of the original thirteen; and the event was commemorated by great public demonstrations of joy.  The population of the town was 6380. President Washington again visited this town, with several distinguished public men in his suite.  His arrival was announced by a discharge of artillery and the ringing of bells.  A procession of citizens was formed, and he was conducted to the Golden Ball Inn, kept by Henry Rice, now the Mansion House.  He was complimented by a public dinner, at which three hundred citizens attended.  A very respectful and cordial address was made to him by a Committee appointed by the town, to which he suitably replied, and departed in the evening.

1791.  The Providence Bank was incorporated, being the first in the State.

1792.  Weybosset Bridge was rebuilt, with a draw to admit vessels into the cove.  It was fifty-six feet in width, ornamented with handsome balustrades, and furnished with six lamps.  The town was aided in raising funds for its erection by the grant of a lottery, which was called the Great Bridge Lottery.

1796.  A canal company was incorporated to run a canal to Worcester. The Massachusetts legislature refused a charter, and the project failed at that time.  In 1823, it was revived and accomplished, but was unproductive, and proved a total loss of the funds invested by the public spirited proprietors.

1791.  The town was visited by the yellow fever.  many deaths occurred; the schools were suspended, streets deserted, and consternation depicted on every countenance.

President John Adams visited the town in August, stopping at Esek Aldrich's Hotel (now Washington Hotel,) and was honored with testimonials of great respect, with the ringing of bells, firing of cannon, a military escort, and an address from the Town's Committee. The College edifice was brilliantly illuminated in the evening.

1800.  The death of Washington was solemnized with a great display of funeral ceremonies, on the 7th of January, which day was intensely cold.  The bells tolled through the day; a vast procession was formed, consisting of the military corps, the incorporated societies, municipal officers, and youths in all the schools, with appropriate badges, and a long train of citizens and strangers.  Minute guns were fired while the procession was in motion.  Col. George R. Burrill delivered an eloquent eulogy in the Baptist meeting-house.  The interior of the house was shrouded in black drapery.  The mournful retinue again formed, and proceeded to St. John's Church, where, after an address from the Rector, Rev. Mr. Clark, the bier was deposited under the church.  Throughout the day, a solemn gloom pervaded the whole town.  In George Washington, greatness and goodness were combined:  this whole people were his beneficiaries; and now, they mourned his death with feelings of awakened gratitude, with an unfeigned and heart-felt sorrow, like that of affectionate children, who mourn the death of a beloved and venerated parent.

The General Assembly passed an act for the establishment of Free Schools.  It had been long urged in the newspapers of this [Page 237] town, but the Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers were the immediate operatives in this good work, and a reference of their memorial to the Legislature produced a favorable report.  This town was immediately divided into four districts, and four schools were established therein, and the masters first appointed were John Dexter, Moses Noyes, Royal Farnum and Rev. James Wilson.  The schools were permanently continued by the town, notwithstanding the State law was repealed in 1803, and in 1819 the fourth district on the West side was divided, and a fifth district established.  The salaries of the preceptors was $500 each, of the ushers $250.  The General Assembly in 1828 passed a new act to establish public schools; and this town then ordered primary schools in each district, to contain the youngest children, and to be kept by females; and a school for colored children was opened the same year.

1801.  The south part of the town was ravaged by a disastrous fire, January 21.  It commenced about ten o'clock, A.M. in John Corlis's store, rear of South Main-street, between Planet and Power-streets, and continued through the day.  More than thirty buildings were destroyed, amongst which were some handsome dwellings and large stores.  Hacker's Hall was one of the victims of the devouring element.  This had, for many years, been occupied as a school room, but had, for a generation, then passed away, been the principal dancing hall or assembly room for the gay and fashionable men and women of Providence, and was elegantly finished with fluted pilasters and carved cornices.  The damage by this fire was estimated at $300,000, or more, and it was then and now is designated as the Great Fire.  On rebuilding, South Main-street was very considerably widened and improved, from Planet-street, to some distance south.

1807.  In February of this year, a very destructive freshet took place, by which both the bridges across Seekonk river were carried away, the bridges at the north part of town much damaged, many mills and dams swept away near this town, and losses sustained to a very large amount.   1812.  The news of the Declaration of War with Great Britain was received June 24, and was noticed by the tolling of bells and displaying the flags at half mast.  The majority here was opposed to the war and to the administration of the general government, but they promptly held meetings and passed spirited resolutions to make united efforts against a foreign enemy.  The chartered companies were filled with new members, volunteer associations were formed, and those who were exempt by law from the performance of military duty, were organized into several corps, and officered and disciplined for service.

1815.  The glad tidings of Peace were announced here February 12, and our streets were thronged with delighted men and women, and resounded with acclamations of joy.  The town was brilliantly illuminated in the evening, and although it was intensely cold, the streets were thronged to a late hour by persons of both sexes and of all ages, and the sound of mirth resounded from almost every [Page 238] every dwelling.  Many, however, who had been carried along by this tide of rejoicing, had cause to mourn when the excitement had subsided, and the "sober second thought" of reflection had returned.  They had speculated largely, when prices were high, and vast amounts were invested in merchandise, the value of which, on restoration of peace, "fell, like Lucifer, never to rise again."  Many failures were the consequence; but to people at large, peace came as a blessing.

This year was signalized by the Great Storm and high tide.  The storm commenced Sept. 22, and the wind was violent, and increasing through the night and the succeeding morning, many houses were unroofed, and other blown down.  The tide on the 23d, rose to an extraordinary height, the gale from the South-East was of unparalleled severity, both combined, they drove the principal part of the shipping in the harbor from its moorings up the river against Weybosset bridge, which in short time gave way, and the whole was driven up and landed on the northern shore of the cove.  A large sloop was left a considerable distance North of Great Point, now the site of the State Prison, and between that point and the upper part of the Canal basin, were upwards of thirty sail, of a burthen from 500 tons downwards.  The water entirely filled the lower stories of the buildings in Market-street, west of the bridge, and a portion of the brick wall of the Washington Insurance building, in the third story, was broken in by the bowsprit of the ship Ganges, as she was driven rapidly by in the foaming current.  A sloop of some 50 or 60 tons was driven across Weybosset-street, into Pleasant-street, where she grounded.  The Baptist meeting-house, built for Rev. Mr. Cornell, near Muddy Dock, now Dorrance-street, was entirely destroyed.  Many houses, stores and barns were swept from the wharves in South Water, Weybosset and some other streets, into the cove, where many of them were crushed to pieces.  The water at the junction of Westminster and Orange-streets was at least six feet in depth.  Two human beings only here lost their lives in this storm, which was matter of great wonder, when so many were perilled.  No measures were taken to ascertain the damage done by the storm, but it was estimated at about a million of dollars.

1817.  President Monroe visited the town, June 30.  His arrival had been anticipated, and the citizens had appointed a Committee to receive and welcome him, which Committee consisted of the Town Council and ten other gentlemen.  He was received admist the ringing of bells, the discharge of cannon, and other demonstrations of joy, and was escorted from his place of landing from the steam-boat, by a civic and military procession, to the Golden Ball Inn (now Mansion House) where the Committee made him a very respectful address, to which he made a suitable response.  On the following day he passed through the principal streets, on horseback, and at 11 o'clock left the town, under escort of the Light Dragoons.

1820.  Population of the town, 11,745.  The streets were furnished with lamps, and a spirit seemed to be awakened for public improvements.

[Page 239] The melancholy tidings of the death of James Burrill, Jr. U.S. Senator from this State, were received here on the 30th of December, and cast a deep gloom over the whole community.  On Sunday, the 31st, the unwelcome news was announced from the pulpits of all the churches, and at the close of morning service, the bells commenced a tolling and continued till night, and the flags at half-mast were displayed on the numerous flag-staves through the day.  He was a citizen justly honored and esteemed, and went off in the height of his useful Senatorial career. The newspapers, which had a few days before recorded his eloquent speech on the Missouri question, were now shrouded in mourning at the irreparable loss.

1821.  The Court of Common Pleas was then in session at Providence, and on Monday morning, the 1st of January, Gen. Bridgham, in behalf of the Bar, and as President of the General Bar meeting, rose and addressed the Court in the most feeling and impressive manner, on this melancholy event.  To which Chief Justice Martin responded in a brief and appropriate notice of the deceased, and in respect to his memory the Court then adjourned.  At a General Bar Meeting assembled on the 3d, Resolutions expressive of grief and the highest respect to the memory of the deceased were passed, and Hon. Tristam Burges was appointed to deliver an eulogy on the 15th January - on which day, the members of the bar, and a great portion of the citizens, formed a procession, and marched to the First Congregational Church, where a most impressive and eloquent eulogy was pronounced by Mr. Burges, and solemn dirges and funeral ceremonies were performed.  The auditory was bathed in tears, and the speaker himself was so strongly affected, that utterance was sometimes difficult.  The newspapers at Washington, and letter writers there to papers in other places, laid their partisan feelings to rest, and spoke in the most respectful terms of his character as a man, a lawyer and a statesman.

Mr. Burrill was born in this town in the year 1772; graduated at the University here in 1788; at the age of 19, was admitted to the bar, and at 25 elected Attorney General, which office held sixteen years, and resigned in 1814.  In October of that year he was elected a member of the General Assembly, and was soon after chosen Speaker of that body, and continued as such while he held a seat in the House, but from which he was soon after transferred to the bench of the Supreme Judicial Court, as Chief Justice.  In February, 1817, he was elected Senator to Congress, and before the expiration of half his constitutional term, was carried to the silent grave.  He was a fine belles lettres scholar, and eminent lawyer, and able statesman.  He was remarkably domestic in his habits, home was the cynosure of his delights, and there he was beloved and honored.

1824.  A convention was called by the State to frame a written Constitution for the State, to which this town sent its quota of delegates.  The Convention met at Newport, and formed a Constitution, which was submitted to the freemen, and was rejected.  There was an almost unanimous vote in this town in its favor. - On the receipt of intelligence that Lafayette had again arrived in this country, the bells were rung, and the great guns were fired in this town.

[Page 240] A Town meeting was called, a resolution was passed to invite this friend of American and human rights, to visit this town, and a committee of arrangements was appointed, consisting of the Town Council, and such as they might associate with them, to carry out the objects of the meeting.  The distinguished visitor arrived at the westerly line of the town in Olneyville, August 23, at noon, where he was met and addressed by the committee of arrangements, and with them, was escorted by a vast civic and military procession to the State House.  The streets were lined with citizens eager to see their country's friend, the companion in arms and beloved of Washington; and thousands of "happy human faces" gave him evidence that he was a welcome and honored guest.  He was conducted to the Senate Chamber, where he was received by the Governor, and was then introduced by the Committee to the crowd of citizens, who pressed forward to touch the patriot's hand.  He dined with the Committee and other citizens, reviewed the troops after dinner, and then departed for Boston.  In front of the State House, he was recognized by Captain Stephen Olney as an old comrade, and their mutual rapturous joy, at this meeting, produced a strong sensation on the surrounding crowd.

1827.  A committee was appointed by the town to build the Dexter Asylum, who immediately proceeded to the duties of their appointment, and under whose directions the present capacious building was completed in 1830.  This building is 170 feet in length; the centre part is 55 feet deep, and the wings 45 feet.  Its cost was $43,000.  Its materials are brick and stone.  The forty acre lot on which this Asylum stands, is surrounded by a stone wall 3 feet in thickness at the ground, and 8 feet in height, as directed in the Will of Ebenezer Knight Dexter, who gave this lot, and the bulk of his estate, real and personal, to the town, for the purpose of an asylum for the poor.  The liberal donor died on the 10th day of August, 1824.  He had been United States Marshal for many years previous to his death.  The funds and property of this legacy are called the Dexter Donation, and are under the superintendence of five commissioners.  The present master of the Asylum, Gideon Palmer, has held that place from the commencement of its operations.  The Will of Mr. Dexter was drawn with great care by Gen. Samuel W. Bridgham, who was named therein as Executor, and charged with seeing the testator's objects carried into effect.  He discharged his duty with fidelity. - The first public meeting was holden in April, in the First Baptist Meeting house on the subject of promoting Temperance.  It was well attended, and addressed by several of the clergy and other citizens. There were several meetings held at the same place by adjournment, at which many appeals were made to the citizens to practice moderation and temperance, but none broached the doctrine of total abstinence.  These meetings, however, were the parent of the numerous temperance, total abstinence and cold water societies which now abound here, shedding their benign and healthy influence over the moral atmosphere of the community.

1828.  Cove-street was completed, and a new bridge was built, [Page 241] by the Providence Washington Insurance Company, Connecting it with Canal-street.

1830.  Population of the town was 16,842. -- A proposition for a City Charter failed to procure the number of votes required by the legislature, which was three-fifths of the number of persons voting.

1831.  A riot of four days continuance commenced Sept. 21, in Olney's lane, North end.  It originated with some sailors and the colored people living in the lane, one of the former being shot by a black man, and instantly killed.  An immediate attack was made on the houses, and two were promptly destroyed.  Each evening the mob increased in number, and violence.  The efforts of the Town Council and the Sheriff to suppress it were ineffectual, and the services of the military were called into requisition by the Governor.  On the fourth evening, the corps, near Shingle Bridge, were assailed by the crowd, with stones and other missles, and were commanded to fire, which they did, and four men fell mortally wounded.  The crowd dispersed, and quiet was restored.  Nearly twenty small houses had been destroyed or badly injured.  -- At a town meeting, Nov. 22, more than three-fifths of the votes polled were in favor of a City Charter.

1832.  The City Government was organized, and Samuel W. Bridgham was elected Mayor, on the 4th Monday of April, being the first election under City Charter.  He retained his office, by repeated elections, to Dec 1839, when he died, and was succeeded by Thomas M. Burgess, the present Mayor.

The Asiatic Cholera made its appearance here in August.  It had, for some time, been doing the work of death in New-York and Philadelphia, and other cities, and its appearance in this city occasioned universal dismay.  The Board of Health had a daily session, a new hospital was built, and every precaution was adopted by the city authorities to prevent its spread.  Its ravages, however were not so disastrous or fatal, as was apprehended, and after a few weeks, it entirely disappeared.

1839.  The Public Schools of this city were re-organized under a new system; the number of schools was increased, and several new, elegant and spacious school-houses were erected.  [For a more particular account of the Public Schools, see page 211.]

1842.  The Constitution called "the People's Constitution," adopted by the Convention, and declared to be the paramount law of the State, January 12.  This Constitution was formed by a Convention of delegates chosen by the Suffrage party, in primary meetings, which were not prescribed by any legislative act or resolution.--Town meetings were held April 21, to vote for the adoption or rejection of the Landholder's Constitution, formed by a Convention under the authority of the Legislature, and the same was rejected.--The legislature under the People's Constitution assembled and their officers were inaugurated.
This was the only session holden by that body, or under that Constitution.  At the close of the session, several of the members were arrested for treason, and misdemeanor, and this city and the [Page 242]

Scanned and provided by Susan Pieroth; Transcribed by Kathleen Beilstein, 2002

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