THE RICHARD HENRY LEE CHAPTER (RHLC) HELD A LUNCHEON MEETING 14 JUNE 2022 THE PROGRAM WAS THE GASPEE AFFAIR AND FLAG DAY
Mark Favazza presents information about the Gaspee Affair at
the RHLC luncheon 6-14-2022
The Richard Henry Lee Chapter (RHLC) of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (VASSAR) held a luncheon meeting 14 June 2022 at the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club (ICYCC). The RHLC President, Michael Rhodes, presided. Rhodes announced the program today will deal with two principal matters: the Gaspee Affair that occurred 250 years ago on 9 June 1772 and Flag Day with the retirement of over 30 damaged and unusable American flags contributed for this purpose by local businesses and individuals.
But before the program, Rhodes said the first order of business was to present membership certificates to Myron Edwin (Mike) Lyman Sr and to Cary L (Doc) Broadway Jr for 25 and 10 years of faithful service, respectfully. Both gentlemen are residents of Lancaster County.
Next Rhodes introduced the guest speaker for the day: Mark Favazza a Northern Neck dignitary of the YMCA who has spoken to RHLC several times in the past. Favazza subject was the Gaspee Affair. The setting was Rhode Island.
Favazza began his presentation by noting that Rhode Island was unique among the colonies sense its charter granted by Great Britain permitted it to have a governing body, a court and religious freedom. The economy of Rhode Island was maritime since because of its rock filled terrain agriculture was limited.
Like the other colonies Rhode Islanders were becoming upset by the many taxes Great Britain was imposing on them.
In early 1772, King George III, sent the HMS Gaspee and her soon to be hated commander, Lt. William Dudingston, to the Narragansett waterways of Rhode Island, to enforce some very unpopular trade laws and prevent smuggling. Dudingston aggressively pursued his mission repeatedly harassing merchants who were conducting legal operations. He even would often overtake cargo laden ships that had already passed customs inspection in Newport, at the mouth of the Narragansett.
A group of Rhode Islanders had had enough of Dudingston and the Gaspee and decided they would teach him a lesson.
The Gaspee was an ocean sailing vessel that had a deeper draft than the local ships. They knew that Dudingston was particularly attracted by boats carrying gold. So, they hatched a plan that a ship laden with gold would be heading up the Narragansett on 9 June at a time approaching low tide.
On 9 June 1772 when the sloop Hannah left Newport for Providence with the rumor of gold on board, the Gaspee gave chase. Captain Lindsey of the Hannah deliberately lured Dudingston across the shallows off Namquid Point (since renamed Gaspee Point), just as low tide was occurring. The Gaspee ran hard aground on the rocky sandbar and was unable to move or break free.
The Hannah continued to Providence. Upon arrival, Captain Lindsey reported the situation to John Brown, one of the most prominent and respected merchants in Rhode Island.
Brown immediately assembled a group of militia men. And dressed in Indian attire they manned small boats and rowed down to the Gaspee. When reaching the ship, they wounded Dudingston and took him and the entire crew as prisoners.
The next day the men returned and destroyed the Gaspee by fire.
The British were furious and demanded that those responsible should be captured and brought to Great Britain to be tried. This never happened because it was impossible to identify the culprits because of the Indian ruse and the silence of the Rhode Islanders.
There are those who argue, said Favazza, that the Gaspee Affair was the start of the Revolutionary War.
Mr. Favazza was greeted with standing applause by the audience and presented a book by the President Rhodes thanking him for his presentation.
Next RHLC celebrated national Flag Day by retiring over 30 worn and damaged flags that had been given to RHLC for that purpose by local merchants to include Noblett’s and Ace Hardware as well as by ICYCC. RHLC presented a certificate to representatives present who had submitted flags which were Joe Hudnall of Noblett’s and Brian Darlak, General Manager of ICYCC.
The retirement ceremony followed guidelines provided by the National Society Sons of the American Revolution which included a color guard. The flags are to be burned. This was the first time RHLC has conducted this ceremony but intends to make it an annual Flag Day event.
The next meeting of RHLC will be 13 September 2022. President Rhodes reminded and encouraged all to attend
the reading of the Declaration of Independence 2 July 2022 at Historic Christ Church. This annual event is jointly sponsored by the Cobbs Hill Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), RHLC and Christ Church. If you are interested in learning more about RHLC contact President Rhodes 1-804-929-1444.
L-R: Thomas Nelson Jr compatriot Jeff Brown, RHL President
Michael Rhodes, Cobbs Hall DAR past Regent Michele Tucker,
RHL compatriot Mike Lyman