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John R.
Democrat RI

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  • 375Th Anniversary of Portsmouth, Rhode Island

    by Senator Jack Reed

    Posted on 2013-07-17

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    REED. Mr. President, I am pleased to join with my colleague, Senator Whitehouse, to help mark the 375th anniversary of the settlement of Portsmouth, RI.

    Portsmouth is predominantly located on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, and also encompasses a number of smaller islands including Prudence, Hog, Patience, and Hope. It is the second oldest community in Rhode Island and is home to over 17,000 people. With over 50 miles of coastline, Portsmouth enjoys beautiful views of the surrounding bay and islands.

    Portsmouth has a long and rich history. In 1638, Roger Williams convinced religious dissenters from the Boston Colony to settle the area now known as Portsmouth. One of these dissenters, Anne Hutchinson, perhaps the most well-known of the founders of Portsmouth, rebelled against the Puritanical lifestyle in Massachusetts Bay, undergoing a rigorous trial before being banished and excommunicated from the Boston Church. Hutchinson founded the town of Portsmouth with fellow colonists who were also searching for religious freedom. Portsmouth is believed to be the first town in the New World that was established by a woman. The signing of the Portsmouth Compact in March of 1638 created the first true democracy in America.

    The town played a role in our Nation's fight for independence. The Battle of Rhode Island, which took place in 1778, was significant to the history of the Revolutionary War because it was the first joint operation of American and French forces and also was the only battle in which black Americans fought as their own unit as part of the First Rhode Island Regiment, alongside Native Americans. The site [[Page S5753]] of the battle is designated as a National Historic Landmark by a plaque and monuments at Patriots Park. Portsmouth was also home to a general army hospital that treated thousands of wounded Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners during the Civil War.

    With its vast shoreline, Portsmouth's maritime legacy is historically noteworthy. It was the site of the Navy's first PT-boat training facility, the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center in Melville, where President John F. Kennedy trained. Portsmouth is now fittingly the home of US Sailing, which is the governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States.

    As we celebrate the 375th anniversary of Portsmouth's settlement, I would like to recognize the residents of Portsmouth for all of their efforts to preserve one of our country's most treasured places. Like the town's motto for this anniversary celebration proclaims, Portsmouth has a proud heritage and a bright future. Congratulations to the Town of Portsmouth on its 375th anniversary.

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