Colonial Hall -- Biographies of America's Founding Fathers

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Stephen Hopkins


   The siege of fort William Henry, by the Marquis de Montcalm, 1767, and its surrender to the force under that general, with the subsequent cruel outrages and murders committed by the savages of the French army, are too well known to need a recital in this place. It is necessary only to state, that the greatest excitement prevailed throughout all the colonies. In this excitement, the inhabitants of Rhode Island largely participated. An agreement was entered into by a volunteer corps, couched in the following terms :
   "Whereas the British colonies in America are invaded by a large army of French and Indian enemies, who have already possessed themselves of fort William Henry, and are now on their march to penetrate further into the country, and from whom we have nothing to expect, should they succeed in their enterprise, but death and devastation; and as his majesty's principal officers in the parts invaded, have in the most pressing and moving manner, called on all his majesty's faithful subjects, for assistance to defend the country: -- Therefore, we, whose names are underwritten, thinking it our duty to do every thing in our power, for the defence [sic] of our liberties, families, and property, are willing, and have agreed to enter voluntarily into the service of our country, and go in a warlike manner against the common enemy; and hereby call upon, and invite all our neighbours, who have families and property to defend, to join with us in this undertaking, promising to march as soon as we are two hundred and fifty in number, recommending ourselves and our cause tothe favourable protection of Almighty God."
   To this agreement, Mr. Hopkins was the first to affix his name, and was chosen to command the company thus raised. which consisted of some of the most distinguished men in Providence. Preparations for a speedy departure for the field of action were made, but on the eve of their march, intelligence arrived, that their services were no longer necessary, as the progress of hostilities towards the south was not to be expected.
   In 1774, Mr. Hopkins received the appointment of a delegate from Rhode Island to the celebrated congress, which met at Philadelphia that year. In this assembly he took his seat on the first day of the session, where he became one of the most zealous advocates of the measures adopted by that illustrious body of men.
   In the year 1775 and 1776, he again represented Rhode Island in the continental congress. In this latter year be had the honor of affixing his name to the imperishable instrument, which declared the colonies to be free, sovereign, and independent states. He recorded his name with a trembling hand, the only instance in which a tremulous band is visible among the fifty-six patriots who then wrote their names. But it was in this case only that the flesh was weak. Mr. Hopkins had for some time been afflicted with a paralytic affection, which compelled him, when he wrote, to guide his right hand with his left. The spirit of the man knew no fear, in a case where life and liberty were at hazard.


Designed and Edited by John Vinci
Last modified January 2, 2004