A Short History of the
Gaspee Days Committee

Believe it! Gaspee Days has been celebrated since 1774 when George Washington himself paid just over 3 Shillings to view the fireworks in Williamsburg, Virginia in observance of the second anniversary of the Burning of the Gaspee.   In the early years after the Revolution, those daring patriots that took part in the destruction of the Gaspee rode in carriages of honor at early Parades and other celebratory events. At the US Centennial celebrations c1872-1876, large Festivals were held by the people of Rhode Island which honored this event. The last recalled early Gaspee Parade was held c1907, but for a long time people all but forgot about this important point in our Nation's history.

In 1965 David Stackhouse, chairman of the Warwick Heritage Committee, and a small group of interested citizens from the Pawtuxet Village area became convinced that the "First Blow for Freedom" had been kept secret for far too long and that a fitting annual observance should be held to commemorate our state's participation in the struggle for independence. The Gaspee Days Committee was established by this group to assure a continued celebration in recognition of our brave forefathers.

The first modern Gaspee Day Parade took place in June, 1966. Since that time, all sorts of different celebrations have been produced, some successful, some long-gone; but the Gaspee Days Parade has been the core event since 1966 and has grown in size over the years to the present two-hour spectacle.  Now, most people in the surrounding communities cannot envision life without the annual Gaspee Days Parade

The Gaspee Days Committee has made every effort to provide a schedule that is both entertaining and informative to all ages. Always foremost is our desire to acquaint the public with an event that is as much a part of our national heritage as Paul Revere's ride and the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The Burning of the Gaspee was the first link in the chain of events that led directly to the Declaration of Independence.

The committee has been the recipient of the George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation, and the first Certificate of Merit from the Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission. Gaspee Days is listed by Discover America as one of the top twenty tourist events in the United States.

In 1992 the City of Warwick gave title of the historic Aspray Boat House to the Gaspee Days Committee for use as a community center and meeting house. The boathouse is located along Pawtuxet Cove in a small community park in the center of Pawtuxet Village. Through the volunteer efforts by members of the Gaspee Days Committee, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and other community-spirited union activists the extensive renovations necessary were completed.

Please join us along with the State of Rhode Island and the cities of Cranston, Warwick, and Providence in celebrating each anniversary of America's "First Blow for Freedom"TM.
Go to more extensive files on the History of the Gaspee Days Committee


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Rev. 4/2009    HistoryofGDC.html