Gaspee Days CommitteeHistory Files
The Rhode Island Mace

WrathMaceLeft: Milton Wrath carries the RI Mace, June, 2000

The Rhode Island Mace has been carried at the head of the Gaspee Days Parade every year since the first observance of Gaspee Days in June, 1966. Former Warwick City Councilman Gerald S. Goldstein has carried it every year until the early 1990's, after which the honor was given to "Mr. Gaspee', Milton Wrath.  In 2007 Milton Wrath passed that honor on to Past President of the Gaspee Days, Mark Russell

When Briadier General Hunter C. White, Sr. was High Sheriff of Providence County over a century ago, he commissioned the creation of the staff .

The Mace has been used in the Inaugural ceremonies for Rhode Island Governors by the High Sheriff of Providence County since Governor Charles D. Kimball was sworn in on January 7, 1902. The only exception has been during World War I when its owner at the time, General White, was with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, and in 2002 when no one in the staff on Donald Carcieri thought to ask for its use.

The Mace, made of historic fragments of wood, is closely associated with the historical backgrounds of the state and the nation.  The eagle on the top of the mace was carried through the Civil War on top of a staff which wore a Union battle flag. Part of the wood was once taken from the much hated British revenue schooner H.M.S. Gaspee which was burned after being caught on a sand bar off Gaspee Point on the evening of June 9, 1772. Another portion of the wood came from colonial Governor Arthur Fenner's homestead in Cranston; which was built in 1680 and demolished in 1895.

As to exactly where General White obtained the wood from the Gaspee is anyone's guess. It may have come from one of the four wooden canes carved by Ephraim Bowen in 1804. 

A descendant of the Fenners, Susan Fenner Latshaw, wrote us in 2008 with the following information:

Captain Arthur Fenner whose homestead in Cranston is referred to in your article.  His first home was burnt to the ground in King Phillips War where he was  appointed Captain of the militia and was "one who staid and went not away" in the  defense of Providence.  His original homestead was built in 1662.  After the war, he rebuilt his home in 1677 and he also built, for his son, the Major Thomas Fenner house.  It is an historical landmark located on Stony Acre Drive in Cranston, R.I.  The "Fenner Castle" stood until 1895 when the chimney was demolished  His grandson was Governor Arthur Fenner who donated a piece of wood from the "Fenner Castle" for what is now the RI Mace.  He did so to honor his grandfather, Captain Arthur Fenner who so bravely defended Providence from the Indians. My reference for this is from The Rhode Island Historical Magazine, Sketch of Capt. Arthur Fenner of Providence, A paper read before the RI Historical Society, March 23 and April 6, 1886 by Rev.J.P. Root.

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Rev. 4/2009    Mace.htm