BY H.L. Parker
In April of 1776, George Washington visited the Hopkins house, then located on South Main Street (early settlers were always dragging their houses around). According to the Gaspee Virtual Archives,
General Washington’s first visit was on April 5, 1776. He was on his way to take command of the Continental Army in Boston. Hopkins himself was in Philadelphia, at the Continental Congress. His daughter-in-law served as host. Her family wanted to lend her better china for the occasion. “What’s good enough for my father,” she is said to have replied, “is good enough for General Washington.”
Over-achiever Stephen Hopkins was the Rhode Island delegate to the Continental Congress. A successful merchant and ship-builder he was Chief Justice during the Gaspee Affair and nine-term Governor. While Rhode Island had already declared its independence in May, some months later Hopkins was signing the Declaration of Independence.
In 1776, at the age of 69, he had the honor of signing his name to the Declaration of Independence, which declared the colonies to be free, sovereign, and independent states. In these later years Hopkins had a shaking palsy, what was probably Parkinson’s Disease, and was noted to have said, as he signed the Declaration of Independence, “My hand trembles, my heart does not.”
Governor Stephen Hopkins House Museum, Hopkins Street at Benefit, open Saturdays and Sundays