This image of Stephen Hopkins — Rhode Island Governor, Chief Justice, and signer of the Declaration of Independence — is one of eight local notables featured on this North Main Street bus shelter next to the North Burial Ground. Artist Gage Prentiss took his inspiration for the design from the cemetery itself, naming the work “Remember Me As You Pass By.”
In order to engage the local community with their past, I chose to include the portraits and histories of 8 important Providence natives of different genders, races and economic backgrounds. All of the subjects are buried in the cemetery, and all imagery was photo-shopped and drawn from statuary, gravestones and plaques within the cemetery.
Local history blog Gaspee.org has a comprehensive profile of Hopkins, citing this passage from David McCullough’s biography, John Adams. Adams clearly enjoyed Hopkins’s company.
The experience and judgment he brought to the business of Congress were of great use, as Adams wrote, but it was in the after-hours that he ‘kept us alive.’ His custom was to drink nothing all day, nor ’til eight o’clock in the evening, and his beverage was Jamaica spirits and water … Hopkins never drank to excess, according to Adams, but all he drank was promptly converted into wit, sense, knowledge, and good humor.”
It is worth remembering the courage of the 56 signers. They were committing treason against the king and the punishment was hanging . . . or worse.
Benjamin Franklin made the point more tellingly when, as he was about to sign the Declaration, he remarked, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall hang separately.”