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Stephen Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins

Born: March 7, 1707 at Providence, Rhode Island
Died: July 13, 1785 (aged 78) at Providence, Rhode Island
Spouse: Sarah Scott (m. 1726 – 1753), Anne Smith (m. – 1785)
Children: He had 7 children

Offices held:
28th, 30th, 32nd and 34th Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (1755 – 1768)

Facts about Stephen Hopkins

His great grandfather, Thomas Hopkins, was an original settler of Providence, sailing from England in 1635 with his first cousin, Benedict Arnold, who became the first governor of the Rhode Island colony under the Royal Charter of 1663.

Stephen Hopkins, like several of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was a slave owner, and he mentioned five in his 1760 will. In 1774, while serving in the Rhode Island Assembly, Hopkins introduced a bill that prohibited the importation of slaves into the colony. This became one of the first anti-slavery laws in the new United States.

As a public speaker he was described as clear, precise, pertinent and powerful. Hopkins signed the Olive Branch Petition to the King in July, 1775, seeking a peaceful resolution of the colonies grievances.

Stephen Hopkins won the governorship of Rhode Island in 1755, and was governor several times through 1766, competing with Samuel Ward for the annual election for the governorship. Hopkins was largely responsible for transforming Providence from a small village with muddy streets to a thriving commercial center.

The home of Stephen Hopkins is one of the oldest buildings in Providence, and can still be seen at the corner of Hopkins and Benefit Streets. A fictional musical called 1776 was made around his leadership roles.

Stephen Hopkins Childhood

Stephen Hopkins was born on March 7, 1707 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of William Hopkins and Ruth (Wilkinson) Hopkins. Hopkins great grandfather, Thomas Hopkins, was born in 1616 and came to Providence in 1641, having followed Roger Williams there from Plymouth. In 1651 he moved to Newport and was appointed a member of the town committee in 1661.

His mother, Ruth Wilkinson, was the granddaughter of Lawrence Wilkinson, a lieutenant in the army of Charles I, who was taken prisoner October 22, 1644 by the Scots and parliamentary troops at the surrender of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Deprived of his property, he came to New England sometime between 1645 and 1647 and was at Providence in 1652. He became a freeman in 1658, was chosen deputy to the General Court, was a soldier in the Indian wars, and became a member of the Colonial Assembly in 1659.

Stephen Hopkins was a cousin of Benedict Arnold, the famous Revolutionary War General who later turned traitor.

Hopkins grew up on a farm in Scituate, Rhode Island. He had little formal education and his mother taught him his first lessons. His grandfather and uncle instructed him in elementary mathematics, and he read the English classics in his grandfathers small but well-selected library.

Where is Stephen Hopkins buried?

Stephen Hopkins is buried in the North Burial Ground, Providence. An extensive cortege and assembly of notable persons followed the funeral procession of Hopkins to the cemetery, including court judges, the President, professors and students of the College, citizens of the town and inhabitants of the state.

How did Stephen Hopkins die?

He died at his home in Providence on July 13, 1785, at the age of 78, due to his poor health.