Ron M. Potvin


In past years, study of Newport's role during the Revolutionary War has been limited mostly to well-known events: the occupation of the town by the British, the subsequent "sojourn" in Newport by the French, and the Battle of Rhode Island. More recently, however, these broad strokes have been supplemented by discoveries and studies related to the details of these events. The feature article in this issue, '"A Grand Landscape in Miniature:' Great Rock, Paradise Farm, and the Barkers of Middletown," by James L. Yarnall and Natalie N. Nicholson. The article reveals an elaborate American spy operation orchestrated by Middletown resident, Isaac Barker. From the lofty spine of an outcropping known as Great Rock, Barker used a system of signals to inform American troops across the Sakonnet River in Little Compton of British activities in the area. Also in this issue, what began as a transcription of an item "From the Collection" of the Newport Historical Society, the occasionally humorous January 25, 1733, issue of the Rhode Island Gazette, ended up revealing the complex and intricate relationship between James Franklin, publisher of the Gazette, and his younger brother, Benjamin. Featured in this issue of the short-lived Rhode Island Gazette is a satirical examination of husband and wife relations, written by Benjamin for the Pennsylvania Gazette, and reprinted by James in his Newport newspaper.