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Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island 1842.... a historic letter

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(I just copied and pasted this from my ebay ad...)


The Dorr Rebellion, Rhode Island, 1842.


A letter from the Major-General of the Rhode Island State Militia.


"We show in this city 800 bayonets in support of the legal constituted authorities..."




Dorr had become the leader of the "Law and Order" Party that had a platform of suffrage reform, giving voting rights to the Irish and blacks. The party held a convention and adopted a "People's Constitution," in 1842, under which Dorr was elected Governor. However, the Rhode Island legislature did not recognized Dorr's legitimacy. Dorr made a failed attempt to take over the State Arsenal and failed in his attempt to convene a General Assembly. With these failures Dorr fled Rhode Island, only to turn himself in a year and a half later. He was tried in 1844 and sentenced to life in prison. Dorr was released in 1845 due to a legislative act that freed all prisoners sentenced for treason. In 1854, Dorr's record was expunged, as some of those in power came to believe he had been wrongly convicted.


A letter from Edward Carrington, Major General of the Rhode Island State Militia, and member of Governor Samuel Ward King's council, to Henry White in New Haven, Connecticut, seeking the arrest of Thomas Dorr. Carrington was a native of Connecticut, as was his partner Samuel Wetmore, who is mentioned in the letter.

General Carrington had been U.S. Consul to China, prior to the War of 1812. He married Rhode Island Governor William Hoppin's sister, and Carrington's son would marry Thomas Dorr's sister.


Quite a nice window on the Dorr Rebellion, and the political machinations used to stem the tide of rebellion, as its events pour over into Connecticut. The letter is in near fine condition, the sepia ink just slightly faded.





The letter reads as follows...



Confidential, in some respects.


2nd June, 1842.



Henry White, Esq.



Dear Sir,


I duly rec’d your kind favor, of the 25th, and thank you for your attention to request of our friend S. Wetmore. A requisition has been made on the Executives of your state, for the apprehension of Dorr, to which an evasive answer has only been verbally responded. I suppose "birds of a feather will flock together”.

Report suggest that Dorr was at Thompson, then we hear of him at Stamford, and so to New York and New Jersey. That he stopped in Thompson some days from 18th of May we know, and I believe he has passed your good city towards New York & will probably return towards the border of this state.

The Executives of N. York and Massachusetts readily, & I believe, I may say, cheerfully responded to the requisitions made on them, for the arrest of Dorr. I have now to ask your friendship and kind services, to make inquiries and find out Dorr's movements in your state, and whether, in your opinion, any considerable force of "rowdys" can be found in your, (formerly orderly) state to unite with the Insurgents in this.

Against our own disorganizers, we can contend with success, but to be assailed by the "rowdys" of New York and those of our bordering states, will be, perhaps, more than we can successfully do, tho you may be apprised there will be no wavering. We show in this city 800 bayonets in support of the legal constituted authorities, and from neighboring towns, as many more. But there will be little satisfaction to expose our lives against the worthless and depraved of bordering states and that of our own.

I shall be pleased to receive your communications, as often as anything occurs or comes to your knowledge in relation to our affairs.


Yours truly,

Ed. Carrington


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