Logo   History of Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is at the southern tip of an island which the Native Americans called Aquidneck, and which the colonial settlers dubbed Rhode Island.


Just as Providence was settled by Roger Williams, a dissident from Salem MA, so Newport was founded by one William Coddington, who decided to strike out on his own from Providence in 1639.

The new town soon became famous for shipbuilding, and as soon as the ships were built in sufficient numbers, for trade.

The famous "triangle trade" from Newport to ports in the West Indies and Africa would later bring great wealth to the town from the buying and selling of slaves, rum, molasses, and other goods.

Because Providence and Newport were founded by dissidents, they became places of refuge for others wishing to worship as they pleased: Quakers from England, Jews from Portugal and Spain, and Baptists all came to Newport in the mid-1600s to find religious freedom. They brought talent and a gift for hard work, and the settlement prospered so that it became the colony's most important town, and one of the New World's busiest ports.

The many beautiful colonial homes, the handsome Old Colony House (center of government), Touro Synagogue, and other landmarks attest to the wealth and prosperity of Newport at the time.

During the American Revolution the British occupied the town and its excellent harbor, and held it for three years. A British frigate, HMS Rose, did much to hinder the transport of supplies to the Americans, and spurred them to found the United States Navy in retaliation.

Despite a French naval blockade and an American siege, the British held onto Newport until 1779, and after this interruption in its social and economic life, Newport never regained its status as the prime trade center in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Several decades later, however, it achieved prominence in another fashion. Drawn by the beautiful woods and dramatic coastline, wealthy merchants from New York and Philadelphia began to come to Newport to spend their summers. In the early-1800s the first of Newport's famous mansions, Kingscote, was built, and others followed until Newport's Bellevue Avenue and Ocean Drive could boast the highest concentration of summer palaces—and they are palaces—anywhere in the world. More...

What to See & Do in Newport

Hotels, Inns & B&Bs

Newport Transportation

Newport Events & Festivals

About Newport

Tourist Information

South County RI

  Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Bowen's Wharf, Newport RI

Newport from Bowen's Wharf.

FTP on Facebook    
Pinterest    Twitter