Illuminating the American Revolution: A Living History Event

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French troops arrived in Newport in July 1780 and occupied the city for nearly a year before marching south and helping Americans win the War for Independence. When they first set foot on Newport’s shore, many locals were wary and suspicious of the eminent arrival of a foreign force, so soon after the hostile British occupation. As a gesture of kindness, Newport officials organized an illumination, requiring residents to light candles in their windows at dusk to welcome their new allies. For those who could not afford candles, they were provided.

This interactive living history program will illustrate preparations for the illumination. A group of costumed interpreters will share their thoughts about being occupied by French soldiers as candles are “donated and distributed” to residents. Learn about life in war-torn Newport, gossip about the French and gain insight on what it was like to live during this pivotal time in American history.