The People’s Martyr: Thomas Wilson Dorr & His 1842 Rhode Island Rebellion

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On Wednesday September 4, 2013 at 5:30pm the Newport Historical Society will host author Erik Chaput to discuss his new book The People’s  Martyr: Thomas Wilson Dorr and His 1842 Rhode Island Rebellion. The People's Martyr tells the story of Thomas Wilson Dorr and the 1842 rebellion in Rhode Island that bears his name, which is considered one of the most significant political and constitutional events before the Civil War.

Thomas Dorr’s attempt at constitutional reform set off a firestorm of debate over the nature of the people’s sovereignty in Jacksonian America. Dr. Chaput will discuss the issues of gender and race, especially the profound fears held by southern politicians that Dorr’s ideology would lead to slave insurrections. He will explain how the politics surrounding Dorr’s attempt at extralegal reform in Rhode Island led to the active involvement of prominent New England abolitionists, including Abby Kelley, Stephen Foster and Frederick Douglass.

Erik J. Chaput received his doctorate in early American History from Syracuse University in 2011. Chaput teaches history at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and serves as an instructor in the School of Continuing Education at Providence College. Chaput's research has appeared in numerous publications, including Rhode Island History, Common-Place, American Nineteenth Century History, The New England Quarterly, the U.S. Catholic Historian, The Catholic Historical Review, Historical New Hampshire, and the Historical Journal of Massachusetts. Chaput is the co-editor with Russell J. DeSimone of digital editions of the letters of Thomas Wilson Dorr and Rhode Island Governor John Brown Francis. The letters are posted to the Dorr Rebellion project site hosted by Providence College.

This lecture takes place at the 1739 Colony House on Washington Square. Admission costs $5 per person, $1 for Newport Historical Society members with membership card. Please RSVP to: