Rhode Island Sweeps the Seas
At some time or other during American Rev eleven states
supported their own maritime forces, only New Jersey and Delaware failing to send some ships to sea.
Most state navy vessels, of which there were several
hundred, hardly merit the term "ship," being oared gunboats or
floating barges or armed cutters, but some were larger.
The most famous of the state navy vessels was the Katy, a 70-foot merchant sloop built
before the outbreak of the Revolution. She
was chartered by the Rhode Island Committee of Safety in June of 1775, armed
with ten 4-pounder cannon and sent to sea under Abraham Whipple, later the
senior-most American naval officer during the Revolution, to patrol local
waters in order to prevent depredations by British warships. Purchased by the state in October of that
year, the following month she ferried
volunteers for the new Continental Navy to Philadelphia.
In December, she was taken into Continental service under the name Providence; and was technically the first ship to join
the Continental Navy. In
February of 1776, "up-armed" to 12 guns and commanded by John Hazard,
Providence joined Commodore Esek Hopkins’ squadron
to raid the Bahamas,
helping capture Nassau
on March 4th, in the Navy’s first overseas amphibious campaign. Returning with the squadron to New England waters, over the following months Providence assisted
in the capture of several British ships.
On May 10, 1776,
Capt. John Paul Jones assumed command.
Under Jones’ command, Providence
engaged in escort and transportation duties, supporting George Washington’s
army in the New York City
area. In mid-August Jones took Providence on
an independent cruise. In a voyage that
ended in Narragansett Bay in early October, Providence took
or sank nearly a dozen British vessels, worth thousands in prize money, while
eluding superior enemy frigates on several occasions. Jones was then transferred to the larger Alfred,
and Providence was entrusted to Capt. Hoysted
Hacker. In a week’s voyage (November
11-19), Alfred and Providence took three valuable prizes, before the
latter, troubled by leaks, returned to Newport. That December Providence joined other
American vessels in retreating up the Providence River,
after the British seized Newport.
In February 1777 Providence,
under Lt. Jonathan Pitcher, ran the British blockade of Narragansett
Bay to take a prize off Cape
Breton. Shortly returned to state control, for the
balance of 1777, Providence,
under Capt. J. P. Rathburn, performed routine duties up and down the East
Coast. In mid-January 1778, operating
alone, she again raided Nassau, spiking the guns at the fort, taking a 16-gun
British vessel, liberating five American vessels previously taken by the
British, freeing 30 American prisoners-of-war, and capturing nearly a ton of
valuable gunpowder, bringing all safely back to New Bedford on January 30th. There followed months in port, due to the
British blockade. However, in the Spring
of 1779 Providence
eluded the blockade and cruised New England
and New York
waters, taking the 12-gun brig HMS Diligent with two broadsides on May 7th.
That summer, Providence
joined Commo. Dudley Saltonstall’s expedition to Penobscot Bay,
I what is now Maine,
becoming part of what was the largest fleet to sail under the American flag
until the Civil War. Unfortunately, the
expedition was trapped up river by superior British forces After being blockaded for some weeks, Providence shared
the fate of the other vessels, being burned by her crew on August 14th
to prevent capture.
During her short career, Providence seems to have engaged in some 40 combat
Uncle Sam's Nieces & Nephews Go to School
In April of 1944 Congress passed the Servicemen's Adjustment
Act, popularly known as the "G. I. Bill of Rights." The measure had several objectives. One was to reward the millions of young men
and women who had interrupted their lives to fight the Axis. The second was a bit subtler, to insure that
all those suddenly discharged men and women didn't flood the job market,
creating an economic disaster.
The G.I. Bill provided honorably discharged personnel who
had been on active duty for at least 90 days from Sept 16, 1940, with:
- Educational & Training Grants: Assistance in
completing their education or in taking job training.
- Loans: Federally
underwritten credit to help buy a new home, and to start a farm or a business.
- Unemployment Insurance: $20 a week for one year, which
came to be known as the "52/20 Club"
- Job Placement Assistance
Of these programs, the one that had the most noticeable effect
was the home loan provision. Because it
mandated that loans could only be used for the purchase of newly constructed
homes, it sparked the massive suburbanization that swept the country in the
But it was the educational benefit that probably had the
greatest impact on the nation. All
eligible veterans were entitled to one year of fully paid educational benefits,
plus an additional year for each year of their service, up to a total of 48
months, with a maximum of $500 a year for tuition, books, fees, and other
training costs. Unmarried veterans in an
approved educational program were entitled to $50 a month in subsistence
allowance, which was raised to $65 in 1946, and $75 in 1948, with appropriate
additions for dependants..
Until the program was
ended in mid-1956, more than half of America's approximately 15.5
million World War II veterans, took advantage of the educational benefits of
the G.I. Bill, for a total of 7.8
million men and women.
- 2.23 million went to college
- 3.48 million attended technical institutes and schools
- 1.4 million participated in on-the-job-training
programs, often run by unions or industry
- 690,000 underwent agricultural training
The total cost of the educational part of the G.I. Bill was
$14.5 billion, about $1,860 per veteran.
The payoff from this investment was enormous. As millions of
men and women who would never have gone to college completed their education,
to become teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and scientists, helping to
fuel the economic boom that began in the late '40s and continued for nearly