Esek Hopkins

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Esek Hopkins (1718 - 1802) was the first Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy. He was born on April 26, 1718 in Scituate, Rhode Island. He began his naval career during the French and Indian War as a successful privateer. After the beginning of the American Revolution (1775), Hopkins was appointed by Rhode Island to be the commander of its military forces. However, just a short time later that year, he received orders from Congress to take command of the newly formed Continental Navy. His first orders as commander of the fleet were to attack the British naval force based off Chesapeake Bay. Realizing that he did not have the necessary force to take on the British fleet at the time, he disregard the orders and sailed south to the Bahamas and raided New Providence Island and captured valuable supply's badly needed by the colonies and revolutionary army. For his disobedience of orders, Hopkins was censured by Congress, he did however remain in command of the fleet until 1777 and was dismissed from the navy in early 1778.

After his dismissal from the Navy, Hopkins engaged himself in political service in Rhode Island and was an active force in Rhode Island politics till his death on February 26, 1802.

One of his sons, John Burroughs Hopkins, was engaged in the burning of the HMS Gaspee.