Silas Downer

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Silas Downer(July 16, 1729 - December 15, 1785)[1][2] was a Son of Liberty who gave a dedication speech in front of the Liberty Tree, in recognition that Liberty is a gift of God.

He was known for having an exceptional skill for oratory,[3] and he used that skill to advance the cause of Liberty.

Early Life and Ancestry

The Downer family were originally from Puritan ancestry,[3] and it is believed that they came across the Atlantic with other Newbury settlers back in 1635.

He was born in Norwich, Connecticut, but spent most of his early life in Sunderland, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard in 1750.[4]


BUT what will all these things avail us, if we be deprived of that liberty which the GOD of nature hath given us?[5]


Local historian Patrick T. Conley refers to Downer as the "Penman of the Revolution" for his rousing discourse at the Liberty Tree.[6]


  1. Bridenbaugh, Carl (1974). Silas Downer, forgotten patriot: his life and writings. Rhode Island Bicentennial Foundation. 
  2. Spencer, Mark (2015). The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment, Volume 2. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Downer, David R. (1900). The Downers of America: With Genealogical Record, 9. “Still another was Silas Downer, of Providence, who used his gifts as an orator in protesting against British aggression and gained an honored mention in the annals of his adopted State and” 
  4. Inductee Details - Silas Downer, Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, Inducted 1998
  5. (1918) Discourse, delivered in Providence, in the colony of Rhode Island, on the 25th day of July, 1768. At the dedication of the tree of liberty, 4. 
  6. Review: Rebels, rogues and revolutionaries wrote RI history

External links