Stephen Hopkins

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Founding Fathers
Stephen Hopkins
State Rhode Island
Religion Christian- Episcopalian [1]
Founding Documents Declaration of Independence

Stephen Hopkins (March 7, 1707 – July 13, 1785) is a Founding Father of America. He was a farmer, a land surveyor, a lawyer. He was elected town clerk, a justice of the peace, a representative to the general assembly, a chief justice of the common pleas court. Hopkins had a profitable career as a merchant and as a ship builder. Hopkins became a Speaker of the Rhode Island Assembly, a delegate to the Albany Convention, and was elected Governor of the colony. Stephen Hopkins was elected to represent Rhode Island in the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence and helped to draft the Articles of Confederation. Also, he was member of Rhode Island Legislature and a founder of the Providence town library. Hopkins was one of the earliest and most vigorous champions of colonial rights.

Early life

Stephen Hopkins was born in Scituate, Rhode Island. He was self-taught and had little formal education.[2] Hopkins was a farmer that inherited his father's estate. In 1742, he sold his father's farm and moved to Providence. He married at the age of nineteen to Sarah Scott and fathered seven children. Hopkins purchased a store and became a wealthy merchant.


Hopkins became a representative from Providence to the provincial assembly becoming Speaker. He would be reelected fourteen times, then appointed chief justice of the superior court. In 1754, he was a delegate from Rhode Island to the convention that met at Albany. His task would be to developing a plan uniting the colonies and arranging an alliance with the Indians. In 1756, Hopkins was elected governor of the colony and he held that office until 1764. In 1770, Hopkins served as Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, where one of the important cases he oversaw involved the Gaspee Affair.

In 1772, Hopkins was again elected to the general assembly and sponsored a bill that prohibited the importation of slaves into the colony. In August 1774, was elected with Samuel Ward to represent Rhode Island in the Continental Congress. In Congress he would tell a colleague,[3]

The liberties of America would be a cheap purchase with the loss of but 100,000 lives.

Hopkins experience with ship building made him particularly useful as a member of the naval committee that formulated plans to arm vessels. In 1777, Hopkins was an active member of the general assembly of Rhode Island. He helped found the Providence town library in 1750. It was destroyed in 1760 and he led the effort to rebuild.


Hopkins died at his Providence home at the age of seventy-eight.


  • "The Rights of the Colonies Examined", 1764
  • "The Grievances of the American Colonies Candidly Examined," published in London 1766.
  • "History of the Planting and Growth of Providence," which appeared in the Providence "Gazette" in 1765.[4]


External links