The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: Early Providence

The NYC Public Library has put online an enormous amount of digitalized images from their collections. Poking around and looking for pictures of Providence, I stumbled across the following two:

Gaspee

Destruction of His Majesty’s Schooner Gaspee, Near Providence, RI, in 1772.

If you recall, Captain Whipple, who led the raid on Curwen’s farm, later led the attack on the Gaspee. HPL also says that many of the men who took part in the raid on the farm would also fight in the Revolution. It’s worth mentioning that Captain Whipple was a real person.

Providence 1828?

View of the North Side of the City of Providence.

The above is from a book of engravings called “Scenic Route of the Hudson River and the Lateral Parts of North America,” published in Paris in 1828.

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2 Responses to “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: Early Providence”

  1. It’s also worth noting that Providence was a hub of silver products manufacturing. Providence was not a sleepy colonial backwater, but a hub of transportation and manufacturing. They produced a large portion of the silverware and silver goods used throughout the US. For example Gorham was founded in 1831 in Providence but there were dozens of other silver makers who produced under their own names, but also jobbers who subcontracted for other manufacturers.

    Additionally iron and steel was produced in Providence, so it was a booming place for a couple of centuries. Shipping was also important with Providence and more darkly, they provided shipping and financing for the slave trade from the beginning right up to 1860. Also they provided ships and cargoes for the China trade, which involved the buying, selling of opium into China starting in the 1830s. So yes, HPL was probably aware of these activities as an antiquarian and it does arise in some of his works such as The Picture in the House (1920) and plays a part in his literary motif of family blood taint through past crimes.

    The juxtaposition of industrialized Providence vs Olde Providence is interesting in HPLs writings and in our perceptions of Providence through his works.

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