Gaspee Days Parade

Rhode Island’s Gaspee Days is one of the most unique American celebrations. Dating back to pre-Revolutionary War days, the Gaspee Incident is often overshadowed by the Boston Tea Party. Yet, both events played significant roles in our country's quest for independence. 

Warwick, Rhode Island, residents pay homage to the 1772 act against the British schooner HMS Gaspee, marking one of America’s first acts of rebellion against our English oppressors. There are parades, live music, festivals, and even a dramatic burning of the Gaspee effigy.  

Gaspee Days are not only a way to honor the brave patriots who fought for freedom but also a way to help the next generation learn about the resiliency of the American people. Learn more about Rhode Island’s pivotal role in creating the country we are today and explore Gaspee Days events in your area. 

Those outside of Rhode Island can celebrate Revolutionary Way history with a Betsy Ross or Revolutionary flag from  

What is the History of Gaspee Days? 

The Gaspee Affair is a little-known but highly important event in American history. The brave acts were a catalyst for revolts like the Boston Tea Party, which would pave the way for the Revolutionary War and, eventually, America’s freedom 

History and Background 

During the 1700s, America was still under the rule of England. The British used mercantilism to profit from the colonies. They believed the American colonies existed solely for the benefit of the mother country.  

To increase profits and benefits for England, the British government set strict rules for the American colonies, called the Navigation Acts. These rules said that all goods coming into the colonies had to be carried on English or colonial ships, and certain products like tobacco and sugar could only be sent to England. This set tight controls on who the colonies could do business with while also forcing them to pay higher taxes.  

Before the mid-1700s, the British only sparsely enforced the Navigation Acts. However, everything changed after the French and Indian War. Following the war with France, the British were now in deep debt and needed a way to make money.  

The British hoped to cover their war expenses by more strictly enforcing the Navigation Acts and raising taxes. This put immense financial pressure on the American colonists and led to increasing unhappiness with British rule. 

Tensions Rise in Rhode Island 

While many think of Boston as the epicenter of the American Revolution, Rhode Island also played a pivotal role. To get around the Navigation Acts, Rhode Islanders were smuggling goods into the colony, which caused the British to increase their military presence there. They sent the HMS Gaspee, which sailed under Lieutenant William Dudingston, to the area to further control the colonists. 

Dudingston was known for abusing his power and treating the colonists unfairly. On one occasion, the Lieutenant decided to chase a colony merchant ship, the Hannah, that had already been cleared by customs officials. During the chase, the HMS Gaspee became stuck in the shallow waters of Narragansett Bay. 

This pursuit was the last straw for the Rhode Islanders. Once the Hannah docked in Providence, its Captain reported what happened to the town’s leaders. They decided to attack the Gaspee before it could free itself and send a message to the British that they’d had enough. 

The Burning of Gaspee 

In one of the first acts of revolt against the British, 64 brave men set sail for the Gaspee. They demanded that Dudingston abandon his ship, and when he refused, they set fire to it. This one act was the first blow for freedom, shifting the tide of the colonial mindset. 

The Significance of the Gaspee Affair 

The Gaspee Affair in itself may not seem particularly exciting. There weren’t a large number of deaths, and only one ship was burned, but it was the first uprising against the oppressive crown and the first sign that the colonists were no longer going to allow the British to push them around. 

The success of the attack acted as a precedent for further uprisings. It showed the colonists that they had the power to revolt and could defeat those who sought to keep them down. The Gaspee Affair was one of the first steps in the American Revolution and set the stage for the fight for freedom that would soon change the world. 

What Events Are Celebrated During Gaspee Days in Rhode Island? 

Gaspee Days events are celebrated throughout Rhode Island and are perfect for family-friendly fun! Pawtuxet Village in Warwick is known for hosting a wide array of events. Here you can enjoy a Gaspee Days parade, 5K foot race, and the Gaspee Days arts & crafts festival. 

Kingston Reds Historic Militia at Gaspee Day Parade

Gaspee Days Parade 

The annual Gaspee Days parade and foot race is an event you won’t want to miss. Families enjoy watching the fife and drum corps, the Shriners driving miniature cars and firetrucks, and community groups marching with banners held high. It's an incredible event that pays homage to a unique period of American history.  

Burning of the Gaspee 

The Burning of the Gaspee is one of the most unique and exciting events during Gaspee Days. You’ll stand in awe as you watch a full re-enactment of the first blow from the American Revolution. Seeing the colonial ship go down in flames is something you and your family will never forget! 

Celebrate State and American Pride at is proud to offer the largest selection of state and American flags, making it easy to showcase your patriotism. Our products are crafted from the highest-quality materials, with vibrant colors, reinforced stitching, and superior longevity. During Gaspee Days fly one of our Rhode Island flags and honor the brave Americans who defied the odds to fight for our freedom. Showcase your patriotism with