Newport, Rhode Island
Chief town of Newport county, and one of the seats of the state legislature. It is in N. latitude 41°28'20", and W. longitude 71°21'14": 5 miles from the sea, 30 miles S. by E. from Providence, 70 S.S.W. from Boston, and 153 from New York by water. The township lies in an irregular and somewhat of a semicircular form, about 6 miles in length and 1 in breadth. In common with the whole island of Rhode Island, on which Newport is situated, the soil is remarkably fertile and under good cultivation. The surface is undulating, presenting a great variety of delightful scenery. The waters of Narraganset bay at this place are unrivalled for beauty and convenience. The harbor of Newport is considered one of the best on the coast of America: it has sufficient depth of water for the largest class of vessels, is exceedingly easy of access from the ocean, and sufficiently capacious to contain whole fleets. This harbor is admirably defended by forts Wolcott, Green and Adams, and will probably soon become a naval depot. Newport was first settled by William Codington and his associates in 1638. The growth of the town was so rapid for the first hundred years, that in 1738 there were 7 worshipping assemblies, and 100 sail of vessels belonged to the port.
Newport suffered severely during the revolutionary war, and was for a long time in possession of the enemy. After the war it revived again, but the more favorable location of Providence for an interior commerce, deprived it of a large portion of its original business.
Newport however retains its former character for foreign commerce and the fishery. A number of vessels are now engaged in the whaling business, and manufacturing establishments have recently been put into operation by steam power, which promise success.—Ship and boat building and the manufacture of cordage are carried on extensively. The domestic fishery is to Newport an important resource. There is probably no place in the world where a greater variety of fish, or of a better quality, are found. About sixty different kinds, comprising almost every species of fin and shell fish fit for the table, are taken in great abundance around the shores of Narraganset. The tonnage of the district of Newport, in 1837, was 11,498 tons.
The compact part of the town is built on a beautiful site, facing the harbor in a southeasterly direction. The main street extends more than a mile in length. The buildings on this and other streets and on Washington square are neatly built and some of them are very handsome. The marks of age which some of these buildings bear, with the excellent state of preservation in which they appear, give them a grace not found in many of those of more modern construction.
Although this ancient town has passed through many vicissitudes and changes of fortune, still it continues to advance in the number of its people. Population, in 1830, 7,319; 1830, 8,010.
Newport is celebrated for its beauty and the salubrity of its climate. From these circumstances, and from the numerous inviting objects which surround it, it has become a favorite resort for visitors from warmer climates; and in no place can the summer season be more enjoyed than among the charms of Newport.
Oliver Hazzard Perry, the victor on Lake Erie, Sept. 10, 1813, was born at Newport in 1785.—He died in the West Indies in 1820. A monument is erected to his memory.