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Free

The French in Newport Living History Weekend

July 14, 2023
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Washington Square, Washington Square
Newport, RI 02840 United States

The French are coming!

 

 

 

In July 1780, thousands of French troops landed in Newport beginning an occupation that lasted for nearly a year. The presence of this new ally represented a turning point in the American Revolution and the start of the Franco-American Alliance. While French troops played a vital role in American victory at Yorktown in 1781, Newport citizens were far from welcoming upon their arrival. On Friday July 14, 2023 and Saturday July 15, 2023, the Newport Historical Society will showcase aspects of this pivotal point in American history during the French in Newport living history weekend, a free two-day event about life in the summer of 1780.

The French in Newport Event will feature living historians portraying recognizable figures such as George and Martha Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and the Marquis de Chastellux along with the head of the French army, comte de Rochambeau. Dozens of costumed living historians representing both civilians and French soldiers will discuss the challenges of establishing this new alliance. Programming will be rooted at Washington Square and surrounding sites such as the Colony House, the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House and the Brick Market.

The NHS will partner with the Museum of the American Revolution’s First Oval Office Project, a hand-sewn replica of George Washington’s sleeping tent, which will be exhibited at Washington Square. Washington met with Rochambeau and other French leaders under canvas throughout the campaign of 1781. Join costumed staff from the Museum of the American Revolution in immersive explorations of Washington’s tents and campaign equipment and the stories his guard and “military family” in the Revolutionary War.

Justin Cherry from Half Crown Bakehouse, who is the resident baker at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, will offer 18th century baking demonstrations while discussing the bread and food rations that would have been available in 1780 Newport.

The event concludes with a free concert presented by the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums.

This French in Newport event is generously sponsored by the National Parks Service/Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail and Discover Newport.

Please see scheduling details below.

Friday July 14, 2023

 

11am

The French Efforts to Charm Rhode Island – Meet with Dr. Iris de Rode and learn about the roots of the Franco-American alliance. Takes place at Washington Square.

 

Noon

Rochambeau’s Proclamation – Hear Rochambeau’s plans upon arrival to Newport in July 1780. Takes place at Washington Square.

 

1pm

Tea Traditions – French soldiers left notable descriptions in their journals outlining the tea etiquette practiced in Newport. During this family-friendly chat with Dr. Iris de Rode, learn about these traditions and life in 1780. Historic tea samples will be available and children are welcome to bring their historical doll or favorite stuffie. Takes place at Washington Square.

 

2pm

An Interview with Chastellux and Dr. Iris de Rode – Who is the Marquis de Chastellux? Meet this significant figure during an interview hosted by Dr. Iris de Rode. Takes place at the Colony House.

 

3pm

Meet the Marquis de Lafayette – Hear about the French experience in Newport straight from the Marquis de Lafayette. Takes place at Washington Square.

 

 

Saturday July 15, 2023

 

11am

Interview with Chastellux and Iris de Rode – Who is the Marquis de Chastellux? Meet this significant figure during an interview hosted by Dr. Iris de Rode. Takes place at the Colony House.

 

12pm

The First Cruise of “General Washington”, a Rhode Island Privateer – Hear a sailor’s experience aboard a privateering ship that visited Newport during the first month of the French occupation. Takes place at Washington Square.

 

1pm

Tea Traditions – French soldiers left notable descriptions in their journals outlining the tea etiquette practiced in Newport. During this family-friendly chat with Dr. Iris de Rode, learn about these traditions and life in 1780. Historic tea samples will be available and children are welcome to bring their historical doll or favorite stuff. Takes place at Washington Square.

 

2pm

French Military Uniforms – Dr. Matthew Keagle will demonstrate the many layers—and buttons—comprising a French soldier’s clothing. Takes place at the Colony House.

 

3:30pm

Fife & Drum Concert – Presented by the Middlesex County Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps. Takes place in front of the Colony House.

Organizer:

Newport Historical Society
ddaly@newporthistory.org
(401) 846-0813