Hopkins, John Burroughs

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Hopkins, John Burroughs

HOPKINS, JOHN BURROUGHS. (1742–1796). Continental naval officer. Rhode Island. Born 14 August 1742 in Newport, Rhode Island, Hopkins was the eldest of Esek Hopkins's ten children, and nephew of Stephen Hopkins. He followed family tradition by going to sea early and being politically involved. He led the boats that attacked the British vessel, the Gaspée, on 9 June 1772. On 22 December 1775 he became the junior of the first four captains appointed in the new Continental navy and took command of the Cabot (14 guns). He took part in the expedition to Nassau led by his father, Esek, and in the embarrassing encounter with the Glasgow, which occurred on 6 April 1776. His ship, being in the lead, bore the brunt of the action. Named commander of the frigate Warren in 1777, he slipped through the British blockade of Narragansett Bay early in March 1778, took two prizes, and put into Boston Harbor. In 1779, with the Warren, Queen of France, and Ranger, he led a six-week cruise off the Virginia capes that captured the Jason (twenty guns) and seven other British ships. Although initially pleased at this triumph, The Marine Committee of Congress learned that Hopkins had failed to follow instructions and ordered an investigation. Hopkins was suspended, and never returned to service in the U.S. navy.

Instead, Hopkins took command of the Massachusetts privateer Tracy (sixteen guns) in 1780. He took several prizes before being captured and paroled. The next year he was captain of a Rhode Island privateer sloop, the Success. Retiring to private life after the war, he died on 4 March 1796.

SEE ALSO Hopkins, Esek; Hopkins, Stephen; Naval Operations, Strategic Overview.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles