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Hopkins, Stephen

Stephen Hopkins, 1707–85, colonial governor of Rhode Island and political leader in the American Revolution, b. Providence, R.I. A member of the colonial assembly for many years, he also served as assistant justice (1747–49) and chief justice (1751–55) of the superior court. Between 1755 and 1768 he held the office of governor for nine years. The period was one of bitter strife in the colony between Newport and Providence, with Hopkins leading the Providence faction. In 1754, Hopkins was a delegate to the Albany Congress, where he energetically supported Benjamin Franklin's plan of union, writing A True Representation of the Plan Formed at Albany (1755) in hope of converting the opposition in Rhode Island. He was an early and strenuous defender of colonial rights, and his Rights of Colonies Examined (1765), attacking the sugar and stamp acts, was widely read. Again chief justice of the superior court, Hopkins refused to allow the burners of the Gaspee to be prosecuted. He was a member (1774–76) of the Continental Congress, a member of the committee that prepared the Articles of Confederation, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was the first chancellor of Rhode Island College (now Brown Univ.).

See biography by W. E. Foster (2 vol., 1884).

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