- Hopkins, Esek
born April 26, 1718, Providence, R.I.died Feb. 26, 1802, Providence, R.I., U.S.American naval officer.He went to sea at age 20, proving his ability as a seaman and a trader. A marriage into wealth put him at the head of a large merchant fleet prior to the French and Indian War (1754–63); his privateering during that conflict added to both his fortune and his naval reputation. In 1775 he was appointed the first commander of the Continental Navy. Instructed to attack the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay, he sailed instead for the Bahamas, where he captured the British post at New Providence. He returned to Rhode Island, where the fleet became largely inactive. In 1776 an investigation by Congress led to his censure for disobedience. The fleet's continuing inactivity led to his suspension from command (1777) and dismissal (1778).
* * *▪ United States naval officerborn April 26, 1718, Providence, R.I.died Feb. 26, 1802, Providence, R.I., U.S.first commodore of the United States Navy in the period of the American Revolution (1775–83).Hopkins, who went to sea at the age of 20, proving his ability as a seaman and trader, and a marriage into wealth put him at the head of a large merchant fleet prior to the French and Indian War (1754–63). By privateering during that war, he added to his fortune and won a considerable naval reputation. Rhode Island named him a brigadier general of its land forces at the outbreak of the Revolution, but a call from the Continental Congress, where his brother was chairman of the naval committee, induced him to forsake the army and accept the command (Dec. 22, 1775) of the first Continental fleet then outfitting at Philadelphia. Instructed to attack the British fleet under John Murray, 4th earl of Dunmore, in Chesapeake Bay, Hopkins considered his orders discretionary and the enemy too strong. He therefore sailed his fleet of eight armed vessels to the Bahamas, captured considerable war matériel at New Providence Island, and upon his return fought an inconclusive action with the British ship “Glasgow” (April 1776).Dissatisfaction with the achievements of the fleet and its subsequent inactivity in Rhode Island led to an investigation by Congress. Censured for disobedience of orders, Hopkins returned to the fleet, but his continued inactivity and quarrels with his officers induced Congress to suspend him from his command in March 1777. He was dismissed from the navy in 1778 and thereafter played a prominent part in Rhode Island politics.
* * *