Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HOPKINS, Esek, naval officer, born in Scituate, Rhode Island, in 1718; died in North Providence, Rhode Island, 26 February, 1802. When the Revolutionary war began he was commissioned by General Francis Cook as brigadier-general, and in December, 1775, he was commissioned by the Continental congress commander-in-chief of the navy, and was officially addressed by Washington as "Admiral Hopkins." In February, 1776, he put to sea with the first squadron that was sent out by the colonies, consisting of four ships and three sloop. The fleet sailed for the Bahamas, and captured the forts at New Providence, with eighty cannon and a large quantity of ordnance stores and ammunition. On his return off Block island, he took the British schooner "Hawke" and the bomb-brig "Bolton," and was complimented officially by the president of congress for this success. Two days afterward he attacked the "Glasgow," of 29 guns, which escaped, and Hopkins was censured. In June, 1776, he was ordered by congress to appear before the naval committee to reply to charges preferred against him for not annoying the enemy's ships on the southern coast. He was defended by John Adams and acquitted, but unavoidable delays in getting his ships ready for sea at a later period gave his enemies another opportunity for complaint. He neglected a citation to appear in Philadelphia, and on 2 January, 1777, was dismissed from the service. He then settled near Providence, exerted throughout a long life an immense political influence in Rhode Island, and was for many years a member of the general assembly.--His son, John Burroughs, naval officer, was one of the first captains of the Revolutionary navy, being commissioned 22 December, 1775. He commanded the "Cabot" in the expedition to the Bahamas in 1776, and in April, 1779, sailed from Boston in command of a squadron, and captured, with small loss to his own fleet, seven vessels laden with stores, 200 men, and twenty-four British officers.
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