While traveling to the Northeast to help fellow young conservatives combat leftist ideas on campus last week, I made a pit stop in Newport, RI to see what’s there. Since I grew up near Newport Beach, California, I never imagined I could like another Newport until I visited the older one here on the East Coast.
For those of you unfamiliar with Rhode Island, it’s the smallest state in the union boasting the longest official name. I kid you not. It’s officially known as the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” (I first learned this two years ago when I paid my first visit to the state.) Historically speaking, RI is famous for giving rise to religious tolerance during the colonial era.
Newport, RI is a city rich in history. First and foremost, it was the site of George Washington’s famous speech at Touro Synagogue on August 18, 1790. Here’s the full text from his speech:
While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.
The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.
If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.
Source: George Washington: A Collection, ed. W.B. Allen (Liberty Fund: Indianapolis, 1988)
Secondly, it was a summer getaway for both Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. (Kennedy even got married there at St. Mary’s Church.)
Moreover, Newport is home to some rich naval history as it boasts the Naval War College.
While in Newport, I was able to explore some cool attractions. First up was driving near some mansions on the coast, with the most famous one being the Breakers. They date back to the Gilded Age and are open to the public.
Map of Newport mansions
The Breakers – Newport, RI
If I hadn’t been pressed for time, I would have spent more time exploring them. These estates are alluring and beautifully crafted. (Free enterprise FTW!)
Next stop was the International Tennis Hall of Fame. It’s a place where tennis greats are inducted and given high honors. I especially loved visiting this place because it brought back memories of my high school tennis days. Who can resist grass tennis courts?
Me posing at the International Tennis Hall of Fame
Statue of Int’l Tennis Hall of Fame founder
After driving to the Breakers and Int’l Tennis Hall of Fame, my final stop was downtown Newport, RI.
Marveling Newport Harbor
Cute soap bars made to look like cupcakes at a harbor-side shop in Newport, RI.
What’s the takeaway from this blog post? It isn’t the Newport I grew up with, but it’s a Newport I can learn to equally appreciate and enjoy. Go visit Newport, RI!