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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has a bone to pick with the history books.
During the Senate floor debate Thursday on the Economic Development Revitalization Act, the Rhode Island Democrat took to the floor to recognize the anniversary of Gaspee Day. (Gaspee Day! Finally!)
“My time in this chamber often gives me cause to reflect on our history and on the brave patriots who went before us,” Whitehouse said, beginning normally enough. “Today, I would like to talk about a group of men who, 239 years ago tonight, engaged in a daring act of defiance against the British crown.”
We can all agree every time is the right time to talk 239-year-old American history — even if that time is during a debate on the nation’s economic development. Carry on, Senator.
“Conspicuously missing from history books is the story of the brave Rhode Islanders who challenged the British crown far more aggressively more than a year before Bostonians dumped those tea bags into Boston Harbor,” he said. (HOH is also shocked at this oversight.)
“On the anniversary, I would like to take us back to an earlier milestone in America’s fight for independence, to share with you the story of a British vessel, the HMS Gaspée, and to introduce you to some little-known heroes now lost in the footnotes of history,” he continued.
Whitehouse then regaled the Senate with a ripping yarn about American history and the “offensive” HMS Gaspée! It was great.
It is the story of the evil Lt. William Dudingston and the brave Rhode Islander Capt. Benjamin Lindsey! And someone named Abraham Whipple, too! Shots were fired across bows, academics were quoted and other stuff happened.
Rhode Island, Whitehouse said, will never forget them. And now neither will we.
The Senator ended his speech with a shout-out to the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who had yielded him time to speak.
“I know she has important business on the Senate floor,” he said. “It was very kind of her to give me those few minutes to talk about this historic day in Rhode Island and American history.”
It certainly was. We all thank you, Chairman Boxer.