Rhode Island was the first of the 13 Colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown. In June 1772 eight rowboats, under the cover of dark. attacked and burned the British ship HMS Gaspee. The notable connection between that attack and the Captain Simeon Potter House is that Captain Simeon Potter was in the attack on the Gaspee. Potter, one of the wealthiest people in Bristol and Newport, had several vessels that brought goods into Newport; the Gaspee was a British ship that chased the Colonists' boats to collect taxes that the colonists objected to; they referred to them as the Intolerable Acts.
The Gaspee Affair essentially started the American Revolution. From 1776-1779, during the British Occupation, half of Newports population fled. Not only did the British do irreparable damage to the maritime trade, but in addition, they burned half of the clapboard houses as firewood to keep warm during the severe winters.