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Hope (Power) Brown (1702-1792)

Although mostly forgotten today, Hope (Power) Brown was, in a way, the Mother of Providence. Born to Nicholas Power III and Mercy Tillinghast on January 4, 1702 in Providence, RI, she lived in or near the city for the next ninety years. Due to her parents’ substantial wealth, Hope and her siblings grew up in better conditions than most during this period, which perhaps explains her longevity. On December 21, 1722 in Providence, twenty year old Hope married James Brown. They had six children—five sons (James, Nicholas, Joseph, John, and Moses) and a daughter (Mary). Her sons John and Moses became the most famous of the Brown brothers but her other children made significant contributions as well. Her sons became patriots and business leaders, overseeing business ventures spanning from their iron ore foundry (Hope’s Furnace) to the China Trade, the Slave Trade, and other enterprises. They helped secure American independence, created Brown University, and publicly struggled with the problem that would divide many other American families and the nation as well: the issue of slavery.

Hope lived the last years of her life with her son Moses and his family. By the time her life came to an end in June 1792, George Washington was president of the United States and Providence was a much larger and more influential version of the town in which she was born. Her maternal love and guidance helped lay the foundations of the city and the nation. Read More...

Josh Choiniere, Student at Rhode Island College