Esek Hopkins, an American naval officer, born in Scituate, R. I., in 1718, died in North Providence, Feb. 26, 1802. On the breaking out of the revolutionary war he was commissioned by Gov. Cooke as brigadier general. On Dec. 22, 1775, he received a commission from the continental congress as commodore and "commander-in-chief" of the navy. He was officially addressed by Washington as Admiral Hopkins. In February, 1776, he put to sea with the first squadron sent out by the colonies, consisting of four ships and three sloops. The fleet sailed for the Bahama islands, and captured the forts at New Providence, with 80 cannon, and a large quantity of ordnance stores and ammunition. On his return, when off Block island, Hopkins took the British schooner Hawke and the bomb brig Bolton. For this act the president of congress complimented him officially. Two days afterward, with three vessels, he attacked the Glasgow, of 29 guns; but she escaped, and for this he was censured. In June, 1776, he was ordered by congress to appear before the naval committee to reply to charges which had been preferred against him for not annoying the enemy's ships on the southern coast. He was defended by John Adams, and was acquitted.
The unavoidable delays at a later period in getting his ships ready for sea gave another chance for his enemies to complain; and neglecting a citation to appear at Philadelphia, he was dismissed the service, Jan. 2, 1777. He resided near Providence, and exerted during a long life a great political influence in Rhode Island, being often elected to the general assembly of that state.