Rhode Island in Rhetoric and Reflection

Rhode Island in Rhetoric and Reflection: Public Addresses and Essays by Patrick T. Conley

Whatever Patrick T. Conley sets out to do, he does masterfully — whether that be teaching, public speaking, practicing law, developing real estate, performing on the athletic field, volunteer­ing his expert organizational skills, ghostwriting political position papers, or writing history. The latter is his passion. He has a profound grasp of American history and his bibliographic knowledge is breathtaking. In this, his latest volume, Conley is at his best in offering an astonishing array of Rhode Island history. This tiniest of states has played a significant role in the country’s development, much of which is analyzed with great insight in the varied pieces in this volume. With his usual fidelity to the highest standards of scholarship, Conley examines here constitutional history from colonial and Revolutionary times, to the nineteenth-century upheaval of Dorr’s Rebellion, to Rhode Island’s twentieth-century constitutional conventions. He deftly investi­gates religious history, nativism, ethnic studies, sports history, local history, and biography. Throughout these offerings Conley’s charm, wit, and humor shine through. Many of these pieces were either delivered as speeches or printed in out-of-the way publications. This volume pulls together these disparate “words . . . written on the wind” and makes them readily available to a broad audience. Undeniably, Pat Conley is the greatest historian of Rhode Island ever. This book helps prove that fact.

JOHN P. KAMINSKI, Director of The Center for the Study of the American Constitution and editor of The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution

These are wonderful essays on the history of Rhode Island by the premier historian of Rhode Island. With wit, clarity, and an extraordinary command of historical information, Patrick T. Conley has covered all aspects of Rhode Island history from its earliest origins in the seventeenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century. There are essays on Rhode Island constitu­tionalism (Conley’s specialty), on immigration and ethnicity, on Rhode Island sports, on Catholicism, and on a wide variety of the Ocean State’s local scenes and colorful characters. The beauty of collections like this is that they preserve what otherwise might be lost. And Conley’s writings are worth preserving. He is a treasure.

GORDON S. WOOD, Alva O. Way Professor of History, Brown University, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History


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