Several members of my family have birthdays in the next few weeks. Here is some interesting (to me anyway) info about the Alexander G. Swasey's home town before, during and after the Revolution. The connection to me is that my dad's mom was a Swasey.
LONG history follows:
Most of the following are excerpts from:
"The Politics of Pluralism in Newport RI 1760-1800"
The colony of Rhode Island, unlike its neighbors Massachusetts and
Connecticut, never had an official religion. Rhode Island's founders,
made up of Baptists, Quakers, and others fleeing persecution in
neighboring colonies, specifically intended the new colony to be a
shelter for persons of distressed conscience. 
In 1647, the General Court, which represented a central administration
over the four separately founded towns of Providence, Warwick,
Portsmouth, and Newport, laid out a body of laws, which concluded with
the statement all men may walk as their consciences perswade them,
every one in the name of his God." 
In January 1769, Ezra Stiles (minister of Newport's Second Congregational Church, and
librarian of the Redwood Library. 
) began to keep a diary, which he would
maintain for the rest of his time in Newport. The early years of Stiles'
diary provide evidence about how the elite of Rhode Island reacted to
the looming political crisis: they avoided it at least in the social
sphere. While many members of Stiles' social circle, which constituted a
large portion of the elite members of Rhode Island society, involved
themselves in politics in the public sphere, Stiles diary indicates they
strived to maintain a sense of normalcy within their social lives.
Those who held the most wealth and power in Rhode Island likely had a
large motivation to hold their social network together for economic
reasons, but more than that, they seem to have enjoyed the chance to
interact socially with people from diverse backgrounds.
In this respect, the diary is most interesting for what it does
not include. The near lack of political discourse before 1773, coupled
with documentary evidence outside Stiles' diary of a very active
political discourse in the public sphere, suggests that the residents of
Newport were certainly conscious of the looming political schism, but
they also knew that Newport's economic success depended on maintaining
strong social ties between the members of the city's many religious and
The clear separation between church and state left room for another
force to take the central place in Rhode Island life: commerce. Rhode
Island had almost no hinterland, but it did have an abundance of
well-formed harbors. It did not take long for Rhode Islanders to realize
that if the colony was to be economically viable in the long term, it
would need to rely on what the sea could provide.
Fortunately, many of the Quakers and Jews who had fled from Europe to
Newport in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had strong
connections with other Jewish and Quaker refugees in the Caribbean.
Rhode Island's colonial economy was founded upon these pre-existing
By the second decade of the eighteenth century, the city of Newport had become the center of Rhode Island's economic life.
The secular nature of Rhode Island's founding principles were deeply
integrated into the physical plan of this city. Newport curled around a
wide and deep bay whose fortuitous geography allowed for both an easy
exit to the ocean and protection from storms on three sides. Numerous
docks thrust out into the harbor, and at the central point of the
harbor's arc, an earth-work pier called the Long Wharf stretched more
than a third of a mile into the bay, providing moorings for the large
trade vessels that frequently docked at Newport.
For the convenience of these traders, a large two-story brick
market stood at the point where the Long Wharf met the land. A wide
cobbled square was laid out on a gentle incline between the Long Wharf
and the Colony House, the seat of Newport's government, creating a
striking contrast to the typical grass-covered common and white church
that could be found at the center of most towns and cities in colonial
New England. 
From the moment visitors stepped onto the Newport docks, they would
have been acquainted with the character of the town. There was not a
church in sight. It was clear that secular politics and profit ruled