Nestled between Narragansett and Mount Hope Bay, most of Bristol is surrounded by water and therein lies her history. Her tumultuous past is seeped with war, patriotism, and struggle. Constantly reinventing herself, Bristol is an ever changing, moving record of our country's past, present, and future.
Mount Hope Lands, now Bristol, was the seat of the Wampanoags who controlled all the land from Narragansett Bay east to Massachusetts Bay. In 1666 Metacomet, known as King Philip, was Chief of the Wampanoags. Feeling the surrounding pressure to submit Mount Hope Lands to the settlers he began to prepare for war by uniting tribes that had been enemies for centuries. Raids led by King Philip caused over 600 homes to be burned and whole towns to be evacuated. After relentless pursuit, the English killed King Philip. With the uprising stymied, Bristol's natural harbor was ripe for a growing shipping industry. By 1690 seventy families were settled in the area and Bristol had become the homeport for fifteen ships. Since the settlers had little raw materials for export, they became predominantly an agricultural based shipping town. The harbor became the center of life to the town.
During the revolution, Bristol suffered from lack of trade due to the constant search and seizure of goods. In October 1775 the British sailed into Bristol Harbor, demanding provisions, and when revoked, fired upon the town. Three years later 500 British soldiers marched through Bristol burning over 30 structures belonging to prominent American patriots.