Ann and Hope image commissioned by Brown and Ives

Drawing of “Ann and Hope” commissioned by Brown and Ives Company.

Benjamin Tallman’s life and achievements have been lost with time, but Portsmouth residents can take pride in his long and useful life.  He served in the Revolutionary War.  His contributions to the war efforts are notable, but his talents as a ship designer and builder made him a major force in naval architecture for his day.

Benjamin was born in Portsmouth in 1741 to a family that had been rooted in early Portsmouth history.  While Tallman would later move to Providence, he is listed in the Rhode Island censuses of 1775 and 1800 as residing in Portsmouth with his family.   Tallman was a noted shipwright by the time the Revolutionary War began and he was hired by a Congressional Committee to build two frigates in 1776.  The “Warren”  was commanded by Capt. John B. Hopkins and the “Providence” was commanded by Capt. Abraham Whipple.

After he completed these ships, he was appointed to a command in Col William Richmond’s Regiment.  Tallman saw action in the Battle of Long Island and one source (a)  said “he suffered severely.”  When this regiment was disbanded, he was commissioned colonel in a Continental regiment.  This duty did not last long because he was called upon to supervise the building of yet another ship for the navy – this time in Connecticut.  It was called the “Confederacy”.

Tallman continued to build ships.  Tallman and partner James De Wolf build the frigate “USS General Greene” for the United States Navy.  Built in Warren, it was launched in January of 1799.  The captain was Christopher Perry and his son Oliver Hazard Perry was onboard as a midshipman.  After service in Haiti, the ship was burned by the British when they captured Washington in the War of 1812.

After the War for Independence, there were new opportunities for trade with China.  New tariffs stimulated Rhode Island shipbuilding.  Tallman was the builder of about a hundred merchant ships.  Among the most famous are the “Ann and Hope” and the “George Washington.”   The “Ann and Hope” was designed for the Brown and Ives Company.  The names “Ann” and “Hope” came from the names of the wives of Nicholas Brown (Ann) and Thomas Ives (Hope).  She was very fast and had a copper coated hull.  It was the first ship to sail from Rhode Island to China.

Tallman had a major shipbuilding yard in Providence on the west side of the river above the Point Street bridge.  He was an active officer and member of the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturing.  He lived to the advanced age of ninety-four years and died at his residence on Eddy Street in Providence on June 10, 1836.  His was a life we should remember.

a.  Mechanics Festival.  Providence Assoc of Mechanics and Manufacturing, 1860.