Down A Different Path - Prologue
Down A Different Path
A novel about the “otherwise minded” of this country's smallest state through the Revolution to the Early 19th Century
Donald A. D'Amato
For many years now I have been writing about the Greene family of Warwick and of the history of Rhode Island in the Warwick Beacon and the Cranston Herald articles and in my books. It has become obvious in so many ways that the history of that family and of the state parallel each other and, as readers have suggested, now may be the time for combining the two in an historical novel. While the main characters are fictional, I have used actual episodes in the life of Rhode Islanders who have been significant in the development of the state.
Much of the impetus for doing this has come from my fascination with the life of George Washington Greene, the grandson of the famous Revolutionary War general, Nathanael Greene. Every once in awhile, I have come across a person in history that I can closely identify with and relate to and this has prompted me to use my imagination.
G. W. Greene lived from 1811 until 1883. He was a linguist, teacher, historian, and a friend of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Professor Greene's house is the "Windmill Cottage" on the East Greenwich side of Division Street. Originally it was a very small, simple cottage having no room for a study. When Greene's friend, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, first came to visit he noticed an old windmill across the street, on the Warwick side of the road. Longfellow purchased it, moved it to Greene's cottage, and renovated both the old windmill and the cottage. Now, thanks to Longfellow, the windmill is attached to the house, providing a wonderful study and a unique building.
In addition to other fine traits, G. W. Greene possessed an excellent sense of humor and an understanding of the past. Over the years, I have read much of his writings and feel a definite affinity to his spirit.
As a result, I am writing this novel about Rhode Island, using much of what I know of the Greene family to lend an air of authenticity to the work. While it should be considered a work of fiction, it will be based to some extent upon the works of George Washington Greene. I have also relied a great deal upon the history written by Samuel Greene Arnold, and that of George Sears Greene, whose genealogy of the Greene family is an outstanding source of Rhode Island history.
Thanks to the excellent sense of history exhibited by members of the Greene family, the Rhode Island Historical Society, Henry A. L. Brown and the Warwick Historical Society, some original writings of significant historical characters have been preserved and made available to modern historians. Wherever possible I will endeavor to be faithful to these manuscripts in my portrayal of the past.
Nearly two thousand years ago a Roman historian likened the life of his country to the life of man. I’m not as ambitious, but I would endeavor to liken the life of Rhode Island to that of the men and women who played a large part in its history. I hope to show how Rhode Island, by following a different path, became known as the “otherwise minded,” and laid the foundation for many of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today. They led the way in the idea of religious freedom for all. While others held back in fear, the small colony put forth the concept of freedom of conscience and speech, the separation of church and state, and many other freedoms that have made America great.
I have also learned that there are two classes of historical fiction. One, they say, is a sober teacher and the other a pleasant companion. I hope this little narrative will prove to be both.
Donald A. D'Amato