Newport was founded in 1639 by Boston religious dissidents William Coddington, John Clarke and others, who left the city in search of the religious liberty that Rhode Island (then Aquidneck Island) offered. The first newspaper, the Rhode Island Gazette, was published by Benjamin Franklin's brother, James, in 1732.

Newport has a famous colonial history. In 1769, with resentment growing toward the British, the British sloop Liberty seized two Connecticut ships to search for illegal goods; in response, citizens of Newport destroyed the Liberty, grounding her on an island off the coast of Newport Harbor and subsequently burned. And before the shot heard 'round the world, the British ship HMS Gaspee in 1772, which had run aground chasing an American sloop, was boarded at night, its captain attacked and wounded, the crew rowed ashore, and the ship burned. The wounding of the captain is considered to be the first blood shed in the American revolultion. The British occupied Newport on December 7, 1776, and despite repeated attempts by General Washington, the British did not leave until October 1779, when they voluntarily relinquished the town. It was to see no more fighting for the rest of the war. In addition, General Nathanael Greene , major general of the Continental Army during the American revolution, had a mansion in Newport.

Newport was incorporated from 1784 to 1787, and permanently in 1853. Commodore Matthew Perry , famous for opening Japan to the West, was born in Newport. Its naval tradition continues to this day as it plays host to the U.S. Naval War College ; formerly, it served as the temporary home of the U.S. Naval Academy during the Civil War.

The Marble House, Newport, RI¹

Today, Newport is known as a famous summer colony for America's wealthy. Many beautiful mansions, such as the Breakers, Belcourt Castle, Chateau-sur-Mer and more dot the lovely cliffs, and Salve Regina University is composed of many such former homes, with some students living in the mansions as their dormatories! The Newport Country Club was one of the founding five clubs of the US Golf Association, hosting the first U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur.

It is also home to the Newport Tower , which some consider to be evidence of a Norse settlement in the Americas predating Columbus.

¹ Photograph taken by Daderot. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License , Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. Subject to disclaimers.