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Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Foster, Theodore

Theodore Foster (1752-1828), early graduate and one of the first two United States Senators from Rhode Island, was born on April 29, 1752 in Brookfield, Massachusetts. His father was a judge of the superior court of Massachusetts. Theodore graduated from Rhode Island College in September 1770 at the second Commencement, which was held in Mr. Snow’s meeting house in Providence, as the college had moved from Warren earlier that year. On July 9 he had written of the move in a letter:

“The greatest Degree of Steadiness and firmness of Mind is very requisite in a Town no larger than this, to cause one as steadily to pursue his Studies as in a Place no larger than Warren. One used to Noise and the Hurry of a Tradeing Town would not be much desturbed thereat, but for my own Part I must confess, the jolts of Waggons, the Ratlings of Coaches, the crying of Meat for the Market, the Hollowing of Negroes and the ten thousand jinggles and Noises, that continually Surround us in every Part almost of the Town, Confuse my thinking and leave me absorpt in a Maze of eddying Fancy, which frequently overwhelmes me in the profound Depths of Nonsense even while engaged in the Study of Moral Philosophy which teaches the proper regulations of the Passions.”
After his graduation Foster became an attorney and served as Providence Town Clerk from 1775 to 1787, as Secretary of the Rhode Island Council of War from 1776 to 1781, and as Representative to the General Assembly from 1776 to 1782. In 1790 he was elected to the United States Senate. In that year, after Rhode Island had ratified the Constitution, Foster was one of those who accompanied George Washington on his visit to Rhode Island and to the College. In 1800 he was joined in the Senate by his brother, Dwight Foster 1774.

The event which made Foster’s name memorable was the division of the town of Scituate into two towns in 1781, probably to secure greater representation of the area in the General Assembly. Theodore Foster was one of the three men appointed to draft the bill to incorporate the new town. When the town was divided by a north-south line, the western section was named Foster in his honor, and Theodore Foster gave the town a bookcase and thirty books, including eight blank volumes for the town records. In 1799 he purchased land in Foster, and in 1801 his old friend Solomon Drowne 1773 purchased an adjoining farm, and the two of them settled in the country in search of a quiet and studious life. Foster kept a law office near his farm, and traveled to Providence as representative of the town of Foster in the General Assembly from 1812 to 1816. He secured a charter for the Hartford Turnpike, which went through Foster, in 1803, and established the Foster Society Library in 1806. In 1815 he secured postal service for his town. In 1820 he moved back to Providence, apparently having had enough tranquility and desiring the bustling activity that had so rattled his youthful mind as a student. He died on Providence on January 13, 1828.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


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