Hopkins, the name of two United States brothers who were active in the patriot cause during the Revolutionary War.
Esek Hopkins (1718–1802) commanded the first American navy. He was born in what is now Scituate, Rhode Island. Hopkins was the owner of a fleet of merchant ships. During the French and Indian War he commanded a privateer against the French. On December 22, 1775, the Continental Congress officially named Hopkins commodore and commander in chief of the fleet. The fleet, a squadron of eight ships, soon put to sea from Philadelphia.
Hopkins's fleet seized two British forts on New Providence Island in the Bahamas, taking munitions and other supplies. On the return trip, four vessels, including a British armed schooner, were captured. Once in port, however, many of the sailors left to earn more pay elsewhere or were dismissed due to illness. Hopkins was censured by the Congress for not being able to put to sea again. Political enemies had him suspended from command in 1777 and dismissed in 1778. Hopkins served in the Rhode Island General Assembly, 1777–86.
Stephen Hopkins (1707–1785) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hopkins was born at Providence, Rhode Island. He became a merchant and a judge, and sat in the colonial assembly. Between 1755 and 1767 he served nine one-year terms as governor of Rhode Island. Hopkins was in the Continental Congress, 1774–80, serving as a member of the naval committee that chose his brother as commander in chief of the navy.