Welcome Arnold was a well known merchant and ship owner from Providence during the 18th century, and he frequently advertised his shop in each of the local newspapers. It was quite likely he was a participant in the 1772 Gaspee Affair.
Welcome Arnold and his eight siblings, all children of Jonathan and Abigail Arnold, were living most probably on South Main Street in Providence prior to the time of the Gaspee attack in 1772. This was a short four streets North of the intersection of Planets Street with South Main Street, the location of the Sabin Tavern, in which was planned the Gaspee raid.
An ad appears in the Providence Gazette 22May1773 for the firm of Caleb Greene and Welcome Arnold selling at their store near the Great Bridge an assortment of English goods, India goods, and lime by the hogshead. A latter ad in April 1775 announced the desolution of that firm. By June 1775 Welcome Arnold had moved out into his own shop across from the Baptist Church on Main Street and sold English goods, West-India goods, fabrics, lumber, snuff, flour, molasses, sugar, coffee, wine, iron goods, and pig iron. By 1781 his store goods had evolved into an ecclectic mix most reminiscent of a Woolworth's 5 & 10 cent store popular in the 1930s, except his store also sold a variety of liquor, wine, and tobacco. In December 1782 his store was broken into and he offered a reward for the return of the fabrics, and the capture of the thieves. In 1783 he advertized for lumber to be delivered to his farm at Conanicut (Jamestown, RI). He frequently advertized to purchase barrel staves and hoops, shipping horses, and lumber for warehouses, so he quite likely was involved in the inland shipping business. In January 1786 he moved his store down the street and was selling mostly liquors, and (it figures) turpentine. He was also in the business of selling supplies to commercial fishermen and of buying up flax-seed. He purchased large shipments from Russia of iron, hemp, netting, and sailcloth. In late 1787 Welcome Arnold apparently sold his flax-seed business to Joseph Lawrence. This flax seed business might've been related to the production of linen cloth, fishing nets, paint solvents, or perhaps medicine. In 1789 he won a suit judgment of $71 from a client that apparently had paid him in devalued paper money. According to Ships and Shipmasters of Old Providence (Providence Institute for Savings, 1919, p36) Welcome Arnold was heavily involved in owning privateering vessels during the Revolutioary War, and lost over 30 of them. He subsequently made sure not to own any vessel outright, but to spread his ownership interest over many boats so as to lessen the risk.
- Welcome Arnold- Gaspee Affair Organization