State of Rhode Island,
Was one of the original thirteen States of the Union
, and is supposed to have been the theatre
of the attempt to plant a settlement in America
by the Northmen at the beginning of the eleventh century (see Northmen in America
). It is believed to be the “ Vinland
” mentioned by them.
Verazzani is supposed to have entered Narraganset Bay, and had an interview with the natives there in 1524.
Block, the Dutch
navigator, explored it in 1614, and the Dutch
traders afterwards, seeing the marshy estuaries red with cranberries, called it Roode Eyelandt— “red island,” corrupted to Rhode Island
carried on a profitable fur-trade with the Indians there, and even as far east as Buzzard's Bay
, and they claimed a monopoly of the traffic to the latter point.
The Pilgrims at Plymouth
became annoyed by the New Netherlanders when they claimed jurisdiction as far east as Narraganset Bay, and westward from a line of longitude from that bay to Canada
That claim was made at about the time when Roger Williams
(q. v.) was banished from the colony of Massachusetts
, fled to the head of Narraganset Bay, and there, with a few followers, planted the seed of the commonwealth of Rhode Island
The spot where Williams
began a settlement he called Providence
, in acknowledgment of the goodness of God towards him. The government he there established was a pure democracy, and in accordance with his tolerant views of the rights of conscience.
Every settler then and afterwards was required to sign an agreement to give active or passive obedience to all ordinances that should be made by a majority of the inhabitants—heads of families— for the public good.
For some time the government was administered by means of town-meetings.
In 1638 William Coddington
and others, driven from Massachusetts
by persecution, bought of the Indians the island of Aquiday or Aquitneck, and made settlements on the site of Newport
A third settlement was formed at Warwick
, on the mainland, in 1643, by a party of whom John Greene
and Samuel Gorton
The same year Williams
went to England
, and in 1644 brought back
a charter which united the settlements at Providence
and on Rhode Island
under one government, called the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
Then the commonwealth of Rhode Island
was established, though the new government did not go into operation until 1647, when the first General Assembly, composed of the collective freemen of the several plantations, met at Portsmouth
(May 19) and established a code of laws for carrying on civil government.
The charter was confirmed by Cromwell
(1655), and a new one was obtained from Charles II.
（1663), under which the commonwealth of Rhode Island
was governed 180 years. In the war with King Philip (1676) the inhabitants of Rhode Island
Towns and farmhouses were burned and the people
was laid in ashes.
The decisive battle that ended the war was fought on Rhode Island
When Sir Edmund Andros
, governor of New England
, was instructed to take away the colonial charters (1687), he seized that of Rhode Island
, but it was returned on the accession of William and Mary
(1689), and the people readopted the seal —an anchor for a device and “Hope” for a motto.
was excluded from the New England
Confederacy (1643-1686), but it always bore a share of the burden of defending the New England
Its history is identified with that of New England
in general from the commencement of King William's War, for that colony took an active part in the struggle between Great Britain
for empire in America
, furnishing troops and seamen.
The colony had fifty privateer vessels at sea in 1756, manned by
1,500 seamen, which cruised along the American
shores and among the West India Islands
The people of Rhode Island
were conspicuous for their patriotism in the stirring events preliminary to the breaking out of the Revolutionary War
, and were very active during that war. The first commander-in-chief
of the Continental
navy was a native of Rhode Island
, Esek Hopkins
, and the first naval squadron sent against the enemy at the beginning of the Revolution sailed from Providence
When the various colonies were forming new State constitutions (1776-79), Rhode Island
went forward in its independent course under its old charter from Charles II.; and it was the last of the thirteen States to ratify the national Constitution, its assent not being given until May 29, 1790, or more than a year after the national government went into operation.
Under the charter of Charles II.
the lower House of the legislature consisted of six deputies from Newport
, four each from Providence
, and Warwick
, and two from each of the other towns.
The right of suffrage was restricted to owners of a freehold worth $134, or renting for $7 a year, and to their eldest sons.
These restrictions, as they became more and more obnoxious, finally produced open discontent.
The inequality of representation was the chief cause of complaint.
It appeared that in 1840, when Newport
had only 8,333 inhabitants, it was entitled to six representatives; while Providence
, then containing 23,171 inhabitants, had only four representatives.
Attempts to obtain reform by the action of the legislature having failed, “suffrage associations” were formed in various parts of the State
late in 1840 and early in 1841.
They assembled in mass convention at Providence
July 5, 1841, and authorized their State committee to call a convention to prepare a constitution.
convention assembled at Providence
Oct. 4, and framed a constitution which was submitted to the people Dec. 27, 28, and 29, when it was claimed that a vote equal to a majority of the adult male citizens of the State
was given for its adoption.
It was also claimed that a majority of those entitled to vote under the charter had voted in favor of the constitution.
Under this constitution State officers were chosen April 18, 1842, with Thomas W. Dorr
The new government attempted to organize at Providence
on May 3.
They were resisted by what was called the “legal State government,” chosen under the charter, at the head of which was Governor Samuel W. King
On the 18th a portion of the “Suffrage party” assembled under arms at Providence
and attempted to seize the arsenal, but retired on the approach of Governor King
with a military force.
On June 25 they reassambled, several hundred strong, at Chepacket, 10 miles from Providence
, but they again dispersed on the approach of State troops.
was arrested, tried for high-treason, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment for life, but was released in 1847, under a general act of amnesty.
See Dorr, Thomas Wilson
Meanwhile the legislature (Feb. 6, 1841) called a convention to frame a new constitution.
In February, 1842, the convention agreed upon a constitution, which was submitted to the people in March and rejected.
Another constitution was framed by another convention, which was ratified by the people almost unanimously, and went into effect in May, 1843.
In 1861 a controversy between Rhode Island
about boundary, which began in colonial times, was settled by mutual concessions, the former ceding to the latter that portion of the township of Tiverton
containing the village of Fall River
in exchange for the town of Pawtucket
and a part of Seekonk
, afterwards known as East Providence.
was among the earliest to respond to President Lincoln
's first call for troops, and during the Civil War
, the State
, with a population of only 175,000, furnished to the National
army 23.711 soldiers.
Population in 1890, 345,506; 1900, 428,556.
See United States, Rhode Island
, in vol.
under the patent
Governors under Royal charter.
|Benedict Arnold|| Nov., 1663|
|William Brenton|| May, 1666|
|Benedict Arnold|| May 1669|
|Nicholas Easton||May 1672|
|William Coddington||May 1674|
|Walter Clarke|| May 1676|
|Benedict Arnold||May 1677|
|William Coddington|| Aug. 28, 1678|
|John Cranston|| Nov. 1678|
|Peleg Sandford|| March 16, 1680|
|William Coddington, Jr.|| May, 1683|
|Henry Bull||May 1685|
|Walter Clarke|| May 1686|
|Henry Bull|| Feb. 27, 1690|
|John Easton|| May, 1690|
|Caleb Carr||May, 1695|
|Walter Clarke|| Jan. 1696|
|Samuel Cranston|| May, 1698|
|Joseph Jenckes||May 1727|
|William Wanton||May 1732|
|John Wanton||May 1734|
|Richard Ward|| July 15, 1740|
|William Greene|| May, 1743|
|Gideon Wanton||May 1745|
|William Greene||May 1746|
|Gideon Wanton||May 1747|
|William Greene||May 1748|
|Stephen Hopkins||May 1755|
|William Greene||May 1757|
|Stephen Hopkins|| March 14, 1758|
|Samuel Ward|| May, 1762|
|Stephen Hopkins||May 1763|
|Samuel Ward||May 1765|
|Stephen Hopkins||May 1767|
|Josias Lyndon||May 1768|
|Joseph Wanton||May 1769|
|Nicholas Cooke|| Nov., 1775|
|William Greene||May, 1778|
|John Collins|| May 1786|
|Arthur Fenner||May 1790|
|James Fenner||May 1807|
|William Jones||May 1811|
|Nehemiah R. Knight||May 1817|
|William C. Gibbs||May 1821|
|James Fenner||May 1824|
|Lemuel H. Arnold||May 1831|
|John Brown Francis||May 1833|
|William Sprague||May 1838|
|Samuel Ward King||May 1840|