|Declaration of Independence signing|
Did you know that Rhode Island was the first North American colony to sever ties with Great Britain – two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4th, 1776? However, Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. What’s up with that?
|Roger Williams and Narragansetts|
Some of them had their idiosyncrasies. Early Rhode Island was comprised of several towns circling Narragansett Bay, each led by charismatic leaders. There were quarrels and dissension, but despite their ferocious independence, the various towns of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations united under a single government in 1647.
|1663 Royal Charter|
|Boston Tea Party|
|The Intolerable Acts|
A month later, after the battles at Concord and Lexington, Rhode Island’s government raised a navy of two ships, 24 cannons and swivel guns, crewed by 200 men. At the same time, a 1500-man “army of observation” was also created, commanded by Nathaniel Greene.
|Rhode Island state house|
On May 4th in 1776, Rhode Island’s General Assembly met in the State House at Providence, and became the first American colony to renounce their allegiance to both Great Britain and King George III. Ten weeks later, on July 18, the Assembly ratified the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps in an act of belated revenge, British forces invaded Newport in 1781, and seized the town’s land deeds, wills, and records. The records were sunk in New York City harbor, creating endless frustration for historians and genealogists.
The British surrendered in 1781, and the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1787. Delaware was the first state to ratify the document in that year. However, Rhode Island was slow to accept the Constitution, and did not sign until May 1790. Why so slow? I’ll get that post up soon!
Rhode Island’s 1663 charter: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ri/state/richarter.html
John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trumbull%27s_Declaration_of_Independence
Roger Williams and the Narragansetts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Williams_%28theologian%29
1663 RI charter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Charter_of_1663
Boston Tea Party: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boston_Tea_Party
The Rape of Boston: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intolerable_Acts
Modern old State House: http://www.rihphc.state.ri.us/