History of Rhode Island
- Roger Williams, the founder of our state, came here in 1636 after he was
kicked out of Massachusetts because of his religious and political views.
- Roger Williams thought that everyone should be able to believe what they
want and not be punished for it. The people in Massachusetts didn't believe
- Roger Williams named the spot where he landed "Providence", after
a phrase that said "God's merciful providence." The Narragansett
Indians, who had already lived here, made friends with Roger Williams. He
later bought the land from them, he never stole it.
- After Roger Williams came to Rhode Island, he spread the word about how
great it was. Later, other people started coming to live here. The first was
Anne Hutchinson, who founded the town called Portsmouth. She brought a few
friends with her too, and they started a "settlement".
- Next came William Coddington, who founded Newport in 1639. Later, in 1643,
Samuel Gorton founded Warwick.
- After all these people came to Rhode Island, Roger Williams decided he did
not want it to become a place where people would not believe in his idea of
freedom of speech. So, he and his friend John Clarke went to England and asked
the King for a "charter", which would give the new colony rights,
freedoms, and protection from other outside colonies.
- King Charles II gave them the "Royal Charter" which is on display
at the Rhode Island State House!
- 1664: We got our first "seal" which said, "Mottoe, Rhode
Island and Providence, with the word 'HOPE' over the head of the anker."
Today, our seal is a little different. Around the circle it says: "The
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations 1636." It still has
an anchor with the word "hope" over the anchor!
- 1708: Our first census, or count of people who live in one area, was taken.
We had a population of 7,181 people!
- 1755: Another census was taken, and we grew to 40,414 people!
- 1772: Our colonists were mad at the British because they gave us tax restrictions.
So, they burned two British ships that were in our harbor: The Gaspee and
- 1774: Connecticut and Rhode Island ended slavery in their colonies.
- May 4, 1776: We declared our Independence from Britain! Make sure to celebrate
"Rhode Island Independence Day" every May 4!
- May 29, 1790: We were the last of the 13 original colonies of America to
sign the US Constitution. We thought our Royal Charter gave us more rights
and freedoms, so we waited until the Bill of Rights was added.
- 1843: We got a state constitution
- 1877: Our State Flag was adopted
- 1910: We had a population over 540,000!
More Rhode Island History