You can come view our online exhibits in person at the State Archives on at 337 Westminster Street in Providence. We will validate parking at In Town Parking, across the street from our building.
Eighteen months before colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor in the infamous Boston Tea Party, a group of Rhode Islanders took a much more dramatic and violent action against the British Crown when they attacked the revenue schooner HMS Gaspee. Retaliating for months of illegal and unwarranted searches and seizures, the attackers destroyed Gaspee and seriously wounded her commanding officer. In Rhode Island, the event was hailed as a proud moment; in England, the attack was declared an act of treason.
The documents on display in this online collection help tell the story of Rhode Island's unique role in the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island was the only state not to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in May of 1787. When asked to hold a state convention to ratify the Constitution, the Rhode Island General Assembly chose to put the ratification question to a popular vote. On March 24, 1788, Rhode Island's "freemen" cast their ballots in the only state-wide popular vote held on the Constitution. The result of that elections are available in this collection as are the Journals from the Conventions of March and May 1790. Collectively, these documents showcase the dynamic history of Rhode Island's contribution.