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In the state had quickly ratified the Articles of Confederation, with its weak central government, but when the movement to strengthen that government developed in the mid's, Rhode Island was not in agreement.

Rhode Island becomes first colony to declare independence from England

The state's individualism, its democratic localism, and its tradition of autonomy caused it to resist the centralizing tendencies of the federal Constitution. It was the last of the thirteen original colonies to ratify the United States Constitution, demanding that the Bill of Rights, which guarantees individual liberties, be added. Following the Revolutionary War period, industrial growth began in Rhode Island. In , Samuel Slater's mill in Pawtucket became the first successful water-powered cotton textile mill in North America.

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From this success, the Industrial Revolution in America began. In addition, the founding of the American jewelry industry by Nehemiah and Seril Dodge helped make Providence one of the chief industrial cities of New England by In , the Italian navigator Giovanni Verrazano made the first verifiable visit to Rhode Island by a European adventurer. It is from Verrazano 's descriptions of the Rhode Island coastline and islands that the state derives the first part of its name. This letter was printed in Italian in and in English in , and again in , so that it may be considered to be easily accessible to the early settlers before they left England.

The name was first officially applied to the island on March 13, in these words: Aquethneck shall be henceforth called the Ile of Rods or Rhod-Island. Other non-conformists followed Williams to the Narragansett Bay area and founded the towns of Portsmouth , Newport and Warwick Because titles to these lands rested only on Indian deeds, neighboring colonies began to covet them.

This legislative document served adequately as a basic law until the Stuart Restoration of made it wise to seek a Royal Charter. Roger Williams was an English clergyman who, in , left the repressive atmosphere fostered by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to found the first permanent European settlement in Rhode Island.

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First arriving in Boston, Williams was offered a position as a pastor. However, he refused this position, reasoning that the church restricted freedom of choice and pastors or high-church officials did not have the authority to punish their congregations for breaking of the Ten Commandments and other offenses.


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While acting as a teacher at a Plymouth church, Williams began friendly relations with Native Americans in the area. Learning to speak their native language, Williams was eventually called upon to negotiate for peace with some of the surrounding tribes. During his tenure as both teacher and negotiator, Williams developed strong views on the role of the Church of England.

He believed it was blasphemous for the Church to declare itself Christian and refused Communion from such an institution. Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony on October 9, Upon hearing threats that he would be returned to England, Williams and a few devout followers in search of freedom of choice and religion , set out to what we now know as the State of Rhode Island. Williams and his followers were given land at present-day Providence by Narragansett Indian Sachems Canonicus and Miantonomi.

They provided Williams with food, clothing and shelter and taught him their customs and language. In he voyaged to England to gain a charter for Rhode Island, a state built on the foundation of tolerance and diversity. After a life spent pioneering religious freedom and the right to free speech and thought, Roger Williams died in He was originally buried in the rear lot of his home; now the Sullivan Dorr Estate at Benefit Street in Providence.

Years later, Williams' remains, which had almost been forgotten, were relocated to a steel chest to wait for the construction of a proper memorial to honor Rhode Island's founder.

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In , the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers began to raise money to pay for the cost of a suitable monument. In , Stephen Randall, a direct descendent, deposited his own money to serve as the core of a memorial fund.

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Although many of his conditions were impossible to satisfy, his wish that the monument be on Prospect Terrace and be visible from a distance were carried out. Ralph T. Walker of New York, an architect and Rhode Islander by birth, designed the memorial that stands today.


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Dedicated in June of , the memorial is a fourteen-foot statue of Westerly granite and portrays Williams as standing on the bow of a canoe, blessing the city. His remains were ultimately moved to their final resting place at the base of the monument behind his statue. Attention: JavaScript is not enabled! Please enable javascript for the best experience. Rhode Island History The first mention of the name Rhode Island or any of its variations in connection with Narragansett Bay is in the letter of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the explorer, dated July 8, , in which he refers to an island near the mouth of Narragansett Bay, and likens the island to the Island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea.

A few interesting facts concerning Rhode Island government Rhode Island was the first of the thirteen colonies to renounce its allegiance to the the British Crown. King Philip was the nickname given to the leader of the Wampanoag tribe. He waged war against the settlers but was eventually killed. Rhode Island was the first colony to officially declare independence from Britain, and one of the original instigators of rebellion against the king.

But the colony was undermined by Loyalists in Newport who let the British take over.

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The Battle of Rhode Island in was a major failed attempt to eject the invaders. The next big shift in Rhode Island was towards tourism. Rhode Island is one of the few states in America where everyone seems to known everybody. The entire population of one million maintains this sense of small-town familiarity, and the easy-going attitude is very infectious to visitors.

Travelers can expect one of the warmest and friendliest welcomes in America when they visit Rhode Island. Summer is when the state really blossoms. Tourism makes up a huge part of the local economy, particularly for the coastal towns. If Newport seems a bit too blue blood for you, simply head south to the quiet historic villages of Watch Hill and Narragansett, where the atmosphere is even more down-to-earth and friendly.

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