Tags: US State Facts | Rhode Island History | The Dorrs Rebellion | Victory Day | Block Island Sound

Rhode Island History: 8 Events That Shaped the State

Image: Rhode Island History: 8 Events That Shaped the State
Landing of Roger Williams. (Hoppin, Thomas Frederick, 1816-1872 -- Artist via wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Monday, 09 Mar 2015 12:13 PM

Rhode Island history includes it being the smallest of the states in the U.S., but its 400 miles of coastline made it vital for shipping and trade during the colonial period.

Here are eight events that shaped the state of Rhode Island:

1. Roger Williams inspired the later founders and the nation's ideals when he set up the first permanent colonial settlement in Providence in 1636. According to History.com, he focused on a firm commitment to religious freedom and tolerance, as well as the idea of the separation of church and state in the colony.

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2. Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce allegiance to England's King George III. State legislators established "Rhode Island Independence Day" to honor that day on May 4, 1776. Rhode Island rebels also participated in the burning of British ships prior to the Revolution.

3. The abolitionist movement from Quakers led Rhode Island lawmakers to take the first steps in abolishing slavery. Although current slaves were not given freedom, the state adopted a gradual emancipation act by allowing freedom to those born after March 1, 1784, following an apprenticeship period.

4. Rhode Islanders continued to show their independence by refusing to participate in the creation of the U.S. Constitution, demanding the Bill of Rights, which guaranteed individual rights, be added. It eventually ratified the Constitution, but was the last of the original 13 states to do so.

5. The small state spearheaded the Industrial Revolution in America with the introduction of the country’s first water-powered cotton mill by Samuel Slater in 1793. The successful operation increased industrial productivity in the state and the nation.

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6. The Dorr's Rebellion of 1842 radically changed property requirements for voting, which had been limited to owners of property and their oldest sons. The "People's Constitution," led by Thomas Wilson Dorr, was passed through a referendum, opposed by powerful politicians, and became effective in 1843.

7. Rhode Island history continues to reveal the independence of the state, which celebrates the end of World War II with a state holiday, the only state to do so, according to History.com. Victory Day, or VJ Day, is observed as a holiday on the second Monday of August.

8. A 1999 landmark lawsuit settlement in Rhode Island helped set the standards to resolve oil spills. The state’s worst oil spill contaminated the waters in Block Island Sound. The responsible parties were ordered to spend some $18 million on cleaning up the damage.

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Rhode Island history includes it being the smallest of the states in the U.S., but its 400 miles of coastline made it vital for shipping and trade during the colonial period.
Rhode Island History, The Dorrs Rebellion, Victory Day, Block Island Sound
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2015-13-09
Monday, 09 Mar 2015 12:13 PM
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