Rhode Island History

Colonial period.

In 1524, the Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano crossed the middle Atlantic coast of North America, in search of a completely aquatic route that would allow him to reach China through North America . During that year, he left what is now New York Harborand headed east until he discovered what was later called Block Island. The natives directed him to the now known as Newport Harbor. He stayed there for two weeks while his team surveyed the bay and the surrounding continent. In early May 1524, Verrazzano set out to renew his search for a Northwest Passage. In 1614, the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block discovered the island known today as Block Island, home to the Narragansett and the Niantics. Most of the Indians were decimated by new diseases, inter-tribal fighting, and King Philip’s War. The last members of the Niantic tribe joined the Narragansett, who today make up a federal reservation.

In 1636 Roger Williams, after being expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious beliefs, settled at one end of Narragansett Bay. This place was called Providence, and it was declared as a zone of freedom of worship. Williams had maintained friendly agreements between the colonists and the Narragansett tribe, who became allies of the English in 1637 against the Pequots. Despite this, the peace did not last, as conflicts soon arose between the settlers and the Indians.

In 1637, Anne Hutchinson was exiled from Massachusetts for criticizing the local clergy. Anne, along with William Coddington and John Clarke among others, founded the city of Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island. In 1639, Coddington left the city to found Newport on the same island. That same year a formal government was established for the island, with Coddington as Governor and Philip Sherman as Secretary. In 1643, Samuel Gortonfounded Shawomet, present-day Warwick. In 1644 the name of Aquidneck Island was changed to Rhode Island. Quakers began arriving in strong waves during the 1650s and 1660s. seeking freedom to practice their religion, while Jewish immigrants from Barbados settled in Newport.

In 1663, King Carlos II granted a new charter to the colony. John Clarke received this Charter from Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations, which guaranteed religious freedom and established the boundaries that the state has today. According to this document, which was used as the state constitution until 1842, only landowners had the right to vote.

Relations between New Englanders and Native Americans became strained, sometimes even leading to bloodshed. The 19 of December of 1675 a settler militia Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth and Rhode Island massacred about 350 Indians Narragansett in the Battle of the Great Swamp. The tribes that lived around Rhode Island were the Wampanoag, the Pequots, the Narragansett, and the Nipmuck. A native, named Squanto, helped to pacify hostilities between the natives and the settlers, and taught the latter to survive in the area.

The most important event in Rhode Island in the 17th century was the King Philip War (1675 – 1676). King Philip (nickname for the tribal chief of the Wampanoag, Metacomet) decided to rebel against the English, who had bought the land of the tribe from his father. The first attacks were around Narrangansett Bay, but gradually spread throughout New England.

Revolution and industrialization: 1770 – 1860

Rhode Island’s tradition of independence and dissent gave it a prominent role in the American War of Independence. The first bloodshed took place in Rhode Island in 1722, when a gang of Providence residents attacked a British ship for the imposition of certain trade regulations. The 4 of maypole of 1776 Rhode Island declared its independence from Britain, but was the last of the 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution.

The Industrial Revolution displaced large numbers of workers to major cities. These workers did not own land, and therefore could not vote. In 1829, about 60% of the white men in the state did not have the right to vote. There were several attempts to fix this problem, but they were unsuccessful. In 1842, Thomas Dorr drew up a state Constitution approved by popular referendum. The opposition of the governor, Samuel Ward King, led to the Dorr Rebellion. Although the revolt was unsuccessful, a modified version of the state Constitution was passed, granting the right to vote to white men who owned land or paid $ 1 in poll tax.

Abbreviated as RI, Rhode Island was also involved in the slave trade after the American War of Independence. Slavery in the state dates back to 1652. In 1774, Rhode Island’s percentage of slave population was 6.3%, nearly double that of any other New England colony. In the early 18th century, various Rhode Island merchant families became interested in the slave trade. The Brown family stands out, which gave its name to the famous university. After independence, Rhode Island merchants controlled 60-90% of the African slave trade.

From the Civil War to the Progressive Era: 1861 – 1929

During the American Civil War (1861- 1865), the state joined the side of the Union and provided 25,236 recruits, of whom 1,685 died. Rhode Island, along with other states in the Union, used its industrial capacity to supply the abolitionist army with the materials necessary to win the war. Rhode Island’s progress and modernization led to the creation of an urban transportation system, and the improvement of its sanitation services. After the war, racial segregation was abolished throughout the state. Postwar immigration increased Rhode Island’s population. From the 1860s to the 1880s, the majority of immigrants were originally from England, Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Qu├ębec. Ten years later, the origin of the immigrants had moved to the south and east of Europe. All this flow of migration fueled the state’s thriving economy at the turn of the century. In the years before World War I, the Rhode Island constitution retained its reactionary stamp, in contrast to the more progressive reforms that were taking place in the rest of the country. The state never ratified the 18th Amendment Banning Alcoholic Beverages. During World War I, Rhode Island sent 28,817 recruits, of which 612 died. After the war, the state was badly affected by the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.

Rhode Island History