}, Providence, Rhode Island News, Events, Music, Shows, Film, Art. [13] Charles' successor James II introduced the Dominion of New England in 1686 as a means to accomplish these goals. It currently has almost 7,500 signatures. PROVIDENCE — With national attention riveted on matters of racism and inequality, some Rhode Islanders are renewing an attempt to remove the word “plantations” from the state’s official name. The British colonists looked back helplessly with increasing alarm as the home country descended into civil war in the 1640s and the interregnum of the 1650s, and the neighboring settlements in Massachusetts and Connecticut saw the Rhode Island settlers as anarchist heretics and the native tribes as recalcitrant heathen savages. New York, The Norton Anthology of American Literature. He was exiled under religious persecution from the Massachusetts Bay Colony; he and his fellow settlers agreed on an egalitarian constitution providing for majority rule "in civil things," with liberty of conscience on spiritual matters. [7][8] During King Philip's War (1675–1676), both sides regularly violated Rhode Island's neutrality. On Aug 14, 1676, two days after King Philip (Metacom) was killed, effectively ending the war, a town meeting in Providence authorized a commission, including Roger Williams, to sell the captured natives into indentured servitude for limited numbers of years ranging from children under age 5 who would be freed at age 30 and those older than age 30 who would be freed after 7 years, technically not breaking the law against slavery then in effect, although it was clearly understood that many, especially those destined to be transported to the Caribbean, would be unlikely to survive long enough to reach freedom even if the terms were honored. [30], Puritan mass migration to New England began following the issuance of the royal charter for the Massachusetts Bay Company by Charles I of England in 1629 and continued until the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642, while following the war's conclusion in 1651, immigration to New England leveled off and the population growth owed almost entirely to natural increase rather than immigration or slave importations for the remainder of the 17th century and through the 18th century. After considerable difficulties with the Massachusetts Bay General Court, Gorton traveled to London to enlist the help of Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, head of the Commission for Foreign Plantations. [17] It boycotted the 1787 convention that drew up the United States Constitution,[18] and initially refused to ratify it. [21], The western boundary with Connecticut was defined ambiguously as the "Narragansett River" in the Connecticut charter, which was decided by arbitrators in 1663 to be the Pawcatuck River from its mouth to the Ashaway River mouth, from which a northward line was drawn to the Massachusetts line. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, Rhode Island may drop “and Providence Plantations” from its state name. Your email address will not be published. After repeated surveys, a mutually agreeable line was defined and surveyed in 1728.[21]. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. There was slavery in the colony by 1652: we know this with certainty because Rhode Island needed to outlaw it on May 18 of that year, limiting indentured servitude to a term of 10 years (or age 24 if started before age 14); the evidence is that this legal prohibition was widely ignored and never enforced, and regardless was superceded by a 1703 law that officially authorized slavery. The notion of a plantation has changed through history, from the medieval Latin “planting” to a settlement or farm when the Pilgrims founded Plimoth Plantation … Both the black and white population increased substantially during the 1700s, with the black population 9.1% in 1730, 9.3% in 1749, and 11.5% in 1755, about double that of other New England states. Although Rhode Island had slaves, the numbers were tiny compared to the rest of North America. Opponents of the measure, however, said the word “plantation” had no association with slavery when Roger Williams settled Providence in 1636. Members of the historical society did, but they assured me that slavery in Rhode Island had been brief and benign, involving only the best families, who behaved with genteel kindness. The question of whether to strike “Providence Plantations” from the state’s official name was on the ballot once before in 2010, but an overwhelming percentage of voters ― nearly 78% ― decided against the change. But, the history of how we got this name is often forgotten,” the petition reads. [24] In 1774, Indians accounted for 1,479 of the inhabitants of the colony (or 3 percent). The 1688 Glorious Revolution deposed James II and brought William III and Mary II to the English throne; Massachusetts authorities conspired in April 1689 to have Andros arrested and sent back to England. Providence Plantations made some efforts at fortifying the town, and Williams even started training recruits for protection. New York: W W Norton & Company. “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” has been the official full name of the state since the colonial era, created by the unification of the original “four towns,” which in order of their dates of founding were Providence (1636), Pocasset/Portsmouth (1638), Newport (1639), and Shawomet/Warwick (1642). On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island became the 13th state and the last of the former colonies to ratify the Constitution. [3], In 1637, another group of Massachusetts dissenters purchased land from the Indians on Aquidneck Island, which was called Rhode Island at the time, and they established a settlement called Pocasset. As England began to dominate commercial seafaring, in 1622 the king created what is commonly known as the “Board of Trade,” but whose official name remains to this day, almost 400 years later, “The Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council appointed for the consideration of all matters relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations.” Put more simply, “plantation” was the business buzzword of the early 1600s culture of economic imperialism in which Coke and Williams were enmeshed. The state’s official name, “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” appears on state documents. The plantations were established along the Providence River with the main settlement at Providence in 1636 by Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke and a small band of followers who had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony to seek freedom of worship, and two paramount chiefs (sachems) of the Narragansett people, named Canonicus and Miantonomi, granted them a sizable tract of land. Rhode Island never had large farms on the scale of slave plantations in the South, but it certainly did have slaves. Rhode Island voters will decide on Election Day whether or not to remove the phrase “Providence Plantations” from the state’s official name. In the following years, many persecuted groups settled in the colony, notably Quakers and Jews. Your email address will not be published. Pioneers “planted” … On June 22, Gov. This page was last edited on 26 December 2020, at 05:12. Under its provisional president Joseph Dudley, the disputed "King's Country" (present-day Washington County) was brought into the dominion, and the rest of the colony was brought under dominion control by Governor Sir Edmund Andros. [citation needed] With this event, the dominion collapsed and Rhode Island resumed its previous government. That settlement, however, quickly split into two separate settlements. Rhode Island's early compacts did not stipulate the boundary on the eastern shore of Narrangansett Bay, and did not include any of Washington County, land that belonged to the Narragansett people. FILE – This Jan. 21, 2000, file photo shows the seal bearing the official name “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” on the floor of the Statehouse rotunda in Providence, R.I. [citation needed], On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island became the first of the 13 colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown,[16] and was the fourth to ratify the Articles of Confederation between the newly sovereign states on February 9, 1778. … The phrase, which has … Franklin, Wayne (2012). Rhode Island considers taking 'plantation' out of its official state name. As I explained in a review of God, War, and Providence by James A. Warren (motifri.com/summer2018-nonfiction) —. [23], Rhode Island was the only New England colony without an established church. “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” has been the official full name of the state since the colonial era, created by the unification of the original “four towns,” which in order of their dates of founding were Providence (1636), Pocasset/Portsmouth (1638), Newport (1639), and Shawomet/Warwick (1642). Although there were about 4,400 blacks in Rhode Island in 1790, by 1800 the number of slaves was 384 and by 1840 only 5. [33][34][35], Despite the initial Puritan mass migration also having a 2:1 male sex-imbalance like the British colonization of the Chesapeake Colonies,[36][37] unlike the Southern Colonies in the 17th century, most Puritan immigrants to New England migrated as families (as approximately two-thirds of the male Puritan immigrants to New England were married rather than unmarried indentured servants),[31][37] and in late 17th century New England, 3 percent of the population was over the age of 65 (while only 1 percent in the Chesapeake was in 1704). [7][8] The Rhode Island colony was very progressive for the time, passing laws abolishing witchcraft trials, imprisonment for debt, and most capital punishment. [12] The Narragansetts also invaded and burned several towns in Rhode Island, including Providence. Roger Williams founded a settlement called Providence Plantations in 1636, while Anne Hutchinson and her followers founded a separate settlement a year later, on what is now Aquidneck Island, but … [40][41][42], One of the original Thirteen Colonies established on the east coast of America, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. During winter they had very harsh weather and cold summers ranging from 70 to the mid 70’s. The eastern boundary was also an area of dispute with Massachusetts. [27] In 1650, of the 109 places of worship with regular services in the eight British American colonies (including those without resident clergy), only 4 were located in Rhode Island (2 Baptist and 2 Congregational),[27] while there was a small Jewish enclave in Newport by 1658. The original settlements were at Providence, Warwick, Newport, and Portsmouth, and the territory was expanded by purchasing land from the Narragansetts westward toward Connecticut and the smaller islands in Narrangasett Bay. display: none !important; Rhode Island's northern border with Massachusetts also underwent a number of changes. By the 1860s, as the North grew into the world’s industrial powerhouse with factories, railroads, telegraph lines, and consequent wealth, the South remained trapped by its addiction to a feudal system that benefited a few who owned land and slaves but prevented the development of modernity and a middle class, and eventually those privileged few were desperate enough to preserve their own interests that they plunged the nation into a bloody civil war lasting four years, 1861-1865, with a cost of 600,000 lives lost. Some of the tribes who sided with the settlers during the war acquired captives from the defeated tribes as slaves. Charles was a Catholic sympathizer in staunchly Protestant England, and he approved of the colony's promise of religious freedom. As soon as Gorton settled at Shawomet, however, the Massachusetts Bay authorities laid claim to his territory and acted to enforce their claim. He was aware of the tribe's activities and promptly sent letters informing the Governor of Massachusetts of enemy movements. Nevertheless, this was explicitly not chattel slavery of the kind that would be practiced centuries later, especially because the children of the indentured servants were not themselves bound. Why the decrease? Rhode Island Gov. [19] It relented after Congress sent a series of constitutional amendments to the states for ratification, the Bill of Rights guaranteeing specific personal freedoms and rights; clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings; and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically delegated to Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people. [9][10] The colony also passed the first anti-slavery law in America on May 18, 1652, though the practice remained widespread in Rhode Island and there exists no evidence that the legislation was ever enforced. Finally, with its 1843 constitution following the Dorr Rebellion, the state adopted abolition with a single sentence: “Slavery shall not be permitted in this state.”. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was one of the original Thirteen Colonies established on the east coast of America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello attracted quite a lot of attention when he questioned that fact in a radio interview on Friday, June 19: “Quite frankly, I have to educate myself, because I originally did not think we had actual slavery in Rhode Island, and that may not be accurate.” The Providence Journal reported that he was “forced to backpedal.” Before we pile onto the public ridicule of Mattiello as an ignoramous, it is worth quoting Joanne Pope Melish (whose PhD is from Brown) in her 1998 book, Disowning Slavery: In Connecticut in the 1950s, when I was growing up, the only slavery discussed in my history textbook was southern; New Englanders had marched south to end slavery. In 1643/1644, the towns were combined under their current name into a single governmental entity by letters patent from the English Parliament. Rhode Island’s mouthful of a name is the result of the state’s dual origins. Filed under providence , rhode island , slavery , 6/23/20 Massachusetts surveyed this line in 1642, but subsequent surveys by Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut agreed that it was placed too far south. They made money from fishing, whaling, and shipbuilding. [11], Rhode Island remained at peace with local Indians, but the relationship was more strained between other New England colonies and certain tribes and sometimes led to bloodshed, despite attempts by the Rhode Island leadership to broker peace. [20], The boundaries of the colony underwent numerous changes, including repeated disputes with Massachusetts and Connecticut Colonies who contested for control of territory later awarded to Rhode Island. Rhode Island has an ugly and shameful history with slavery, but none of that has to do with “plantations” in its official name. It was an English colony from 1636 until 1707, and then a colony of Great Britain until the American Revolution in 1776, when it became the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (since 2020[1] known simply as Rhode Island). .hide-if-no-js { It was in Rhode Island, where I lived after 1964, that I first stumbled across an obscure reference to local slavery, but almost no one I asked knew anything about it. Gov.  =  [15], Leading figures in the colony were involved in the 1776 launch of the American Revolutionary War which delivered American independence from the British Empire, such as former royal governors Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward, as well as John Brown, Nicholas Brown, William Ellery, the Reverend James Manning, and the Reverend Ezra Stiles, each of whom had played an influential role in founding Brown University in Providence in 1764 as a sanctuary for religious and intellectual freedom. I’ve come to see it like the swastika: no matter how true it is that the symbol is 2,500 years old and the word “swastika” literally means in Sanskrit “there is well-being,” its adoption in 1920 by Adolf Hitler makes it impossible today to see a swastika without one’s first thought being of Nazism. )[2] Williams named the islands in the Narragansett Bay after Christian virtues: Patience, Prudence, and Hope Islands. June 24, 2020 / 11:44 AM / CBS News The state of Rhode Island is moving to change its official name — "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" — due … The percentage black population declined to 6-7% between 1774 and 1790. four The Providence Plantations were the first white settlements in Rhode Island. By 1784, Rhode Island enacted a law that provided for the gradual emancipation of slaves, so children born to slaves would no longer be property of their masters but instead would be temporary “apprentices,” girls becoming free at 18 and boys at 21. The final establishment of the boundaries north of Barrington and east of the Blackstone River occurred almost a century after American independence,[21] requiring protracted litigation and multiple US Supreme Court decisions. A large slave-holding estate in rural southern Rhode Island might have 40 slaves, and there were only a handful of such estates; in the Southern states, a single estate could have hundreds of slaves. In 17th century terminology, the English word “plantation” merely meant a settlement. Required fields are marked *. [5], In 1651, William Coddington obtained a separate charter from England setting up the Coddington Commission, which made him life governor of the islands of Rhode Island and Conanicut in a federation with Connecticut Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony. p. 179. [24] After William Coddington and a group of 13 other men bought Aquidneck Island from Narragansett Indians in 1639, the population of Newport, Rhode Island grew from 96 in 1640 to 7,500 in 1760 (making Newport the fifth-largest city in the Thirteen Colonies at the time),[25][26] and Newport grew further to 9,209 by 1774. [32][39] In February 1784, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed a gradual emancipation law that increased the ratio of the free black population in Rhode Island to 78 percent by the 1790 U.S. Census and that would ultimately eliminate slavery in Rhode Island by 1842. Story at a glance. 'Providence Plantations' was the name of the first European American settlement in Rhode Island, founded in 1636 by a group led by Roger Williams, … The traditional New England custom of “warning out” anyone poor and indigent so they did not become a public charge was practiced by many towns: in 1750, only 5% of those “warned out” were black, but this rose to 22% by 1790 and 50% by 1800; those exiled from towns were not strangers, as 37% had lived there for at least five years and 26% for at least 10 years. [6], Following the 1660 restoration of royal rule in England, it was necessary to gain a Royal Charter from King Charles II. Of an estimated 10 million slaves abducted from Africa, about a half million (5%) were brought to what is now the United States, and most were brought to the Caribbean and Latin America. Seen at the time as an existential conflict by all parties, Providence was burned to the ground and numerous battles and skirmishes killed both settlers and natives with what is believed to have been the highest per capita death toll of any North American military conflict (including the 1861-1865 American Civil War in second place). It was founded by Roger Williams. The word “plantation” had no such association with slavery in the 1630s: it was in common use by 1610 to suggest both the idea of “planting” a colony that would grow and “planting” crops in a way that would prove economically productive; the earliest use of the word to describe a large farm of the kind needing slaves is not found until 1706. Roger Williams was a Puritan theologian and linguist who founded Providence Plantations in 1636 on land given to him by Narragansett sachem Canonicus. The exact origin of the "plantation" name is unclear. Some of the people of color I met knew more. 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