Rhode Island is a state in the New England region of the United States of America. It is the smallest state by area and is bordered by Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York (water boundary). Rhode Island is known as “The Ocean State” because of the many large inlets and bays in the area. The area was home to Native American people for many years, until the first European settlers moved into the region in the 17th century. Let’s take a look at a brief history of the area prior to statehood and how Rhode Island became a state.
European settlement in the area began in 1636 when Roger Williams was banished by the Massachusetts Bay Colony due to a difference in opinion related to religion. He moved to the tip of Narragansett Bay and called his settlement “Providence.” This area became a refuge for those with differing religious views and more settlements were established in the area, including “Newport” and “Portsmouth.” In 1663 Rhode Island received a Royal Charter from Charles II of England which offered complete religious freedom, a governor and legislature. After this time even more outcast religious groups moved to the region. Rhode Island came under the Dominion of New England in 1686, but this collapsed not long after and the area resumed their previous conditions.
Independence and statehood
Rhode Island was one of the original thirteen colonies and was the first to formally declare independence from Britain. However, it was the last state of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution and officially become a state because they supported a Bill of Rights as a part of the Constitution. Rhode Island officially joined the union on May 29, 1790, after receiving assurance that the Bill of Rights would be added as an amendment.