Skip to main content

Rhode Island (Colony) General assembly. (1663-1776)



  • Existence: 1663 - 1776


Roger Williams founded the first permanent white settlement in Rhode Island at Providence in 1636 on land purchased from the Narragansett Indians. Forced to flee Massachusetts because of persecution, Williams established a policy of religious and political freedom in his new settlement. Other leaders advocating freedom of worship soon established similar communities on either side of . Narragansett Bay. These communities united, and in 1663 King Charles II of England granted them a royal charter, providing for a greater degree of self-government than any other colony in the New World and authorizing the continuation of freedom of religion. The early 1700s was a period of prosperity for Rhode Island. Farming and sea trading became profitable businesses. Providence and Newport were among the busiest ports in the New World. Despite making profits from the slave trade, Rhode Island was the first colony to prohibit the importation of slaves. Also, Rhode Islanders were among the first colonists to take action against British rule when they attacked and burned the British revenue vessel, the sloop Liberty, in Newport on July 19, 1769. On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce allegiance to Great Britain’s King George III and declare independence by official legislative act. The passage of the Act of Renunciation by the Rhode Island General Assembly took place at the Old State House on Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island. This Act officially ended the colony’s allegiance to Great Britain. The original Act is in the keeping of the office of the Rhode Island Secretary of State and is at the State Archives. Within weeks after the passage of the Act, the Assembly ratified the Declaration of Independence on July 18, 1776.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

First Newport printing by Solomon Southwick facsimile, 1776

 Item — Declaration of Independence, first RI printing, town of West Greenwich, July 1776
Scope and Contents American independence was far from inevitable in the summer of 1776. On June 7, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presented a resolution for independence to the Second Continental Congress. The resolution was composed as a reaction to the years of British imposition on the American colonies; in recent years, numerous laws had limited colonists' ability to influence their own government. Resistance to many of these acts led King George III to declare his North American subjects to be in a state...
Dates: 1776

Filtered By

  • Subject: United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783. X