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Important Dates in Rhode Island

map of Historic Rhode Island

1524 Giovanni da Verrazano sailed into Narragansett Bay and discovered what is now known as Block Island.

1614 Dutch mariner Adriaen Block visited Block Island, which he called Roodt Eylandt (Red Island).
Pequots, a Connecticut tribe, battled the Narragansetts for control of an area east of the Pawcatuck River.
Anglican clergyman William Blackstone built a home near Lonsdale on the banks of the Blackstone River.
Roger Williams founded Providence on land purchased from the Narragansett Indians.
1638 William Coddington, John Clarke, Anne Hutchinson, and others settled on Aquidneck Island.
1639 Coddington and Clarke founded Newport.
1643 Samuel Gorton, John Greene, and others founded Warwick.
1647 The settlements of Providence, Portsmouth, Newport, and Warwick were united after England granted Roger Williams a charter in 1644.
1663 England granted Rhode Island its second charter, called the Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
1675 Troops from Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut defeated the Wampanoag Indians in the Great Swamp Fight near Kingston.

1769 Rhode Islanders burned the British ship Liberty at Newport, committing one of the first acts of rebellion in the colonies.
Rhode Island became the first American colony to prohibit the importation of slaves.
1776 Rhode Island became the first colony to declare its independence from Great Britain on May 4.
1776 British troops occupied Newport in December, and held it until October of 1779.
1778 Rhode Island ratified the Articles of Confederation on July 9.
1787 The first hand-operated cotton-
spinning jenny in the United States was built in Providence.
1790 Rhode Island became the 13th state when it ratified the U.S. Constitution on May 29.

1794 Nehemiah Dodge of Providence found a way to cover cheap metals with precious metals, founding the American jewelry industry.
Samuel Slater's mill in Pawtucket became the first successful water-powered cotton mill in America.

1842 Dorr's Rebellion helped bring about a more liberal state constitution.
1883 Newport became the home of the Newport Naval Station.
1884 Newport became the home of the Naval War College.

1938 A hurricane and tidal wave struck Rhode Island, killing 258 persons and causing $100 million in property damage.
1941 The U.S. Navy established Quonset Point Naval Air Station.

1969 Newport Bridge over Narragansett Bay was completed, linking Newport with Jamestown.
1971 The State Legislature approved a personal income tax for the first time in state history.

Giovanni da Verrazano
Pequot War
Roger Williams
Spinning Jenny
Samuel Slater

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: Local History and Description >> New England >> Rhode Island

This page was last updated on October 20, 2017.