National Rhode Island Day is celebrated on October 5. It honors Rhode Island and the ideals the state has upheld through the centuries, such as freedom of thought, self-governance, and religious liberty.
History of National Rhode Island Day
During pre-colonial times, the indigenous Narragansett occupied two-thirds of present-day Rhode Island. But in the 1600s, they welcomed Roger Williams, an exile from Massachusetts, and sold him land to establish “Providence” — a haven for those who believed in religious liberty and the separation of state and church affairs. Soon, the settlement became home to other like-minded individuals. Unfortunately, Providence wasn’t without its internal struggles and secessions, which mainly stemmed from the refusal of the religious population to acknowledge government authority over church matters. Soon, these conflicts were made worse with attempts by neighboring colonies to assert control over what they called the “Rogues Island.” Invasion, intimidation, fraud, and purchase — they tried it all.
While the Rhode Islanders were fighting for self-governance, King James II was thinking of consolidating the English colonies. So, without further ado, Rhode Island became a county of the dominion of New England, and James demanded the colonies surrender to his Royal Charter.
Rhode Island was one of the first colonies to resist British interference. It was also the first to push for a continental Congress in 1774 and do away with colonial officials who had sworn an oath of allegiance to Britain. Yet, when the American War of Independence began, Rhode Island suffered grievous losses, losing 30 men at the Battle of Rhode Island. However, General George Washington’s forces soon defeated the British.
When the first appeal to modify the first U.S. Constitution was lodged with Rhode Island officials, the state didn’t acknowledge it. Even once the Constitution was established, Rhode Island was adamant and refused to ratify the document, determined to keep its freedom. However, after much convincing, Rhode Island became the last of the Thirteen Colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution. It joined the Union in 1790.
National Rhode Island Day timeline
Williams creates a settlement of “rogues” that would later come to be called “Rhode Island.”
Neighboring colonies establish the “United Colonies of New England” — a military alliance that doesn’t recognize Williams’ land purchase from the Native Americans.
Rhode Island’s religious tolerance transforms it into a hub of international trade.
Rhode Island officially becomes the last of the Thirteen Colonies to join the Union on May 29.
National Rhode Island Day FAQs
How did Rhode Island declare independence?
In 1776, Rhode Island renounced its allegiance to King George III and Britain — the first colony to do so. On May 6, the general assembly passed an act that declared the independence of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
Why did Rhode Island refuse to send a delegate?
Rhode Island mainly declined to send representatives because the first Constitution prohibited the state from printing money to pay off the war debt.
What national holiday is October 5?
Several national holidays fall on October 5, such as Global James Bond Day, National Do Something Nice Day, Yom Kippur, and World Teachers’ Day.
National Rhode Island Day Activities
Visit the Ocean State
Rhode Island should be on anyone’s travel list. Celebrate National Rhode Island Day by visiting the state for its excellent seafood, sailing sites, and colonial architecture.
Try the donut cake
The donut cake is a signature Rhode Island dessert. All the goodness of doughnuts in cake form — it doesn’t get any better than this!
Rhode Islanders’ love for lawn tennis can be traced back to the first U.S. National Championship that took place at Newport in 1881. So, if you’re a sports fan, celebrate the Ocean State by participating in a tennis game.
5 Facts About Newport That Will Blow Your Mind
The origin of ferry services
Newport was the first city to operate a ferry service in the U.S.
The oldest existing military unit
The city’s military unit has been in service since 1741.
Let there be light
America’s first gas-illuminated street lights were lit on Pelham Street in 1803.
Home to old houses
Newport has more in-use colonial houses than any other city in the U.S.
The first public roller-skating rink
America’s first roller-skating rink opened in the Atlantic House — a resort in Narragansett.
Why We Love National Rhode Island Day
It honors Rhode Island’s history
We love locations with a rich history and character. And while Rhode Island may be small, its history still gives most other places a run for their money.
It provides a different perspective
They are many layers to the history of the American struggle for independence, making it challenging to understand everything. But by celebrating National Rhode Island Day, we gain a glimpse into history through Rhode Island’s perspective — the patriotism and zeal for self-governance that helped the state become the first to stand before an empire and declare its refusal to bend.
It celebrates Rhode Island
Rhode Island is stunning, with 400 miles of sandy beaches and colorful local culture. It also reminds us of all the laughs on “Family Guy.”
National Rhode Island Day dates