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Rhode Island Events

 

 

1524 April 21-May 5, Verrazzano, Florentine navigator, visits Narragansett Bay.

1 614 Capt Adriaen Block visits Block Island.

1635 William Blackstone settles at Study Hill, then considered part of Massachusetts, now part of Cumberland, Rhode Island.

1636 June, Roger Williams settles at Providence.

1638 March 7, Aquidneck Island occupied by William Coddington, John Clarke, and others. Coddington chosen Judge.

March 24, date of first known written deed, whereby Canonicus and Miantonomi sold land to Williams.

March 24, William Coddington and others purchase Aquidneck from Indians and found Pocasset (Portsmouth).

November 12, first militia muster in Rhode Island is held at Portsmouth.

1639 March, first Baptist Church in America organized at Providence.

April, settlement on Aquidneck, first called Pocasset, is divided into towns of Portsmouth and Newport. May, William Coddington, John Clarke, and others found Newport.

1640 March 12, governments of Newport and Portsmouth combined into one government.

August, Newport allots land for support of a public school, 'the Rev. Robert lethal being called by vote to open it.'

1641 Benedict Arnold purchases land at Pawtuxet from Miantonomi.

March, General Assembly asserts Rhode Island to be a democracy.

September, Robert Jeffreys authorized by Newport to 'exercise the function of Chirurgerie.'

1642 October, Samuel Gorton purchases Shawomet (Warwick) from Miantonomi.

1643 Death of Narragansett sachem Miantonomi.

Gorton seized by soldiers from Massachusetts Bay, and taken to Boston to stand trial for heresy.

Newman Congregational Church founded in Rumford.

Roger Williams goes to England and applies for Patent of Incorporation for Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport.

Roger Williams's 'Key Into the Language of America' published in London.

1644 March 13, name Aquidneck ordered changed to RHODE ISLAND.

March 14, English Parliamentary Cornmission headed by the Earl of Warwick grants Rhode Island its first charter.

Under 'Old Style' chronology this is sometimes called the Charter of 1643.

April 10, Gorton secures submission of Narragansett sachems to authority of English Crown.

1645 Christinas Ludowic publishes 'The New England Almanac for 1645. the first almanac by a Rhode Islander.

1647 May 10-21, first General Assembly convenes at Portsmouth, and adopts code of laws and colony seal.

June, death of Narragansett sachem Canonicus.

1651 Coddington 'usurpation' causes separation between Portsmouth and Newport on one side and Providence and Warwick on the other.

October, Roger Williams, as agent of Providence to obtain confirmation of charter, and Dr. John Clarke, agent of Portsmouth and Newport, to obtain repeal of Coddington's commission, sail for England.

1653 February 18, William Dyer, secretary of Province and husband of Mary Dyer (later put to death in Boston as a Quaker), arrives from England with news of repeal of Coddington's commission.

1654 First naval cornrnission issued by united Rhode Island Colony granted to a Newport vessel.

August 31, four original towns reunited partly due to efforts of Roger Williams, president from September, 1654, to May, 1657.

1657 Conanicut Island purchased by Benedict Arnold and William Coddington from sachem Cashanaquoont.

First Quakers come to Rhode Island.

1657-58 Pettaquamscutt Purchase, large tract of land running west from Narragansett to Charlestown, is made.

1658 About fifteen Jewish families arrive in Newport from Holland.

May 26, Pawtuxet men withdraw allegiance to Massachusetts, given in 1642, and transfer it to Rhode Island.

October 22, Block Island granted to Governor Endicott and three others, 'for public services'; they sell it in 1660 to Simeon Ray and
eight associates, who began a settlement in 1661.

October 22, Massachusetts relinquishes jurisdiction over Pawtuxet and Shawomet.

1660 William Vaughan and other Newport men purchase from Socho, a Niantic chief, the Misquamicut tract on east side of Pawcatuck River.

1660 William Vaughan and other Newport men purchase from Socho, a Niantic chief, the Misquamicut tract on east side of Pawcatuck River.

1661 Settlement of Misquamicut, now Westerly, begun.

1663 May, Providence sets aside lands for maintenance of a school.

July 8, King Charles II grants Rhode Island its second charter.

1664 May 4, Block Island becomes part of Rhode Island Colony.

1665 March, Royal Commissioners set aside the Narragansett Country, in dispute between Rhode Island and Connecticut, as King's Province.

1669 Vaughan purchase incorporated as town of Westerly.

1671 Joseph Jencks, Jr., sets up a forge, sawmill, and carpenter shop at Pawtucket Falls.

1672 Block Island incorporated, and name changed to New Shoreham.

July, George Fox, English Quaker leader, visits Rhode Island.

1674 First settlement made in Little Compton by Capt Benjamin Church.

Part of Pettaquamscutt settlement incorporated as Kings Towne.

1675 August 1, important peace pact made between Capt. Benjamin Church and Awashonks, squaw-sachem of Sakonnet Indians.

King Philip's War begins.

December 19, Great Swamp Fight takes place in South Kingstown.

1676 Benedict Arnold conveys Coaster's Harbor Island and Goat Island to Newport.

March 16, Warwick destroyed by Indians.

March 26, Capt. Michael Pierce's company routed in Pawtucket and Cumberland.

March 30, Indians burn many houses in Providence and vicinity.

July 3, massacre near Warwick of 171 Indians.

August 12, Capt. Benjamin Church's company captures and kills King Philip at Mount Hope, Bristol, ending King Philip's War.

1680 First wharf and warehouse built in Providence.

1681 April 1, custom house established at Newport, to enforce Navigation Acts.

1683 Roger Williams dies (some time between January 16 and March 15).

1686 June 3, Sir Edmund Andros commissioned governor of Dominion of New England (induding Rhode Island).

December, Andros assumes government of Rhode Island, setting aside Charter of 1663.

1687 Courthouses ordered built in Newport and Rochester (or Kings Towne).

November, Governor Andros, stopping at Newport, demands Rhode Island Charter; foiled by Governor Clarke, Andros destroys seal of Colony and departs.

1689 April, Andros deposed at Boston.

May 1, Rhode Island, learning of accession of William and Mary, resumes government under Charter of 1663.

August 3, Sir Edmund Andros, who had fled to Rhode Island from Boston, is captured at Newport, and returned to Massachusetts
authorities.

1690 Beginning of King William's War between England and France.

1693 June, Massachusetts establishes first postal route between Boston and Rhode Island.

1694 Privateers authorized for King William's War.

Tiverton incorporated by Massachusetts.

1695 First ferry connecting Jamestown with Newport is established.

1696 May 6, General Assembly separated into two houses.

1697 End of King William's War.

1702 Beginning of Queen Anne's War between England and France.

1703 May, commissioners representing Rhode Island and Connecticut agree on boundary, but line is not settled until 1727.

June 22, Counties of Providence and Newport organized.

1704 First Trinity Church building erected in Newport (present edifice built in 1725).

1707 Saint Paul's, or Old Narragansett Church, erected in North Kingstown (moved in 1800 to present location in Wickford).

1708 December, Rhode Island's first census shows population of 7181.

1710 July, Colony authorizes its first issue of paper money or bills of credit (5000).

1711 Latin school opened in Newport by Mr. Galloway.

First quarantine act against smallpox.

1713 End of Queen Anne's War.

1715 General Assembly appropriates funds towards paving streets of Newport first instance of street paving within Colony.

1719 First digest of the Colony laws printed.

1723 February 26, South Kingstown incorporated as town.

July, first almshouse in Rhode Island erected at Newport.

July 19, execution of 26 pirates at Gravelly Point, Newport.

1724 February 18, property qualification for suffrage established: freehold of value of 100, or annual income of 2.

1727 First Rhode Island printing press established at Newport by James Franklin.

February 8, boundary line with Connecticut settled by royal decree.

1729 June 16, Washington County organized.

1730 Colony population, 17,935.

May, Assembly passes Act for Relief of Poor Sailors levies sixpence a month from wages of all Rhode Island seamen.
1731 Old Colony House at Providence completed (burned December 24, 1758).

February 20, Glocester, Scituate, Smithfield, incorporated as towns.

1732 September 27, Colony's first newspaper, Rhode Island Gazette, issued at Newport by James Franklin.

1733 Lottery system makes first appearance, but is suppressed by severe penalty.

June, sloop 'Pelican,' first whaling vessel from Rhode Island, arrives at Newport with cargo.

1735 Redwood Library formed at Newport (chartered, 1747)

1738 Courthouse, Newport, removed to Prison Lane, and made a dwelling.

August 22, Charlestown incorporated as town.

1739 Old Colony House at Newport built by Richard Munday (building still stands next to modern Newport County Courthouse).

October, 'War of Jenkins' Ear' begins between England and Spain,

1741 April 6, West Greenwich incorporated as town.

August 21, Coventry incorporated as town.

1742 February 1, Newport Artillery incorporated.

1743 March 8, Exeter incorporated as town.

June 16, Middletown taken from town of Newport, and incorporated.

1744 Colony sloop 'Tartar' built.

Beginning of King George's War between England and France.

1746 Royal Decree gives Rhode Island the towns of Warren, Bristol, Tiverton, Little Compton, and Cumberland, which had been claimed by Massachusetts,

1747 Bristol, Cumberland, Little Compton, Tiverton, and Warren' incorporated as towns.

February 17, Bristol County organized.

August 18, Richmond incorporated as town.

1748 End of King George's War.

1750 June 11, Kent County organized.

1752 September, Great Britain adopts 'New Style' or Gregorian calendar.

Eleven days omitted from current month, September 3 becoming September 14, and subsequent years to begin January 1 instead of
March 25 as formerly.

1754 February 25, Providence Library Association chartered.

June, Stephen Hopkins and Martin Howard, Jr., sent as commissioners to intercolonial Congress at Albany, N.Y.

June 14, Cranston taken from Providence and incorporated as town.

Beginning of last French and Indian war.

1757 March 19, Hopkinton incorporated as town.

1758 James Franklin, Jr., founds Newport Mercury.

1759 March 6, Johnston incorporated as town.

June 11, Masonic Society in Newport incorporated.

1761 September 7, first Rhode Island dramatic performance held in Newport.

1762 October 20, William Goddard sets up first printing press in Providence, and publishes Providence Gazette and Country Journal.

1763 Spermaceti trust formed.

End of last French and Indian War.

March 4, Rhode Island College incorporated.

First commencement held in 1769. In 1804 the college became Brown University.

December 2, Touro Synagogue dedicated in Newport,

1765 Governor Samuel Ward refuses oath to enforce Stamp Act.

June 4, British vessel 'Maidstone' impresses seamen in Newport Harbor; 500 sailors and boys seize one of her boats, drag it to the Commons, and burn it.

June 13, North Providence incorporated as town.

September, General Assembly adopts resolutions opposing Stamp Act, and appoints Metcalf Bowler and Henry Ward cormrnssioners to Stamp Act Congress at New York City.

1766 March 4, 'Daughters of Liberty' society organized by 18 young women, at Dr. Ephraim Bowen's house in Providence.

1769 July 19, Newporters destroy British revenue sloop 'Liberty.'

1770 June 16, Harrington separated from Warren and incorporated as town.

1772 First equestrian performance (circus) in Rhode Island occurs at Newport.

June 9, British revenue schooner 'Gaspee' burned while aground in Warwick, by expedition from Providence.

1773 August, Revs. Samuel Hopkins and Ezra Stiles, of Newport, invite subscriptions to colonize free Negroes on western coast of Africa.
This was inception of American Colonization Society of 19th century.

1774 Colony population, 58,221 (including 3768 Negroes).

June, Rhode Island prohibits further importation of slaves.

June 15, Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward elected delegates to First Continental Congress at Philadelphia.

1775 April 19, Revolutionary War begins at Lexington and Concord, Mass.

April 20, more than one thousand Rhode Islanders, armed and disciplined soldiers, mobilize overnight and march toward Boston.

April 22, General Assembly votes, over protest of, Gov. Joseph Wanton, levy of 1500 troops for war.

June, a Rhode Island postal system is organized.

June 15, Capt. Abraham Whipple captures on shore of Conanicut Island an armed tender belonging to British frigate 'Rose.'

October 7, Bristol bombarded by British expedition under Capt. James Wallace.

November 5, Esek Hopkins appointed by Congress Commander-in-Chief of Continental Navy.

1776 April 5, General Washington visits Providence.

May 4, RHODE ISLAND INDEPENDENCE DAY. General Assembly formally renounces allegiance to Great Britain, (Rhode Island was 'the first colony to declare, by solemn act, her absolute independence of the Crown.')

July 18, General Assembly approves Congressional Declaration of Independence, and votes that title of government shall be 'State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.'

December 8, British force under Sir Henry Clinton takes possession of Newport.

1777 July 9, Colonel Barton captures British general Prescott in Overing House at Portsmouth.

1778 February 9, Articles of Confederation adopted by Rhode Island; signed by William Ellery, Henry Merchant, and John Collins, July 9.

May 25, British pillage Bristol and Warren.

July 29, French fleet arrives off Newport.

August 29, battle of Rhode Island fought in Portsmouth.

1779 October 25, Newport evacuated by British.

1780 July 10, Count Rochambeau arrives at Newport with 6500 French troops.

1781 March 6, public reception given to General Washington in Newport.

August 24, Foster incorporated as town.

1783 February, General Assembly repeals statute denying franchise to Roman Catholics.

1784 February 23, an Emancipation Act provides for gradual abolition of slavery.

June 1, Newport incorporated as city (charter repealed, 1787).

1786 Emission of bills of credit 100,000; legal tender at par. (Repealed October 12, 1789.)

September, paper-money case, Trevett vs. Weeden, settled at Newport.

State's first jewelry business established by Seril and Nehemiah Dodge, and Jabez Gorham, in Providence (1786-1800).

1787 First spinning jenny made in United States constructed and put into operation by Daniel Jackson of Providence.

Population of State, 52,391.

March 27, City Charter of Newport repealed.

October 29, African slave trade forbidden in Rhode Island.

1789 September, first Methodist service held by Jesse Lee in Charlestown.

1790 Calico printing from wooden blocks begun at East Greenwich.

Population of State (first Federal census), 68,825.

May 29, Rhode Island ratifies Federal Constitution.

December, a cotton factory put into operation at Pawtucket by Samuel Slater.

1791 Providence Bank opens.

1792 Elijah Ormsbee makes successful trip on Providence River in his steamboat, the 'Experiment'

1793 Second Almy, Brown, and Slater cotton mill built in Pawtucket (this mill still standing on bank of Blackstone River).

1794 May 8, Bristol sloop 'Nautilus' accused at Newport of impressing American sailors.

1796 Samuel Slater of Pawtucket provides Sunday School instruction for mill children.

1800 State-wide free school law enacted. Only carried into effect by Providence; except for Providence it was repealed in 1803.

Population of State, 69,122.

1802 Kent Academy founded (now East Greenwich Academy).

1805 Line of packet ships established between Newport and Charlestown.

1806 Lighting by 'hydrogenous gas or inflammable air produced from pit coal introduced by David Melville at Newport.

October 29, Burrillville incorporated as town.

1810 Broadcloth manufactured by Bellefonte Company at Cranston.

1812 June, beginning of second war with Great Britain.

1813 British occupy Block Island.

September 10, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry of Rhode Island defeats British in naval engagement on Lake Erie.

1814 'Heroes of the Lake' a drama celebrating Perry's victory, played in Providence.

December, end of second war with Great Britain.

December, Rhode Island represented by four delegates at Hartford

(Conn.) Convention.

1815 September 22-23, Great Gale devastates Providence.

1816 Rowland Hazard installs power-looms at Peace Dale woolen mills.

1817 May, steamboat 'Firefly' from New York, makes first trip between Providence and Newport, inaugurating steam navigation in Narragansett Bay.

1819 Moses Brown School opens in Providence.

1821 Streets of Providence first publicly lighted.

1823 June, Blackstone Canal Company incorporated.

1824 August 23, Lafayette visits Providence.

1827 April, first public temperance meeting held in Providence.

1828 Permanent School Fund established.

Blackstone Canal (Providence to Worcester) is opened for traffic (discontinued, 1844).

January, act passed establishing public schools throughout State.

April 14, first public Roman Catholic service held in Providence.

1831 Franklin Lyceum founded (lasted to 1906).

Providence incorporated as city.

September 21-24, race riots in Providence, between seamen and Negroes.

December, New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics, and Other Workmen founded at Providence (disbanded, 1834).

1833 Antislavery movement gets under way.

June 19, Andrew Jackson, President of United States, visits Newport.

1835 June 2, first train runs over railroad between Boston and Providence.

1836 Henry Wheaton publishes first edition of 'Elements of International Law.'

1837 November 10, railroad connecting Rhode Island with Stonington, Connecticut, is opened.

1841 October-December, 'People's Constitution' framed and voted upon.

1842 Permanent garrison established at Fort Adams.

February-March, 'Landholders' Constitution' framed and rejected.

April, Thomas Wilson Dorr elected governor on 'People's Constitution' ticket.

June 28, Dorr forces routed at Acote-Hill in Chepachet.

November 5-23, present State Constitution framed and adopted.

1843 Survey of public schools undertaken by Heiry Barnard.

1845 'Barnard School Law' passed foundation of State's modern public school system.

June, persons convicted of treason for participation in Dorr War are freed.

1847 September 27, first passenger train travels over Providence-Worcester railroad.

1850 Population of State, 147,545.

Sockanosset School (reform) for boys founded.

1852 Capital punishment abolished in State.

Normal School opens in Providence (becomes a State institution in 1854; is now Rhode Island College of Education).
Prohibitory liquor law passed (repealed, 1863).

1853 Survey of Providence Harbor made by Lieut. William A. Rosecrans.

May 20, Newport reincorporated as city.

1861 Controversy with Massachusetts over eastern boundary of Rhode Island settled.

April 18, first Rhode Island troops leave for Civil War.

1862 March I, East Providence incorporated as town.

1863 Bryant and Stratton Business School founded (became Bryant College in 1935).

1864 First train runs over railroad to Newport from Boston.

1865 End of Civil War.

1866 David Wallis Reeves becomes head of American Brass Band in Providence.

1867 January 31, Woonsocket incorporated as town.

1868 Providence Board of Trade organized, named changed to Providence Chamber of Commerce in 1913.

1869 United States Naval Torpedo Station established at Goat Island.

1870 State Board of Education created.
Legislature abolishes imprisonment for debt.

1871 Betsey Williams dies, bequeathing Roger Williams Park to City of Providence.

LaSalle Academy in Providence founded.

March 8, Lincoln and North Smithfield incorporated as towns.

1872 Providence Opera House built (demolished, 1931).

1873 Steamboat ferries put into operation between Jamestown and Newport.

1876 Corliss engine, designed by George H. Corliss of Providence, set in motion at Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, President Grant being present.

1877 Rhode Island Institute for the Deaf founded.

Rhode Island School of Design founded.

1880 Tribal authority of Narragansett Indians ended.

December, Coaster's Harbor Island ceded to United States Government by citizens of Newport, for purpose of establishing training school for United States Navy.

1882 Electric carbon arc lights used for street lighting in Providence.

1883 Coaster's Harbor Island designated by Navy Department as permanent naval training station.

Northern boundary line of Rhode Island settled.

1884 Lincoln School founded in Providence.

Naval War College founded at Newport.

1885 Prohibition amendment added to State Constitution (repealed, 1889).

March 27, Pawtucket incorporated as city.

1887 Compulsory Education Act passed.

State Agricultural School opens at Kingston (becomes Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1892, and Rhode Island State College in 1909).

Talma Dramatic Club founded.

April, western boundary of Rhode Island settled.

1888 First electric street railway in Rhode Island opened in Woonsocket (first line in Providence in 1892).

June, Woonsocket incorporated as city.

1889 Mary C. Wheeler School founded in Providence.

Old Providence Cove filled in (1880-92).

1890 September 29-October 4, Cotton Centenary celebrated at Pawtucket.

1892 Women's College in Brown University founded (renamed Pembroke College in 1928).

October 21, Columbus Day first generally celebrated in State.

1893 St. Andrew's Industrial School founded at Barrington.

1895 'Rhode Island Red' hen officially recognized as new breed.

Verdandi Male Chorus founded.

February 21, Central Falls incorporated as city.

1896 St. George's School founded at Middletown.

1897 May 19, new State Flag adopted.

1898 Rhode Island Textile School founded.

Spanish-American War.

1899 June 3, eastern boundary between Rhode Island and Massachusetts finally established.

1900 Population of State, 428,556.

1901 January 1, General Assembly holds first session in new State House at Providence.

March 28, Narragansett incorporated as town.

1902 Incandescent lamps introduced for house lighting.

Rhode Island College of Pharmacy and Allied Sciences founded in Providence.

June, street railway strike; rioting in Pawtucket.

1903 Wireless telegraph introduced into State.

1907 Exeter School founded.

1009 Players Dramatic Club organized.

1910 March 10, Cranston incorporated as city.

State population, 542,610.

1911 University Glee Club founded in Providence.

1912 April 29, first Workmen's Compensation Act passed.

1913 March 13, West Warwick incoroorated as town.

1014 Car-tunnel constructed under College Hill in Providence.

Providence Lodge of the Sons of Italy organized.

1915 April 16, death of Nelson W. Aldrich, United States Senator from Rhode Island (1881-1911).

April 23, Farm Bureaus of Rhode Island organized.

September 11, death of William Sprague II, Civil War Governor of State.

1917 Providence College founded.

Pulitzer Prize awarded Maud Howe Elliott for biography of Julia Ward Howe.

July 25, Rhode Island National Guard mustered into service of United States for war with Germany.

September 5, State's first draft quota in World War leaves for training camp.

1918 Explosion at Newport Naval Torpedo Station, resulting in loss of 14 lives.

November 11, Armistice Day, marking end of World War.

1919 July 1, first registration day for women voters for a presidential election.

State population, 604,397.

1920 January 16, National Prohibition Amendment becomes effective; not ratified by Rhode Island.

November 2, women vote for first time in national election.

1922 Radio broadcasting begins over stations WEAN and WJAR.

January-September, textile strike; 18,000 local workers involved.

1923 Watchman Industrial School opened.

1924 Percy Marks publishes 'The Plastic Age.'

1925 April, Department of State Police created.

1928 Oliver Hazard Perry statue at State House is dedicated.

Mount St. Charles Academy founded in Cumberland.

1929 Pulitzer Prize awarded Oliver La Farge for 'laughing Boy.'

October 24, Mount Hope Toll Bridge between Bristol and Portsmouth dedicated, and opened to traffic.

1930 Population of State, 687,497.

September 25, new Washington Bridge opened between Providence and East Providence.

1931 April ai, Warwick incorporated as city.

May 4, General Nathanael Greene statue at State House is dedicated.

September 27, State airport at Hillsgrove dedicated (later closed for reconstruction, and opened again May 30,1936).

1932 Providence Symphony Orchestra (the fifth) founded.

March, Independent Textile Union founded at Woonsocket.

May, New State Pier No. 1 on Providence River is completed (the old pier burned Feb. 25, 1931).

September 16, remains of Roger Williams placed in vault in North Burial Ground.

1933 May 1, Rhode Island voters approve repeal of Prohibition Amendment; a convention ratifies repeal May 8.

1934 May 18, horse racing and pari-mutuel betting legalized.

Narragansett Park opens August 1.

September, the National Guard called out for strike duty in Saylesville.

1935 January 1, General Assembly begins reorganization of State Government. Offices of the Supreme Court declared vacant, and five new judges elected.

May, State Department of Labor established.

July 31, Rhode Island inaugurates police teletype system in 29 police departments and law-enforcing agencies within State through central sending and receiving station at State House.

November 1, earthquake shakes northern section of United States and eastern Canada, jarring Rhode Island for 30 seconds, at 1:07 A.M.

1936 State population, 680,712.

Rhode Island observes three-hundredth anniversary of its founding and settlement.

March 10, proposal to call constitutional convention defeated at special election.

June, case of City of Newport vs. Newport Water Corporation, Superior Court renders decision that city has the right to acquire water works.

Source: Guide to the Smallest State, Federal Writer's Project, 1937, Transcribed by C. Anthony