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The Making of the 50 States: Rhode Island


Part 2: The Rest of the Story

The Rhode Island economy was largely dependent on sugar, and so the colony's merchants didn't take kindly to Britain's Sugar Act. As with a few other colonies, Rhode Island depended heavily on the Triangular Trade model. In this case, Rhode Island imported molasses from the West Indies, distilled it into rum, shipped the rum to Africa in return for slaves, and then shipped the slaves to the West Indies for molasses.

The other imposed taxes proved unpopular as well, and Rhode Island joined the other 12 Colonies in declaring themselves independent from Great Britain in 1776. (Rhode Islanders had voted for independence two months before, on May 4.)

Rhode Island militia members fought in the Revolutionary War. (Newport also served as a French garrison, after having been occupied by British forces for a time directly after the Declaration of Independence.)

The colony, which didn't send a delegation to the Constitutional Convention, eventually became the last of the original 13 Colonies to ratify the constitution after being threatened with export taxes consistent with a foreign nation. Thus it was that on May 29, 1790, Rhode Island statehood began.

First page > In the Beginning > Page 1, 2

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