The fourth day of May in each and every year is established, in this state, as a day for celebration of Rhode Island independence, being a just tribute to the memory of the members of our general assembly, who, on the fourth day of May, 1776, in the State House at Providence, passed an act renouncing allegiance of the colony to the British crown and by the provisions of that act declared Rhode Island sovereign and independent, the first official act of its kind by any of the thirteen (13) American colonies. From Title 25 of the RI Statute.
Rhode Island became the FIRST colony to officially declare independence from the British Crown on May 4th 1776. On this date, the general assembly in Rhode Island passed an act, which declared Rhode Island and Providence Plantations an independent state. This was two months before the fledgling Union of states issued the now famous “Declaration of Independence”. RI leaders, fearful that the tiny state would not receive equal representation and an equal voice in the U.S. congress initially balked at joining the other states. Those fears were eventually allayed with the creation of two branches of legislature including the Senate, which gave equal representation to all of the states regardless of size or population. This led to Rhody becoming the last of the original colonies to join the Union in May of 1790.
So today, May 4, 2012, 236 years after Rhode Island declared independence from Great Britain we celebrate the Ocean State – we may be the smallest but we are the most independent!