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Little State, Lot's of Firsts – Interesting Rhode Island Facts

May 29, 2013

On May 29, 1790, 223 years ago today, Rhode Island was the last of the thirteen colonies to ratify the constitution.  Rhode Island may have been the last colony to become a state but Little Rhody was the location of many “firsts” in the United States.  From sporting events to military events Rhode Island has made a lot of history!

In no particular order here are just a few of Rhode Island’s history making “firsts!”

  • On May 4, 1776 Rhode Island declared its independence from Great Britain, the first colony to do so. 
  • Judge Darius Baker imposed the first jail sentence for speeding in an automobile on August 28, 1904 in Newport.
  • In 1640, Portsmouth, RI was the first town in America to be established by a woman, Anne Hutchinson.   
  • Rhode Island was home to the first National Lawn Tennis Championship in 1899.
  • The first circus in the United States was in Newport in 1774.
  • In 1895, Rhode Island was home to the first open golf tournament. 
  • Pelham Street in Newport was the first street in the country to use gas-illuminated streetlights.
  • In 1652, Rhode Island enacted the first anti-slavery law in North America.
  • Rhode Islanders were the first to take military action against England by sinking one of her ships in the Narragansett Bay located between Newport and Providence. 
  • Rhode Island was the first state with a democratic government.  Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, established the first practical working model of Democracy.
  • The first British troops sent from England to squash the revolution landed in Newport.
  • The first torpedo boat “Stiletto” was built in Bristol in 1887.
  • North America‚Äôs first Quaker meeting house was built here in the 1600s.
  • Polo was played for the first time in the United States in 1876 near Newport.

Know any interesting “Rhode Island Firsts” we missed?  Post them on the 12 Meter Charters’ Facebook Page – we are always interested in learning new things about our fabulous state!

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