Rhode Island, the Ocean State

Rhode Island, the Ocean State

by Sandra Merville Hart

Rhode Island’s nickname is The Ocean State. It borders the Atlantic Ocean.

Rhode Island’s early history

Roger Williams bought land from the Narragansett Indians in 1636. He established the first permanent white settlement in the area now known as Providence, Rhode Island.

Wanted religious freedom

sense-739731_960_720Roger had left the colony of Massachusetts. He started a settlement because he wanted religious freedom. He treated the Native Americans with respect and learned their language.

By 1642, three more settlements had been started by other groups: Portsmouth, Newport, and Pawtuxet, which was renamed Warwick.

Rhode Island and slavery

Newport, one of the settlements, became a major slave trading center, but Rhode Island passed a law to free children born to slave mothers in 1784. By 1808, nearly all slaves were free in Rhode Island, but it would take a Civil War before everyone in the country was free.

Rhode Island becomes a state

Rhode Island became the thirteenth state on May 29, 1790. The capital is Providence.

Our smallest state

Rhode Island isn’t an island. It shares land borders with Connecticut and Massachusetts, and a water border with New York.

Our smallest state is forty-eight miles long and thirty-seven miles wide. It also has the longest official name: the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Other fun facts about Rhode Island

coffee-991835_960_720The state drink is coffee milk, which is made from coffee syrup. You can buy coffee milk next to chocolate milk in dairy cases of Rhode Island grocery stores.

A coffee cabinet is a coffee milk shake – coffee milk with ice cream. Try one when you’re visiting the state.




“13 Originals: Founding the American Colonies,” The Time Page, 2013/01/04 http://www.timepage.org/spl/13colony.html.

Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Davis, Kenneth C. Don’t Know Much About the 50 States, Harper Collins Publishers, 2001.

Gutman, Bill. The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States, Random House, 2002.

“Rhode Island,” State Symbols USA, 2016/06/06  http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/states/united-states/rhode-island.

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