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Rhode Island Firsts and Facts

        First Governor under the Royal Charter of 1663 - Benedict Arnold, of Newport November 1663 – May 1666
  The Royal Charter was granted by King Charles II on July 8, 1663
  First Governors under the Constitution of 1842 - James Fenner 1843-1845
Firsts  

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1634 - William Blackstone was the first Rhode Island settler.
1636 - Providence was founded as a Rhode Island settlement by Roger Williams.
1638 - Rhode Island founder Roger Williams established the First Baptist Church in America in 1638. The existing structure was built in 1775
1642 - Settled in 1642 Pawtuxet Village in Warwick claims to being New England’s oldest village.
1652 - First record of African slaves.
1652 - RI enacted the first law against slavery in North America on May 18, 1652.
1663 - Charles II granted the Charter of Rhode Island & Providence Plantations July 8. It remained the constitution until 1842.
1675 - The decisive battle in King Philip's War was fought against the Narragansett.
1676 - Nine Men's Misery monument in Cumberland is the oldest known monument to veterans in the United States. It was erected in memory of the colonists killed in Pierce's Fight during King Phillips War in 1676.
1716 - Portsmouth is home to the oldest schoolhouse in the United States. The school was built in 1716.
1763 - The Touro Synagogue is the oldest surviving synagogue in North America. Built in 1763 the synagogue houses the oldest torah in North America.
1772 - British trade restrictions angered the colonists. Rhode Islanders were the firsts to take military action against England by sinking one of her ships in the Narragansett Bay located between Newport and Providence. The english ship was called "The Gaspee".1772: They burned the British revenue cutters Liberty and Gaspee
1774 - The first circus in the United States was in Newport
1776 - Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce allegiance to Great Britain and declare independence, May 4, 1776.
1785 - Bristol has the longest running, unbroken series of 4th of July Independence Day observances in the country, started in 1785
1790 - Statehood, May 29, 1790 (13th of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution).
1790 - The Industrial Revolution started in Rhode Island with the development and construction in 1790 of Samuel Slater's water-powered cotton mill in Pawtucket.The first successful U.S. cotton mill established by Samuel Slater and David Wilkinson.
1828 - The country's first shopping mall was built in Providence
1843 - Present state constitution was adopted.
1876 - Polo was played for the first time in the United States in Newport.
1887

- The first torpedo boat "Stiletto" was built in Bristol.

1895 - The first open golf tournament.
1895 - Newport held the first auto race.
1897 - New State Flag adopted.
1899 - The first National Lawn Tennis Championship
1904 - Judge Darius Baker imposed the first jail sentence for speeding in an automobile on August 28, 1904 in Newport.
 
 

First with no dates

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Rhode Island was the last of the original thirteen colonies to become a state.

  Ann and Hope was the first discount department store in the United States the property was opened in Rhode Island.
  Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, established the first practical working model of Democracy after he was banished from Plymouth, Massachusetts because of his "extreme views" concerning freedom of speech and religion.
  The first British troops sent from England to squash the revolution landed in Newport.
  At Little Compton is home to the gravesite of the first girl born to colonists in New England. The baby was the daughter of pilgrims John and Priscilla Alden
 

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport is the United States' oldest library building.

  The first Afro-American regiment to fight for America made a gallant stand against the British in the Battle of Rhode Island.
  Pelham Street in Newport was the first street in the country to use gas-illuminated streetlights.  
  The Quonset hut was invented at Quonset Point a key naval reserve base.
  Rhode Island's T.F. Green Airport in Warwick was the first state-owned airport in the USA.
  The nation's oldest carousel in the resort town of Watch Hill, RI.
  The Narragansett Pacer was the first American bred horse of the Colonial era.
  Rhode Island was the last of the original thirteen colonies to become a state. 
  The first British troops sent from England to squash the revolution landed in Newport.
  The Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport is the United States' oldest library building.
  The first Afro-American regiment to fight for America made a gallant stand against the British in the Battle of Rhode Island.
 

 
Check out these sites for more information
  State History Guide
  Visit Rhode Island
  50 States
  RI Gen Web
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Updated 14 January, 2008

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