May 29 is statehood day for Rhode Island, the 13th of the original colonies to join the union.
It’s interesting history to me. Rhode Island was rogue enough at the time — many called it “Rogues’ Island” — the colony sent no delegates to the convention in Philadelphia that wrote the Constitution. One may wonder why the delegates even bothered to include the colony in the process. But, they did.
Not that it mattered to creation of the United States. New Hampshire was the 9th state to ratify the document, on June 21, 1788, making it effective under the rules. Rhode Island did not ratify the Constitution until May 29, 1790 — two years after the Constitution took effect, and about a year after the new government started operation and inaugurated George Washington the first president. Rhode Island joined the nation already steaming along.
Does Rhode Island celebrate Statehood Day? I don’t know. Historian Laureate Patrick T. Conley wrote a column for the Providence Journal revealing that Rhode Island was, like Texas, an independent republic for a time. This news won’t rest well with Texans. Other Rhode Island celebrations may occur, but they’re tough to learn about.
- Selections of Rhode Island life in song, essay and photo, from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress; index and guide to the collection here