Rhode Island was the first of the original Thirteen Colonies to declare independence from the British rule of King George III, declaring itself independent on May 4, 1776, a full two months before any other colony. The state was also the last of the thirteen original colonies to ratify the United States Constitution
In the handwritten manuscript, colonial lawmakers accused the King of breaking “the compact” with Rhode Island’s citizens by “…by sending fleets and armies to America, to confiscate our property, and spread fire, sword and desolation, throughout our country, in order to compel us to submit to the most debasing and detestable tyranny, whereby we are obliged by necessity, and it becomes our highest duty, to use every means, with which God and nature have furnished us, in support of our invaluable rights and privileges; to oppose that power which is exerted only for our destruction.”
The General Assembly set aside May 4 as Rhode Island Independence Day in 1908. The law reads, “(t)he 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.”
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