Rhode Island State Study

Rhode IslandJoin us for this Rhode Island state study.

Rhode Island is situated along the coast of the Atlantic and includes a large inlet of the ocean making most of Rhode Island coastal.  Its nickname, “The Ocean State,” reflects this maritime geography.  It is known for its beautiful coastlines.  Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, but has the second highest population density, after New Jersey, of any state.

The state is named after an old name of one of its islands, an island now known as Aquidneck, after the colonies of Providence Plantation and Rhode Island merged.    The first colony of the state, Providence Plantation, was founded by Roger Williams, who desired a place where people could worship freely in the way they wanted, on land granted to him by the Narragansett and Pequot tribes.  Roger Williams had been banned from Massachusetts colony for his religious views.

Rhode Island was one of the rebellious colonies that fought free of English domination in the 1770s.  Rhode Island, a popular and lucrative spot for smuggling, attacked the king’s ship, the Gaspee, which was trying to collect customs dues.  On May 4, 1776, Rhode Island became the first colony to renounce its ties to the English crown.  It was also the last state to ratify the Constitution, holding out until a Bill of Rights was promised as part of the Constitution.

Fabulous Facts

  • Having a low numbered license plate in Rhode Island is a status symbol, as these are given out as favors by high ranking state politicians and plates can be bequeathed to heirs and passed down through a family.

  • The Slater Mill in Pawtucket was the first successful textile mill in the United States and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  Early mills used waterwheels to power them.
  • If you visit Rhode Island you might want to stop by some of the famous mansions of the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The Breakers, Marble House, and Belcourt Castle are all open to the public for tours.
  • Rhode Island has been known as a leading maker of fine jewelry since Nehemiah Dodge, a jeweler from Providence, began gold-plating his jewelry in 1794.  Jewelry has been a big business there ever since.  Dodge is considered to be the father of the jewelry-making industry.
  • Rhode Island has no counties, it is instead divided into municipalities.
  • Rhode Island founder Roger Williams was the originator of the ideas written in the First Amendment; the government cannot infringe on the rights of conscience, including free expression of speech, worship, or the press.
  • The very first circus ever to be held in America was in Rhode Island in 1774.  Early circuses were mostly just single performers doing tricks with animals, especially horses, to entertain crowds.  Soon other acrobatic and animal acts were introduced too.

Map of Rhode Island

Print this Rhode Island Map.  Then label and color the cities and landmarks of Rhode Island.  Use a student atlas to guide you.

Additional Layers

  • Rhode Islanders held more slaves than any other New England colony.  The state’s ships carried as much as 90% of the North American slave trade in the years before the trade was outlawed.  However, Rhode Island was the first state to respond to President Lincoln’s call for soldiers to fight the South over slavery.  Rhode Island desegregated its schools in 1866.
  • Learn more about the colonial history of Rhode Island and especially about Roger Williams, the founder.
  • The capital of Rhode Island is Providence.  The word “Providence” was commonly used by early Americans to refer to God.
  • Rhode Island Reds are a breed of chicken that was developed through cross-breeding in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  It is the state bird of Rhode Island.  You can play a little game called Road Island Hopping online just for fun.

More From Layers of Learning

If you enjoyed this Rhode Island State Study, you might enjoy Layers of Learning Unit 4-17.  It includes the geography of Rhode Island and the other New England states.

You might also like these posts from Layers of Learning: Review Games for Homeschoolers, Pictographs & Petroglyphs, and an Ojo de Dios Craft.  We also have state studies for all of the states on our Geography Page.


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