Act of Renunciation background image state house dusk background image library ceiling background image rotunda across background image state house ornimental ceiling background image

Treasures from the Archives: The Act of Renunciation

A new "pop up" exhibition series at the State House Library will highlight the exceptional holdings of the Rhode Island State Archives. Exhibitions of three to five items will be on view for approximately four weeks at a time. These will include historic photographs, documents, and artifacts that chart Rhode Island's rich and diverse history.

The Act of Renunciation

 

This month’s Treasures from the Archives exhibition series marks the 240th anniversary of Rhode Island’s independence. On display for the month of May is an original handwritten Act passed by the Rhode Island Colony’s General Assembly on May 4, 1776. The “Act of Renunciation”, as it is commonly called, demonstrates Rhode Island’s early, courageous defiance of King George III who, in the words of the Act, was “endeavoring to destroy the good People of this Colony.”

“The 1776 Act of Renunciation offers tangible proof of Rhode Islanders’ independent spirit, as well as the Colony’s courage in the early stages of the American Revolution,” Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea said.

Rhode Island was the first colony to renounce allegiance to Great Britain’s King George III by an official legislative act. The Act thus marks an important step towards the formal Declaration of Independence signed only two months later. The Act of Renunciation is one of many holdings at the State Archives documenting Rhode Island’s rich and diverse history.

“The power of having such a robust State Archives is that it serves as our very own time capsule that we can open at any time to see how the actions by concerned citizenry can not only shape our history, but also relate to current events,” Gorbea said. “For example, the Act on display in this month’s Treasures shows how the process of lawmaking – proposal, consideration, revision and occasionally repeal – is similar to what it was back in 1776.”

Treasures from the Archives is a “pop up” exhibition series at the State House Library that highlights the exceptional holdings of the Rhode Island State Archives. Exhibitions of original archival items will be on view for approximately four weeks at a time. These items include historic photographs, documents, and artifacts that chart Rhode Island’s rich and diverse history.

This month’s exhibition will be on display through the month of May.