You can come view our online exhibits in person at the State Archives on at 337 Westminster Street in Providence. We will validate parking at In Town Parking, across the street from our building.
The documents on display in this online collection help tell the story of Rhode Island's unique role in the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island was the only state not to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in May of 1787. When asked to hold a state convention to ratify the Constitution, the Rhode Island General Assembly chose to put the ratification question to a popular vote. On March 24, 1787, Rhode Island's "freemen" cast their ballots in the only state-wide popular vote held on the Constitution. The result of that elections are available in this collection as are the Journals from the Conventions of March and May 1790. Collectively, these documents showcase the dynamic history of Rhode Island's contribution.
Samuel Slater launched the American Industrial Revolution when he introduced new manufacturing processes and hydro-power in his Pawtucket Mill in 1793. For the next fifty years, enterprising Rhode Islanders built dozens of mills along Rhode Island’s major rivers. In 1849, Providence’s George Henry Corliss designed a new, efficient steam engine that enabled manufacturers to build away from rivers, leading to a second wave of factories. Whatever their power source, these mills all relied on human labor as well, and immigrants flocked to Rhode Island from Europe and Canada in search of steady incomes and better lives.