Geography and Landforms:
Because Rhode Island is comprised of a small crescent of land and a large number of islands, the sea has always been important to its development. Natural forces have also shaped its history. In particular, hurricanes like Carol in 1954, Diane in 1955, and Gloria in 1985 have caused millions of dollars of damage to coastal areas.
There are legends that the first non-natives to visit Rhode Island were medieval Irish explorers in boats made of animal skins. Later, it is believed that Vikings also briefly explored the area. However, the first explorer we can be sure visited Rhode Island was Giovanni Verrazzano who, in 1524, was looking for a way to China by discovering a water route through North America. After landing in North Carolina, he sailed up the East Coast, and eventually came to an island he described as being "in the form of a triangle, distant from the mainland ten leagues, and about the bigness of the Island of Rhodes." He named the island Luisa after the Queen Mother of France. Today this island is known as Block Island after another explorer, Dutch sailor Adriaen Block, renamed the land for himself.
Early in its history, Rhode Island took the lead in bringing the United States into the Industrial Revolution when Samuel Slater built the first successful cotton mill in Pawtucket in 1793. The importance of textile manufacturing to Rhode Island led to a greater need for machinery to run the mills, launching a strong base-metal industry. Both Rhode Island's reputation for religious freedom and a strong business climate attracted large numbers of immigrant workers to the busy mills in the area. By the 1820s, manufacturing was the state's prime industry, and Irish-Catholics remain the largest ethnic community in the state today.
Native people occupied Rhode Island for thousands of years before explorers and settlers from Europe came to North America. The Narragansett tribe was the largest and occupied the greatest area of land. The Narragansett were part of a loosely organized confederation of tribes called the Algonquin, with settlements up and down the East coast of North America. Other groups of Algonquin, some allied with the Narragansett, and some enemies, also lived in the area that would become Rhode Island.
Books Related To Rhode Island
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - NA Avi
Black Duck - Janet Taylor Lisle
Born to Fly - Michael Ferrari
R is for Rhode Island Red: A Rhode Island Alphabet - Mark Allio
Rules to Rock By - Josh Farrar
Spotting for Nellie - Pamela Lowell
Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl's Story - Pegi Deitz Shea
Whisper in the Dark - Joseph Bruchac
|May 29, 1790
|Rhode Island Red
|Ocean State, Plantation State
Places to Visit in Rhode Island: (Click the links to learn more.)