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State, northeastern U.S. Area: 1,223 sq mi (3,168 sq km). Pop. (2009 est.): 1,053,209. Capital: Providence. Rhode Island is one of the New England states and is the smallest U.S. state. It is bordered by Massachusetts on the north and east and Connecticut on the west. Rhode Island Sound on the south is the basis of the state's fishing industry. The original inhabitants of the area were Narragansett Indians. The first European settlement was in 1636 by Roger Williams and his followers, who were banished from Massachusetts; in 1663 King Charles II granted a charter to Williams. Though it never officially joined the New England colonies in King Philip's War, it suffered greatly when many settlements were burned. It was at the forefront of the fight against British customs laws that led to the American Revolution. An original state of the Union, in 1790 it was the 13th state to ratify the Constitution and agreed to do so only after the Bill of Rights was included. The state's original charter remained in effect until after Dorr's Rebellion (led by Thomas W. Dorr) in 1842, when suffrage was extended to white males who did not own land. The cotton-textile mill built by Samuel Slater in Pawtucket in 1790 initiated the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. Manufacturing is still important to the economy, and products include jewelry and silverware, textiles and clothing, and electrical machinery and electronics.
Variants of RHODE ISLAND
Rhode Island officially Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Rhode Island, visit Britannica.com.