A Lively Experiment

Notes on collections at the RIHS

Happy R.I. Independence Day!

Happy Rhode Island Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day Rhode Island! Two full months before the Continental Congress in Philadelphia declared independence from Great Britain, the General Assembly of Rhode Island passed and printed an act renouncing our allegiance to the King of England.

G1157 Broadsides 1776 No.6; Alden 661

G1157 Broadsides 1776 No.6; Alden 661

“An Act Repealing an Act Intituled [sic], ‘An Act for the More Effectual Securing to His Majesty the Allegiance of His Subjects in this His Colony and Dominion of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations;’ and Altering the Form of Commissions, of All Writs and Processes in the Courts, and of the Oaths Prescribed by Law.”  [G1157 Broadsides 1776 No.6; Alden 661]

Printed in Providence by John Carter, the town’s 3rd printer who operated from1767-1814, the Rhode Island Historical Society holds one of the two known copies of this broadside (the other is at Princeton University). But to make ours unique, a contemporary, un-named hand wrote the word “State” over each occurrence of “Colony” in the “General Officers” and “Town Officers” paragraphs of the newly revised oaths. The original manuscript of the act is held by the Rhode Island State Archives.



On July 18th the Rhode Island General Assembly officially voted to abandon the word “colony”, but this early scribe demonstrates the zealous excitement of the day, and heralds the political winds of change that would blow down the Bay and set the rest of the British colonies in North America on fire.

The Rhode Island Historical Society’s Colonial Broadside Collection can now be viewed in a new online gallery on our website. Catalog records with images are also available in our online catalog NETOP. Cataloging and digitization of this important collection was made possible by the generous support of the following organizations: Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the RevolutionRhode Island Society of Colonial WarsRhode Island Society of the Sons of the American RevolutionGeneral Society of Colonial Wars.

~Phoebe Bean, Librarian


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