1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rhode Island

RHODE ISLAND (see 23.248).—The pop. of the state in 1920 was 604,397; in 1910, 542,610; an increase for the decade of 61,787, or 11.4 per cent. Rhode Island was still in 1920 the most densely populated state, having 566.4 inhabitants to the sq. m. (1910, 508.5). Every Federal census since 1790 has shown an increase in density, and at a rate faster than that of the United States as a whole.

The percentages of urban and rural pop. were in 1920: urban, 97.5%; rural, 2.5%; in 1910: urban, 96.7%; rural, 3.3%. The following are the cities of Rhode Island having a pop. of over 20,000 in 1920 and their percentage of increase in the decade 1910-20:—

1920 1910  Increase 
per cent

 Providence  237,595   224,326  5.9 
 Pawtucket 64,248  51,622  24.5 
 Woonsocket 43,496  38,125  14.1 
 Newport 30,255  27,149  11.4 
 Cranston 29,407  21,107  39.3 
 Central Falls 24,174  22,754  6.2 
 East Providence  21,793  15,808  37.9 

The proportion of native-born in 1915 (state enumeration) was 68.8%; of foreign-born, 31.2%. The foreign-born whites numbered in 1920, 173,366, a decrease of 2.6% from 178,025 in 1910. During the 10 years there has been a steady change in the proportions of the various foreign elements in the population. Up to 1910 the largest foreign-born element was Irish. In 1920 the Irish were numerically inferior to the British and English-Canadian, the Italian, and the French-Canadian. There has been a remarkable increase in the number of Italian, Portuguese and Polish immigrants, and a noticeable influx of Armenians and Syrians. “Foreign stock,” i.e. foreign-born and native-born of foreign parents, constituted, in 1915, 63.3% of the whole population.

Agriculture.—There has been a decline in farm acreage of 29.3% in 30 years to 331,600 ac. in 1920, and an even greater decline, 51.2%, in improved acreage to 132,855 ac. in 1920. The number of farms has fallen from 5,292 in 1910 to 4,083 in 1920. On the other hand there has been a rise in both the aggregate and the average value of farms, and in the value of crops (value of land and improvements, 1900, $26,989,189; 1920, $33,636,766; value of crops, 1909, $2,986,816; 1919, $5,340,378).

Fisheries.—Fishing has, on the whole, declined in relative importance. The shell-fish industry suffered severe loss, owing to the pollution of the Providence river and the upper waters of Narragansett Bay. From 1907 to 1920 the leased oyster grounds declined from 21,000 to 7,000 ac.; the state rentals, from $136,000 to $40,000; and the output during the oyster season from 10,000 gal. daily to 2,000 gallons. In 1920 the Commissioners of Shell Fisheries reported: “The Providence river has been practically destroyed as a suitable place for the production or growth of shell-fish as food,” the result of contamination.

Manufactures.—Rhode Island is preëminently a manufacturing state. In 1914 it ranked 19th among the states in the value of its manufactures. The number of persons engaged in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits nearly doubled in 20 years (1900, 101,162; 1910, 156,898; 1920, 196,205). The number of factories increased from 1,678 in 1900 to 2,829 in 1919; the capital invested in

manufacturing from $183,784,587 in 1900 to $304,595,000 in 1914; and the value of all manufactured products from $184,074,378 in 1900 to $346,962,500 in 1916. Wages paid to factory employees in 1914 totalled $58,784,000; value added to products by manufacture, $116,030,000. Children under 16 years employed in factories numbered, in 1920, 7,243, of whom nearly 5,000 were in textile mills. The effect of the World War upon child labour in Rhode Island may be seen from the following statistics: in 1915 children under 16 years constituted 3.16% of all the factory operatives; in 1918, 4.44%; in 1919, 3.96%; in 1920, 3.69%. Textiles still held in 1920 the first place among the manufactures of the state, employing 83,204 persons. From 1910 to 1920, woollen and worsted mills increased in number from 88 to 103 (with 463,342 spindles and 9,304 looms); in employees, from 24,924 to 29,500; in value of products, from $74,600,000 to $90,000,000. Cotton mills increased in number from 106 to 130 (with 2,595,395 spindles); in employees, from 28,786 to 37,382; and in value of products, from $50,313,000 to $67,500,000. Over 7,000 were persons employed in bleaching and finishing, 6,000 in the manufacture of silk and silk goods, and nearly 3,000 in the manufacture of hosiery and knit goods. The combined value of the products of these factories exceeded $20,000,000. Webbing and braid were also produced in large quantities; and in recent years tire fabrics have become an increasingly important article of manufacture. Third among the industries of Rhode Island in 1920 were the machinery and metal trades, with 25,197 employees, and products valued at $45,000,000. In the manufacture of jewelry and silverware Rhode Island ranked first among the states. In 1914 the value of the jewelry produced was more than one-fourth of the total for the whole United States. The number of persons employed in making jewelry, silversmithing, reducing and refining gold and silver in 1920 was 14,052, in 322 establishments; and the value of the product was estimated at $37,500,000.

Transportation.—The railway mileage within the state in 1920 was 209.49 m., electric and street railways, 351.5 miles. The construction of a branch of the Grand Trunk Railway system from Palmer, Mass., to Providence was projected in 1910; but work was suspended in Nov. 1912, and has not been resumed. Considerable sums have been spent by the Federal Government for the deepening of the channel of Narragansett Bay, for harbour improvement at Providence, Newport, Westerly and Pawtucket, and for the construction of harbours of refuge at Block I. and Pt. Judith. The foreign imports of the customs district of Rhode Island amounted in 1920 to $8,252,046. Foreign and domestic commerce passing through Narragansett Bay in 1914 amounted to $320,195,277.

Finance.—The position of the state, Dec. 31 1920, was: assessed valuation, $988,061,741; rateable wealth, $1,745,715,365 (about $2,890 per capita); receipts, $6,909,172; expenditures, $6,187,173; bonded debt, $10,832,000; sinking fund, $1,631,917. June 30 1920 there were in Rhode Island three state banks, 17 national banks, 13 trust companies, 15 savings banks, and 10 other institutions for savings and loans; with total resources of $416,339,951. From June 30 1918 to June 30 1920 the assets of the state banks increased 47%; of the trust companies, 21%; of the savings banks, 20%; and of the national banks, 11%. Deposits in the savings banks, June 30 1920, were $113,200,366, an average of $630 per account. The average savings deposit in 1918 ($582.95) was the largest in any state.

Charitable and Penal Institutions.—In 1917 the Board of Control and Supply and the Board of Charities and Corrections were superseded by a State Penal and Charitable Commission. The number of the inmates in the institutions under the supervision of the Commission was, in 1919, 3,241 (468 less than in 1918); and the amount expended was $1,189,956. The budget for 1921 called for $1,562,394, to which should be added about $21,000 in aid of various private charitable organizations.

Education.—The total school population (age 5 to 15) in 1920 was 123,705, of whom 106,142, or 85.5%, were in school. There were 83,525 in public schools; 20,690 in parochial schools; and 1,927 in private schools. The total expenditure for education in 1920 was $4,493,772, of which $999,850 was contributed by the state, the remainder by the towns. In addition to its expenditure for primary and secondary instruction and for normal training, the state annually votes modest subsidies for the R.I. State College; the R.I. School of Design; the R.I. College of Pharmacy; the R.I. Historical Society; the Newport Historical Society; and about 70 public libraries, with over 700,000 volumes. In April 1920 the name of the State Normal school was changed to the R.I. College of Education. The enrolment of the institution in 1920-1 was 774 students and 57 instructors; state appropriation, $86,000. The state also maintains observation and training courses in various schools, and likewise makes an annual grant of $5,000 to Brown University in support of graduate courses in education. The R.I. State College at Kingston had, in 1920-1, 345 students and 55 instructors, an income of $168,000, and buildings valued at $500,000. The R.I. School of Design, Providence, has doubled in size since 1910; the number of students has increased from 923 to 1,856; instructors from 50 to 108; funds from $186,310 to $2,849,322; buildings from $220,000 to $650,000. Its museum is considered the most valuable in New England, outside of Boston. Providence College (Roman Catholic) was chartered in 1917, and opened for instruction in 1919, under the direction of the Dominican Order, In 1920, $200,000 was raised for buildings. The

enrolment in 1920-1 (two classes) was 163 students; faculty, fourteen. Brown University, the oldest (founded 1764) and largest academic institution in the state, from 1911 to 1921 increased its faculty from 85 to 107; its students from 944 to 1,367 (plus 881 in extension courses); funds from $3,758,926 to $6,600,000, with about $1,750,000 of endowment subscriptions still to be paid in; volumes in the library from 180,000 to 270,000. The Arnold Biological Laboratory and Metcalf Hall have been added to the buildings; and a new Chemical Laboratory and a Hall of Modern Languages were in 1921 about to be erected. Providence is unusually rich in libraries. Among the most important collections are those of the Providence Public Library, 230,000 vol.; the Providence Athenaeum, 95,000; the R.I. Historical Society, 50,000; the Annmary Brown Memorial (founded by Gen. Rush C. Hawkins), containing a rare collection of incunabula; and the Shepley collection on R.I. history, 25,000 volumes.

History.—The political history of the state from 1910 to 1920 was comparatively uneventful. In 1911 an amendment to the constitution provided for biennial election of the state officers and Legislature. In 1909 the number of representatives in the Lower House was fixed at 100; but repeated attempts to reform the Senate and institute representation according to population have uniformly been defeated. The city of Providence, with 40% of the population of the state, has but one member in a Senate of thirty-nine. The property qualification for the full municipal franchise is still in force. In 1912 the number of Congressional districts was increased from two to three. But under a new apportionment on the basis of the census of 1920 the state would stand to lose a seat, unless the National House of Representatives is enlarged. The presidential vote of the state was cast in 1912 for Wilson, Democrat; in 1916 for Hughes, Republican (though at the same time a Democratic U.S. Senator was elected); in 1920 for Harding, Republican. Rhode Island ratified the Nineteenth (Woman Suffrage) Amendment to the Federal Constitution; but, with Connecticut and New Jersey, failed to ratify the Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment. In 1920 the state brought suit in the U.S. Supreme Court to test the validity of the Amendment and of the Volstead Act. The suit was dismissed. For the service in the World War Rhode Island furnished 28,817 men. The National Guard in 1918 numbered 4,625 officers and men. Subscriptions to Liberty and Victory loans amounted to $209,444,110.

The governors since 1910, all Republicans, were: Aram J. Pothier, 1909-14; R. Livingston Beeckman, 1915-20; Emery J. San Souci, 1921-  .

Bibliography.—H. M. Chapin, Bibliography of Rhode Island (1914); Cartography of Rhode Island (1915); Documentary History of Rhode Island (2 vols., 1916, 1919); Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars (1918); T. W. Bicknell, editor, History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (1920); The Story of Dr. John Clarke (1915); A. B. Strickland, Roger Williams, Prophet and Pioneer of Soul-Liberty (1919); R.I. Historical Society, R.I. Historical Collections, issued quarterly; Massachusetts Historical Society, Commerce of Rhode Island 1726-1800; Charles Carroll, Public Education in Rhode Island (1919).

(T. C.)